The Best and Worst Motorbikes in Vietnam (2020)
This article is inspired by Tigit's 2018's article named The 40 Best (and worst) Motorbikes in Vietnam. The article is written by myself, Renzo, founder and co-owner of The Extra Mile together with valuable additions from Henry Barany, founder and owner of Phat Phuc Racing and co-owner of The Extra Mile also.
I myself have owned hundreds of bikes throughout my time in Saigon and still own around a hundred to this day. My experience comes from 6 years in the bike trade in Vietnam and strong relationships with admin and technical staff at the Yamaha, Honda and Suzuki's official stores. Henry Barany is a veteran in Saigon's bike scene with over 9 years in the trade. Together as a team we can offer you exactly the knowledge you're looking for.
This article is based on 25 popular motorbikes in Vietnam mainly amongst the foreign and expat community.
For the sake of organization and clarity, all bikes listed here will be classed in 1 out of 6 categories :
Functional (Specific function, could be work related)
Fun/Racing (The fast ones that can still be used for commuting)
Hobby (The passion driven ones)
Both Henry and I can ensure you that we have owned well over half of the bikes discussed in this article and have driven them all extensively. So, don't worry, you're getting proper content and valuable knowledge.
Alright...here we go!
***IMPORTANT INFO: We will state whether it's a Carburetor or Fuel Injected (FI) bike. It is very important to understand the difference between these 2 systems for any purchase. Carburetors are subject to wear and tear and require regular cleaning, re-jetting, general maintenance and adjusting. Fuel Injection systems use electronic information in order to make an efficient use of fuel. A FI system is much cleaner, more intelligent and considerably more durable than a carburetor.
Yamaha Nouvo 1
Category: Basic Commuter
Production & Sales: From 2002 to 2003
Market Value: ~2,000,000đ (~85$), more if in moderate/great condition
110 cc, carburetor
This was the very first edition of the long running Nouvo series. The series was designed by Yamaha Indonesia, the ones sold in Vietnam had their parts produced in Thailand and assembled in Vietnam. Indonesia and Thailand are always leagues ahead of Vietnam for motorbike design and production, so this was actually a great bike for its time. If you can find one that has been well maintained, is accident free with all the paperwork in good order it could still be a great bike and much more valuable than just 2,000,000đ, however this would be a rarity.
In this day and age, over 90% of these bikes are extremely old and near impossible to restore to a reliable state. Don't expect a fully functioning machine, expect more so a scooter that will require very frequent maintenance. The engine itself may have a good life span, however it's the rest of the bike that will start to fail.
In the early days of The Extra Mile I used to own a large number of these and they were always a decent ride for a cheap bike. Their quality is now generally low as they have aged a lot now and with lack of original parts available can no longer stand the test of time. IT IS STILL A BETTER OPTION THAN A NOUVO 2!
Yamaha Nouvo 2
Category: Basic Commuter
Production & Sales: From 2004 to 2007
Market Value: ~3,000,000đ (~129$), in my honest opinion they are worthless...
115 cc, carburetor
This was the first Nouvo to be produced in Vietnam and that was probably the bikes biggest downfall. It may have been a decent bike for the first few years of its life, however they aged seriously fast! Today they may be amongst some of the the least reliable bikes in Vietnam. To put it simply, buying this bike will cost you more in repairs and maintenance in less than one year than what you bought it for.
There are now absolutely no new original parts being produced nor sold for the Nouvo 2, so owning one forces you to acquire second-hand and fake parts only. Be aware that second-hand parts for the most part have failed in another bike, been repaired or reconditioned and then resold separately. The practice of reselling second-hand parts for scooters is pretty much mechanical suicide. And that is why, the Nouvo 2 is pretty much doomed to having frequent breakdowns.
Yamaha Nouvo 5, a.k.a. Nouvo SX
Category: Basic Commuter
Production & Sales: From 2012 to 2014
Market Value: 10,000,000~12,000,000đ (430$517$)
FUEL INJECTION BIKE, 125 cc
This is the first Fuel-Injected addition to the Nouvo series, kind of a redemption for Yamaha's shortcomings in the past. The Nouvo 5 was a huge step up from the carburetor-based Nouvos and is a much more durable product. Today the Nouvo 5 is the perfect affordable commuter. The switch over to the FI system alone made it much more reliable than its predecessors. It is also quite a comfortable and maneuverable scooter to drive and has a well-lit digital LCD dashboard.
One of the only cons of this bike, perhaps, is the sensitivity of the neck bearing which is generally a design flaw and manufacturing issue throughout the majority of the Yamaha scooters. THE Nouvo 5's steering is nimbler than its predecessors, so if you have recently upgraded from a previous version you will feel the steering movement to be lighter and easier. It is still a great option to this day and the well cared for and maintained examples still have more life in them and will last for a few more years to come.
As of now The Extra Mile has stopped the rental of this model. It was our cheapest model until 2020.
Category: Fun/Racing, Basic Commuting
Production & Sales: From (end of) 2016 to the present
Market Value: 25,000,000đ ~ 58,000,000đ (1,070$~2,500$)
FUEL INJECTION BIKE : 125 cc & 155 cc
The NVX is currently one of the most popular bikes on the Vietnam market amongst foreigners today. As a matter of fact we can see several of them around town with foreigner's NN license plates. It is also one of our most popular and in demand bikes for rent. The sporty and aggressive design make it very masculine, however it's the unprecedented 155 cc engine that makes it stand out from the crowd.
It is powerful, has great acceleration and take-off power and handles well enough, however its build quality does not rival the other 150 cc+ bikes available in the same price range (manual and automatic). They age relatively quickly, the neck bearings break fast even when newly purchased along with front forks that soon start to '"bottom out". The NVX's components easily become loose and start to vibrate, making it not the most perfect of bikes and more experienced riders will feel this.
It is however the perfect bike for people that do not care too much about the smaller details and focus solely on power. Personally, I love the bike for its performance, but I can't deny that they cost us a lot in maintenance and repairs more than we expected when it was released.
