Ship from UK or buy in Canada?
Does anyone know if it is cheaper / easier to buy a bike in Canada for a North America trip or to ship my XTZ660 over from the UK?
My bike is worth about £2000 plus £500ish for shipping, so would that £2500 be better spent once I'm out there? I have heard that XT's are like hens' teeth in NA and the KLR is more common, so maybe that would be the trade-off: An XTZ that I know well, or a KLR that I've only just met... hmm... any ideas?
Canada used to have and probably still has the best prices worldwide for used bikes. Not only that, but most used cdn. bikes are little used and well maintained. They are mostly stored indoors (garages) and even 10 year old bikes might only have 10,000 or fewer kms as they don't get ridden much (6 months snowmobile weather). There are exceptions, kiddy bikes should be avoided (eg 600 supersports, or 100% off road bikes) serious touring bikes will have lots of kms but probably well cared for.
The only XTZs you will find are brought over from elsewhere, not likely that you will find one and should be avoided as parts will be unavailable through Yamaha dealers in NA.
KLRs are common, but tend to not follow the general rule re condition and mileage in that they tend to have lots of kms, minimal maintenance, and very hard lives. When listed for sale a high mile wore out KLR is often priced only 1000 dollars or so less than brand new. This may change now that the 2008 is making older KLRs look obsolete, but I doubt it.
You will be able to get an excellent deal on a secondhand KTM adventure (640 or twin). I got my 640 with 11,000 km (02 in 06) for about 1/2 new price. Few people know they exist, so they sell low, however there is an excellent dealer network all over Canada, ordered parts arrive within days, and they are the best adventure tourer bar non. You may do well on less desirable BMW models such as the older F single cylinder types. Well preserved airhead boxers from the 80's are fairly affordable and may be worth more elsewhere if you intend to take it home.
Depending on the riding you intend to do, you may want to rethink the whole adventure touring thing and go for a more highway oriented bike. Most NA roads are paved. If you are in the central east portion of Canada or anywhere east of the Mississippi in the US you will have to look hard for gravel roads. There are few to no recreational riding areas, and no matter what kind of road you are on, you will have to maintain a constant speed of 70 mph + or get flattened like a bug.
If your destination is other than Central Canada or east of Mississippi it will be possible to find plenty of gravel or dirt roads, but after a while the sameness of the terrain will get to you and you will want to get on the 'superslab' for a change of scene. You will be sharing the road with biggest, longest and and fastest and most trucks you have ever seen, even the cows are grazing at 70 per.
Mountain roads east and west are all paved, and among the best anywhere especially on a sport touring bike. If you don't want to get stuck behind slow moving trucks or motor homes on mountain roads you need a bike with lots of power to get you by in the short distances you have to pass.
If you are planning on touring the far North, an adventure touring bike is probably the best choice, but the Alaska Highway will still require the ability to maintain 70 mph plus speeds for days on end. Many unpaved highways here, definitely adventure tour country. If your gas tank won't carry you 300 km better pack extra gas.
If you have never been to NA you simply can't imagine the distances. A long distance rider will have to go 400 to 600 miles (600 to 1000 km) every day on the road to cross the continent in a week. You can do this on an adventure tourer, but there are better machines, and the opportunity to use the adventure half of your bike will be limited.
The best deals for buyers are on 'obsolete' late 80's to late 90's large sport bikes with 'soft' ergonomics suited to long distance high speed travel, like first generation Yamaha FJs, early Kawasaki Ninjas, first generation Kawasaki continentals, first generation Suzuki bandits, second generation katana (the ugly ones). Jap harley clone cruisers are also cheap if you like the laid back cruiser style, and you can't give away used buells.
A wild card is the rubber mounted sportster, (don't even think about riding a non rubber mount sporty for any distance). Harley heroes consider them to be girl's or beginner's bikes, so very low resale compared to other harley's, but they are actually the best bike Harley makes with the HD name on the gas tank, and are even pretty good for light duty adventure touring, except for the tiny gas tank (Larger tanks available from HD accesories).
I am thinking that if you wanted to bring a north american bike back with you that would be the one to buy, as they apparently are highly regarded in europe.
