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Old 12-14-2013, 12:56 PM   #1
p_funk OP
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Bike in Dominican Republic

Hey all, headed to the DR for a few weeks in January. I was hoping to rent either a small street bike or dual sport for most/all of the time I'm out there. Buying isn't totally out of the question either. Anyone have any connections? I know there's a guy doing V-strom tours, but I hate itineraries. Any help/advice would be fantastic. Thanks.
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Old 12-14-2013, 05:31 PM   #2
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Just head for Cabarete or nearby and rent from any of the rental shops you see. Easy, cheap, reasonably reliable. Don't put any money down until you actually see and test drive the bike.
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Old 12-14-2013, 05:32 PM   #3
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Awesome, that's what I had figured. Any idea if they take your passport/if you can get a rented bike into Haiti?

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Old 12-15-2013, 10:17 PM   #4
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Nope and nope.
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Old 12-26-2013, 11:30 AM   #5
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Anyone ever hear of/use these guys? Only Cabarete rental co. I can find a website for. Just hoping to secure some sort of deal before I head out. I'd hate to be stuck walking.
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Old 02-18-2014, 05:43 AM   #6
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Update, trip done.

So I got a pm from another inmate asking about the trip, as she wanted to do something similar. Seeing as there aren't a whole ton of ride reports, info, etc... from the Dominican, I figured I'd throw some stuff up.

I wound up renting a bike for 9 days/$130US - a little Chinese 150cc "retro" cruiser with only 800km when I got it.

As with anything in Dominican you're kind of supposed to haggle on price. Seeing as how the only price I had seen online was here, I was totally content with the $15/day for a basically new bike. If you're looking for anything above 200cc, be prepared to pay US prices ($100/day). With a little bargaining, you could probably get it down to $10-12/day. I was asked to surrender my passport in exchange for the bike. (possibly 'cause I paid in cash) I had my passport stolen in Botswana, and read a bunch of gringo horror stories of rented bikes being stolen shortly before the return, resulting in the tourist paying $3000 to get their passport back. Because of this, I brought a second, expired passport and gave them that... also I wanted to travel into Haiti. The D.R, it seems, revolves around money. I'm sure some of it was the pasty kid with the duffel bag and American money, but everyone is trying to make a buck. For me, it was more tiring/annoying than dangerous. Taxis will try to grossly overcharge you and everything can be haggled. There are very obviously different prices for tourists and locals, and while english is very common, you can definitely bargain better with some spanish. If in doubt, start to walk away - they'll either lower their price or, at worst, you can start over with someone else.

As stated before, it seems the only, and cheapest, places to rent motos are in Sosua and Cabarete on the north coast. They're sort of known as the adventure capital, with tons of kite and board surfing and some decent beaches. The easiest way to get there is from Santo Domingo. Caribe Tours is one of the largest bus companies on the island, and can get you from Sto. Domingo to Sosua for $330RD/7.60USD. (Not sure how much you know about the Dominican, so sorry if any of this is common knowledge) They run newer coach buses and are clean, have bathrooms, and insanely effective A/C. (bring a jacket) after about 4.5 hours and a couple stops, you'll arrive at the bus station in Sosua. There's a fair number of rental shops and a great beach in Sosua, but I continued 15 minutes east to Cabarete and stayed in Laguna Park Hostel. (Highly recommended, $10/night for an 8 bed dorm) Cabarete isn't very big and really only has one "strip" running parallel to the beach with shops lining the sidewalk. Seeing as it's a tourist town, you'll likely be approached almost immdeiately with offers to buy all sorts of crap. I told the first kid that I wanted to rent a moto and he brought me to a generic trinket shop. I was shown a poster of a couple different bike with tourist prices. I didn't really like any of them so I kept walking. The second place I went to had 2 bikes out front and a sign. I was shown an older "better" red one, and told him I would only take the newer black one because it had a disk brake. I gave him $130USD and my old passport, he gave me a padlock, a shitty red pudding bowl helmet, (effectively bungeed to the back in the photo above) and the keys. With that, I was off. Very few of the places have a phone number, and none (except the pricy one in the link above) have a website. I was a little nervous to just wander to a town with no reservation set up, but there really are a ton of bikes for rent.

