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-   -   Buying a bike in USA/NON resident (http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hubb/north-america/buying-bike-usa-non-resident-18607)

ultspnch 22 Mar 2005 08:18

Buying a bike in USA/NON resident
Hi! In the past, I have found it more and more difficult to buy and register a m/c in many USA states if one is not a holder of valid drivers liscence from that state. I have an Australian motorcycle liscence.

Usually the main trouble is getting insurance at a reasonable cost.Sometimes, say FLORIDA, I have found an International Drivers liscence is good enough, but this varies and I think the agencies are getting more suspicious.

I have a VF 700 in Los Angeles but want to get a newer bike for a trip starting April 2005. If anyone out there has solved this problem recently in a specific state, and how much they had to pay for minimum legal insurance 3rd party, please share the info.

Thanks for any ideas.

email address in post removed by Grant - see http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/ubb/faq.shtml#notify for why. Use the http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/ubb/email.gif link above to contact directly, or just post a reply.

[This message has been edited by Grant Johnson (edited 22 March 2005).]

mother77 23 Mar 2005 00:27

I'm new to this forum and feel pretty lucky to have found a perfect thread http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/ubb/redface.gif)

I'm looking to travel through the USA and down Central then South America. I was originally thinking of shipping my bike either to the east coast or Venezuela. Since looking at shipping costs, and considering the weakness of the US$, it looks far more attractive to buy in the States or Canada. How easy is it for a non resident with no permanent address, and a UK driving license to buy? Which are the easist States to buy in and are there any other hidden costs other than sales taxes? Any special type of visa required?

I've seen a few S/H BMW 1150GSA's for sale @$10,000 privately. I don't think a dealer or a buy back scheme would be as competetive, but that depends on how easy it would be to sell at the end of the trip- 9 to 12 months.

thanks in advance.


Grant Johnson 23 Mar 2005 00:51


First off I'd recommend a 650GS not an 1150 for your route, you'll be much happier, and have more dollars to spend and can travel for longer! http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/ubb/smile.gif

No special visa required. You probably need an address, but that's easy - find a mailboxes etc outlet, and rent a box for a month, and there you are with an address.

(It doesn't have to say POBox - you can call it whatever you like, suite apartment whatever.)

The only hidden costs are things like lkicence plates and possibly vehicle inspections, all minor.

Canada is good, you can get the sales tax and gst back when you leave, although I'd check on all the details of that to be sure you do it all correctly. Prices may or may not be less than US prices, it varies, sometimes great deals, other times not.

Insurance is potentially a hassle, but can be done. Motorcycle Express/Motorcycle Services is one of our advertisers, they can easily sort insurance for North America for you, and you get a discount and we get a couple of bucks if you tell them we sent you. See their ad here http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/sponsors/

Keep us posted on your trip - send me a few words and pic or two for the ezine!

Grant Johnson

Seek, and ye shall find.


One world, Two wheels.

mother77 24 Mar 2005 00:56

Thanks for the prompt response.

Despite my moniker, i am actually a 6'4" 15 stone bloke, so i am looking for a bigger bike. I ride an 850GS at home so am more familiar with the bigger GS models. I have tried a 650GS on the BMW offroad course, and while far better for the rough stuff i'm not sure how comfortable it would be for all those miles! Your point about saving dollars is fair point though.

If it really is so easy to buy in country why do so many people choose the cost and hassle of shipping? Obviously there is the security of having your own bike and preparing it properly etc. but at approx $500 each way this seems excessive. I guess it comes down to preferance.

This raises another question;
Has any British National managed to get a Carnet on a US registered bike. The RAC say it can be done but they're not obliged to do it.
(i realise you don't "need" one for the Americas but it appears to make border crossings easier and could be used incase i really get the bug and i decide to ride all the way home again, money allowing ;-))

Or bearing in mind the cost of a carnet is it best to follow the same policy as here and sell up then buy/rent in the next destination country? (possibly Oz)

Any experiences/opinions gratefully received.

davidmc 24 Mar 2005 02:19

Regarding the whole shipping vs. buying overseas thing, the nice thing about having your own bike and shipping is that you become familiar with it prior to your trip and can make modifications as needed well in advance.

I am leaving in two weeks for a one year trip and I bought my Transalp a year ago. I have since taken a 4500 mile trip and have done several modifications. Had I waited to buy a bike at the beginning of my trip I would have been riding something I was completely unfamiliar with. I know my current bike and what its capable of. It takes time to learn about the bugs and shortcomings of your bike, and every bike has them.

Regarding the whole 1150GS vs F650 thing, I think that you would have no problem being comfortable on the F650, as long as you got the Dakar model. In my opinion, this is one of the best bikes for world travel. Like Grant said, the 1150GS is a big bike to take solo, but most folks don't realize this until they have been out of the US or Europe. When you are well off the beaten path, you will be much more comfortable on an F650 than a 600 pound beast. Two-up may be a different story...

My 2c...


mother77 25 Mar 2005 23:48

I ride an 850 GS at home and have done several thousand miles through france and spain, as introductions to long distance motorcycle travel and numb bum syndrome, but as you said - on pretty good roads. Did drop it once on a mountain road in southern spain though!. I was hoping any mods i found i needed could be learnt on this then quickly applied to an 1150GS if I bought, which is half the logic of sticking with the same brand & similar model. I've got the Haynes manual and have been tinkering with this so mechanically wise I would be more comfortable with something i know.

However, I'm probably going on another test trip to Morocco in the next few months, so this should be a more realistic test. I guess i'll soon find out if i can cope with "real" roads and whether my desicion will come back to bite me ;-), or at least give me a hernia!

Will let you know how i get on. and i'm humble enough to accept that you may have "told me so" ;-)


Grant Johnson 26 Mar 2005 01:09

Don't get the carnet until you need it. And you don't need it for the Americas. DO contact Suzanne at the CAA to clear whether or not they WILL do it. (contact info on links page)

Suzanne is very helpful, and will help you organise everything you need so that when the time comes it's easy. You can do it from anywhere in the world, doesn't matter where you are, they just courier the paperwork to you, but it helps if they have all the signatures and info etc from you in advance.

Grant Johnson

Seek, and ye shall find.


One world, Two wheels.

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