How to buy a dual-sport in Bolivia - it's easy!

Discussion in 'Latin America' started by artia, Jun 16, 2013.

  1. artia

    artia Adventurer

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    Hi all, I recently returned from a three-month adventure tour through Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador that I did with my best friend Vadim. The experience, needless to say, was incredible. You can watch a video documentary of our trip here: http://vimeo.com/63966024, the motorcycle tour is the last 15 minutes. Before then, I wanted to give some advice to newcomers on where and how to buy a bike in Bolivia. This is a guide for newcomers on how to buy a cheap dual sport bike in Bolivia. We spent five days doing research and looking around La Paz before we bought the bikes, and it worked out really well for us.

    I had heard through the forums that Bolivia and Chile were the only two places to buy a Chinese knockoff dual-sport bike for cheap (~$1500) without having many issues as a foreigner. Since we wanted to tour Bolivia, we flew in to La Paz and with some help from locals and this forum, bought two 250cc dual sport bikes. They were beauties, and we were able to ride 9000km with them with limited problems (more on that later).

    Before we left we bought all of our gear from the States because good gear in Bolivia is very expensive. We also got an International Driver's License from AAA for good measure as it only costs $25, they don't ask any questions, and it works like a charm in South America since the police don't know the difference. Also, if we were caught in a bribe, we'd rather them keep the AAA license instead of our real driver's license which we'd only pull out if absolutely necessary. As a side note, we didn't have motorcycle licenses in the U.S. but AAA still gave us the license without checking. The gear we each bought were: helmet, motocross compression suit, gloves, motorcycle pants, and motorcycle boots. We also took the necessary camping and survival gear that we strapped to the back of the bikes with some extra rubber tubing we bought from the local markets in La Paz.

    When we landed in La Paz, we were told all the Chinese (cheap) bikes were sold in El Alto which is a 30-minute taxi ride from La Paz. Ask to go to "La Feria en El Alto" and the taxi driver will take you to the general area to buy the bikes, then just ask locals where to find "motos chinos" and they can point you in the right direction. All the dealers are located near each other on one major street (I forgot the name) and you can walk up and down the street and visit maybe 10 dealers to find the best match for you.

    As far as bikes, this is the trickiest part. At the time we were in Bolivia (Sept - Dec 2012) the main brands available were Pegasus, Brozz, Fenix, Montero, and Mizumo. I hear the brand names often change because their reputations turn sour after a few years so who knows how long these ones will last. We ended up buying a Pegasus brand 250cc bike and didn't regret it for a second. It cost us $1490 a piece. You can use this forum and chinariders.net (see my post here on how we decided to go with the Pegasus: http://chinariders.net/showthread.php?t=11632) for advice on which ones to buy. We went for the more simple bike with the least bells and whistles, and the only downside with the Pegasus was its thinner rims, which both of us eventually bent a bit given the uneven roads but it didn't stop us from finishing the trip.

    Paperwork and legality is the toughest nut to crack. All of this should be taken care of by the dealer you buy the bike from (your receipt, your insurance, your documents proving the bike belongs to you, and your license plate). The problem here is that license plates take 2-3 weeks to actually arrive, which would have been a dealbreaker for us, except for one thing - you can get a temporary permit to ride the bike until your license plate arrives as long as you don't leave the country. The temporary permit is called a "permiso" and you can get it from the Bolivia Transit Police office ("Policia Transito") and they have many offices around the city, including one right down the street from all the moto chino dealers. Treat and tip them well and the police will write you a personal letter that will act as a temporary permit to go anywhere in Bolivia without a license plate until your plates are ready. THIS CHANGED EVERYTHING FOR US. Any time we were pulled over or given a hard time at the gas station we would just pull out this letter and people would back off.

    So our plan was to buy the bikes in La Paz, do a 1-month loop through Bolivia, and return to La Paz to pick up our license plates and head straight in to Peru. And this is exactly what we did.

    I would highly, highly recommend buying your bikes from AV Motors. The son of the owner Ronaldo (23 years old or so) speaks perfect English, won't rip you off, will take you through the markets to buy spare parts, and give you honest advice. He's awesome, and he sold us bikes that treated us really well throughout the trip (we had to fix things often, but we could fix everything with the tools we had). His cell number in Bolivia is 79141289. You can tell him the two gringos from America (Artia and Vadim) sent you, he'll probably remember us.

    Oh and before I forget! I owe a HUGE thanks to crashmaster and roadspirit (who we saw on this trip twice, one time in Bolivia, the other time in Ecuador!) for all their advice along the way.

    Hope this helps! Sorry for not attaching pictures but there are plenty at the following places:

    My blog
    Instagram
    And check out our video documentary (the last 15 minutes is the moto-tour), it's great

    [​IMG]

    Artia
    #1
  2. roadspirit

    roadspirit Been here awhile

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    Hello Artia!

    Glad to have news of you guys!
    The film is absolutely fantastic! You had quite an experience there!


    on the road between La Higuera to Tomina:

    [​IMG]
    #2
  3. crashmaster

    crashmaster ow, my balls!

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    Great video amigo! A lot of those places looked pretty familiar. :lol3

    nice job. :freaky
    #3
  4. artia

    artia Adventurer

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    Haha roadspirit - great photo! Here's one for you from the second time we ran into you (Ecuador - Colombia border):

    [​IMG]

    I remember when you took that photo we asked you how much further to our destination that day and you told us it was about 150km away ... definitely not what we wanted to hear at the time :) Are you back in greece?

    crashmaster - when's the next time you head down there?
    #4
  5. VTbeemer

    VTbeemer Traveler

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    I have wanted to return to Bolivia for some time now. Sounds like you found a great way to do it. :clap:clap

    I've thought to do something similar. Will have a few questions for you in a bit.

    Did you guys sell the bikes back to the original dealer when done?
    #5
  6. roadspirit

    roadspirit Been here awhile

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    Yes Artia, we are back in Greece, unfortunately :lol3
    #6
  7. artia

    artia Adventurer

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    VTBeemer ... we actually rode the bikes through Bolivia (1 mo 2 weeks), Peru (3 weeks), Ecuador (1 week) and sold the bikes in Quito.

    We paid $1500 each for the bikes, sold them for $500 each. We could've gotten more for the bikes if we had the legal Ecuadorian paperwork but that would've taken weeks and instead we found some guys at a mechanic shop that were willing to take it off our hands for $500 so we didn't complain :)
    #7
  8. Adv Grifter

    Adv Grifter on the road o'dreams

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    Good info, and nice video! :freaky
    #8
  9. steveoscaro

    steveoscaro Adventurer

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    Thanks for the write up and information! I think I might precisely emulate your whole process in Bolivia in Oct or November. What sort of mechanical problems should we expect on the Chinese beasts?
    #9
  10. Misery Goat

    Misery Goat Positating the negative Super Moderator

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    It's nice to see other riders taking this route, it was one of my favorite in Bolivia. La Higuera is a neat town.

    [​IMG]

    For those wanting to make the trek out there be sure to check out Los Amigos Hostal, it's owned and run by a French couple, Kriss and Nanou, he's a rider and she grows all their vegetables and cooks up some awesome cuisine. I ended up hanging out with them for several days eating great French food and sharing stories from the road. Great folks.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    I love this part of the world!

    <iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/OLY4mKqxJzw" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
    #10