What should I do if my motorbike rental breaks down on the road?

Motorbike rental breakdown tips
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Renting a motorbike can be a fun and adventurous way to explore a new destination. The freedom of cruising down open roads or scenic coastlines on two wheels is exhilarating. However, motorbikes do sometimes break down, especially if you are renting an older model. Knowing what to do when your motorbike rental unexpectedly breaks down mid-journey can ensure you stay safe and get back on the road again.

Assess the Situation

If your motorbike starts sputtering, steaming, or making odd noises, the first step is to fully assess the situation while keeping your own safety top of mind.

  • Carefully maneuver to the side of the road and come to a controlled stop. Get completely off the roadway if possible.
  • Check yourself for any injuries and move to a safe location away from traffic. Assess if you are on a blind curve or other dangerous spot.
  • Try to diagnose the issue, looking for any leaking fluids, debris stuck in the chain, loose parts, or other obvious problems. Knowing the cause can help guide next steps.

“When my motorbike suddenly died on a remote countryside road, I quickly coasted onto the grass shoulder and walked away from the traffic side before inspecting the bike. I was unhurt thankfully.” – Maria S., travel blogger

Getting to safety and identifying the issue should be your top priorities when faced with a broken down bike. Don’t continue riding a malfunctioning motorbike or remain in a hazardous location.

Contact the Rental Company

Once secure, immediately try to phone the rental company for assistance using the emergency contact number provided. Give them your precise location and explain the motorcycle’s condition.

  • Provide details like make/model, rental dates, and any previous issues noted with the vehicle.
  • Ask if they can dispatch a repair team for minor issues or arrange pickup if it is undriveable.
  • Inquire if you should wait with the vehicle or if alternate transportation options will be arranged.

“The rental shop sent a truck to transport me and the broken motorbike back to their repair shop in under an hour. They had my rental history and knew it was likely an ongoing issue.” – Lucas T., travel writer

Maintaining open communication with the rental company is key. They likely have experience dealing with such breakdowns and processes in place.

Seek Help from Passersby

While waiting for the rental company to assist, try flagging down other motorists to see if they can help, especially if in a remote locale. Use caution when approaching strangers, but many will stop to help a motorbike in distress.

  • Ask them to make a phone call for you if you don’t have cell service.
  • See if they have tools or mechanical skills to diagnose or temporarily fix the issue.
  • Request a lift to the nearest petrol station if you’ve simply run out of fuel.
  • Inquire if they would be willing to transport you to your destination. Offer to pay for their help.

“When my motorbike broke down on a backcountry Vietnamese road, two locals stopped and jury-rigged a temporary fix that got me to the next town. Their help was invaluable.” – Evie W., motorbike enthusiast

The support of fellow travelers can make a frustrating situation easier to manage. Just use good judgement when interacting with strangers.

Move to a Safe Location

If the motorcycle is immobilized but in a dangerous spot, try wheeling or pushing it somewhere secure while you wait for help.

  • Get fully off the roadway onto the sidewalk or shoulder if possible.
  • Find a protected, visible area out of the sun and elements.
  • Park near a landmark or large tree to make your location obvious to anyone sent to assist you.
  • Set up a flare or warning triangle behind the disabled vehicle if you have one.

“When my motorbike broke down on a narrow mountain pass, I pushed it off the road behind some trees to get it out of the way of traffic. I felt much safer there as I waited.” – Diego V., adventure traveler

Avoid waiting in or near active roadways. Get to a spot where you, any passengers, and the disabled vehicle are out of harm’s way.

Troubleshoot Minor Issues

Depending on the rental motorbike’s condition, you may be able to get it running again yourself with minimal tools and skills. Only attempt repairs you are comfortable and capable of.

  • Check fuel level and add more if simply empty. Carry extra fuel if riding in remote areas.
  • Ensure the kill switch is in the proper position before trying to restart.
  • Check battery terminals are clean, tight, and corrosion-free.
  • Look for any loose tubing or broken belts. Secure or remove as needed.

“I always carry some basic tools and supplies when renting motorbikes just in case. I was able to fix a minor issue myself once which saved me hours of waiting.” – Micah A., frequent traveler

Having some mechanical know-how and tools can allow you to troubleshoot minor breakdowns on your own temporarily. Still contact the rental provider regardless.

>>> Suggestion: What Should I Pack for a Multi-Day Motorbike Trip?

Wait for Assistance to Arrive

Even if you’ve identified the issue or made temporary repairs, often the best course of action is to wait safely for help from the rental company, a mechanic, or highway patrol.

  • Note the estimated time of arrival for any assistance sent your way.
  • Bring water, snacks, and protection from the elements to stay comfortable.
  • Occupy yourself with photos, videos, reading, or writing as you wait.
  • Check periodically for messages from the rental provider with updates.

“When my motorbike broke down, I found a shady tree to wait under. I had a book to read and plenty of water, so the few hours went by quickly before help came.” – Lea J., New Zealand backpacker

With the proper provisions, waiting for professional assistance in a protected area is often easier and safer than attempting roadside repairs yourself.

>>> See more: How can I find motorbike rentals with pickup/drop-off service?

Get Transportation if Needed

If unable to safely operate the motorbike, start thinking of transportation options to get you and your rental to the shop for repairs.

  • Hitch a ride with a friendly passerby heading to town if needed. Offer to cover their petrol costs.
  • Call a local taxi service who can transport you and the bike where needed.
  • Use a rideshare app like Grab or Uber if available in that region. Coordinate a suitable sized vehicle.

“My motorbike wouldn’t start after I stopped for lunch, so I called a Grab car that could transport me and the bike back to my hotel. It was cheaper than waiting hours for a repair truck.” – Aydan U., software developer

Consider all options to get you, your passengers, and the disabled bike to a safe location for repairs if it is not drivable.

Return the Motorbike

Once assistance arrives, work with them to transport the motorbike back to the originating rental location or recommended repair shop.

  • Load the motorbike into the pickup truck if one is sent. Secure it so it doesn’t get damaged.
  • Provide the rental company or mechanic with details of what happened and any repairs attempted.
  • Ask for a timeline for completion of repairs before you leave the shop. Get contact details.

“The repair shop determined the starter was shot on my rental bike. I left it with them to replace the part and waited 2 days before I could pick it up again.” – Cassie T., photographer

Be sure to communicate all relevant information to the rental company and mechanics to help get the motorbike repaired quickly for future trips.

Seek Compensation

Due to the time, stress, and costs involved with an unexpected breakdown, politely ask the rental company about any compensation they may offer.

  • Inquire if they will refund a portion of the rental fees given the downtime.
  • Request discounted rates on future rentals as an apology for the inconvenience.
  • Ask if they cover incidental costs like taxis, phone calls, food, or accommodations.

“Because I lost nearly 2 days of my rental, the company refunded me 25% and gave me a big discount on my next booking. It was a fair resolution.” – Mark P., small business owner

While respectful, don’t be afraid to recoup some of your rental fees, extra expenses, and lost time if the breakdown was through no fault of your own.


Dealing with a breakdown of your rented motorbike can be stressful but is manageable with preparation and knowledge of what to do. Keep yourself safe, reach out for help from both passersby and the rental company, wait in a secure spot, arrange transportation if needed, and seek reasonable compensation from the provider. With the proper precautions, you can get back out exploring again in no time. Smart troubleshooting and contingency planning helps maximize your rental enjoyment.

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