Don't be fooled, this is not a completely new Yamaha product, this is the latest installment of the Nouvo series to date. NVX stands for NouVo eXtreme! So when people slate Nouvo's, keep in mind this is still one of them!!
The 125 cc version was released shortly after the 155 cc as Yamaha ceased production of the Nouvo 6, hence they needed a model to keep the 125 cc market interested. There are both CBS (Combi Brake System) and ABS (Anti lock Braking System) versions available, evidently ABS is much better and safer, and of course pricier.
The first generation were released with extremely poor rear suspension, Yamaha then improved this with gas shocks for improved handling and increased comfort. I would still recommend switching to after-market suspension such as Racing Boy or YSS. Other than that, changing the seat may also be a good idea as the original seat can hurt the back badly if driving for over half an hour. It's even worse for the passenger that barely has space to sit on.
Since the NVX ages fast, the market value has dropped considerably for the most used/damaged examples going for as low as 25,000,000 VND. You may find one for even lower if you're lucky. They are currently being sold new at the maximum price of 58,000,000 VND. Second hand bikes with ABS, well maintained and in good condition can go anywhere from 32,000,000 to 38,000,000 VND.
The NVX is currently by far Phat Phuc Racing's most popular automatic bike, with dozens coming through the doors on a weekly basis. The reasons for this are: the attractive purchase price, when comparing it with other 150 cc + bikes, such as the Vario, PCX and SH, the sporty and aggressive styling, the height and overall size, the power and high top end speed and finally the endless list of aftermarket parts and accessories available, making the NVX one of the most fun bikes to customize and modify. They are used for both circuit and drag racing around the ASEAN region.
Yamaha Mio series
Category: Basic Commuting
Production & Sales: From (end of) 2003 to 2015 (Vietnam)
Market Value: 4,000,000~10,000,000đ (172$~430$)
Carburetor bikes, 110 cc & 115 cc
The Mio started life as a small unisex scooter (see top photo) then Yamaha introduced the female version, the Classico in 2006. These were basically the low budget basic commuter with a flat platform for the riders feet designed for people under 30.
They were more durable than the Nouvos, but at this point in time they are also old and new parts are scarce if not completely unavailable. The price will depend a lot on the age and condition of the bike as they have been produced for well over a decade.
They have been discontinued in Vietnam as Yamaha changed their strategy to focus on 125 cc + bikes with Fuel Injection systems. They are still widely produced in other ASEAN countries such as Thailand.
Transmission: Semi-Automatic (gears without clutch)
Production & Sales: From 1999 to the present
Market Value: 5,000,000~25,000,000đ (215$~1,080$)
Carburetor & Fuel Injection bikes, 100 cc & 110 cc
2 Versions: Sirius & Sirius FI
Semi-automatic bikes are by far the best choice if you want an immortal bike that won't let you down. They may be small, sometimes unattractive and a few minor failures may come up, but their engine's won't fail you. Semi-automatic bikes are amongst some of the most reliable bikes you will come across. The Sirius is a good example of a great reliable and durable scooter and they are still being produced to this day, they have now been in production for over 2 decades. Even the oldest ones will still work, they will just look like ghosts and beaten as hell for which the price can fall too as low as 5,000,000đ for the oldest examples, but they will still be functional.
I used to own several Sirius's and I kept 2 of them as personal bikes, just because they were so reliable and also had some sentimental value. Adding to this, the Sirius has a bit more acceleration and maneuverability than its Honda and Suzuki counterparts. It is a great bike that would represent a great investment if bought from new. Yamaha still sells both the carburetor and FI versions, but honestly even the carburetor one has low fuel consumption.
They are affordable 1,000$ bikes (new) that will last decades, so never a bad choice of purchase. Their value may depreciate quickly at first but it will stabilize around the 10M mark from ages 5 to 10 years old. Buying a second-hand one from around 2010 to 2015 for 10,000,000đ is a reasonable purchase not to have to worry for the next 3 to 5 years of ownership. For some reason the FI ones depreciate faster than the carburetor models, so it's worth going for any of the carburetor versions as Yamaha will still produce all the parts for many more years to come.
Yamaha Jupiter (Gravita)
Category: Basic Commuting
Transmission: Semi-Automatic (gears without clutch)
Production & Sales: From 2008 to the present
Market Value: 5,000,000~32,000,000đ (215$~1,380$)
Formerly carburetor, now all Fuel Injection bikes, 110cc & 115cc
Initially produced as a carburetor 110 cc bike, the Jupiter was introduced as a superior model to the Sirius, it was first named the Gravita. Today it is only FI and it is geared towards a market of office employees rather than as a functional bike for blue collars. They also added the gas pressure rear shocks which takes the bike away from the affordable functional bike segment. It is still a semi-automatic bike with not many differences than the Sirius, so in my opinion not really worth the additional investment unless buying second-hand. In the second-hand market they can be found in the same price bracket as the Sirius, so only then may it be worth acquiring one. But honestly, don't expect much more than what the Sirius has to offer.
If you've been to Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore or Thailand, you may have seen Yamaha Jupiter that look almost exactly as the Yamaha Exciter in Vietnam. That is because the Jupiter Vietnam and the Jupiter in those other countries are completely different bikes. Only Vietnam makes this semi-automatic version. The other ones are pretty much just Exciters 135, 150 cc with the name Jupiter (as well as MX King, LC, Sniper, etc.)
Transmission: Manual (5 gears); semi-automatic (2006/8 only)
Production & Sales: From 2006 to the present
Market Value: 18,000,000~53,000,000đ (775$~2,277$)
Formerly carburetor, now all Fuel Injection bikes, 135 and 150 cc
BEST BIKE EVER!!! Ok, that may be a bit biased...but we do really love the Exciter series at The Extra Mile. I have already owned a few as personal bikes and it is one of our most popular manual bikes in our rental fleet, our customers absolutely love them. The Exciter is dubbed as "The King of Speed" by Yamaha and it is recognized as such by the Vietnamese population generally. It is fast, very nimble and pretty smooth if you keep it well maintained. The models from 2015 are all Fuel Injected and 150 cc, making it one of the best under-bone bikes on the market. Getting one of them is absolutely worth it. The 2008 to 2014 examples are to be approached with caution. What I mean by this is that you should know the bikes history and some basics mechanics to go for the previous version. The 135 cc version is among one of the most modified bikes throughout the country. Especially the 2010 model which is compatible with most after-market brands and products. The odds are high that if you find any of the 135 cc ones for sale, many of the parts will not be original, so you need to know what you're buying.
