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sub-Saharan Africa Topics specific to sub-Saharan Africa. (Includes all countries South of 17 degrees latitude)
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  #1  
Old 17 Dec 2010
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Renting vs buying a bike in Cape Town

Hi guys,

I'm flying out to Cape Town on Christmas Eve and now that I have my shiny new motorcycle licence (yeeha!), I'm thinking about renting a bike to tour South Africa and beyond for a few weeks.

I want to hire a smallish bike - ideally a 250cc - as I'm a petite gal, a fairly new rider, and don't want anything heavy. But all the hire companies I've found in Cape Town only rent the larger bikes like BMW 650s and upwards. Does anyone know of a company that does 250cc's?

In the event of not finding such a rental company, I'm wondering whether buying a 250cc bike could be the way to go? What appeals to me is that it might work out cheaper than renting. But what puts me off is the potential paperwork involved in buying the bike as a non-South African (what's involved??) and then having to find a way to quickly sell it when I get to the end of my trip and have to fly back home to Australia. Also worried that insurance may be complicated to organise once I've purchased the bike..

Would really appreciate any help and advice, as I'm organising this very late in the piece but very keen to make it happen if I can!

Jeanie
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Old 17 Dec 2010
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Renating

Hey Jeanie

The BMW F650 is a learner approved bike here in Aus as it develops less than (I'm not sure what the limit is) horse power. Maybe you could give it a go. Go and see the people at SouthBank BMW (130 City Rd Southbank) and ask to sit on one. I'm sure they would help. My wife used to ride a F650 and she has very little experience on bikes. We just recently sold it which I think was more of a dissapointment for me than for her. After all 2 bikes is not considered to be a collection.

Cheers
Marty
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  #3  
Old 17 Dec 2010
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I've looked at doing this, but the regulations seem complicated. To own and register a bike, you are supposed to have a permanent address (although you might be able to get away with a friend's address). Insurance is even more difficult.

The standard F650 (not the GS GD version) might be OK. But watch out when you are stopping at the side of the road, it'll be uneven, gravelly and steep (plan where you stop carefully).

I've hired from Karoo Biking in Cape Town. Reasonable hire cost, but they only rent out new bikes, and charge you extortionate rates for any damage whatsoever - including small scratches caused by luggage. I really didn't like their attitude - they checked over the bike for tiny scratches, spoiled the whole experience.

I came off in some mud and did what in the UK would have been around £150 of damage. It cost me much more than that.
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Old 18 Dec 2010
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Thanks guys,

BWM 650s seem to be available for rent very readily - but a) they're relatively expensive to hire, and b) I really do want to ride something smaller/lighter for my first "big" overseas two-wheeled journey.

Buying does sound complicated, but I'm not having much luck on the rental side either, in terms of finding something in the 250cc range. So I'm now veering towards doing this upcoming trip on four wheels instead... (I fly Christmas Eve to Cape Town, so have to make my mind up very soon now!).

Jeanie
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  #5  
Old 19 Dec 2010
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Sth. Africa

Jeanie,
In my opinion if you are unexperienced it may be wise to do this trip in a vehicle rather than a bike, there is ample time for foreign motorcycle adventures once a little more experience is gained along with confidence.
I have lived in South Africa and is a beautiful country but there road habits are a little different to ours (10000 fatalities per year) They seem to in general have a speed mentality and road traffic is at its peak over the Xmas . So I really think gaining more experience here in OZ where its a bit more familiar to you would be a little more conducive to your ultimate goal.

Cheers
Paul
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Old 19 Dec 2010
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I have to disagree with the earlier posters regarding the complexity of buying a vehicle in South Africa as a foreigner

As a non South African resident, I have bought two vehicles (bike + 4WD) in the last few years in SA with a minimum of fuss.

To register the vehicle, you will first need to get a Traffic ID number and have an address. I have always used a hostel in Cape Town and this has never been queried. Once you have a Traffic ID no, the vehicle will be registered in your name.

You do NOT need third party insurance in South Africa as it is covered as part of the fuel levy.

If you want to buy a bike rather than renting, go for it. Don't be put off by the admin hassle, as it is not that difficult.
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Old 19 Dec 2010
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Go for the Adventure...

As Matt has said the paperwork side of it poses no problems at all, in fact I found it very easy.

I also used my hostel address for all documents.

If you stick to SA, Namibia and Botswana you won't require a carnet.

I bought my bike new from Suzuki South (Cape Town) and found them all to be very helpful.

You might want to have a look at a new DR200, I'm thinking of getting one so my girlfriend can join me on our next Africa trip.
Talk to them and other dealers, you might even be able to sort out a buy back deal.

Hope it all works out for you.
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Old 20 Dec 2010
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One other brief point I neglected to mention in the previous post.

If you buy a second hand bike, it will require a roadworthy certificate prior to transferring the registration. If you buy from a dealer they should sort this out, however if you buy privately, I would suggest that you get the vendor to obtain this as a pre-condition of the purchase.

Once the roadworthy is obtained, it is valid for six months. Therefore if you sell within a six month period, you won't need to obtain another roadworthy clearance.
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Old 20 Dec 2010
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"You do NOT need third party insurance in South Africa as it is covered as part of the fuel levy." Bit of a myth that one, even though many South Africans believe it. If you cause an accident, and the lawyers get involved, they will go after you to get much higher compensation than the minimal amount covered by the state (from the fund that is there as a last resort to cover cases where accidents are caused by uninsured vehicles).

Plus, you're travel insurance company will almost certainly refuse a claim for your medical costs, if you are driving an uninsured vehicle (any excuse). That can get very expensive.

Also - worth remembering that most travel insurance policies now include a clause that allows them to reject claims relating to motorcycle accidents. If you're in the UK, buy travel insurance through Carole Nash to guarantee it is OK (also, i think i got a Direct Line policy this year that is OK).

If you can get vehicle insurance that also gives you assistance with medical costs, that's even better.

Riding in SA is, as was pointed out, a bit more dangerous than in more developed countries. So don't take a risk with insurance.
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Old 20 Dec 2010
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I suppose there's a difference of attitudes. On the one hand you can try to get away with as little as possible to save hassle and hope you are OK. On the other, you can do things properly and be sure you are covered.
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Old 21 Dec 2010
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Roboyobo,

Just to be clear, South African law does not require you to have third party vehicle insurance.

What you choose to do over and above the legal requirements is up to you.
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