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-   -   South America on the Cheap? (http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hubb/which-bike/south-america-on-the-cheap-52684)

ChadNZ 14 Sep 2010 02:50

South America on the Cheap?
So new to this thing and motorbikes in general, but heres the question: I'm heading to probably Lima, Peru in a couple of months with my girlfriend. We are on a very tight budget and looking at getting a bike over there and travelling northern/central south america for a few months on it. We are both lightweight and travel with a very minimal amount of gear so something smaller would be fine. Not too worried about how long it takes to get there as long as we get there. Any suggestions on what sort of bike to look for? Is Lima a good place to get a bike or are other south american cities better? I would be grateful for any advice/tips. Thanks, Chad

Bjorn 24 Sep 2010 04:26

Hi, and :welcome: to the HUBB.

I have no experience about buying a bike in Lima. But a friend bought a Honda Tornado (around 400cc) in Bolivia, and he's currently roaming freely around S-America.
Maybe try to contact one of the HU communities in Peru directly? And try to find out what kind of bikes are common in the countries you visit.... just in case you need spares.

I'm currently on a 650, but would prefer to travel lighter. Then again, it's sometimes really nice to be able to 'get away from the traffic', or at least be faster than the trucks, especially on the PanAm highway, and even more so in Peru. Their 'style' of driving is pretty bad here in Peru.

A friend of mine was overtaken by a truck and when pulling back in, the truck moved in on him, causing him to come off the bike in a not-so-nice style – though he's OK.
So, for my part: I feel more in control when I'm the one who's overtaking.

Mickey D 24 Sep 2010 22:28

Hey Chad,
I hope you don't think by getting a motor bike you'll save money? And what about riding experience? Two up riding is a bit tricky ... especially off road. Distances are great, some roads challenging with unforgiving traffic.

On a small bike (say ... 250cc to 400cc) you'll be hard pressed to fit the two of you on there with your gear. If you get a 650cc bike (lots of cheap ones for sale from other travelers) then you could possibly squeeze the two on you on with gear. Bikes ... any bike ... are expensive in Peru' and in most Latin American countries. Buying used from a traveler will save you money and get you a better travel bike. Think about it.

While you're still in NZ I'd get some riding experience in. If your girl friend can ride (and anyone can with a bit of practice) then plan to get her on her own bike if you want to go under 400cc. Two small bikes would be fine but get some experience first.

ChadNZ 10 Oct 2010 01:06

Not to save money just don't have much to begin with. I think we'll get one bike maybe a chinese yamaha 400 clone like the euromot or something similar. Haven't had much riding experience and won't be able top get any as I am currently working in the middle of nowhere in southern Chile until I fly to Lima. We are good at travelling light, our gear will fit into one mid size pack(not including spares/tools). Won't be doing too much off-road just alot of back gravel roads. Thanks for the advice guys.

PocketHead 10 Oct 2010 01:33

I've gone 2-up on a 200cc before, it wasn't so bad actually.

This is what the bike looked like with our gear:


The only problem was that the rear suspension didn't hold up very well, it sagged really badly by the end of the two weeks that my friend was traveling with me.

Also we went very very off-road sometimes and it wasn't a problem, could easily put my foot down with the low ride height of this bike.

Just one thing, if you're new to motorcycles then I don't think Peru is the place to learn, in my opinion you should definitely get many kms of riding experience back home in NZ beforehand. I've never seen more risks being taken than those of the drivers in southern Peru.

desert dweller 10 Oct 2010 03:12

i couldn't agree more with this:


Originally Posted by PocketHead (Post 308517)

Just one thing, if you're new to motorcycles then I don't think Peru is the place to learn, in my opinion you should definitely get many kms of riding experience back home in NZ beforehand. I've never seen more risks being taken than those of the drivers in southern Peru.

you're a long way from any kind of medical expertise.

oh, and you're not thinking of riding with one of you wearing a rucksack, are you? hope not - too much weight up high, you're already talking two-up without experience. phew.

Tiffany 10 Oct 2010 04:08

HI Chad
hoping to put a few positive words your way...
as far as travelling two up without bike experience I did it on a bike that was way too big and heavy for me and with just two months experience on a journey that took in Asia, Australia AND Africa, so it can be done and we had a lot of fun.

I travel pretty cheaply and for me the biggest expense is petrol unless in Venezuela where it was 5 cents a litre. so two up makes sense for a cheaper ride.
It can be cheaper than public transport depending on bus prices etc, after years of doing backpack and bike travel, I can't see myself going back to buses. What can make it cheaper is carrying a tent as camping options are easier to find on a bike.
Look for posts by Nathan who travelled for a couple of months two-up on a 350cc bike through the Stans to Mongolia last year - proving it's possible.

