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  #1  
Old 28 Nov 2009
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Colombia: ID vest and helmet needed?

Hi Folks,

This question gets asked and answered periodically, but a search didn't reveal anything recent. I came through Guatemala recently, and the regulation about reflective numbers on rider clothing seemed to be honored only near and within Guatemala City....so I ignored it. Here in Bogota, everyone looks far more serious about following the rules: riders and passengers have numbered vests and helmets absolutely without exception, and people wearing backpacks seem to go to great length to drape their vests over the backpacks so that the numbers can be read. I take this as an indication that the rules are widely enforced, at least here in the capital.

On the other hand, I heard from a northbound rider I met a couple of weeks ago that he was never bothered in Colombia, and that he thought the absence of a numbered vest actually helped him out with police by identifying him as a foreigner, therefore not to be trifled with.

Anyone who's ridden through Colombia recently have any input? I just picked up my bike today, so if I'm going to do anything I ought to move on it tomorrow morning. Otherwise, I'll just trust my dumb luck, as always.

For anyone interested: Copa has resumed flying bikes from Panama to Colombia. Their schedule is scant, but the price is about US$600 plus another $50 on arrival in Bogota. That's a lot cheaper than Girag, although not as cheap as a boat. It took about two hours arranging on each end. No need to drain fluids, disconnect anything (even mirrors), search baggage or anything else. The high point for me was watching the guys on this end try to work up their nerve to drive the loaded bike (266 kilos) down a flight of metal warehouse stairs. For better or worse, they finally came to their collective senses and paddled it around to the obvious ramp.

Copa claimed they're not allowed to sell one-way tickets from Panama to Bogota, so I flew myself on Avianca---$370 ticket purchased right before the flight. Since Copa is cheaper, this might be worth arguing a bit. They attributed the policy to Colombia's unwillingness to admit people without proof of onward travel; Avianca never mentioned it, and neither did the immigration or aduana offices in Bogota.

Onwards!

Mark
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  #2  
Old 28 Nov 2009
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Well, for what it is worth, Manfred, the chap who arranged our bike import via boat says it is for locals only, because I aksed him to clarify that specific point.

So, you should be good to go. It is only to stop drive by shootings and it is also quite obvious here in Cartegenea. I am off to Medillin in the morning so I will soon find out at the first checkpoint, of which I have heard there will be many.

Make sure you have SOAT or they will impound your bike. I had to buy minimum 3 months for $40, in Bogota you can buy 1 month minimum.

Cheers
TS
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  #3  
Old 28 Nov 2009
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Vest Issue

Hi mark,
We (Sue and I)flew into Bogota last week using Girag to freight the bike and Copa for ourselves ($370) when we got to Bogota we asked about the vests and we were told if you are obviously loaded down on a Gringo machine it's fairly clear that you're a tourist and shouldn't get any hassle. If you feel the need to buy one they can be picked up in the Moto Barrio Carrera 2 and Calle 17 app.) an area of Bogota about 4 blocks square completely occupied by bike shops they cost anywhere between 10 and 20 dollars depending upon style On our way out of Bogota we were stopped by the police for a routine check and never had any problems (we also don't have third party insurance, another contenscious issue!) I lined the guys up and took their photo and if we get stopped and questioned further down the road I'm gonna show them their photo and say "these guys in Bogota didn't have a problem with us" Check out the insurance thread by Judgejoe posted on here recently We're in Cali at the moment stopping at the Casablanca Hostel, Mike the owner is very friendly and helpful, secure parking and biker friendly. Heading South to Pasto tomorrow

Ride Safe - Stay Upright
Graham and Sue
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  #4  
Old 1 Dec 2009
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To clear things up:

Tourists do NOT need a west nor numbers on their helmet!
- That said there has been a couple of incidences where tourists have had some trouble with police unaware of the actual law. Including me, but they let me go after I explained that tourists are not required to where a west and that I'd be happy to clear this issue with their commander. So if you don't want the hassle the west and helmet stickers can be bought for as low a 5 dollars

The 3rd party liability insurance on the other hand is obligatory for all bikes in the country!
- A new law requires that Colombians minimum buy 1 year at a time. This is not the case for tourists. Normally the insurance agents will sell you 3 month as the minimum (price for this should be approx 35 dollars).
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Old 2 Dec 2009
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Thanks to Mike and others for corroborating what I'd heard about the vests and numbered helmets.

For anyone who doesn't know, Mike has a hostel in Cali, easy to find even without a GPS or adequate maps (now how would I know that?). It's a good place, and Mike is ridiculously helpful in all matters, whether bike-related or not, and he's got an even more ridiculously cute daughter, age one. I came for a day and stayed three, so best plan conservatively.

