Ebikes of Vietnam

ElectricMeg and I recently spent a holiday in Vietnam, a country that was known for bicycles but is now well known for motorcycle chaos. What we did notice was the number of people riding ebikes and escooters. Mostly it is high school girls riding them, because you need to be 18 to get a scooter licence but anyone can ride an ebike. I think the boys would rather ride pillion on dad’s ‘mean-as’ 125cc scooter than be seen on an ebike, but there were a few nonetheless (perhaps the kids that are mocked mercilessly by their mates for being on uncool wheels but smug in the knowledge that they have independence).

They are limited to 25kph which is typically fast enough for a minor commute, and mostly the style of bike is more scooter-like, with the pedals being for show (presumably it’s an ebike then rather than a scooter). We seldom saw anyone actually pedalling, and when they were I guessed it was because the battery had given up for the day.

They are also built for loads, typically with a basket on the front and always a pillion seat at the back. Some were even scooter-like with a foot platform and nominal pedals, but most were bicycle-styled. Prices range from around 8m-13m dong, which is $500-$800 NZD. That’s more like it! We should encourage our NZ kids to do the same, but at around $2500 for an ebike that isn’t going to happen.


  • Why doesn’t someone bring these scooter type bikes into NZ? When we were in Vietnam the locals said they don’t trust Chinese motorbikes due to reliability issues – maybe the same with electric bike/scooter??

    • Hi Eldon, I did see one on TradeMe today. It’s probably a bit like why people prefer MTB-style bikes over the more practical hybrid/stepthru. It’s largely about looks, and no-one can deny that the Viet-bikes mostly are a bit on the ugly side. Then the actual motorised scooters (which would need to be registered here) are likely unappealing to our petrol culture. Times are changing though.
      One thing to consider is that any wheeled vehicle needs to be supported by a network of dealers, spare parts etc so it does need critical mass to support a profitable business. People buying from TradeMe etc are likely to get their fingers burned. Fortunately for many vendors if they are selling at auction they are not bound by the Consumer Guarantees Act if they are ‘private individuals’. They might be in a bit of trouble if they are a business.

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