The first Exciter was released as a semi-automatic and was produced and sold from 2006 to 2008. This version is a 135 cc semi-auto with carburetor and 4 gears. If well kept they can still be very very good bikes and you can find them for around 15,000,000đ with luck. More realistically you'll find the manual 135 cc model from 18,000,000đ up to 32,000,000đ. Over 25,000,000đ would get you an Exciter 150 Fi.
It is still being produced to this day and it got a facelift in 2019 which looks great. Thanks to this new design, the 2015-2018 models have now depreciated to the 25,000,000đ-35,000,000đ price range, though if you want one, buying new is worth it.
The Exciter breaks a small Yamaha-Honda competition tradition. Usually Honda has better quality bikes, however in comparison with the Winner 150 (2016-2019) this is not the case. The Exciter has had a better performance and lower cost than Winners of the mentioned years (we're not talking about the Winner X, newest model). This can be proved by the massive depreciation of the Winners from their introduction to the market, people just didn't buy them as much while Exciter still sold well as usual and sales even improved. In any case, don't ever worry about the performance of an Exciter 150, it's going to be good!
Henry's Opinion :
The Yamaha Exciter is without a doubt my personal "pick of the crop" for small CC bikes sold on the Vietnam market. I have owned all 3 generations, each of them unique and special in their own way. The most sought after and much desired of the Exciters by the Vietnam locals is the 2010 135 cc Manual 4-Speed. It shares the same, edgy, "racey", skinny design features as the semi manual 2006 model, which stormed the market when it was released, as its closest racing competitors at the time were the 110 cc Honda Dream and Wave.
The Exciter became an instant hit and classic with the countries youth giving the market a bike that could be highly modified to over 175 cc and widely raced both professionally and illegally, with a huge range of aftermarket racing parts and accessories being imported from Indonesia, Malaysia and Taiwan and even has its own professional televised race series. The release of the 150 cc Exciter in 2015 made it the most technologically advanced small bike on the market and its larger frame and body widened its target market even further. The 150 cc Exciter is the most appealing of the range for expats and rentals, due to its size and durability and most of all the smile it puts on your face when opening it up on the highway or when leaning it into a tight a bend or corner. With its comfortable driving position the Exciter is ideal for weaving through Saigon's hustle and bustle and is perfect for longer trips and tours. Long live the Yamaha Exciter - "The King of Street" I cant wait to see what the next generation has in store for us.
Category: Basic Commuting
Production & Sales: From 2007 to 2014 (production) and to 2015 for sales.
Market Value: 6,000,000~10,000,000đ (258$~430$)
Carburetor and Fuel Injection Bikes, 125cc
4 Versions: Hayate 125, Hayate SS, Hayate 125 FI & Hayate 125 SS FI
This is a good bike overall. We used to own several of these. Mechanically Suzuki make great small bikes and scooters and the Hayate was no exception. It is a much better choice than the Yamaha Nouvos 1 - 4, and is far more durable and solid. The Hayate is a great commuter, nimble enough to slalom in traffic and the engine is solid if the bike is properly maintained. It will give you the acceleration push you need without speeding too much. The maneuverability of this bike is great, which makes it quite a safe ride.
One big con for the carburetor-based Hayate is that the carburetors fail easily and other than replacing them there is no solution. Mechanics claim to be able to fix the carburetor but the reality is that they can't be repaired well, they can "work some magic" for a price of 300,000đ but it will fail again within 3 to 6 months. Secondly, Suzuki's supply chain is very poor in Vietnam and there is a constant lack of parts, specially a lack of carburetors. So it is very common for people to keep buying second-hand or fake carburetors for around 800,000đ and being subject to the same unreliability.
The carburetor models are now worth around 7,000,000đ or below. The 2014/2015 models can still be in very good condition to this day and these will go for up to 10,000,000đ. The FI ones from these years value could go up to 10,000,000đ too if kept in decent condition but honestly it's hard to find them. Any offered for over 10,000,000đ are too expensive, unless its an exemption e.g. completely original, extremely low km's or has a "VIP" license plate.
Regarding the various versions, the SS is a somewhat improved bike but at this time you won't notice much of a difference. Also a big con of the SS is that Suzuki stopped producing their carburetors over 4 years ago, so don't expect to find any new ones
Suzuki Revo (Smash)
Production & Sales: From 2008 to 2015
Market Value: 3,000,000~10,000,000đ (129$~430$)
Carburetor bike, 110cc
Another immortal bike, the Revo or Smash as well as the Sirius won't fail you. A good advantage of this bike is that it is much much cheaper! Suzuki bikes are cheaper than Honda and Yamaha, yet their mechanical quality can rival Honda in some models and be superior to that of Yamaha in others. But they do not rival Honda in durability. Suzuki bikes will age a little slower than Yamaha's
You can easily find old Revos for 3,000,000đ to 7,000,000đ. They may not be pretty at that age but they will still be very functional. For around 7,000,000đ to 10,000,000đ you can get some in very good condition.
Transmission: Manual (6 gears)
Production & Sales: From 2014 to the present
Market Value: 22,000,000~55,000,000đ (945$~2,365$)
FI bike, 150cc
The Suzuki Raider 150, dubbed the "King of Under-bone" by Suzuki is one of the most popular under-bone bikes available in the ASEAN region. Originally released in Thailand back in 2003 it was Suzuki’s answer too and direct competition for Honda’s legendary Sonic which shares very similar design and aesthetics. The Raider 150 is sold as the Satria 150 in Indonesia, Belang 150 in Malaysia, and Raider 150 throughout Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines.