You do not need to do much off-roading in South America if you don't want to, I travelled around for 10 months and could have done almost all of it on tarmac..if I had wanted to:mchappy:

as for buying a bike out there - I have to confess that's an area I have little experience of as my bike has lasted for 13 years (and counting) of great travelling.
keep an eye on the For Sale notices here on the HUBB, quite a few are in Buenos Aires, so if you have a choice of destinations maybe go there- I'm lucky in that I only ever had one doomsayer before I started bike travel, it seems like you have a few more.

You will have a fantastic experience, be sure to share the tales of your travels with us.

ChadNZ 10 Oct 2010 14:08

A 200 would be nice, but i'm not sure it will be safe for highway travel? So maybe a 400? Us and our gear will weigh about 160 kg. I'm a fast learner sometimes and we are young and naive (21) so will probably give it a go anyway. We have a tent and plan to camp most nights. Definitely not planning on wearing a pack. I have done a bit of riding but that was on a 2 wheel drive rokon which is a whole different thing to ride. Thanks Tiffany - I've been told I couldn't do things before and it hasn't stopped me yet.

timae 12 Oct 2010 04:08


Originally Posted by ChadNZ (Post 308557)
I've been told I couldn't do things before and it hasn't stopped me yet.

That's the way.

"You can't leave Vietnam on this and you'll never make it to Sumatra nor Oz" was what I heard about 100 times, but allas here I am almost in Java.

Hit the road and don't worry. People are helpful and will almost always get you out of it if the shit hits the fan.

Have a great time. My tip would be to get a grip on the mechanics and rather take the smaller bike if spare parts are more widely available, cause reliable and big might be a nice thing, but if reliable ****s up your in big trouble. If unreliable dies the next road side shop has the complete bike in spares and will sort you out for next to nothing


esville 14 Oct 2010 12:01

Hi Chad,

I arrived in Lima 2 days ago.

1) I'm not sure what the legalities of buying a bike here on a tourist visa are (i'm on a work visa) but if you google 'expat peru' or 'living in Peru' there are legal FAQs on one of those that cover it.
The general advice on here is that Santiago de Chile is the place to buy a bike - search 'RUT' on here
2) Bikes are expensive here and bigger ones don't seem to depreciate much - check 'mercado libre' 'olx peru' websites.
In view of this i stumbled across a Suzuki dealer and a Honda dealer while out looking for a flat.
Suzuki DR200s and Honda XR250 Tornados are between 5 and 6 thousand US dollars new.
I swiftly moved on to the 125s.
Suzuki GN125s are about $1350, seem well regarded and some venezuelans recently completed Caracas - Ushaia - Caracas on a couple without any problems (no pillions) Look a bit like a 125 chopper, though.
Honda CGL 125 Todo Terreno- is about 100 dollars more expensive. It's a bog standard cg 125 with an enclosed chain, racks front and rear, crash bars, handguards, a high front mudguard and semi knobblies (they also throw in street tyres and a low front guard)
The Honda has 9.66 HP while the Suzuki has a whole 12.5 angry horses choking at the bit.
Pillions - i wouldn't be happy putting anyone i cared about on the back here but then i'm 40 and worry too much.
I haven't looked at the Chinese options yet.
Hope this is of some help and good luck

ChadNZ 17 Oct 2010 15:13

Thanks for the info, really helpfull. I would be interested if you look at any of the chinese bikes so let me know. And Thanks Tim for the encouragement.

John Downs 17 Oct 2010 21:56

Hola Chad,

From what I have read, Chile seems easier to buy a bike than Peru. I will be heading down to Santiago, Chile in a couple months to buy a bike and hit the backroads, so thought I would chime in with what I have found around the internet.

There are loads of new and used bikes available for sale in Santiago north of where you are now at. The best site for checking what's available is:

Chileautos: miles de autos y veh�culos nuevos y usados

For people reading this who don't speak Spanish, under vehiculos (Vehicles) you need to press the tipo (type) drop down menu to get to moto (motorcycle). Then press marca (make) drop down menu to get to the brand of motorcycle you are interested in. Then lower on the screen hit the buscar (search) button to see hundreds of choices for the major brands.

In case you haven't read it, a good rundown on buying a new bike in Santiago is at:


These Polish travelers bought Chinese 150s for about 1500 dollars plus registration and insurance.

Elsewhere on this site I have read positive reviews of the Euromot GXT 200. This bike sells new in Santiago for 999,000 pesos, or about 2000 dollars.

