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A Month on a Bike in Colombia - 2019

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Champe, Nov 24, 2019.

  1. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    Yes - thank you Quindio for the references to Ed, the hostel owner. I will be making it a point to stay there at least one night.
    Bogota has some advantages, being the largest (cheapest ?) airport and very cheap long term parking - $20/month. But the coffee region is surely a nicer place to be.

    Just for fun I wanted to look at different bikes for Colombia. In reality, motorcycles come in a lot of flavors, and all of them will get you around. Most types have been used for long distance travel, too. So I looked at a range of possibilities, mostly focused on the budget (cheap) end. One of my favorite contributors here (WileyRTW) has done long distances on a 250cc Chinese bike .
    He was happy with it, and it still ran at the end.

    But his trip was a few years ago. He paid only around $1500 for it, new. So I checked out a few similar ones for myself, starting lower on the pecking order, in order to rival that price. Here is my top (bottom) pick. For $1000 you can have a brand new 125CC AKT: https://www.aktmotos.com/motos/street/nkd-125

    AKT is a Colombian company that imports parts and "kits" from China. They do assembly and sales. Currently they have about 15% of the Colombian motorcycle market. If I was riding primarily in town and had a dealer nearby, I would consider one.

    The best deal ? The least expensive all-rounder (can do highway with authority) would be the Bajaj Dominar. It has a similar motor as the KTM Duke 390, but is priced way lower at about $4000 new. Used, not abused, for $3000. You get a detuned, heavier, more touring oriented, more comfortable, bike for super cheap. These are built in India by the same company that makes certain KTMs. The quality is there. The power difference is 40 hp for the Dominar vs 43 hp for the Duke. The Duke is about 60 lbs lighter as well.

    I think Bajaj is the most popular brand in Colombia. Their top selling models are 180 and 200cc. I would prefer one of them to anything Chinese, at this point. If you do not do much mountain riding, one of them would be fine. The 400cc Dominar is rare - I never saw one - but it should do fine in the mountains.

    The cheapest bike you can rent would be the Royal Enfield Himalayan. The best known rental agency (Motolombia, in Cali) has one for $50/ day. There is another one in Bogota for $90/day. I would tend to stay away from them based on another ride report here by JoeMotocross, the Utah moto-fundamentalist. He rented two of them in India and had a lot of issues. At least he didn't own them.

    The next step up from the Himalayan are good bikes. Suzuki 650 DR can be had for $80 a day and a bit above that are the BMW 650-800s.
    Quindio, NSFW and Davidprej like this.
  2. Quindio

    Quindio Been here awhile Supporter

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    You know the old saying you get what you pay for. This is just my opinion but the only reason Colombians buy the Chinese bikes is because they are cheap to buy and they cannot afford to buy a Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha or Kawasaki. From my experience of riding with friends who own AKTs is they slowly fall apart. I remember riding with a friend and at 12,000 feet and he was in 1st gear only able to ride 15 miles an hour. You need to keep in mind that if you are going to explore Colombia you are going to be riding at altitude not at sea level. Even where I live here in Filandia I'm at over 6500 feet.

    Any imported motorcycle here will hold it's value and bikes over 500cc will even get a better price. The Chinese or South American bikes loose value fast.
  3. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    Unfortunately i think you are right about the present state of Chinese motorcycle technology. It is still mostly junk - but watch out - they are going to start putting out some good stuff soon. Especially if they get quality control from KTM like they got from Apple.

    I was bottom fishing some more, checking out low price rentals. I had missed going over Medellin in detail, and find that they have the lowest prices and are more local oriented. There are three places to rent in Medellin.

    One is Motolombia , with Kawasaki and Honda 300s, and Suzuki DR650s Prices $80-90 per day.

    Another is Odyssey, with modified Himalayans (411cc) for $70, Honda XR150s, Apache 200 and AKT 180s. The AKT is 50 a day while the Honda, Apache are a little more.

    And finally, Medellin Scooter Rentals, with a very broad range. Cheapest is a TVS100 for $17/day. And it is not Chinese.
    TVS is Indian, and a strong competitor to Bajaj, which now owns 49%of KTM. TVS makes a 200cc Apache, which is very popular. And now they are going to produce their version of a big bike using the BMW 310 motor. They are taking a page from the Bajaj play, of using a KTM motor. So MSR (Medellin Scooter Rentals) covers the low range with Apache and Pulsar 200s for $50/day. Midrange is the Bajaj Dominar 400 for $80/day. High end is BMW700GS for 140 per day.

    I want to try out a Dominar. I wonder if they will just trade me bikes for ten minutes ?

    The Himalayans or AKTs I would also like to ride, but not any further than I would be happy pushing them back.

