How to Rent a Motorcycle In Manali
A motorcycle trip to Ladakh is a dream which when becomes a reality leaves memories that you will cherish for life. Your first trip to Ladakh will always be your most memorable one, no matter how many times you may return to relive the experience. There are of course several ways that you may plan to reach there, like self-drive, public transport or flying but the best way to make the most out of this journey is to ride a motorcycle to Ladakh. It doesn’t matter if you are a hardcore biker or just a regular motorcyclist; if you have a decent enough experience of riding or handling a motorcycle than this is how you must plan your trip.
For people living in Delhi NCR region or the Northern states of India, planning a bike trip is relatively easier than people living in other parts of the country. For them, the biggest question that arises is whether to ride all the distance in plains as well, which of course will be time consuming and boring, or to ship the bike first to somewhere closer to Ladakh. Both these options of course are an additional hassle. Then there is also the fact that not all of us either own a motorcycle or own a motorcycle that is good enough for a Ladakh trip and hence comes the thought of renting a motorcycle for the trip. Foreign tourists planning a motorcycle trip of course have no other option than to rent a bike or buy it and sell before they leave India. I own a Royal Enfield and never really had the need of renting a bike but after several trips to the region and helping numerous people, here is my two cents on the topic. This is some basic information which I am sure will come handy to anyone planning to rent a motorcycle and take it to Ladakh.
Where to rent a motorcycle in Manali?
There are several places from where you can rent a motorcycle in Manali. Almost all the travel agents and tour operators have this arrangement. In addition, the mechanics as well offer this service so finding a motorcycle to rent in Manali is not at all a difficult task. Just take a stroll around the town and you will see plenty of shops/workshops offering motorcycles for rent.
Can I rent a motorcycle in Manali and use it in Ladakh as well?
A BIG NO. Please do not do this or you may land in trouble. If you are renting a bike in Manali, only use it to reach Leh and your return journey. For visiting the local tourist attractions like Nubra valley, Pangong and Moriri, please rent another motorcycle in Leh. The locals there do not allow tourists to use motorcycles rented outside of Ladakh to run there. You may however use it within the city of Leh.
Can I rent a motorcycle in Manali and drop at Srinagar?
Not for free. Most of the renters will give you a straight no for this meaning that you will have to bring their motorcycles back to Manali itself. Some of them however would give you a choice to leave the motorcycle at either Srinagar or Jammu for an additional cost which could be anywhere between Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 15,000.
Can I rent a motorcycle in Manali and leave it in Leh?
Yes this too is an option provided by some renters for an additional cost. It is very rare that you won’t get charged for this. Additional cost would be around Rs. 10,000 in exchange of which you can rent a motorcycle in Manali and leave it at their drop point in Leh. That way you can either catch a flight home or make some other arrangements for your return journey.
Is there a minimum or maximum rental period?
It depends on the renter but some of them do have a 7 day minimum criteria.
How much does it cost to rent a motorcycle in Manali?
It actually depends on which motorcycle are you renting but expect the cost to be somewhere between Rs. 1000 per day to Rs. 1500-1600 per day. If you are thinking a Royal Enfield, then the charge would be a minimum of Rs. 1200 per day for Classic, Standard or Electra and close to Rs. 1600 per day for Thunderbird. For Pulsar it would be close to Rs. 1000 per day and for other motorcycles, it may be a bit less by a couple hundred.
Is this price negotiable?
Hard to answer this question but I do not think it is negotiable. They pretty much have a standard rate all across the town and no travel agent or mechanic would lower the price unless it is a known contact or your negotiation skills are of export quality. LOL.
Do you have to pay a security deposit in order to rent a motorcycle in Manali?
Yes you do. No travel agent or mechanic would lend you a bike without the security deposit. The exact amount of the deposit can vary highly, it can range anywhere from Rs. 15,000 to Rs. 30,000 or maybe even more. Usually the renters let you pay part of the deposit and take rest as a cheque or maybe keep your credit card or some other document as security deposit for the remaining amount. Amount can depend on how old the motorcycle is, or the renter you are dealing with. This amount of course will be refunded to you when you return the motorcycle. If there is any damage, the repair cost will be deducted from the deposit. If there is no damage or repair required, your deposit will be refunded in full.
What are the documents required while renting the motorcycle?
