Solo Female and a Scooter
Replies: 30 - Last Post: Dec 20, 2012 3:58 PM Last Post By: scoot
Dec 16, 2012 4:52 AM
Solo Female and a ScooterHeyy :)
When i go away i like to disappear to little remote villiages or have the freedom to explore the fringes of popualr places, without a time restircition... and the best way i've found this in the past is by using a scooter.. im starting in mexico but will probally just use public transport here and in belize, so, i was wondering if you wonderful people could answer a few questions for me for the rest of centeral america :)
1) Do you need a driving lisence to ride a scooter in Centeral America, and if so which countries, probally looking at a 125 cc (dont have a driving lisence eek)
2) from Guatemala down to Costa Rica, can you take a sccoter arcoss borders easily, are there many extra charges?
3) What are the roads like? i know there are a few highways to avoid and honduras can be a pretty bumpy ride, any where else??
4) has anyone done this before and would it just be easier for me to spend some extra pennies and rent bikes in various places for short periods of time rather than buying one (thinking this might be a better idea)
5) and how safe is your bike if you park it at a nature reserve, town, villiage etc??
Thank you guys, <3
PS: I know im doing this solo but will almost certantly find people to ride with, this is why im thinkking renting will be a better option :)
Dec 16, 2012 6:07 AM
1Although its obviously an extremely common form of transport across the region, its unlikely to meet your needs. Rentals have the same restrictions as cars which means they can't be taken across borders without special papers and rental companies rarely cater for it. If you buy you will need the title document to be in your own name which can be time consuming and complex. You are left with renting in each county but don't underestimate the dangers. No drivers care about bikes and no bikes care about anything and the carnage is outrageous. Getting off the busy routes often then means a rutted and difficult road surface and quite often completely unpaved. If you are very experienced this may not faze you too much, but otherwise think carefully....
Dec 16, 2012 6:35 AM
Dec 16, 2012 6:43 AM
3Scooters are far and few between for rentals, and its is not a normal mode of transport like in Asia, It is best avoiding these other than around small beach venues where traffic is used to pedestrians and slow moving bikes etc. You cant take a vehicle across a border unless you are the owner and have the title/registration in your name.
99% of travelers to this region use the bus network.
You do not want to ride a moped on the rural roads muchless the main Pan Am Hwy, it may not even be allowed, with all the huge cargo trucks going 80-100KM on a two lane mountain roads with no shoulders, no way. I have taken a scooter around Vietnam, Laos and Burma, and am a motorcyclist here in the states, and would not much desire to be on a moped in CA. Even a motorcycle would require far more risk and safety precautions. Even car rentals requires a a different mind set and being in defense non stop, its rather stressful for most, about 4 hours driving in CA and you can be worn out.
Get the Scooter idea out of your plans. Some places you can rent enduros, and quads, about $60 day with insurance.
Dec 16, 2012 7:05 AM
4Agree with Solo.
I use a scooter every day at home (in Italy)..in all weathers.
But I wouldn't even attempt going through CA with one....too many negatives.Hiring one for a day or two in certain quieter destinations...fine.
Dec 16, 2012 9:29 AM
5Just a couple other things to address your questions. Roads in general are fine, almost all are surfaced.
Parking the moto is not safe anywhere, you need to bring it in a secure area, like a home or in a hotel at night, you can't leave it on the street, not like Asia. Crime and theft are much greater risk in Latin America than Asia. In fact, you need to know where not to go, and what places to avoid, especially a solo gringo female on a moped.
For your trip, regardless of mode of transport, to properly see the highlights of 8 countries, you should allow 2 weeks per country minimum, some a week more, some a few days less. So 3 months would be a rush, 4 months would be best. Some areas you need to consider you cant take a vehicle, island ferries, remote parks.
You would be best served to buy a motorcycle in the states, then ride it south, There is a forum for motorcyclist, Horizons Unlimited, and ADV Rider. You could also read the Driving the Americas website to get an idea of what you face.
Rainy season is from April to end of Nov, though it varies greatly by coast, elevation and country, mostly mountains in all the countries, and volcanoes, so rains tend to gather daily in the those areas, afternoon showers are the norm, but as late August approaches into the peak in Oct/Nov, driving anything has its issues.
Dec 16, 2012 11:04 AM
62 years ago in Honduras, I encountered a fellow whose mate was vaporized in a head on collision (combined velocity 120mph). they were riding BMWs. A woman decided to pass another vehicle and failed to see the first motorcycle. The second was 100 ft behind, and narrowly escaped. Ran off the side, totalled the bike.
Dec 16, 2012 11:23 AM
7She probably saw them and didnt care, her car is bigger, motorcycles dont get much respect in these parts...My brother was killed 2 years ago in Bali, on a moped, run off road by a construction truck, he went down a ravine and broke his neck, survived, but due to lack of western medical practices, died waiting for emergency treatment.
Dec 16, 2012 2:25 PM
8OP, based on your description of yourself and what you'd like to do (no driving license, like to get out in the sticks into remote villages and have had experience doing this), I think your best bet is to rent locally. That will usually mean arriving in a place and asking around; I've rented bikes this way in quite a few places, just by asking at my hotel, at gas stations, at mechanic shops, at parts stores. Offers start to come in from all directions, sometimes within minutes, but you need to be prepared to turn down unacceptable machines, and be prepared for a certain amount of defective equipment--including tires, brakes, lights, transmissions, engines, steering, seats, batteries......
