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Old 5 Jan 2009
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Question Buying a bike in Dakar?

I am trying to decide whether it is preferable to buy a local bike in Dakar for a three month trip at the end of this year (dry season) to go round Senegal, Mali and Guinea mainly or whether I should import a trusted overlander vehicle. I have a sneaking suspicion that a smaller lighter bike and an unhurried schedule (smaller trips, more time spent at destinations than travelling to them) would favour the local bike plan?

Does anyone have experience of these roads and the pros and cons of the different bike solutions? I have to admit I am a scooter rider normally so this is all new to me and I am going to have to learn bike repair and riding a bigger bike I think!

Any help much appreciated!
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Old 5 Jan 2009
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First I have to admit that I have no experience whatsoever in buying, registering or owning a bike in senegal.

But I did the same thing for a prolonged stay in SE-Asia, including a loop around Laos and Cambodia and imho buying a bike at your destination and arranging some kind of buy back scheme with the dealer is the way to go, especially if they can make it happen fast.

Most people worry far to much about what bike to take and in consequence spend less time on the road. I would go about this in getting a rough impression first what's locally available (probably smaller Japanese bikes like the Honda XR250, just guessing though), maybe google a few different models to get an impression before hand and then just get a bike and go for it.

If there is an expat community, there might even be a web forum, mailing list, or something along these lines which might have some valuable information.

Also check out how long the registration process usually takes until you're bike is 'legal enough' to take across the borders you want to cross. In Cambodia it took like two weeks or so until I even got offical licence plates.

I never got to any Paperwork but I managed to convince to border guards anyway

Other than the just get a generic hiking backpack and some straps and you should be good to go.
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Old 5 Jan 2009
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In Dakar there are plenty of oppurtunities to get new or second hand bikes. For new bikes the usuual is a Suzi or Yamaha 125 or 175, parts are easily available and if you have no off road experience probably the best bet for learning. They arent as 'conspicuopus' as a big bike either.

Buying second hand there is a free ads paper in Dakar a couple of times a week called Tam-Tam (might be online). Or there are a couple of big supermarkets (Score) in the city centre where there are a lot of small ads.

Don't rely too much on any promises that the seller will buy the bike back at the end of the trip. Or at least don't expect too much of the original price.
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Old 5 Jan 2009
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I did Senegal in Jan'08 riding down on a 1200GSA through Morocco, Western Sahara and Mauritania. I very much liked the people and food of Senegal but although I travelled a fair way I found it fairly boring and repetitive. And the prices were similar to Spain which was a shock for the wallet.

Many of the towns have a single main tarmac road and all side roads are sand, sometimes deep. Personally I think a bike is better--small and light is very good; maybe 250cc or less. My 1200GSA was a bit of a tank.

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Old 7 Jan 2009
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What brilliant feedback. I think I'll do as advised and get a lighter bike there. With a single climate to contend with I won't need as much stuff as bikers going from North to South and a monster bike would be quite a challenge in the UK for me, let alone in and out of ruts in the middle of nowhere.

I would like to get some off-road experience and some basic mechanics before I go though. My Vespa 250 is not applicable to either but there must be a way of preparing yourself?

Cheers, Damian
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Old 7 Jan 2009
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Get yourself a cheap 125, a DR or DT or whatever at home, find somewhere to use it, like a beach, club etc and take it from there. Its plenty of practise and the rest you'll learn on the road if you want.

As regards mechanics, learn to fix a puncturte on your own - its easier than pushing the bike 5km to the next village on your own, learn how to change brake, clutch cables etc, a small bit of basic electrics is always good and how to change the chain and sprockets.

No real worries, the area you're going to is well populated and every village has its 'grande machanique' who'll 'fix' the bike whether he knows how to or not. You've plenty of time so no worries.
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Old 18 Jan 2009
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Hi Damian,

I don't know about what kinds of bikes you can find in Senegal, but I know a good mechanic (really) in Bamako who can help you find a decent used motorcycle here. He's got a few 600cc sized bikes that just need a little work. We've also got an older xt225 that we would consider renting, if you're interested.

When we were in Dakar and went to the fancy grocery store there were a few ads of people selling their motorcycles, so I'm fairly certain you can find one there. I just know more about Bamako.

Either way, there are options here and if it's a short trip I think it's probably better to buy a bike on the ground rather than have it shipped. Hope that helps. Good luck to you.

Traveling through Africa on 2 Yamaha XT225s
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Old 19 Jan 2009
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Originally Posted by Kevin View Post
As regards mechanics, learn to fix a puncture on your own - its easier than pushing the bike 5km to the next village on your own, learn how to change brake, clutch cables etc, a small bit of basic electrics is always good and how to change the chain and sprockets.
Good advice, but there is no reason why you can't ride 5km on a flat tyre to get it repaired. I had two occasions last year in China when I had a puncture miles from nowhere and on one instance I had to ride over 30km with a flat.

30 years back in northern Nigeria I also had a puncture and managed 5km to the nearest village with ease.

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Old 27 Oct 2009
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Hello Mande Mande,

I am in Dakar right now looking for a bike which I hope to travel on from here to Cotonou, visiting Mali, Burkina, Ghana, Togo and Benin along the way. I've posted lots of info regarding prices and dealers on this thread :


If you're still going ahead with this trip and are looking for a travel companion, drop me a line.

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