Your driving license is a must and pretty much the only document you will need to submit as it works both as an Identity proof and address proof as well. Someone asked me on an email if you have to submit the original and the answer to that is no. You are required to carry your DL with you during the trip and just need to submit a photocopy at the place you are renting the bike from in Manali.
Is riding gear available for rent as well?
No it is not. The only thing you may rent with the motorcycle is a helmet and that is pretty much about it. Riding jackets, knee guards, elbow guard or any other accessory is not available for rent. If you cannot ride without it, you will have to buy it.
Is luggage carrier available for rent?
Most of the Royal Enfield’s available are equipped with it already. They luggage carrier along with the space for carrying Jerry cans is mounted on the motorcycles. However if you need an Enfield without the carrier, that is available too. If you are renting some other motorcycle and it does not have luggage carrier, ask the mechanic if he can mount one or give you some other motorcycle.
Is there any paperwork involved while renting the motorcycle?
Yes there is. The agent or the mechanic will have you sign a document which pretty much lays down the terms, for example what happens if you crash or damage the motorcycle etc. Please make sure that you pay close attention to these terms and clarify anything that you are not sure of.
What documents should you ask for along with the motorcycle?
Make sure the RC, Insurance documents and pollution certificate is handed over to you along with the motorcycle. Check the dates carefully and ensure that all these documents are still valid and not expired.
Can I book a motorcycle in advance over the phone?
Yes you can but you must not. The most important thing before renting the motorcycle is to test it and you will be deprived of this option if you book it in advance. The best thing would be to walk through the town, check out several options, the condition of the motorcycle, the costs involved and then make a decision of where to rent it from.
How is the condition of the motorcycles?
It is never good is what I can say. Condition will differ from being OK to bad to even being pathetic which is why it is of utmost importance that you do not book in advance and inspect the motorcycle closely before paying the amount. These motorcycles have been used by multiple people and always in the hilly region. Used is actually the wrong word, these motorcycles mostly get abused and hence the bad condition. From the engine to fuel efficiency, it will never be at par with a personally owned motorcycle.
What to check before renting the motorcycle?
I am not a mechanic myself but I will still list a few things. Check the condition of the chain set and ensure it is not worn out. If the motorcycle is electric start, try bringing it to life a couple of times and ensure that it doesn’t cough or give trouble when you press the start switch. If it is kick start, ensure that there is no starting problem and the motorcycle is a single or at most two kicks start. Check the condition of the tires if they are worn out. Sit down on the motorcycle to check that the seats are comfortable enough. Do a thorough inspection of the motorcycle for any oil leakage, either from engine or front shock absorbers. Check that the headlamp is bright enough and get it replaced if it is not. Also check the tail light and that both the indicators are in working condition.
Other tips that may be useful while renting a motorcycle in Manali?
The first tip is that check how old the motorcycle is and how many kilometers are on the odometer. Try to find a motorcycle that is comparatively new, has been bought in last couple of years and have run lesser kilometers. Finding a new motorcycle is hard but not tough so if you find one go for it. Second thing you must do is to stay in Manali for a day and test the motorcycle. Take it towards Rohtang Pass and get an idea about how it performs on steep ascents and fuel efficiency. If there is a fix required, get it done immediately. If there is a fault too big or time consuming for repair, dump the motorcycle and find another one. Third thing would be to make sure that you are carrying some essential spares like clutch/accelerator/brake wires, headlamp, spare tubes, a toolkit, chain link and spark plug etc. You must learn how to take off the wheel and change the tube in case of a flat tire. Any other basic mechanical knowledge too will be beneficial so learn a little basics of bike repair like fixing puncture, changing sparkplug, clutch/cable wire, headlamp, headlight, attaching chain link etc. My final advice would be that do not be tied down to a particular motorcycle, do not go with the mindset that you only have to rent an Enfield or a Pulsar. Rather look for a motorcycle which is in good running condition irrespective of which brand it is.
With all this said, another point to consider here would be that if you have a motorcycle of your own, transporting it to and from Manali would actually cost you less than going through the hassle of renting a motorcycle in Manali. Since it is your own motorcycle, you will always have the trust on its capabilities and hence the peace of mind. Something to think about.
I hope this information was helpful. If you have any further questions, please feel free to comment and ask and I would be glad to answer.