A useful place elsewhere on HU for more info on buying a used bike in Santiago is at:


I am not travelling two up so am leaning towards buying the Honda CGL125 for 699,000 pesos new, or about 1400.00.
Hondas are easier to sell and have greater resale value than a Chinese bike when you are at the end of your travels in a few months. Here is a link to a young couple of Brits travelling from London to Capetown on a Honda CG125:

London to Cape Town on a 1982 Honda CGL125 | Honda South Africa

People think I'm nuts for riding around the world on small bikes. Let them think what they want. It is better than a bus, hitch-hiking or a bicycle which is all I could afford when I was younger.And many people travel two-up, three-up and even four-up with the little one on the gas tank on little Chinese 125s in third world countries. Is it safe? Of course not. Would a bigger bike be better for travel two up in South America? Sure it would. But I don't have 5000 dollars to buy a used Honda 400 Falcon, much less 10,000 for a new Kawasaki KLR 650, and it doesn't sound like you do either. Bikes are mucho dinero in South America. So I must settle for what I can afford in the 1500 dollar range.

Is riding a bicycle cheaper? Sure it is. But riding a small thumper is way faster. ( Not that it will be fast two up mind you.) But for exploring the backroads and byways and the roads less traveled it will work.

Lucky you are a Kiwi. I believe the national motto when I was travelling down there was, "Like hell I can't". (just kidding)

Hope to see you down the road.

Kindest regards,
John Downs

ChadNZ 17 Oct 2010 22:38

Thanks John I think i'll lean towards a 200/250 just not sure if it will have enough grunt on the highways to stay out of trouble but I think we'll give it a go anyway. I'm looking in the US $1500 range. Santiago does sound like the place but by the time my contract ends my visa is up so i had to book a flight to Lima already. I'm getting to Lima in 3 weeks and Flying out of Rio after carnival in march without anything planned for the middle. Will just go and see what happens. Just got to figure out how it is to register/insure on a tourist visa in Peru and if I could onsell it in Rio. Thats not too far off the motto..

PocketHead 17 Oct 2010 22:47


Originally Posted by ChadNZ (Post 309254)
I'm looking in the US $1500 range.

Edit: Just read your last post and saw you're not planning on buying in Chile.... but I will leave this here for anyone who does a search.

Just something to be aware of, if you're buying second hand in Chile and the previous owner refuses to give you a 'power of attorney' document (this document can leave them legally liable for some things apparently) then you could be stuck there for a month before your papers arrive and Chile isn't a cheap country to be stuck in, average hostel cost there is like $15-$20 for a dorm bed and also food is rather expensive unless you're shopping at the market all the time or living on hotdogs.

Alternatively you could buy a new GXT200 like previously mentioned and receive the papers in a couple of days or perhaps travel Chile during that month and have the papers sent to you wherever you are though when I did this the hostel said they never received them, they had like 20 people working there so nobody knew anything, thankfully I had power of attorney.

esville 28 Oct 2010 03:08

Had a look at some Chinese bikes yesterday. Was immediately drawn to the Wanxin Spanker 200 (who wouldn't be?) but all the brand new Wanxins in the showroom were suffering from corrosion, pitted chrome etc.
Had a chat with a bloke in a multi franchise (Yamaha and various Chinese manufacturers - although not the Quinqui/Genesis/Euromot dr200 clone that people speak well of). He told me if i was thinking of buying Chinese in Peru to get a make called RTM - mainly because they bring in lots of spares compared to the others - not sure if this is the case in other S.Am countries.. He had a new RTM 200 (dr200 style bike) there for 3600 soles (the honda cgl125 terra is 4000 = about $1500 U.S). - Think you can get on an RTM CG125 clone for about $800
The other thing to bear in mind if you're buying here is how long you're going to have to wait between buying and riding away. I've been quoted 10 days (new Honda, resident work visa, we'll see..) but an American on ADV (on a student visa) waited something like 40 days if i remember rightly (his thread title was Chinese 125s).
Anyway, i imagine this info creates as many questions as it answers but thought i'd get back to you as i'm in Lima looking at cheap bikes. Good luck and feel free to get in touch.
If you want less vague advice, get the Honda and stick to the back roads. They throw in extra tyres (one set for tarmac, one for rough roads, i.e Peruvian tarmac, 2 free services and a helmet, parts/dealers are everywhere and you'll get a good chunk of your money back when you sell it at the end of the trip. Never ridden one ,mind.
PS. in terms of 'wanting something quicker to get out the way of the traffic' if you're not in a rush i'd be using the least trafficked roads i could find here - what Monaco is to F1, Lima is to banger racing

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