A motorcycle, big or small, is a great way to get around Chiang Mai. The traffic is, of course, a little dangerous but having your own transport really comes in handy. No more arguing with tuk-tuk drivers or wondering where all the songteaws are at 11pm when you're trying to get home (although it goes without saying that drinking then jumping on a motorcycle would be a very silly thing to do). You could buy one but if you're not staying long or you've just arrived then renting a motorcycle can make life much easier.
During our various visits to Chiang Mai we've rented motorbikes a number of times. We've rented automatic scooters, semi-automatic Honda Dreams and even a "proper motorcycle", a Honda Phantom. We've rented bikes from two places. Both of them have been fine. No problems with the bikes. No rip-off attempts. Decent service and a decent price.
We've used KPD rentals a bunch of times. They're on the little street that runs alongside the Meridien Hotel on the opposite side from the night market. The following photographs were all taken at KPD. The prices are per day. They will discount them if you're renting for longer periods of time.
We were going to rent a Phantom from KPD to do the Mae Hong Son loop but decided we should give another motorcycle rental company a go. We'd heard the name Mr Mechanic a lot so we visited one of their 3 stores. Their prices were similar, the bikes looked the same so we rented ourselves a Honda Phantom. It had flames on the tank and everything!!
Insurance is always a bit dubious with rental motorcycles in south east Asia. It's rarely clear what's covered and what isn't and the conditions vary from shop to shop. In the case of Mr Mechanic, as I understood their insurance's conditions, if you didn't have insurance you are on hook for any repairs. The fairness of sticking you with the bill if their motorcycle breaks down is questionable but I guess it's their bikes, their rules.
Consider buying your own helmet. The helmets from rental places are inevitably too small and of really poor quality. For some reason, even when the majority of the customers are farangs (westerners), motorcycle rental places don't stock enough helmets big enough to fit a farang sized head.
There are some motorcycle helmet shops along the outside of the northern moat. You can pick up an ok (but not great) helmet for around $5 so consider buying one then just giving it away when you're done. We donated one pair of helmets to Mr Mechanic so hopefully they now have a couple of larger helmets kicking around.
Mr Mechanic also rents dirt bikes. We've never rented one so I don't have any details.
Here are the details for the two motorcycle rental places we've used.
KPD Car Rent
next to Le Meridien Hotel
They'll take a photocopy of your passport and require a 2000B deposit. We rented from KPD enough times that they got to know us so they may have been demanding a lower than usual deposit from us. We also never rented anything bigger than 125cc. It's possible they'll want more than 2000B deposit from you and I also suspect that a higher deposit will be required for the bigger bikes.
Mio 115cc - 150B/day 2500B/month
Nuovo - 150B/day 2800 - 3000B/month
Wave 100cc - 120B/day 2500B/month
Wave 125cc - 150-200B/Day 3000B/month
Phantom 200cc - 500B/Day 9000B/month
Manual 110cc / 125cc - 180B per day for 7 days with Insurance
Honda Phantom 200cc - 500B/day without insurance; 600B/day with Insurance. Deposit 10,000 Baht and photocopy of passport
Motorcycle Jackets - 500B for 10 days
Here are the details of two others that we have never used (but who are probably fine)
2 Soi I Ratvithi Road, Chiang Mai (Behind Sompet Market)
8am to 6pm - Tel 0818824580
All bikes were fairly knocked around.
Honda Dream 110 2100B/mth Deposit 5000B
Honda Dream 125 3000B/mth Deposit 5000B
Phantom 500B/Day 3500B/7 Days Deposit 5000B
Bikky Chiang Mai
2 Shops - One on Suthep Road, one on Huay Keaw Road, just north of Kad Suan Kaw
Manual Bikes 200B/Day 3000B/month - 3000B Deposit and photocopy of passport
Automatic Scooter - 250B/Day 3500B/month
Honda Phantom - 550B/Day 6000B/month 2800B/week - 4000B Deposit