    So altogether, there are only seven places you can rent a bike in Colombia. Three in Bogota, Three in Medellin and one in Cali.
    For some reason I had counted Epico Adventures (Cali) as a renter but I see, they are doing just guided tours (bikes included) for now. Also checked Cartagena, where there was a bike rental business last year, but it seems to be gone. If anyone knows of other rental places or how to find them - I would love to add to the above list.
    Davidprej likes this.
  4. manshoon

    manshoon Been here awhile

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    Champe, now are you still on this ride ? or are you back Stateside planning the next romp to the jungles of Columbia. Awesome ride report just the same.
  5. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    This ride is on ... pause, think and recalibrate.

    I am in the frozen north of New Hampshire tending to my three family farmhouse. Gotta keep the pipes from freezing. and the tenants happy.

    Am doing some planning for round two. The first month went great so I am building on that for a second trip in March. Now only two months away ... yippee. Next time will be longer - at least 6 weeks. And plan another trip after that ... longer still.

    The last loop was from Bogota to the North coast and back, which was great but rushed. The next trip will be West and South. That will include some deserts, extreme high mountains, the coffee region, the Trampoline of Death, Cali and Medellin. No point in going fast because you will actually miss it all. I may miss the Caribbean entirely because it is a long ride and worth spending more time. may save that for trip #3.
    liv2day, roadcapDen and 95Monster like this.
  6. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    Who can help me with posting video ?
    I tried posting some from my camera and got an error message. It doen't like the .MOV format. Works on facebook, but not on advrider.
    Will try a gopro shortly - think that has .mp4 format. Will that work ?

    I do notice that links work well. Like links to a utube video. Is that what I need to do ? Store my video with a third party and provide links to it ?
  7. WileyRTW

    WileyRTW Wiley

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    Dude where do you get all this info you post, this thread has so much great stuff! Having a list of rental options like that is fantastic.

    Knowing nothing about Bogata rental options I think Medellin and Cali are the best options, but did you look into Santa Marta at all? I do not know if they limit where you can go or what size bikes are available, but there are several rental and tour companies up there. Could be another option on the list for people in the North.
  8. Tripletreat

    Tripletreat Long timer

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    Great ride report! I need to visit Columbia before I get too old to enjoy the ride! Thanks for posting this. It's loaded with valuable info, and very entertaining as well.
    Champe likes this.
  9. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    WileyRTW is right again. There are three rental companies active in Santa Marta. They primarily specialize in smaller bikes well suited to the coast. The first one will even rent one way to Medellin or Bogota.

    Adrenaline Addicts Honda 110 for $34/day
    Honda 150 49
    Honda 300 XRE 80

    Colombian Riders ATK 125 $20/ day
    Honda 110 30
    ATK 125 25
    ATK 200 36
    Honda 150 42
    Honda 190 52

    Motorent Kymco 125 23
    ATK 125 27
    ATK 200 30
    ATK 250 55

    And there is another in Cali: Rental Motorbikes
    Yamaha XT660 99
    Suzuki DR650 80
    BMW 850 153
    BMW 700 100
    BMW 800 115
    BMW 750 135
    Honda Africa Twin 153
    BryanQ likes this.
  10. vicmitch

    vicmitch Been here awhile

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    ATK makes a version of the RX3 bike that is sold in the US. Usually orange with some small aluminum panniers, I met some Colombians in Tierra del Fuego 2 up on one. I'm looking to buy a Dominar 400 in mexico to keep there for use in winter.
  11. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    Launch time for my second trip to Colombia is coming up in about a month. Yahoo !

    Everything I know about the Bajaj Dominar 400 is good. I read a comparison of it to the KTM 390 Duke written by an Indian stunt rider - he slightly preferred the Dominar. It is more comfortable than the KTM (previous model) that he compared it to. Being a lot less expensive is also a big plus.

    The above study of all the available rental options in Colombia was mainly for my readers. But I am also thinking of offering rentals and need to know what the competiton is doing. I am going to make an effort to try one of those Dominars personally so I can consider getting one too.
    roadcapDen, Mofrid and liv2day like this.
  12. Pete Pilot

    Pete Pilot Been here awhile

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    Champe just looked up Belmont n.h.. feel for you Amigo as you get to experience the hell of Laconia s bike week every June. Excellent RR and much info that hopefully I shall use one day. Although as a rider that prefers the wide open and silent deserts Colombia would likely be a starting point to acquire a bike and then roll south. Did not especially enjoy Mexico’s Yucatan jungle areas. Although Baja , and Mexico N.W. are perfect. I did note the phone # and email of the manager of the dealer you bought the duke from. Don’t suppose he is also a dr650 dealer? Again great report, you put much time into this. I expect this damn virus has delayed your return to Colombia? Petepilot
  13. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    Unfortunaely you are right about my return to Colombia being delayed. They are not allowing foreigners in at this point and the country is going into full lockdown shortly. Not sure which is a worse situation - their's or ours. But staying in a hostel during a quarantine is not my idea of a good time.

