Moped Rentals??

I've been down to Nicaragua a couple of times now, and seriously contemplating taking the plunge and moving there. One tourism oriented business I think could make a go is Moped rental. I think it would be really attractive for adventuresome travellers to get around local areas. The last trip to Nicaragua I spent a few days in San Juan Del Sur. It would have been great to rent a Moped for a day or so to get to the outlying beach areas. In Granada a Modped would be great to get to Laga Nicaragua, Lago Apoyo, and even up to Mombacho.

Anyone have any thoughts on the feasability and/or logistics?

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Motorcycles

Are motorcycles abundant in Nicaragua? Can a decent one be found for a good price? Thanks

Not at all hard to do...

This should probably be a separate post here on Nicaliving, since I think if more people knew the small costs, they might consider this an option. But, since it was asked here, I will offer my two-cents worth:

It is not hard to buy a decent bike there. I would say they are less prevalent than in Honduras, but still very common. Depending on what you want, you might not even bother looking at used bikes. From my experience, the smaller the cc the bike, the more miles are on it. And, many are used to death for delivery work and what-not; my guess is that larger bikes are used on weekends by wealthy(ier) people, while small ones are work related, for delivery work or for general transportation.

These bikes, like Yamaha 115cc or 135cc, are not expensive new, and countless bike shops can customize a little, if you wanted "cargo space" of any kind. For costs it usually depends on which country made the engine of assembled the bike, but they are not expensive.

There is a BIG price jump between the little bikes and a more traditional bike, only the latter normally being sold in North America; while you will often pay slightly more than the U.S. price for a 250-350cc Enduro bike, the small bikes 80-150cc are very well priced, with off-brands sometimes being less than $1k new. Many of the bikes sold here cannot be viewed at a local Honda-Suzuki-Yamaha-Sanyang (sp?)-Bajaj dealer in the U.S., since the bikes are not imported nor sold there. If you go web searching, make sure you get on the Asian or at least the "International" web site, not the one for North America.

The best-selling Central American bike line, the Yamaha YT series (115-135cc), comes and goes from production, and has for many years been rumored to be dead, but it always resurfaces. I mention this because the bike is again missing from the importer sites in many Latin countries, though most bigger places probably have bikes on the show floor, and a back-log of orders for the next batch. The second-best selling line might be the current Yamaha one, RX-series. Here, on a Nica bike site, you can get an idea of the RX-line of bikes, as well as the other, bigger items imported:

http://www.yamaha.com.ni/Motocicletas.htm

If you ever see an ad, newspaper or otherwise, in which a bike (maker) you have never heard of, is being sold by a local store of the same name as the bike, this is due to some Asian-Indian bike makers making products which are "badged" for the in-country distributor; the bike is really a Bajaj or Sannyang or whatever, but with special decals and what-not listing the name of the distributor (for example, the 180cc "Mayan Super" in Honduras, and slightly different name elsewhere, is really a Bajaj bike).

I have owned several small Yamahas down here, and never had a problem with parts. A repair shop is only as good as the guy who touches your bike, but since I do almost everything myself, I only have second-hand knowledge of stories -- the vast majority of which are positive, unline the car stories I hear, quite often.

mopeds in SJDS

There are already motorcycle and motor-scooter rentals in SJDS, both recently opened. In Rivas they are doing a brisk business selling mopeds and scooters. I'm sure rental is not far off. As with all business opportunities here in Nicaragua, if you don't start it when you think of it, someone else will.

Mopeds

Would Mopeds be up to the job of handeling the lousy dirt roads (especialy in rainy season) that go to the beaches near SJDS. If the roads were paved I could understand. To my mind the village of SJDS it self is small enough to be walked comfortably and the attractions in the village few and far between ( mopeding from Bar to Bar?)..the action is at the beaches..how long would it take to moped to Yankee?

I like your idea..and could see it in Grenada or with paved roads..just thoughts..

Think so.

I, for one, think that move (business opportunity) as a service and business in Nicaragua is long overdue.

Of course SJDS; and possibly Ometepe, Granada (aka Gringolandia) and Rivas, Managua, Maysaya, Corn Island, and other possible spots could be good locations.

I don't know the economics of that business or the involved liability; but, the business can work.

I used to rent mopeds in "Eleuthera" in the Bahamas in the 1970s -- So you can see from this comment that Nicaragua is a liitle behind on things.

