What types of motorbikes are best for two riders in Vietnam?

Tandem motorbike options Vietnam
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Vietnam is known worldwide for its bustling traffic and the swarms of motorbikes that crowd its roads, particularly in major cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. For many locals, motorbikes are the most convenient and affordable form of everyday transportation. It’s common to see two, three, or even four people piled onto a single motorbike.

So if you’re planning to travel through Vietnam with a companion, renting or buying a motorbike to share is often a good option. But what type of motorbike is best suited for two riders? There are a few factors to consider when choosing a safe, comfortable, and practical two-seater motorbike for Vietnam’s roads.

Factors to consider when choosing a motorbike for two riders

When selecting a motorbike to comfortably fit two people in Vietnam, some important features and specifications to keep in mind include:

Engine power and torque

  • With the extra weight of a second rider, you’ll want a motorbike with enough engine power and torque to maintain good acceleration and cruising speed, especially on highways.
  • Look for engine sizes 125cc and up for underbone and street bikes, and 150cc and up for scooters. This gives enough power for two average-sized adults.
  • Enough torque is important for carrying momentum when going uphill.

Size and dimensions

  • Ensure there is adequate seat space, distance between foot pegs, and handlebar width to fit two adults. Underbones tend to have more room than scooters.
  • Consider overall weight capacity, typically around 150-200kg for two passengers.
  • Look at wheelbase measurements; longer is more stable.

Comfort and ergonomics

  • Padded and contoured seats with backrests provide more comfort over long distances.
  • Floorboards rather than foot pegs better accommodate different foot positions.
  • Adjustable rear suspension can improve ride quality with extra weight.

Safety features

  • Choose a motorbike with larger brakes and tires for effective braking and handling.
  • Ensure lights and reflectors are in good working condition for visibility.
  • Look for sturdy foot pegs and grab handles for the passenger.

Popular motorbikes for two riders in Vietnam

With an understanding of those key considerations for carrying two people, let’s examine some of the most popular types of motorbikes used for two-up riding in Vietnam.

Underbone bikes

Underbone-style motorbikes are very common in Vietnam. Known for their practicality and fuel-efficiency, underbones have a low slung “step-through” design that makes it easy to get on and off. They provide an upright riding posture suitable for navigating congested city traffic.

Overview and features

  • Light and nimble handling
  • Step-through frame for ease of mounting
  • Upright riding position
  • Mostly air-cooled engines with good low- to mid-range power
  • Large flat footboards
  • Full-size wheels and brakes

Pros for two riders:

  • Compact yet roomy ergonomics accommodate two adults
  • Low center of gravity provides stability
  • Underseat storage space for helmets/gear
  • Fuel efficient engines good for long distances

Cons for two riders:

  • Less powerful engines struggle on steep hills
  • Typically lacks rear suspension, not as plush a ride
  • Limited floorboard space can feel cramped

Example models:

  • Honda Wave – Best selling underbone in Vietnam, available in 110cc and 125cc engines
  • Yamaha Sirius – Refined 110cc-125cc underbone with comfy seat
  • Suzuki Smash – Modern styled 110cc-115cc underbone on a budget

Street bikes

While underbones are practical for urban use, you may want more power and performance from a street bike designed for highway cruising, longer trips, and carrying two riders.

Overview and features

  • Sporty styling mimicking racing motorbikes
  • Front fairings and windscreens
  • Rearset foot pegs and clip-on handlebars give aggressive posture
  • Higher power engines 125cc-175cc, some with liquid cooling
  • Dual shock rear suspension for a smooth ride

Pros for two riders:

  • Strong acceleration and high top speeds
  • More stable at highway speeds
  • Rear suspension soaks up bumps for passenger comfort
  • Optional luggage racks and wind protection accessories

Cons for two riders:

  • Not as maneuverable at low speeds
  • Uncomfortable aggressive riding position over long distances
  • Exposed riding can fatigue passengers

Example models:

  • Honda Winner – Legendary 150cc-160cc street bike in Vietnam
  • Yamaha Exciter – Modern 150cc liquid-cooled street bike
  • Suzuki Raider – Stylish 150cc street cruiser model


With an automatic transmission and front body fairing, scooters offer a relaxed and easy riding experience for two people. Their larger dimensions provide stability and weather protection.