The Raider’s impressive power comes from its DOHC (Double Over Head Cam) four valve single cylinder engine derived from the Suzuki FXR150 with a six-speed transmission. The frame, rear swing arm, rear mono-shock suspension, seat and front brakes are redesigned from the legendary and now classic Suzuki FX chassis, making it more aerodynamic.
In this day and age the Raider’s competition in Vietnam are the Yamaha Exciter 150, Honda Winner 150, Honda Winner X and Honda Sonic 150. All of these models have now been upgraded to Fuel Injection. It is common knowledge amongst locals and scooter heads that the Raider is the fastest of the bikes listed above and the hairiest, most fun of them to drive.
The Raider is especially popular with the Vietnamese youth, is highly modifiable and is widely used for illegal street racing and is a regular competitor on the ever growing local drag scene and can be seen bombing down Happyland’s, 2K Circuit and Dai Nam’s drag strips at ridiculous speeds most weekends.
It’s light weight and small size allow it to take off from the starting line like a bullet from a gun. This however takes us to one of the biggest disadvantages of the Raider and its competition: it's a very short and skinny bike resulting in an awkward driving position for people taller than 1.60m. It is neither ideal nor suitable for most foreigners as their sizes and proportions are bigger than the general South East Asian population. It is an extremely fun bike but you must make sure it fits and is suitable for your body as the driving position can be back breaking.
Suzuki Vietnam now imports the Satria FI which is almost exactly the same bike as the Raider, slightly tailored more towards different countries vehicle rules and regulations, locals also believe that the Indonesian build quality is slightly superior to that of Vietnam’s Suzuki Raider. If you are considering purchasing a brand new one of these, you should most definitely consider the Satria over the Raider, for just a few more million VND, but you will usually need to endure a few weeks or months on a waiting list.
Henry’s Opinion :
The Suzuki Raider, has always held and will always have a special place in my heart and my 177cc modified beast was one of the most regretful sales I have ever made during my 14 years in Vietnam. At the time, 2014, my dream was always to own the Raiders competitor the Honda Sonic however parts in Vietnam for the first and second generation Sonic were extremely hard to acquire at the time and often a quick trip to over to Bangkok, Thailand was the only way to get hold of OEM and performance parts.
When Suzuki Vietnam finally released the carburetor Raider 150 in 2014, it instantly made the bike an accessible hit amongst the locals and finally gave the Yamaha Exciter some much needed competition and was competitively priced. As the Raider was so popular across Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philipines readily available existing aftermarket performance parts instantly started to flood the market and the Raider craze was born.
The latest Fuel Injection instalment of the Raider has far surpassed the previous versions of the bike in terms of quality and performance and is without doubt one of the most aggressive, sporty and best looking under-bone bikes on the market. If you’re not afraid of being labelled a “tre trau” (young buffalo) have the need for speed and aren’t worried about space for your weekly shopping, the Suzuki Raider Fi could be the right choice for you. Long live the Raider, Suzuki will never stop producing this hit.
Suzuki GN 125
Category: Hobby / Basic Commuting
Transmission: Manual (5 gears)
Production & Sales: 1982 to early 2000's (Sales in VN)
Market Value: 10,000,000~23,000,000đ (430$~988$)
Carburetor bike, 125cc
Picture from MotoSaigon.vn
The GN series is a recognized cruiser series quite popular across the world. Several of the 90's models were imported to Vietnam and sold extensively. Sales stopped in Vietnam in quantity in early 2000's but you may still be able to get a new import as they are still being produced. This model is produced by Suzuki's factory in China to Japanese standards. Now be aware, you can also easily find fake ones, so make sure the blue card clearly states "SUZUKI" and nothing else, not even "SUZUKIJAP" or similar names.
Its recognition and the cult following for this model categorizes it as a hobby bike. Generally cruisers and café racers are appreciated as hobby bikes in Vietnam as they are frequently customized and purchased more as a collectible than a functional bike.
As much as it is a recognized series, most of the ones in Vietnam are old and require very frequent maintenance. Its maintenance will be cheap and simple, so you may consider one. They go for around 10,000,000đ to 23,000,000đ for second-hand models. I can't speak for the newer ones as they're very rare and I haven't yet seen one here. Most likely you would need to make an individual import and it would hike the price up drastically. Realistically you can find the 90's models easily in Vietnam. Once again be aware of people telling you they have many new ones available for sale as they will most likely be fake.
An alternative to his model are the GD110 and the GZ150-A, a cafe-racer and a cruiser both sold new by Suzuki. At the reasonable prices of 32,000,000đ and 70,000,000đ respectively. Considering the reliability of Suzuki mechanics, it's worth checking them out if you have the budget and don't mind lowering to 110 cc or raising to 150 cc.
Honda Click (Vietnam)
Category: Basic Commuting
Production & Sales: From 2008 to 2012 (and 2013 for sales)
Market Value: 7,000,000~11,000,000đ (300$~472$)
Carburetor bike, 110 cc
I could dub this bike as "Honda's mistake". A predecessor of the Honda Vision that was discontinued after a short production life (in Honda terms). Its quality was just too low with "chronic" carburetor problems. This bike was simply not reliable and it required too much attention to get it running well. It did sell as it did run well while in good condition. The engine wasn't bad and the acceleration was consistent, but they aged way quicker than they should have.
I checked several ones for purchase and ended up buying only 1 of the dozen I saw. That one was the only one that gave me the impression of reliability and to be fair it had a good enough run with me. This means that it had a good maintenance history from its previous owners. Every other Click 110 I tried was just a disaster. It has depreciated almost as fast as a Yamaha, hence not really worth the purchase anymore.
DO NOT CONFUSE with the Click 125 or Click 150 from Thailand. This Click 110 is a Vietnamese production, very different from the Thai bike also named "Click". We will be talking about the Thai Click at the end of this article.
Category: Basic Commuting
Production & Sales: From 2011 to the present
Market Value: 12,000,000~32,000,000đ (514$~1,370$)
Fuel Injection bike, 110 cc
3 Versions: Just 3 generations all called the Vision
I would dub this scooter as the "Honda correction", as it is a massive improvement from the design and mechanical flaws witnessed in the Click VN. The Honda Vision is so good and popular that it is getting close to a decade of production. That does say a lot, as a matter of fact it is also sold successfully in Europe.
