Renting a Scooter in Jamaica

February 15, 2011 by  
Filed under Rental Cars and Scooters in Jamaica

Renting a scooter in Negril Jamaica, a review of Jah B’s and my scooter experience.

Zooming down the roads at 200 miles per hour doing flips in the air while chugging a nice cold Red Strip and toking on my spliff with a scantly clad lady under each arm while riding my scooter….okay, none of that happened but it would make for an interesting story.  Renting a scooter in Negril is more like renting girly bike with the little tassels but nobody makes fun of you since others get stuck walking or dealing with taxis.

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Shopping for a Scooter to Rent: Since 95% of the recommended scooter rental places in Negril narrow the search down to just 3 places and I was staying at one of them, I rented from Jah B’s.  I looked over his entire fleet of scooters, dirt bikes and Harley style cruising bikes and as a one time motor bike owner I knew he kept his fleet in excellent shape.  The last thing I wanted to to break down on some rural road having to push my rental scooter 20-40 miles in a snow storm.

Pickup and Delivery of my Rental Scooter: The whole process was rather easy, I inspected the rental scooter, signed a contract, got a helmet and was on my way within a few minutes.  Since I had not been on a modern moped…..I mean scooter, I got a brief intro on where to find the turn signals and how to lock the steering (forcing a thief to go in circles or caring my bike instead of just pushing it in a straight line).  The one thing I failed to notice in the rental office was the giant map of Jamaica but who really needs a map to explore a foreign country?

Driving a Scooter in Jamaica: At first I drove really slow and it was like trying to relearn how to drive a motor bike like I never drove one before.  Judging when to swerve to avoid potholes and what potholes I could drive over at my given speed was a giant learning curve!  Several times I hit potholes dead on, other times I ran into sand drifts and other times I chickened out when it came to playing “chicken” with other drivers and animals.  Even driving very slow it was at times an edge of my seat experience.  As the days passed my confidence increased and I was riding with mad skills at record breaking speeds….(at least 40-50 miles per hour).  Along with the increase of my skills, less and less locals yelled at me when they passed, come to think of it, I was actually passing people.  The highlight of my increase in skills came when I was zooming through the crowds of tourist leaving Rick’s Cafe and they were all yelling rude comments about how reckless I was driving.

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After spending days exploring a large share of the west coast of Jamaica, I became really familiar with the roads and with many of the people in local shops and just random people that I would see walking along the side of the road.  From time to time I would stop and offer random people a ride and enjoy the fruits of their gardens (seems like everyone in Jamaica has a nice fruit/veggie garden) in return for my efforts to be  a motor bike taxi driver.  In remote areas people would flag me down thinking that I was lost and couldn’t understand that I was driving around with no destination in mind but we both laughed at how silly each other was.  Several of the people I met invited me to local parties, took me on tours or in a few cases invited me over for lunch or dinner.  It was really a shock meeting real people that wanted to share unlike some of the people in Negril!  Without a doubt, I knew then and I know now that renting a scooter let me explore a culture instead of just giving me a way to get from point a to point b.

Scooter Safety (not getting it stolen): While scooters have a locking steering wheel of sorts, they are easy enough for two men to load into the back of a car or pickup truck.  I would strongly suggest bringing a cable style bike lock with you from home or buying one in Jamaica.  Assuming the price for a scooter is around $2000 and adding in the fact that rental insurance does not cover theft, a $30 lock provides some protection.  Also, park your scooter where you can see it or where a shop owner that you that you have done business with can see it.  A simple, “I would like to buy a water, here’s a tip, could you watch over my scooter while I do whatever” works wonders.

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Scooter Safety (staying alive): From my experiences, driving very slow creates more of a hazard than growing a set and making an attempt to keep pace with the other people on the road.  While it’s normal to stay close to the white line, staying in the middle of your lane gives you more options when it comes to avoiding obstacles.  Generally people will honk if they need to infringe on your path if they want to pass you but it’s a good idea to look all around before you change your location on the road.  Speaking of honking, you should also honk when you want to pass other cars.  It’s hard to explain but within a few hours you will understand that Jamaican’s have dozens of reasons for honking and you will soon understand them.  Click on this link to understand the honking—-> Honking In Jamaica

Scooter Comfort: Scooters have big gas tanks, keep them over 1/2 full so you don’t get stuck pushing them when you run out of gas!  Gas stations are all over the place in tourist areas but once you leave you could go hours without seeing one.  Scooters also have plenty of storage areas where you should keep extra bottles of water, sunscreen and the other comforts that you might need while exploring the island.  Scooters generally have black seats which attract the sun….you will burn your ass if you sit on a seat that has been exposed to the sun for more than a few minutes…..park in the shade!

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Scooters and Insurance: Insurance coverage in Jamaica for motorbikes is not like insurance for cars!  Generally the bike is not covered, your personal injuries are not covered, your passengers are not covered and random things that you might hit are not covered.  In my opinion if nothing is really covered then you could run up a $2000 bill for the bike along with whatever damage you do to personal property and other people.  I guess the freedom of a rental bike comes with a little exposure?

Overall Experience Renting from Jah B’s: I can’t think of a negative thing to say about my rental experience!  Once I asked if my breaks could be set a little tighter( I like overly tight breaks) and Omar made the adjustment in just a few seconds.  Another time he switched out my rental since the back tire was just a little low in air pressure.  The service, bikes and friendly service all got an “A” in my book and here on my blog.

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Overall Experience Renting a Scooter in Jamaica: Overall, I would not trade my exposure in the case of a crash for what freedoms and experiences the rental scooter offered me.  I guess to each their own so spend a few minutes or hours weighing this out at home before you get that vacation mindset and jump into renting a scooter in Jamaica.

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Comments

5 Comments on "Renting a Scooter in Jamaica"

  1. Vic on Mon, 18th Apr 2011 8:49 pm 

    Great bike story ,like bikes and Jamaica. Great story well put together from your experiences riding on the wrong side.

  2. Louis on Sun, 29th May 2011 6:38 pm 

    Wow- thanks for all those insights – just gave me what I needed to follow my heart and come down to Jamaica to scoot around the coast :)

  3. Eboni on Fri, 23rd Mar 2012 2:53 pm 

    Thanks for the insight on Jah B’s. What was the deposit and daily rate? Thanks

  4. Eco on Fri, 23rd Mar 2012 5:13 pm 

    Eboni, as a guest of their hotel I didn’t have to leave a deposit if my memory is correct. I think the daily rate was $25 ish but better rates can be worked out if you rent for a week or two or longer. The freedom of being able to go anywhere at anytime without having to pay for taxis is priceless!

  5. T on Mon, 3rd Dec 2012 4:39 pm 

    Its amazing what you will find when you look for something on the internet… I have been looking all morning for some insight into renting a scooter in Negril and BAM! here it is thank you so much for the great details and photos. This is my third time in 6 months to Negril and I think this time I want to really get out there a little on my terms. I got a sneak preview my last trip with a private driver to Black River with several stops here and there on the way back in small towns and neighborhoods at some eat spots and bars. It was truly the Jamaican experience upfront and personal. My only question is… I have heard that the daily rate is $25.00 US… can you rent a Jah B’s scooter for a 5 days at a discount? if you dont know, will ask when I get in country, just wanted to know if you knew first hand.
    Thanks again for answering many of my “scooter in Jamaica” questions. Peace

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