I also know that the rent-a-car business in Managua is exploding and growing by leaps and bounds. Budget and Dollar (American) are doing great. __________________________________________________________________

Moped Rental

Thanks for both your comments, markwayne & Miskito Alan.

Forgot to mention that I also rented a Toyota Land cruiser in Granada the last trip down (last October). It was a great way to see the outlying areas - Masaya, Catarina, the "White Towns" (Diriamba, etc.), and all the way to the Pacific coast of Casares. But, I thought it was outrageously expensive - $250 for 2 days! I took every bit of insurance I could get whereas I always decline that in the U.S. but, still, car rental seems too expensive for the mid-level to budget traveler.

Yes, the dirt roads would be a challenge for a Moped, especially in the rainy season, but my thinking was that almost anyone can handle a Moped, whereas a more powerful motorcycle or 3 wheeler that could better handle muddy roads would be beyond the driving ability of many.

As for liability, with a well drawn up liability waiver and target the rentals toward foreign tourist who are not likely to remain in Nicaragua long enough to sue should something happen, I think liability could be covered by a "standard" Nicaraguan insurance. Side note: I did bungee jumping in New Zealand a few years ago and I remember the liability waiver basically said I understood I was risking my life in a manner a sane person would not do and did so of my own free will and held the operator harmless. Something like that should work for renting a moped in Nicaragua ;-)

And yes, something like this seems long overdue in Nicaragua. I lived in Hawaii in the 90's, and there were tons of moped rentals.

Thanks again for your comments, and I'll look into the idea more.

Granada Rentals

I was looking into the same thing thing here in Granada... A couple of points: 1. There was was one here a couple ofyears ago, but it disappearded. 2.. The best thing to do is to get your bikes direct from manufacturers.. About $350 each. 3. Find a small cheap place here to start you rentals is not hard if you do not insist on the center of town. 4. If you target Tourists only your are fine, with Credit Cards etc. But as for locals, there is a question of how to do it securely, the Cedula is a great way, keep it until they return the machine. 5. make friends with Cops, tells them what you are doing and ask as few for to be ready to help you. 6.Have a good mechanic on hand or a relationship with one.

One more thing

A project like this can get INTUR seal of approval and therefore can be duty free on imports and tax free on local purchases. However I would not bother with it as the investment in this is fairly low, and the savings will be quickly eaten up by the cost of INTUR's approval.

"a more powerful motorcycle..."

I think you are correct if you devide things into two categories, basically a moped and a larger bike, which appear to be the only categories in many or most places in the U.S. Perhaps you already know this, but in Latin America (and this is derived from the Asian bike market, where larger cc bikes often have aggressive sales and "use" taxes) there is a fairly wide range of smaller bikes, including not just the Dominoes-PizzaHut-Propane-Messenger guys using Yamaha 110/135cc two-stroke street/off bikes, but also competing bikes from Suzuki and Honda, as well as select bikes from India and China. Some of the bikes, though surely not all, have enduro sort of tires, and very low seats, and should be easy to control for anyone familiar with a hand clutch. These bikes, if you have not seen them, are almost a world apart from say a 250cc enduro, or bigger. Just a thought, if you were still persuing this as a business option. Bikes are very cheap in Central America, though prices differ a fair bit sometimes for a bike designed and made in Japan, as opposed to a bike (or even just the motor) designed in Japan, but built in Tiawan / China. You can sometimes still find new old stock on very small bikes. In Guatemala, as of 2003, you could still buy very small all-around bikes, like a Honda CT70cc/90cc or Yamaha Chappy 80cc, which handle an adult, and have very wide enduro sort of tires. Anyone who could safely drive a moped could almost surely safely drive a small bike like these.

New Zealand -- Guatemala.

The New Zealand thing sounds like the para-sailing thing in Guatemala because there they tell you only "estupidos" do this kind of thing.

As for the comment on the smallness of SJDS; the beautiful "Hotel Pelican Eyes" is way up on that hill above the beach and not a decent walk and those guests, for sure, would love the mopeds and many tourists that stay in the other hotels would probably like to explore some other beaches and areas with mopeds and not just always walk from one bar to the next bar. I also feel that other hotels will be built up in those hills in the future. ____________________________________________________________________