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Overview and features

  • Classic scooter “step-through” design
  • Automatic clutchless transmission
  • Flat floorboards and upright seat position
  • Full bodywork and front fairings
  • Mostly 150cc-175cc engines
  • Underseat and front storage space

Pros for two riders:

  • Super easy operation for novice riders
  • Large padded seat and floorspace comfortable for two
  • Storage for helmets and luggage under the seat
  • Wind and weather protection from fairings

Cons for two riders:

  • Heavier and less nimble than underbone bikes
  • Exposed lower body of passenger
  • Slow acceleration with automatic gearbox

Example models:

  • Honda SH – Top selling 150cc-160cc scooter known for reliability
  • Yamaha Janus – Three-wheeled 250cc scooter with two seats side-by-side
  • Vespa Sprint – Classic Italian-designed 150cc scooter

Dirt bikes/dual sports

While not as common, larger displacement dirt bikes and dual sport models are also viable options for two riders traveling off-road or touring Vietnam’s countryside.

Overview and features

  • Designed for off-road and trail riding
  • Tall suspension travel and knobby tires
  • Simple air-cooled single cylinder engines
  • Dual sports add lights, instruments for street legal use
  • Engine sizes from 125cc mini bikes up to 250cc and larger

Pros for two riders:

  • Extra ground clearance to handle rugged terrain
  • Suspension soaks up bumps and ruts
  • Large padded dirt bike seats built for moving around
  • Perfect for exploring Vietnam’s backroads and trails

Cons for two riders:

  • Require more riding skills and experience
  • Not ideal for long highway trips
  • Tall seat height may be difficult for shorter riders

Example models:

  • Honda XR – Classic air-cooled four-stroke trail bike, 150cc-250cc
  • Yamaha WR – Popular liquid-cooled two-stroke 125cc-250cc dirt bike
  • Suzuki DR – Respected dual sport model, 200cc-650cc engines

Additional accessories for two riders

To improve comfort, safety, and practicality for two-up riding in Vietnam, there are some handy accessories worth investing in:

Luggage racks

Luggage racks mounted over the rear wheel provide tie-down points for duffle bags, backpacks, or other storage essential for longer trips.


Whether using an add-on backrest pad or choosing a bike with an integrated passenger backrest, this allows the rear rider to relax against the bike rather than having to hold on tight.

Custom seats

For maximum long distance comfort, aftermarket seats tailored for two riders offer thicker foam, gel inserts, and reshaped dimensions for adequate room.

Safety tips for two riders

When riding with two people on a motorbike in Vietnam, following some safety best practices is strongly advised:

Proper gear and equipment

  • Always wear a motorcycle helmet, secured full face or three quarter style for the most protection.
  • Wear appropriate protective riding jackets, pants, gloves, and closed toe shoes.
  • Use tinted eye protection like sunglasses or a tinted visor when possible.
  • Apply sunscreen liberally if riding exposed without a fairing or windscreen.

Communication and coordination

  • Agree on signals for stopping, turning, slowing down, etc since verbal communication is difficult.
  • Look out for and point out road hazards to each other.
  • Lean together into turns; don’t fight or resist the bike’s lean.

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Adjusting riding style

  • Brake earlier and smoother with the extra weight.
  • Take corners at slower speeds and allow wider turning arcs.
  • Maintain lower speeds and greater following distance from other vehicles.
  • Stop frequently so both riders can stretch and rest.

Conclusion and recommendations

When selecting a motorbike to share with a riding companion in Vietnam, I would recommend considering an underbone, street bike, or scooter in the 125cc to 175cc range. Look for a model with adequate power, two-up ergonomics, and features adding comfort and storage. Ride conservatively, wear all proper gear, and invest in accessories like luggage racks to make your motorbike ideal for two.

For navigating Vietnam’s cities and cruising the open road together on two wheels, classic choices like the Honda Winner 150 or Yamaha Exciter 150 strike a great balance of performance, comfort, and value. Smaller scooters like the Vespa Sprint can also work well around town. For backroad adventures, a dual sport like the Suzuki DR200S provides added versatility to handle dirt and pavement. Whatever you choose, always keep safety top of mind, and enjoy experiencing Vietnam’s fascinating culture and landscapes on your trusty two passenger motorbike.

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