This is one of the lightest bikes on the whole Vietnamese market and also one of the most stable and safe ones. This is important because if you compare it with the Yamaha Mio Classico there's an enormous improvement in stability. The Vision is perfect for ladies as it is very easy to maneuver and quite short while still having under-seat storage big enough to store a full-face helmet. It is however appreciated by both genders as despite its 110 cc engine, it offers a great acceleration power even with 2 foreigners on board. Honda did well to give it a unisex look as opposed to Yamaha's female targeted bikes.
There are 3 generations of Visions: the 2011-2013 edition which had the seat keyhole located at the rear. The first edition may be getting old now and it will be visible on their fairings but the mechanics will for sure still remain reliable on the whole for a good while longer. The 2014-2017 edition had all the opening functions (seat and gas tank) from the ignition keyhole which is much more convenient. They're smoother than the first edition. The current edition just received a fresh new look and design from the 2018 model but inside it's pretty much the same bike. The 3rd edition has Smart Key system available as an option.
There is however one design fault of the Vision though that has not been solved. The plastic headlight fairings keep breaking repeatedly. The body parts around the dashboard keep breaking in the same ways and despite Honda switching to clips from screws, they still brake easily. If by any reason you need to open the head (body parts around the dashboard) do it at Honda only, so they can re-install it properly. If you do it anywhere else you will see the body parts splitting or popping out very fast. On the first edition ones, frequent bumps, pot holes or other irregularities on the road will make the body parts crack around the dashboard exactly where the joints are. The cracks will be visible but less noisy as they don't really make it vibrate. So it is a trade off as you're pretty much doomed to hear a constant vibration, but honestly given the reliability of the bike, it's worth it.
It's worth buying the Vision from new, the price is more than justifiable. Getting a second-hand one is absolutely fine though at this moment I would stick to the second generations and up.
Henry’s opinion :
I am personally a huge fan of the Honda Vision notably the latest model. When first released in 2011 it was predominantly targeted as a female orientated commuting scooter, however with its latest facelift, it has now comfortably established itself as a unisex bike and can often be seen being driven around HCMC’s streets by trendy youths and young businessmen and women. I myself am more than happy to drive the Vision round as my daily go to bike over many other various models available in The Extra Mile fleet.
Due to its small size, it is extremely maneuverable and offers more than enough power for zipping around Saigon’s hustle and bustle. Its competitive price point make it very affordable scooter and it has the impressive Honda build quality we all love and know. With Honda constantly bringing out cooler and cooler designs with more forward thinking color schemes and finishes, we are all eagerly awaiting the next installment of the Honda Vision and will be sure to acquire many more of them.
Category: Basic Commuting
Production & Sales: From 2007 (import) and 2008 (VN) to the present
Market Value: 10,000,000~70,000,000đ (430$~3,000$)
Fuel Injection bike, 110 cc, 125 cc and 150 cc
5 Editions: Airblade Thai (import), Airblade 110 (VN), Airblade 125 (1st), Airblade 125 (2nd) & Airblade 2020 (125 cc and 150 cc)
The Airblade will remain in history as one of Honda's most famous and popular scooters. It is no secret that the Airblade is widely popular in Vietnam, and most families have on or owned one. It is also no surprise that it is one of the most trusted Honda scooters in the country. It has now been produced for over a decade in Vietnam and it will still be in production for years to come.
The very 1st Airblade that came to Vietnam was the Thai version produced in 2007. It was a carburetor bike that can still be found second-hand for over 12,000,000đ, maybe up to 15,000,000đ. As much as it is a carburetor bike, it is somewhat reliable. I wouldn't spend the money on one though, I always advise and recommend to go for a Fuel Injection example.
The 2nd edition was the first one produced in Vietnam, from 2008 to 2012. A 110 cc FI bike, still widely seen on the streets of Vietnam. However its quality wasn't as strong as the Thai one and by now they are starting to show their age and also start to act that way. Though for an 8+ years bike it's still not a bad purchase. These can be found for around 10,000,000đ to 14,000,000đ. There are some advertised for over the 14 million price point but they're not worth it. From 12,000,000đ you could realistically find some good condition Airblade's.
The 3rd edition introduced the first 125 cc version and it high sales have made it a hit. In my opinion the 3rd edition will last longer than the 4th edition. It is solid, has great build quality, is safe and easy to maintain. This is the first Airblade with a semi electronic speedometer which makes it much easier to read. They can be found from around 20,000,000đ to 24,000,000đ and they're absolutely worth that investment.
The 4th edition (pictured next to the description) basically received a completely new design. Inside it's exactly the same as the 3rd edition. The body parts, unfortunately aren't as solid as the 3rd edition's, which is one of the bikes only cons I can think of. The mechanics will last for a very long time, but the fairings may need occasional replacements to avoid vibrations. On the other hand it is smoother than the 3rd generation one, but that's just because of its age. These can be found from around 26,000,000đ to 34,000,000đ. The odometer will determine the pricing, spend 28 million or more and you get yourself a very good example.
Now, the 5th edition is the true champ of this ongoing hit series! I've rarely driven such a great bike! Amazing power, response, smoothness, brakes, everything! This bike was introduced in 2020 and it is the very first 150 cc Airblade. There is also the 125 cc version, both were released at the same time. Besides receiving a stunning new design and much better body than the 4th edition, it is a mechanical modern marvel. By far one of the best scooters I have ever driven and The Extra Mile will for sure have them available for rent by early 2021. They are sold new from 45,000,000đ for the 125 cc one and up to 70,000,000đ for the 150 cc.
Category: Basic Commuting, Functional
Production & Sales: From 2010 to the present
Market Value: 10,000,000đ~45,000,000đ (430$~1,935$)
Fuel Injection bike, 110 cc and 125 cc
3 Editions: Lead 110, Lead 125 (1) & Lead 125 (2)
Maybe important to mention the SCR 110 is the predecessor.
