Last updated on September 21st, 2017
You’re travelling with a group of friends. Or maybe there are just two of you. Should you all fit on the same moto dup (Cambodian motorbike taxi) or hail separate rides?
Riding motorbikes from early childhood
The easiest way to get around town or around the countryside in Cambodia is on a motorbike. It’s not uncommon to see children on “moto”. Granted, they’re the smaller, Japanese style mopeds, but most are just slightly shy of 100 cc.
Honda is the King of the road for the mainstream motorbikes, especially its Dream series. The more expensive classic looking Cub has been in production since the late 1950s and is still a prized and expensive possession in Cambodia. It’s extremely silent, that’s what Cambodians like, not the loud obnoxious types that the local “steav” (skinny would be louts with dyed hair) ride.
We can ride bigger motorbikes, cruisers, touring, or off-trails. Everybody can ride a motorbike in Cambodia, boys, girls, aunties, ladies etc. Only babies cannot ride bikes on their own (they usually ride with their mom or dad). The bigger bikes are just not nimble enough in traffic and consume too much petrol for the short distances we cover.
Don’t leave your brains at the airport
Wear a helmet when riding a bike in Cambodia. You can get cheap ones at the market for $20-30. Some will make you look like a Vespa rider (not popular vehicles in Cambodia, too loud and unbalanced), others will cover your face entirely.
You’ll get pulled over by the traffic police if riding without a helmet. They’ll be happy to oblige as foreign heads without helmets stick out in the crowd. You might get away if you’re a passenger (somehow only the rider must wear a helmet). But as a foreigner doing crazy stunts, you’re a potential source of coffee or noodle soup money.
It’s quite strange for Cambodians to see tourists riding without helmets. But my friends figured that maybe they’re in occupations that don’t require the use of a brain, thus the lack of need for protection?
If you’re fat, don’t overload the motorbike
The average moto dup can easily accommodate 3 Cambodian passengers. Two adults and two children should fit on a motorbike if they’re Cambodian size. Four adults can fit on a motorbike for short distances.
If you’re big, you should ride on your own behind the moto dup, and remember not to make any brutal moves that might throw him off balance.
If you’re really obese, consider taking a tuk tuk
It’s not the weight or even the volume. Moto dup can transport very large cargoes. Literally, boxes, crates, pigs or chickens piled sky high. It’s the fact that you might be overweight and not sitting still.
We’re used to riding with people who can ride motorbikes, not with passengers who get jumpy in traffic. It’s ok if you’re featherweight like us, but it’s really not easy riding with people who are shifting or leaning over to spot landmarks.
Ready to ride around town? Check out our tips on taking public transport in Cambodian cities!