Safe journeys!

Mark
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  #6  
Old 2 Dec 2009
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Mark,
You gotta share some pics with us whilst you on the road.
Travel safe.
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  #7  
Old 7 Dec 2009
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vests etc colombia

tourists don't need to worry bout vests etc , same as Gaut City, do go see Mike at CasaBlance hOSTEL IN CALI, AND ALSO JORGE, WHO OWNS MOTO ASTURIAS JUST ROUND THE CORNER ....
He will introduce you to Alain, a crazy french BMWist who lives there and just loves taking bikers on rides around Cali, all great guys, day Harley Dan from London says HI!!
enjoy
Dan
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  #8  
Old 19 Dec 2009
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From personal experience just two weeks ago: I had no problems driving through Colombia with all gear loaded, as I was obviously a tourist gringo. But when I started driving around without gear and with a chica riding pillion, I did get stopped by police and had to smooth talk my way out of the situation twice. Ended up buying reflective vests with plate (my Dutch plate looks like a Colombian plate, unfortunate coincidence) for the both of us at 35k COP/17 USD total, just to make life a little easier.
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  #9  
Old 21 Dec 2009
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Hi guys,

I'm in Bogota at the moment staying at the Cranky Croc (such a great hostel) and has bike parking the owner is a legend!

In regards to vests I got asked about it by police I think the officer didn't know the rules.

Just have your passport, SOAT, Importation paperwork and all is fine.

Pics are here on my photography blog zoominwitheden.com
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  #10  
Old 26 Dec 2009
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chaleco and helmet

While it is technically not required to have chaleco and moto numbers on your helmet....we were pulled over at gunpoint by at least 10 cops a year and a half ago for not having chalecos...they don't cost that much so why not just buy a souvenier ???
Do get insurance...seguros del estado offices (some of them) will sell you by the day(the validity of your visa) or less if you insist....but you must INSIST as I did and they capitulate.
I have a post somewhere here with addresses and phone numbers..........
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  #11  
Old 29 Dec 2009
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Buy the vest. Even if this is not required, you will be kept stopped and asked for it. The same with the helmet. The fine is USD 200 so Police can insist on bribe.
I have it.

Cheers
Michal
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  #12  
Old 29 Dec 2009
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¨Will be¨ is a bit strong. In a couple of weeks in Colombia I was asked for papers a few times at roadblocks but never asked for insurance and never asked about the absence of numbered vest or helmet. Local riders in Bogota did try to warn me about the need, however. Note that my experience represents just a single datapoint of many. In other words, YMMV.

On the other hand, just the other day here in Bolivia on a tour with four other bikes (the so-called Most Dangerous Road in the World, which was not particularly dangerous but does make a remarkable tour out of La Paz), I was the only one stopped and asked for my passport. This might have related to the fact that I was the only one in the group who had stripped all sticker-covered panniers off my bike in preparation for the expected ¨danger¨, therefore looked less like a tourist and more like a local. Or not; I didn´t hang around to ask.

Hope that helps.

Mark
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  #13  
Old 30 Dec 2009
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I have to agree with Mark, in the two weeks in Colombia I was stopped quite a few times for SOAT and passport checks and only once did a youngun ask me about the vest.

I just told him tourists do not need it and he let me go.

btw, the Road of Death is a doddle, the road to Batopisal in Copper Canyon is way more dangerous

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  #14  
Old 30 Dec 2009
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Colombian Police

Just wanted to add some input here. I bought insurance and a vest. The vest wasn't needed but insurance was. I wouldn't try to play the gringo card on not having the insurance. Plus all the police stops I went through in Colombia were great, the police loved the bike and just wanted to chat. The best police to deal with on the trip. I even had a police chief on my motorcycle for a couple hours. He was trying to help get my papers on a Saturday.
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  #15  
Old 7 Jan 2010
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So where are you now (assuming I've got the right guy)? Our being pulled over and frisked by the cops was one of the highlights (?) of Colombia! Of course, it didn't help that you were wearing a bicycle helmet and riding pillion. Anyway, it paid to get the vests.
Steve

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zigeuner53 View Post
While it is technically not required to have chaleco and moto numbers on your helmet....we were pulled over at gunpoint by at least 10 cops a year and a half ago for not having chalecos...they don't cost that much so why not just buy a souvenier ???
Do get insurance...seguros del estado offices (some of them) will sell you by the day(the validity of your visa) or less if you insist....but you must INSIST as I did and they capitulate.
I have a post somewhere here with addresses and phone numbers..........
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