The Lead is a very misunderstood and underrated bike by foreigners in Vietnam. The Vietnamese market understands the superiority of this bike quite well, especially for ladies as its flat foot space and shape indicate a female oriented-product. However, it is a bike so good in so many ways, that it is sad to see so many people missing the opportunity to ride one just because of its shape and design.
The reason I state the Lead as functional alongside commuter in its description is due to the size of its trunk, making it easy to store almost anything one needs to. The Lead has the largest trunk of all the scooters in Vietnam, capable to store 2 full-face helmets and even more! To illustrate further this concept, I will only ever take the Lead over any other of The Extra Mile's fleet when I plan to make several purchases at the supermarket. I can completely fill a trolley with items, even 6-packs of 1.5L bottles and easily take everything home on the Lead. This convenience is priceless.
The reason I say the Lead is misunderstood and underrated is because its offers an excellent ride. It is one of the most comfortable scooters available on the market. It has a very wide seat suitable for 2 larger people and is extremely stable. Its weight and suspension are suitable for people of all sizes. Perhaps more importantly despite its female-oriented look it's actually quite powerful and nimble in a way you wouldn't expect. Honestly, try one to find out for yourself!
The predecessor of the Lead was the SCR 110 which is still widely available second-hand but are now very old. It was replaced by the Lead 110 which introduced the larger trunk. The Lead 110 can be found from as low as 10,000,000đ and maybe up to 14,000,000đ, I wouldn't pay more for it. Same as for the Airblade, from 2013 Honda changed the Lead to 125 cc, additionally they also increased the under-seat storage size. The first 125 cc edition can be found for prices from 22,000,000đ to 28,000,000đ.
The latest edition released in 2018 alongside the latest Vision. Much like the Vision there was no major differences other than a few front fairings. The new Lead does however feel much smoother and more lightweight than the previous versions. The latest model can be found second-hand from around 30,000,000đ and all the way up to the new price of 45,000,000đ (inc. registration).
Category: Functional, Hobby
Production & Sales: From 1958 to the present
Market Value: 8,000,000đ~90,000,000đ (344$~3,870$)
Several versions from 50 cc to 125 cc
Picture taken from webike.net
Arguably the best small bike in history! I have to admit that my knowledge of the Honda Cub is limited, not by lack of test rides, but because of the extensive history and variety of versions there are. I say "arguably the best small bike in history" due to the fact that it's still being produced today (after 62 years) and that some are sold in auctions as collectibles for crazy prices...due to tis fact I believe the my statement is valid.
If you are looking for an extensive and well informed article about the Cub, I will advise you to google it as you will find dozens of great articles online. So I will base this description on my experience with Cubs in Vietnam.
The Honda Cub is a truly immortal bike. It is being produced today with some high-tech methods to make it efficient yet it still keeps its legendary simplicity making it the most reliable bike ever. This is true as long as you keep it original. Unfortunately there is a cult following that tends to customize it and once you modify the interior, the reliability may be lost forever. If you find an original one, even second-hand, and keep it that way, you won't have to worry about it in a lifetime. Having said this, be aware of modified Cubs because they're not the real deal anymore, a red flag is the usual argument "the blue card says 50 cc but it's 70 or 100", that means its originality is gone. If you wish to make the safest bet, you can just buy its latest version, the C125 made in Japan for 90,000,000đ new from Honda. Otherwise there are tons of older ones still being sold on the market, some dating all the way back to 1967!
Now this is a hobby and highly collectible bike. It could be classed as a commuting bike but honestly everyone I know that has owned one, did not keep it for longer than a year. If someone kept it longer, I bet they have a modern scooter or two parked at home as well for backup and daily use. The Cub is the ultimate functional bike because of its simplicity but on the other hand forget about convenience for either storage or any kind of passenger comfort. The second-hand market has many of these and you can find them for as low as 8,000,000đ. Be aware if you find one for cheaper, it will most likely be a complete lemon or fake.
Production & Sales: From 2002 to the present
Market Value: 5,000,000~23,000,000đ (215$~988$) and more...
Carburetor and FI, 100 cc and 110 cc
Around 6 versions (and a few ramifications): Wave, Wave Alpha, Wave RS, Wave RSX, Wave FI & Wave RSX FI
The Honda Wave is without a doubt the most popular semi-automatic bike in Vietnam. The reason for it popularity is because it's made by Honda, the brand with the best reputation in Vietnam. Generally speaking all semi-automatic bikes enjoy the same characteristics, making the Wave series another selection of immortal bikes.
The Wave is like the "blue-collar" bike in the local market, which makes it one of the most functional bikes. Prior to all the transport apps like Grab and other companies, traditional xe ôms (Motorbike Taxi) almost exclusively drove on either Waves or Dreams. It is clearly a very reliable bike and very easy to fix anywhere across Asia.
The price doesn't fall below 5,000,000đ in the normal second-hand market, not even for the oldest ones. You can find very decent Waves for less than 12,000,000đ, from the years 2015 and prior. I would not spend less than 8,000,000đ though as you can get some still in excellent condition in that price range, there are also a lot of fake ones for below this budget. They are available new for close to a thousand dollars in both its carburetor version (Alpha) and FI version (RSX FI). Buying new is never a bad decision, but in the case of the Wave simply buying one (old or new) is never a bad decision. A true classic!
Category: Functional, Basic Commuting
Production & Sales: From 2002 to the present
Market Value: 8,000,000đ~32,000,000đ (344$~1,380$) and more...
Carburetor and FI, 100 cc, 110 cc & 125 cc
5 versions: Future, Future Neo, Future X, Future FI & Future 125
Picture taken from 2banh.vn
The Honda Future is a semi-automatic model marketed as a high-quality bike. For a while it was the competitor of the Yamaha Jupiter and the Suzuki Viva, however today the Future is unrivaled as a 125cc semi-automatic in Vietnam. On top of that the new Future has under-seat storage large enough for a full-face helmet which is a feature no other geared bike can offer. The full-face helmet space is the sole reason why the latest version can be categorized as a Basic Commuting bike, since it makes it very convenient for office workers.