I've done some riding in Central America and elsewhere. My lower limit is 125 cc's, and although this can be dangerous on any sort of main roads I've found the risks can be managed. I have to say I greatly prefer larger bikes, for all the usual reasons. There's always an element of risk and of pure dumb luck, but most people make out ok in the end.
There are also commercial rental places scattered around Central America, and using a series of these might be another option--you'd want to check ahead to see how they feel about the fact that you don't have a license. I know of specific shops in Antigua and in San Miguel de Allende, but there are plenty of others. This kind of place will generally rent small dual sports, which are as good as it gets for poking around the backcountry.
Try not to pay too much attention to the various claims of people who've never done what you're contemplating. You might want to try to get hooked up with the riding communities rather than looking for answers here: Horizonsunlimited.com and ADVrider.com. Both have lots of overland riders and a smattering of local folks on all sorts of bikes.
Hope that's helpful.
Dec 16, 2012 7:31 PM
9She asking about taking a scooter, from country to country, and you think my advice is not accurate? Have you been to SE Asia and rode a moped, or moto, its is nothing at all like Central America, and I am not talking about the personal safety factors. I have been to region over 40 times, and Asia 9 times, and I have gone all over the US on a touring bike, and ride a moto in the city of NY and Chicago. Nevermind me...
Dec 16, 2012 7:48 PM
10Heh heh. Do I think your information is not accurate? Yes, much of your information is not accurate. She's not asking, and I'm not answering, about SE Asia: I've been there, but never on a bike, so I'm hardly going to start pontificating about whether someone will like it or not.
So Tim, if you're not writing about "personal safety factors," whatever that is, what in the world ARE you writing about? There are ways to cross borders without owning the vehicle--legally. You say it's not possible. You're wrong.
There are places to rent scooters and motos, and rentals are easy to find even when there are no rental businesses around (as I described above). And whether or not she wants to ride the Pan Am is hardly for you to say: people do this, you know, on 125's, mopeds, scooters and all kinds of weird motorized stuff. They tend to be insufferable about how superior they are--many of them quite publicly, in blogs and ride reports. You can verify this on your own if you care to.
And FWIW, riding in New York has scared me far more than anyplace in Central America. Your experience might be different....if and when you ride around Central America on any sort of moto. I'll wait to hear.
Dec 16, 2012 8:03 PM
Dec 16, 2012 8:13 PM
12Throughout Latin America you can cross borders with notarized authorization from the owner. Some rental companies offer this on cars in Central America. Some motorcyclists have made it from Argentina and Chile as far as the US border this way. Do you know anything further about this?
As far as licensing, did you notice that I suggested she check with rental agencies directly about that? Why do you suppose I bothered typing that out? What I didn't write is that I've rented on more than a dozen occasions in Africa without anyone ever asking me for a license (the police have asked, but never the agency or individuals I've rented from). Will it work that way in Central America? I don't know any better than you, #12. I'm not pretending to know, and I'm not making wild guesses.
Dropping a rental in another country? No. Who said anything about that? Wasn't me, was it?
Dec 16, 2012 8:36 PM
13I am talking about personal safety of a solo female traveling thru Centro America, moto or not, there are far more issues when it comes to safety in Latin America, than there is in Asia. Dont tell me, you think its safe?
I am talking about a moped going 25mph on a road with cargo trucks going 60 MPH and no shoulders, in the mountains, two lane, with slow moving farm equipment and animals in the road, and every one passing everyone, cars, trucks, machinery.
Riding a moped around a some beach town in your swimsuit to grab a sandwich is one thing, going on a 100KM journey to a temple in the hitherlands, would need to be decided on many factors. There are 80 million Vietnamese and 40 million mopeds, a rather different atmosphere than CA. And riding a moped in VN has its risk/issues.
The most motorcycle deaths I have seen, have been in Costa Rica, saw one guy hit a pot hole on a rural road and fly in front of a bus, it was 1 hour before the police even showed up, dies right there, another was a truck hit a motorcycle on a bridge, ran over him, bike and all, could not slow down, another was in San Jose, car just squeezed a moto off into oncoming traffic, got hit by 2 cars, another time, an enduro was going around a bend and hit some gravel from a recent rain, he slid into the guardrail and lost his leg. The worst, a head on, on the Pan Am, truck hardly braked.
Dec 16, 2012 8:39 PM
Motorcycle accidents were the primary cause of roadway deaths in the first six months of 2012.
Statistics released by the Roadway Safety Council (COSEVI) showed that highway deaths in Costa Rica are up from the same period in 2011.
The number of deaths on the road totaled 177 in the first six months of 2012, 13 more than the previous year. The majority of the deaths were motorcyclists (50), followed by pedestrians hit by vehicles (38) and cyclists (18).
Motorcycle deaths have been in the news frequently this year, and according to COSEVI, the number of deaths resulting from motorcycle accidents increased by eight in 2012. A press release by COSEVI implored bikers to wear a helmet, “even when traveling 200 meters to the bakery.”
The release noted pedestrian deaths included instances of people walking through the streets drunk and being struck by cars. Other statistics showed that 46 of the highway deaths were due to speeding, while 20 more were a result of drunk driving.
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