    Yes, I live in the middle of Laconia Bike Week. Right between Weir's Beach and the racetrack. It was fun for the first few years but it has faded, and the authorities have seen to it that the best parts are gone. No more "show me your tits". And lots of cops.

    The Bogota KTM dealer I mentioned does not handle Suzuki, as you suspected. But he does handle Bajaj. The Bajaj 400 Dominar would be way cheaper than a DR650, with close to the same power, and better comfort. Easier resale too - I want one for a loaner.

    I have ridden the Yucatan too. And agree with your observations. We spent most of our time there near the ocean and that was nice.

    Baja and the Copper Canyon are on my short list. One of my best friends planned a 2 week trip to the canyon recently but the border closure has nixed that. He thought I was still in Colombia so maybe I will get invited on that trip when the border opens and the group is ready again.

    Your part of Canada is really nice too. Many years ago I did the Cabot trail around Nova Scotia on a BMW R60/2 with my girlfriend. A very fond memory.

    Hope you can escape this Corona madness, but I think the economic/social catastrophe is probably inescapable.
    roadcapDen and Tricepilot like this.
  14. Pete Pilot

    Pete Pilot Been here awhile

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    The riding position of the Dominar would not be helpful to my aching lower spine. Whereas I had a DR at one time and my spine was ok with it. Got rid of my beloved Ninja 1000 last September cause well it hurt me. Wonderful bike that I recommend. Traded it for a trail bike. My friends find that puzzling and amusing. I’m rather fond of riding anywhere in Mexico but especially Baja and Copper Canyon area. First time into Copper Canyon and BATO was the year before they started rebuilding and paving that road. We 3 took numerous stops on the way in. Partly because of the amazing beauty but also, well the road was attention getting. By the way Copper Canyon is deeper and covers more area than the Grand Canyon. As I mentioned before my wife and I plan to winter and ride in Baja come November. At this point, that’s not a certainty. On a side note I,ve been trying to get a retirement cottage built for 10 months and it has been a annoying ordeal. A month ago, early May was a certainty for completing. Our house is sale as of yesterday. Funny how carefully made plans can leave ones control. I feel for all our Amigos that are moto traveling the world and are stranded far from their loved ones. That is a much bigger problem than completing a cottage and selling a house. We riders that are home are thinking of you and wishing nothing but the best. Take Care Amigos Petepilot
  15. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    Right on with the Ninja 1000s. I have owned two of them. Got nailed by the cops in an airplane for doing 80 - lucky they didn't catch me going fast. But I sold that one and got a plane myself. No more speed limits.

    You might want to keep track of Ohio Danimal on his ride report - now in Brazil. He has had thoughts of giving up his well farkled and beloved DR650 due to being forced to stop traveling and a shortage of funds.
  16. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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  17. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    Hostel 82 in Bogota status

    Since most of the tourists have left Colombia, the hostel business is not doing well. My favorite hostel in Bogota is still officially open but currently has only two residents . One of my friends, that I met there, is back home in Caracas, Venezuela. As I reported earlier, there were a lot of Venezuelan refugees in Colombia, and all were having a hard time with earning a living. I cannot imagine Caracas being much better.

    Also, the subject hostel is for sale. I am in touch with the owner - PM me for details. The whole country is on lockdown, so the owner is staying home (not at the hostel). I am interested in finding way to generate income in Colombia, in order to finance a long term stay there, so I have gathered some info on running hostels.
    roadcapDen likes this.
  18. pro69ss

    pro69ss Been here awhile Supporter

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    So ... to start this ADV Hostel is how much per Inmate ?
    Champe likes this.
  19. WileyRTW

    WileyRTW Wiley

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    I am in no position to be buying, but what is a rough cost for the hotel, out of curiosity?
  20. Champe

    Champe Been here awhile

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    You would be surprised by what you could buy.

    The building / real estate is not for sale AFAIK. The building has 4 businesses in it now - a restaurant, a stationery store, a hostel, and a vacant space. The location is it's best feature. A quiet area with very low crime but with excellent access to major highways, public transportation, parking, and the usual tourist stuff.

    The hostel business is for sale for around 140,000,000 pesos. The exchange rate today is about 4000 pesos to the dollar. The exchange rate has gone up from 3400 when I was there in the Fall.

    So for roughly the cost of a new BMW R1250GS you could own the hostel. Just remember you heard about it from me if you buy it.