Buying a KLR or similar in SE Asia
I'm doing a Vietnam to Germany RTW trip in a couple of months. Does anyone know how difficult it would be to purchase a KLR 650 or similar in Vietnam or another SE Asian country? i live in Australia and expect the freight and bike to be more expensive here?
I think you're far better off buying a KLR650 or similar bike in Australia and shipping it to Singapore or Malaysia. It will work out cheaper as most countries in SE Asia levy high import duties and/or sales tax on imported big bikes.
Vietnam is probably the worst place in SE Asia to source a 'big' bike, as the import embargo on bikes bigger than 175cc has only been lifted last year due to WTO requirements. You might spend weeks in Vietnam without seeing any big bikes, and if you happen to see one, it is likely to be an old XR250. Although big bikes are now slowly becoming available (I saw a brand new Moto Guzzi in the Piaggio showroom in Hanoi last January) the import duties/sales tax make them exorbitantly expensive.
Apart from the high prices charged for big bikes in SE Asia there is also the hurdle of registration to consider. Most countries will require you to have resident status in order to register a bike in your name. And resident status is of course dependent on you fulfilling the requirements for a residency visa, which is usually quite a bit more complicated than applying for a tourist visa.
Although the KLR650 is manufactured right here in Thailand, the entire production is destined for export, you can't even buy it here. However, Kawasaki has announced they'll start selling the KLR250 and the ER6-n in September. But again you'll need a letter from the Australian embassy in BKK with your address in Thailand in order to register it.
Shipping a bike is really not that expensive, and it also offers you the chance to prep the bike much better than you'd be able to do when in Asia. A KLR is a solid reliable bike, but the front brake and suspension are horribly inadequate (I've still got one, but really don't know why...) and should be upgraded before putting it on the road.
Good luck on your trip.
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