To see for yourself what is available in Canada, here is web site to browse;
Canada Used Autos, Cars, Trucks, Boats, Motorcycles Online Classified Ads - AutoTrader.ca
Thank you Everiman, great advice, just what this website is all about.
We will be touring all over Canada - North, South, East and West. We have about three months to do it but that time can be extended if need be (we hate being in a rush and missing things).
I did think about a more road based bike, but we're not sports bike people so I was thinking along the cruiser lines. Considering what you've said I think a KTM (if we decide to go bush) or a Sportster (for the blacktop) will be our best options. I have also heard that the Sporty is a girls bike, but I've never riden a HD or any other cruiser before, so it may be perfect for me!
I'll start doing some searches for these models to see what price I can expect. We don't want perfect, pretty machines, just reliable, practical and comfy for hours in the saddle.
Ok ,just a few thoughts here ,they might be relevent to your situation or perhaps not .
Bikes are cheaper in the US , buy it and insure it there ,then travel to Canada .
BC insurance is expensive if you land here , the province [govt ] is the only place to get it ,so for western Canada ,buy the bike and insure it in Calgary where they have private companies doing insurance .
Second hand bikes are expensive at the dealers ,buy new and don't bugger about looking for bikes from private individuals as you will waste a lot of your vacation time .
If you want to do gravel and some off road ,get a KLR they have a big tank as standard and will do what you want and are cheap .A dr650 might be better [IMHO it is ] but in standard form they don't have a big tank etc .
Get a 650 road bike if you want to do tarmac long distance ,they are cheap enough and have the speed and comfort for long highway stints ,anything bigger is a waste of money .
Something like a 650 Strom will be easy to sell at the end of your trip ,or you could leave it at a dealer and sell on consignment .
Avoid Sportsters and cruisers , unless "the look" is important to you .They are a pain in the arse.
Bring over soft bike luggage or buy it here it's fairly cheap,it's all you'll need for a short duration trip .
Get an idea of bike prices from Blackfoot Motosports
[Not many people like dealing with them ,there are better bike shops in Calgary who will more than likey do a better deal for you ,but you'll get a good idea of what's available .]
Can't speak for the Eastern side of the country but I imagine the situation is about the same .
Good luck and have fun !
I must confess to knowing nothing about buying second in a country I'm not a resident of.
That probably explains my perspective in part.
Personally, I would ship my own bike: I know what its had done in the past, I can prepare it to suit my needs, I can practice packing for best weight distribution at home, I can take it for a practice run for a camping weekend. I know where all the bits are located, how to do this maintenance or that, and most importnatly, I know how it rides. I also know the local market prices, the local market tendencies, tricks and legislation, insurance terms and conditions etc, which could not be said of my destrination. It also saves you time, before you set off, and on your return (no need for purchases and sales), and you still have a bike when you get back, unless you don't plan to sell the XTZ to finance the new bike...
This is the logic we applied when we went to Argentina. Admittedly, I think our choices in terms of bikes for sale would have been far smaller, so perhaps with N. America as a starting point you have more to choose from and it seems the case from the posts above. Nonetheless, I think that is the way I would go: just another perspective to consider.
I can't afford to buy new, I will only have about $2000 maybe $3000 max to spend so I will be looking for used. I have heard that used KLRs can be well hammered and a bad buy, is that right?
Also, why are cruisers (Sportys etc) a pain? I have no experience with them so I'm unaware of the traps.
Your original post mentioned 2500 pounds which would nearly get you a new Klr.
$2000 won't buy very much .
I suggest you pick a bike you are very familiar with and look for a good used one .
If you were to buy new and then leave it behind to be sold you would probably lose $2000 anyway.
A used bike for 2 grand is going to need some work on it ,so budget for that and downtime fixing it enroute and not being able to sell it afterwards.
Cruisers with forward controls might not be comfortable if you want to do long distances .
Honda 750 Shadows and Yam 650 VStars are cheap ,but not 2 grand though .
KLR s tend to hold their value if they are in good condition , so I wouldn't guarantee being able to pick up a prime one cheaply in a hurry when you land .
If you have a friend over here who lives near a large town and can look out for a bike or give you accomodation while you look for a bike ,you might be OK .But to live in a motel and get a taxi to take you round looking for bikes will eat away your budget very fast .
