It is a damn great feeling to ride a bike to Rohtang Pass and it is further a feeling out of the world to ride a bike all the way to Leh from Manali via Manali – Leh Highway. In the past I have noticed that for almost all the adventure lovers and bikers, it has always been a topmost question – How and where to hire or rent a bike in Manali Well, though I am not a biker but still I have few points worth mentioning here on this topic based on my get together with such bikers/people and past readings on several travel forums over the Internet.
It is worth highlighting that if your own bike is in decent condition then it is always best bet to ship your own bike and carry the journey on it. The rented/hired bikes comes no way close in terms of reliability, stability, fuel efficiency and overall mechanical conditions. The cost factor may not be vary too much when compared but the RISK of taking hired/rented bikes is far higher than what it can save you in costing terms. Depending upon your plan or itinerary, you can ship your own bike to any of these places viz. Mandi/Chandigarh/Delhi/Srinagar.
Where to Hire/Rent a Bike/Motorcycle in Manali
First and the foremost thing, there are several tour/travel operators/mechanical workshops/mechanics in Manali who offer services for renting or hiring a bike or motorcycle in Manali region. Just make sure that you test the bike thoroughly, understand the terms and conditions and always try to make sure that you rent them after seeing the bike rather over phone. There has been mixed response of travellers after booking bikes over phone with few ugly instances being reported as well.
Cost to Hire/Rent a Bike/Motorcycle in Manali
Generally, the cost of hiring a bike/motorcycle range about Rs 700 – Rs 1500 per day per bike. Of course the exact rental price depends upon the modal, make (bullet, Enfield, pulsar etc) and condition of the bike you choose. As suggested by one of my friends Tarun Goel –
“The classic ones are nothing less than Rs 1300. The UCE and Twinspark models are also well above 1200. The old models are available for less but then if you do mileage analysis paying more rent is advisable because that serves two purposes, a) headache is not too much as fewer chances of breakdowns b) You don’t have to worry about the oil and mileage because mileage difference with UCE is well above 10kmpl.“
As for security deposit, be ready to shell out anything ranging from Rs 10K – 15K (for non-local hire) or may be more and it totally depends upon the dealer in question and bike you select. The security deposit is much less if you plan to hire the bike locally i.e. may be a ride to Rohtang Pass. You will need to deposit one of the original identity proof of yours like passport, pan card etc along with the money in many cases.
Important Things to know for hiring a Bike/Motorcycle in Manali
First and foremost, the conditions of the bikes are not that good after being battered in the hostile conditions for several years. So, if you have your own bike, then do prefer shipping it at any day as compared to hiring a bike. Though things are changing but again you need to pay more on the front to have bikes with good condition.
You should have a valid driving license in order to hire a bike. Some amount of experience of riding in the hills will be an added advantage as always.
Do not ever book bikes over phone or internet and always prefer hunting the right bike once you reach Manali. You must test several rental shops and see what everyone has to offer. You never know, you may get an out of the box solution right away. Booking it over phone or Internet do not leave you with many options or you do not have much control over what is offered to you.
Some dealers provide too old bikes and you should know how to avoid selecting such bikes, so as to minimize the chances of being stuck in the middle of nowhere. Beware of such dealers. So, quite important that you have the mechanical understanding of the basic parts of the bike so that you can detect any fault or tentative age of the bike after inspecting the parts.
Whenever you hire a bike, then spare a day for testing the bike locally (may be a run to Rohtang Pass) and getting any necessary fixes done right there in Manali itself or replace the bike with some better version. This will minimize the chances of being stranded in the middle of nowhere. The breakdown can result in several risks and dangers. Example: Consider a breakdown at chilly location of Taglang La where even the oxygen content is low, you are suffering from AMS, help hard to find and in all you are left with an option to tow the bike in truck/pickup whenever one arrives and agrees. Ehhh!! Not so good feeling. Hence, it is very important to test the rented bike thoroughly and select the perfect one for you.
It always helps having some mechanical knowledge for doing basic fixes/repair of the bike. You never know when you need such skills on these rented/hired bikes.
Do not forget to carry extra spare parts(at least basic ones for sure) even if you are going on your own bike, forget about hired bikes. Always make sure that the renter provide you with basic toolkit, at least single rider helmet, spare tube and other common spares like chain links, spark plugs or whatever they can offer. Try to get as much as you can. Rest you can buy yourself. It will further minimize the chances of getting stuck in the middle of nowhere.
If you are OK with the budget then carry a backup mechanic with you, if possible. Of course, you need to carry the basic spare parts as well. Some people also take an entire extra backup vehicle (car) to carry luggage, spare fuel, spare parts and mechanic. It is definitely a safeguarded approach but carrying extra mechanic and vehicle will add to the cost factor to a great extent. Hence, you need to decide judiciously whether it fits in the budget or not.
Most of these hired/rented bikes offer a pathetic mileage and hence it is always better to play safe and carry sufficient amount of spare fuel after analyzing the fuel efficiency of the hired bike on the test run. Never count on what a renter says.
Make sure that the RC, Insurance and PUC (Pollution Under Control) documents related to rented/hired bike are provided and they are up to date and valid enough. After all you do not want to land in some dismal situation on your life time trip.
Make sure that you have in written what needs to be done in case of you crash a bike or damages some or other parts of it. Generally, the bike will be transported to the nearest garage and the cost incurred for the repairs done need to be paid by the one who rented the bike. Also, check out the other intricacies (terms and conditions) as well like who will bear the cost of transportation or what happens in case the bike goes non-repairable state etc.
I guess many of the renter do provides Royale Enfield’s that does have luggage support as well as space to carry jerry cans. You may not find these things on other bike modals though.
You can also advance book your bike rentals in Leh and Manali online by checking out for some SPECIAL DISCOUNTED RATES available to all the readers/followers of the DoW website through our Destination Specialist / Sponsor – Offbeat Escapes. In order to avail the discounts, you can use the online booking form at the link: Advance book your bike rentals in Leh online
If you have your own bike and are confused on how to carry it over train, then please refer the article: How to Carry your Bike in Train to Ladakh or Himalayas?
Some more technical points you can check before making the final deal: Points to be kept in mind while hiring rental bikes
In the end, again if you have your own bike then do prefer it over the hired or rented bike. But, if you still plan to hire/rent one from Manali then do carry a test run for a day and get the required fixes done right in Manali itself or replace the bike if it is too troublesome. If budget is not a concern then opt to carry a backup vehicle or a mechanic along with required spare parts with you. Do understand all the terms and conditions thoroughly from the renter before handing over the security deposit and documents. Do go through all other points mentioned above, so as to better understand and prepare yourself on bike rentals.
I will be looking forward towards your responses and queries as comments below. Have you rented a bike from Manali? If yes, then kindly share your own experiences with other fellow travelers here. The tips for you will help ensure them a safe and hassle free journey.