I wound up riding with another traveller I met in a hostel to Santiago, locking the bike up for three days and taking the bus into Haiti. From there, I rode back along the North Coast to Samana and Playa Rincon.

Not once did the bike let me down and not once did I really feel unsafe. That said, the Dominican Republic is crazy. The roads are run by microbuses with 20 people in them, semi trucks, and all these little motorcycles carrying up to 5. Very few bikes are what we would call "street legal" i.e. they don't have headlights or brake lights and they don't ever really wait at red lights. Hell, my bike didn't even have a plate It is easily the most dangerous country for a motorcycle I've ever been to, and I personally witnessed two bike accidents (moto vs. moto, moto vs. dog) and treated one. I do some pretty dumb things on a regular basis, but even I wasn't terribly comfortable riding at night. The cops are crooked, the potholes are enormous in some places and like anywhere else in the world, there is crime. Also dogs. Dogs that f***ing love running at your bike. I don't mean to intimidate in any way. If you keep your head up and stay focused, it's not a huge deal. There is also a huge guilty pleasure when blowing a red light with 30 other tiny motos. Because my bike looked like every other bike in that country, I wasn't terribly woried about it. I got it real muddy the first couple days and kept it that way. It had a steering lock, but weighed nearly nothing. I kept a padlock through the front rotor whenever it was out of sight. When I went to Haiti (Don't even try to bring a bike across the border) I stuck it behind the bus station, locked the front wheel and put a bicycle cable lock that I had brought through the back/frame. I also tipped an armed guard that was there about 15 bucks to keep an eye on it. Motorcycle theft is really common there, but like everything else, a bunch of common sense and a little ingenuity will usually prevail. I was never hassled by cops, and only stopped at 3-4 road blocks the whole time. Only once was I even asked for papers. I just showed my passport and was waived through. This was all without a license plate or helmet on my head (it was on the back cause it kept falling apart) so I assume they were looking for more...punishable crimes. If you want a full face helmet made after 1990, bring one. They are very scarce over there. If I did it again, I'd probably bring an old one/buy a cheap flea market one and just leave it there.

Please know these were just my experiences. I seriously wouldn't recommend riding there to anyone without a couple thousand miles experience. For everyone else, go for it. It's cheap, fun, and beats the shit out of a New England winter.
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p_funk screwed with this post 02-18-2014 at 05:59 AM
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Old 02-18-2014, 08:38 AM   #7
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Good report. I'll quibble with just a few things:

Lots of bikes for rent in Las Terrenas as well. Same bikes, same deals. Probably at least a few other spots as well.

I didn't leave my passport. I merely told them no, and left a cash deposit.

I didn't think the roads, driving or traffic was particularly bad at all by world standards. In some areas, e.g., the southwest, it was downright easy.

And I'll emphasize:

Bring any safety gear with you. That includes armored clothing and helmet. I brought a full face helmet, a mesh jacket, light hiking boots, gloves, and mountain biking knee/shin pads. Aside from protection, if you don't bring gloves the backs of your hands will sunburn badly.

Don't neglect to carry warm clothes if riding in the mountains (recommended), where it regularly gets chilly and rainy.

enjoy,

Mark
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Old 02-18-2014, 09:01 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markharf View Post
Good report. I'll quibble with just a few things:

Lots of bikes for rent in Las Terrenas as well. Same bikes, same deals. Probably at least a few other spots as well.
Totally forgot about that. Passed some rental spots in Samana proper as well.

Quote:
I didn't leave my passport. I merely told them no, and left a cash deposit.
I'm sure they're looking for any sort of collateral i.e. credit card, a wad of cash or a passport. I just had a burner passport that I didn't mind losing. (as it expired years ago) For once in my life, I was happy to still look 17.