Canada is not a cheap place to live .
Some Yamaha quads share engine parts with the XT660 so do your research and find part numbers for engine components -so if you need anything you can get it without hassle .
Might be something to think about if you bring your own bike .
I don't want to rain on your parade ,but that's the way I see it .
A few random comments.
If I were coming over from Europe to North America, I would buy instead of ship. You'll save yourself the $2,000 - $3,000 shipping back and forth and get to put that towards your trip.
Where to buy one? The US, in general, has better selection and prices than Canada.
Type of bike? Big question, but you mentioned you wanted to cover the whole country and as you know it is a biiiig place. You also mentioned we so I assume that you will be two up. For these reasons I would lean heavily toward a more comfortable dual sport and away from the KLR/DR style. DL650/1000 or something along those lines would be a much better choice just based on the vastness of the place.
Your bike budget maybe a bit lean for this, but like trips to most first world countries, living can be expensive and you may want to reconsider this ratio to your overall trip budget. Adding a couple of thousand onto that would greatly expand the potential bike options and make it more enjoyable IMHO.
Let me know when you plan on coming over, happy to help with route recommendations and cold beer.
This thread-type comes around quite often, and it's not the actual buying of a bike that seems to be a problem, but the legally-registering [plates/title] of it that's a pain (needing a registered address etc).When i get around to more touring there i reckon shipping's the easiest option.
Very valid comment for many countries, but I do think that the registration issue is bit overblown for most of North America. In the US, it depends on the state but I have purchased a US bike as a non US resident and it took all of about an hour. There are a lot of simple options to overcome the address issue, even as simple as posting here looking for an address from a kind hearted fellow traveller. In Canada, you can buy a bike, jump through a couple of hurldes and be off and riding same day. Really nothing too difficult for the vast majority of resourceful motorcycle travellers.
I do agree though that the hassle of trying to find a motorbike in a foreign coutry and the time that this takes coupled with the unknown of how to register a bike causes many to take the straightforward option of just shipping their home bike. In the modern age though with surfing of foreign bike sites, etc., it is really not that difficult and if the cost of shipping is material to you, then buying here should strongly be considered. And when the time comes that you want to come over and ride here, you are welcome to use my address if you need one for your newly purchased North American bike:)
Your thoughtfulness is understandable and commendable, it in part may come down to a matter of personal preference.
What I can say from personal experience though is that people are coming to work/study in Canada and the US daily and having to buy vehicles and the issue of registering a vehicle to a person that has just arrived crops up all the time. Here in BC, a quick trip to our provincial insurer, ICBC will yield typical questions and in general there are failry easy solutions that can be found.
Establishing residency may be difficult in some places, but I would venture to say that in most all they really need is an address, any address. I've seen people use hotel addresses, addresses of friends, etc.
And perhaps some would indeed mind the odd letter addressed to an old aquaintance, but as a motorcycle traveller I wouldn't even notice your annual renewal notice and unpaid speeding tickets in the tonnage of flyers and mail addressed to old tenants. If you ever need to borrow an address or rusty tools, please feel free.
Ahhh, Nuts... and i had started concentrating on Southern Africa for my next tour as it's really straightforward to register a bike for a visitor, apparently:thumbup1:.I was last in BC 4 yrs ago, backpacking, and want to see more of West N America - can't get to much on the Greyhound! So the plan is to ship my bike over but the cost is Woahh Baby!! This needs a rethink, methinks...
We (the mate I'm going with and I) have decided that we will probably stick to the black top at least 95% of the time for this trip, therefore, with the additional info of having to ride at 70+mph, we think a mid size cruiser is the way forward.
I have heard about many negative issues with the various HDs so we'll probably go for a couple (we will not be two up) of Jap bikes (like Yamahas XV 535 or similar). Do any of you excellent folk know of such a model that is common in NA? If so, is there one better than the other?
We are still considering buying here (UK) and shipping over because we are concerned about wasting lots of time bike hunting in an unknown town or city. So do any of you UK based people know of a good (reliable & cheap) mid size cruiser available here?
Great responses so far, thanks.:thumbup1:
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