The older versions of the Future were the same size as the Wave and boasted more innovative decals. The old models can be found from a range of prices from 6,000,000đ to 12,000,000đ, they're not really worth more than that because of their age. The Future 125 however depreciates slowly from its 32,000,000đ new price tag and the oldest ones may be worth around 16,000,000đ. This latest model is a complete upgrade of the previous versions, not only due to its FI system but also due to its wider size, solid build quality and design overall.
Transmission: Manual (6 gears)
Production & Sales: From 2016 to the present
Market Value: 25,000,000đ~54,000,000đ (1,078$~2,330$)
Fuel Injection 150 cc
2 versions: Winner & Winner X
For the Winners, I'm gonna let Henry take it over...
The Honda Winner was first introduced onto the Vietnam market in 2016 as Honda's direct answer and competitor to the countries much loved Yamaha Exciter and has already established itself as the most popular fully manual under-bone motorbike amongst expats, tourists and backpackers alike. The Winner is powered by a powerful 150 cc Double Over Head Cam, Single Cylinder Engine and 6 speed gearbox, putting it at an advantage over its fierce competition. The same engine is also shared with the Honda Sonic and CBR 150 models. This makes the Winner the fastest and most powerful 4 stroke under-bone model ever offered by Honda Vietnam.
The Honda Winner boasts Honda's unbeatable build quality and a sharp sporty design, making it popular amongst people from all walks of life from street racers to business men. The Honda Winner is now favored over the Yamaha Exciter in the expat and rental market as it offers an extra gear and boasts a higher driving position ideal for taller foreigners. In 2019 the Winner was superseded by the Winner X which ironed out some of the first generations design flaws.
As with any bike the Winner was released with some teething problems, the most notable being the extremely uncomfortable seat, loose rattly panels, weak neck bearings, faulty cam chain tensioners and temperamental throttle position sensors (TPS) . However these issues should not put you off as Honda offers its 3 year, 30,000km Warranty and if you do choose to buy or rent one of The Extra Mile's Winners rest assured we keep them in top condition.
The Winner X has a more modern, larger, spacier design and comes standard with LED lights, Digital Speedo, Double Disc Brakes. ABS and Smart Key models are also offered by Honda. As mentioned earlier most of the first gen Winner's design faults were solved once the Winner X was released and the X (so far...) seems to be a much more durable bike.
Like the Exciter the Winner is raced widely throughout ASEAN countries and has an abundance of aftermarket performance parts and accessories available produced in Indonesia, Malaysia and Taiwan. Honda's slogan for the Winner is "Discover Great Feelings" which is very suiting as its a great choice of bike to take touring throughout Vietnam and ideal for HCMC's busy streets. With rumors of a 170 cc model in the pipeline and being released in the very near future, both The Extra Mile and Phat Phuc Racing are closely "watching this space".
SYM Bikes & SYM's sad destiny
The 5 remaining bikes of this list are SYM bikes. SYM is actually a highly respected brand in Taiwan, and their quality could rival that of some Japanese brands. The big problem in Vietnam is the lack of a proper SYM after sales support and service, they're quite bad compared to the big 3 brands (Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki). Not only do they lack professionalism at the majority of their stores, the skill and knowledge of their mechanics is also questionable. Now I may be wrong about a few shops and perhaps some of them are able to keep their bikes in proper shape. But the numbers don't lie, we see so few of them on the streets.
Pictures on the left are of the Attila, first introduced in 2002 as a carburetor bike and still being produced as an FI bike. Prices from 2,000,000đ for the oldest and 35,000,000đ for the new one.
We can still see the old ones on the streets, they're absolutely worthless and simply put, a headache to own. They may run very well while working but expect a break-down every few weeks. No new parts are compatible with the older versions, so if you plan to have a reliable one stick to buying new. Even then, their lifetime is quite short because of the after-purchase service problem from SYM Vietnam. The old Attila changed into Attila Victoria from around 2006 to 2008, then Attila Elizabeth after 2008 and finally split in "new Attila" and "new Elizabeth". For some reason the new Elizabeth is a downgrade to 110 cc, while every other Attila was and is 125 cc. The new Elizabeth is sold for around 33,000,000đ. I can't really talk much about pricing for models from 2010 to today if second-hand, all I can say is not to spend more than 8,000,000đ on any of them, as that is the price I was familiar with for the old Elizabeth around 3 years ago.
A model that is still somehow popular is the Shark. It comes in 3 versions, the regular in 125 cc and 170 cc and the new Mini-Shark. The 170cc one is sought after by many foreigners as it has the largest engine an original bike has under the A1 license category (up to 175 cc.) Interestingly enough besides the 150cc + beasts we all know such as the SH or NVX, there is no middle ground on automatic medium range bikes over 150cc. If there wasn't the Shark 170, then the next choice would be an SH 300, C400 GT (BMW) or other occasional imports like the Forza 300 or Yamaha T-Max 550. Of course, you're looking at investments of well over 10,000$ and the necessity of holding an A2 license. So unless you want to modify your Shark engine (which I definitely advise against) the Shark 170 is your only automatic bike with more than 150/155cc that fits into the A1 license category.
However, they're getting old and there is nor 170cc new production for over 5 years. For that reason, you may find them for low prices such as 12,000,000đ.
Another reason for the popularity of SYM bikes are the 50cc's they produce. They do actually offer a wide range of models. The one that stands out the most is probably the Elegant 50, semi-automatic.. It is not rare at all to see them on the streets, especially near schools as many kids drive them. We could say it's the "new Kawasaki Max", a bike you should check out about if you don't know. You can still see a few driven around even though they're extremely old now, they were basically the students choice of bike for years and a good effort from Kawasaki to enter the Vietnamese market. The Elegant 50 is now the bike many parents are buying for their children to go to school on until they can legally own a license. They are very affordable, from 17,000,000 VND new. Second-hand ones can be found for a usual price for a semi-automatic range of 6,000,000 VND - 10,000,000 VND depending on the age.