Quote:
I didn't think the roads, driving or traffic was particularly bad at all by world standards. In some areas, e.g., the southwest, it was downright easy.
Don't get me wrong. There are some awesome desolate roads. It's really just the city centers that suck a little. This was exaggerated by the fact that 2 adult males with gear for 2+ weeks were maxing out the suspension on a little Chinese 150.

Quote:
And I'll emphasize:

Bring any safety gear with you. That includes armored clothing and helmet. I brought a full face helmet, a mesh jacket, light hiking boots, gloves, and mountain biking knee/shin pads. Aside from protection, if you don't bring gloves the backs of your hands will sunburn badly.

Don't neglect to carry warm clothes if riding in the mountains (recommended), where it regularly gets chilly and rainy.
What he said. I brought gloves, but burned the shit out of my arms. Also, I would have killed for a visor entering Santiago (sand/rocks from trucks) and Nagua at dusk (bugs...so many bugs)
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Old 02-18-2014, 06:54 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markharf View Post
Good report. I'll quibble with just a few things:

Lots of bikes for rent in Las Terrenas as well. Same bikes, same deals. Probably at least a few other spots as well.

I didn't leave my passport. I merely told them no, and left a cash deposit.

I didn't think the roads, driving or traffic was particularly bad at all by world standards. In some areas, e.g., the southwest, it was downright easy.

And I'll emphasize:

Bring any safety gear with you. That includes armored clothing and helmet. I brought a full face helmet, a mesh jacket, light hiking boots, gloves, and mountain biking knee/shin pads. Aside from protection, if you don't bring gloves the backs of your hands will sunburn badly.

Don't neglect to carry warm clothes if riding in the mountains (recommended), where it regularly gets chilly and rainy.

enjoy,

Mark
Hey Mark,

Hope you're doing well these days. So is it fair to assume that if I land in Santiago my best bet would be Sosua or Cabarete? Also, any experience in renting a bike in Haiti?

I'm going through withdrawal symptoms now that my little Ellie has been off the road for over 6 months and I can't wait to get back in the saddle.


...Michelle
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Old 02-18-2014, 08:52 PM   #10
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Hi Michelle. Long time no hear nada! Hope all's well with you despite the current return of winter rain, wind, snow, misery and gloom. I was just up your way but busy with a relationship detonation, so not feeling very social.

Sosua and Cabarete are close, but with a somewhat different feel--Sosua has far more sex tourism. Both are easy, reasonably cheap, friendly and packed with your fellow tourists. Rentals are easy, and the roads are generally quite fine, subject to the usual cautionary notes. Routes through the mountains include some spectacular paved and unpaved riding. The southwestern deserts are also amazing.

I never made it to Haiti--saving that for next time. A couple of weeks suffices for D.R. if hurrying to and fro, but Haiti's more difficult, expensive and by reputation has some security issues. I don't know of any rentals there, but a guy on the LP Caribbean forum lives there and provides quite a bit of support. You might ask there--possibly also on the DR1 forum, which is an expat D.R. site.

Safe journeys!

Mark
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Old 02-19-2014, 07:30 PM   #11
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The flight is booked and I'm leaving from Seattle on March 17th, returning April 2nd. The more I read up and talk to you guys on here the more excited I'm becoming. Thanks for the great info so far, as well as the private messages.

Two of the areas that I'm most interested in are the central mountains and the southwest, which strike me both as much less "package tourist" oriented than the resort towns. Of course I'll be popping into a beach town or two as well. Any pointers for reasonably priced hotels, as well as camping, in those areas would be greatly appreciated ...as well as addresses and names of hotels in Haiti where I'm hoping to be for a few nights as well.

I'll make sure to post some pictures.


...Michelle
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Old 02-19-2014, 08:33 PM   #12
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I'll send you some if those Haiti addresses. If there's anything I regret, it's not going father southwest. Either way, still beats 3 feet of snow.

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