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simon chegwyn 27 Apr 2009 06:57

Purchasing bikes in America
I tried to find out as much information as possible before my trip to the States in 2009 and now home thought I'd sit down and type out a few lines for the benefit of others. From the Uk I purchased (via ebay) an 8,000 mile 1982 GL 500. The bike was in Alpena Michigan and I flew to New York then got myself up there. The bike was mint and totally standard and still in its single seat spec. Prior to leaving the Uk though I managed to find an original rear seat (ebay Canada) and have it shipped to the bike owner. I turned up with my cardboard box suitcase (unpack / load bike leave it behind etc). and set about trying to register and insure it in my name. I was informed prior to my trip that this wouldn't be possible by those more
knowledgeable than me but thought it worth a go. There was little internet information available. It was so easy I thought I must've got it wrong!


1. Find a bike

2. Get yourself a friend who'll let you use his/her stateside address or hire a mailbox. This can be anywhere in US and doesn't have to be in the purchasing state.

3. Purchase no frills liability insurance cover (in case you hit anyone else but your bike not covered so ride well or ride cheap)

4. Go to local DMV (Dept Motor Vehicles) office register bike, get given rear number plate and fit it.

5. Head off

In all it took me 2hours during which time I also had time for a coffee.


Bike - Your call
Insurance - $70 for a six month policy
Registration- $18

Each state has different taxes and you also pay tax on the bike that you buy even if it's old / second hand. In agreement with the previous owner I 'officially' paid $300 for the bike as written on the form so my additional purchasing tax was low.
You can arrange insurance cover from the UK but for me it was $250 for a 2 month policy so thought I'd try and sort it once there.

In summary, go for it! My advice would be to avoid purchasing in big cities and try and find small town America. If you get to Alpena you'll find one of the best places I found in America with people so friendly and helpful you won't believe it.

As for the trip.......... loads of miles and most of the States (that I'd hoped to see) covered. I was there for the election but couldn't really see the point as there was really only one choice! I finally ended up in San Diego and having got attached to the bike thought I'd ship it home. My thought process was that as I was using it right up untill the day before I left I thought that if I tried to sell it I'd propably take a hit. As a result Rinkens international in Los Angeles collected it and shipped it back for me. It went in an open crate (cheaper) suffered no damage and arrived in the Uk within a couple of months. It's far from being my usual sort of bike but now back in the Uk it can be used or sold on depending on circumstances. I'm pretty much certain there's not another one in that condition in the Uk (I'm taking it to Belgium in May so say hi if you see me!).

All in all a great trip.

I'm not that good at this 'blowing your own trumpet' travelling stories bit but thought that the information might help someone in the future. I am now once more living back in India (but that's another story) and enjoying the chaos that is Indian driving. Should anyone like any information on that particular bit please get in touch.

I hope this has been of benefit and if interested on my latest 'plans' please check out Index. The trumpet thing still rings true for me but it's all for charity! The website was needed to help publicise the event and was put together by far far clever people than me!


Bill n Sue 18 Jun 2009 15:05

We did something similar - and it is very straightforward. I think it is better to buy everything in the states - it´s cheaper all around. We went to Florida and got on ebay there, bought two cheap road bikes, two crash helmets, tent, natsav etc and set out to California. The advantage of buying the bikes there is that you get to check them over first. Florida is a good place to start from, loads of cheap bikes for sale, and then you´ve got the Florida Key´s - not a bad trip for a test run before setting off across country!

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