Still in the semi-automatic category, there is the Angel that technically competes with the Honda Future, as it is the only other 125cc semi-automatic produced in Vietnam (other 125 semis are imported.) As much as I can't say many good things about SYM bikes, for the case of the Angel it's a safe bet since it's a semi-automatic, and like all semi-automatic bikes, any mechanic can work on them and they require little maintenance compared to automatic bikes. The Angel costs around 28,000,000 VND new which is well below the Future but honestly, I'd put the 4,000,000 VND extra to get the latter. Second-hand can be found from as low as 8,000,000 VND for the oldest versions.
And now we land on our final bike on the list and its a nice one to close the SYM section: The Husky Classic 125, a.k.a. the Husky.
A very famous café-racer that has been on the market for ever, meaning it's still on the market! You can get it new for 37,000,000 VND or second-hand for as low as 5,000,000 VND! The reason for such a strong depreciation on older ones is that it's been imported into Vietnam for about 20 years. I am unable to confirm the exact time as several of them were personal imports, not commercial imports. Currently SYM sells it as a full import.
The Husky competes with the Suzuki GN, so I'd say this is also a hobby bike, not so functional. Hence it does need regular attention, so be mindful of it if you consider purchasing one.
We are now reaching the end of this article, but before concluding let's honor other bikes that should be on the list:
The "Honda" Win
Transmission: Manual (4 gears)
Production & Sales: From 1990's to the present
Market Value: 1,000,000đ~12,000,000đ (65$~517$)
Carburetor 100/110/120 cc
BE AWARE! This is NOT a Honda bike. Yet several people will swear it is. The original Honda Win was introduced to the general market in the 90's, manufactured in China by Honda and exported to several markets. But they were quite limited and their original production lasted only a few years. Trust me, the chances of you seeing a genuine Honda Win are slim to none. What you will see are the copies of the Win shamelessly adding "Honda" decals.
They're made in China, Taiwan, Korea and even Vietnam, perhaps a few other places. They're all fake, don't be tricked to think otherwise. The easy way to know is by the registration on the blue card, my bet is the brand will never read "Honda", it may however read things like "Hondajapa", "Hondabik" or even "Hondareal". Of course as long as it's not "Honda" only, then it's NOT Honda.
Today the Win is produced under new brands like Espero, Detech or others. None of these are proper motorbike manufacturers, they have an extremely low standard and their bikes may even be dangerous. Be certain that owning this bike would be a very volatile experience. On the pro side, any mechanic can work on them. On the con side, you'll most likely be fixing it every month or even more frequently.
My personal opinion is that all of these are absolutely worthless, however there is a market for it. Some of my hobby enthusiast acquaintances like to buy them to play and tinker with and they'll pay from 1,000,000 VND upwards for them. Then there is the backpacker market that keeps buying them, for which the new models are sold at 12,000,000 VND. My advise is: get a semi-automatic bike, with a similar price point and actually reliable.
If you ever see a real Honda Win, be ready to spend amounts from 4,000 USD as they're highly sought after by collectors. But as I said, the real ones are extremely rare, a few are even on display in museums.
Production & Sales: From 2016 to the present
Vario: 35,000,000đ~56,000,000đ (1,507$~2,410$)
Click: 35,000,000đ ~ 86,000,000đ (1,507$ ~ 3,702$)
Fuel Injection 125cc/150 cc
Vario is an Indonesian import, Click is a Thai import.
For these gems, I'll let Henry do the talking...
The massively popular Honda Click and Vario series took the Vietnamese market by storm in 2015. Both bikes have been hits in Thailand and Indonesia for many years prior to this, however it was the 2015 edition that pushed it to the top spot as the hottest and most desirable automatic scooter amongst Vietnam’s youngsters and cool kids.
The Click is produced in Thailand and the 2015 > 2017 models were released solely as 125cc. The 2017 - Current edition is now available in both 125cc and 150cc. The Click retails at a higher price than the Vario and locals value Thai build quality above Indonesian. The Indonesian produced Vario was released in Vietnam from 2015 available in both engine sizes and due to the lower price tag sells better here on the Vietnamese market.
The Extra Mile’s extensive rental fleet offers both models of the Vario 125 and 150. Powered by a Single Cylinder, 4 Stroke, 2 Valve SOHC Engine this automatic scooter is extremely fun to drive, is fast and nimble, ideal for the streets of Saigon with its punchy engine and its low center of gravity. When we acquired our first Vario back in 2018, both Renzo and I agreed that the Click/Vario series is "Honda’s scooter quality at its best".
Putting the scooters impressive performance aside one of the Click/Vario’s major selling points making it such a success is its contemporary, sleek, sporty and aggressive design. Secondly its extreme customizability and the endless amount of performance modifications, abundance of aesthetic parts and accessories available make it currently the coolest, most desirable, mid range priced automatic scooters on the Vietnam market. They are widely used for street and drag racing around the ASEAN region.
The latest Honda Click/Vario’s impressive spec list includes LED lights, Digital Speedo, Front Brake Disc, Smart Key, Combi Brake System, Idling Stop Function, Parking Brake, 1 Cup Holder, 1 x Key Holder, Front Luggage Hook and a reasonable Under-Seat Storage space.
The Click/Vario has so many positive points that it makes it hard to think of the cons. Notably the low ride height often makes the rider scuff the bottom of bike on higher curbs, the neck bearings need to be replaced approximately twice a year and the TPS (Throttle Position Sensors) can be known to fail occasionally. The Click/Vario’s acceleration is extremely impressive and as a result the CVT Transmission needs to be refurbished to keep the scooters performance optimal. Taller riders may find their knees hitting the fairings slightly. To summarize the Honda Click/Vario is a great and massively fun scooter for in and around town and has been Henry’s daily runaround for coming up to 3 years now. 11/10 to Honda for producing this awesome machine, and please keep new instalments coming in the future!
And this is the end of it...
We will be publishing a few series of articles from time to time, but if you have a specific interest in a bike you would like to learn more about, shoot us an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll write a review soon after.
Written by Renzo Linares and Henry Barany, published in October 2020.