As a reader of ADVrider South America is pushed in your face A LOT! People will tell you its very cheap once you are here with YOUR bike and that is great, but it is still out of reach for a lot of people… let’s give you an option to change that view!
Currently, I am riding in South America and have spoken with eleven different riders 2 Indians, 2 Lithuanians, 3 Russians, 3 Americans, 2 English – to gauge their experiences of riding in South America…not bringing their own motorcycle but buying one motorcycle here and not being able to speak great Spanish
The bikes that have been chosen were in no particular order and rounded to the nearest $500, due to buyers exchange rates
Yamaha XT250Z $4000 +/- bought in Colombia – used x2
AKT 200 $3000 +/- bought in Colombia – new
AKT TT250 Aventour $3500 +/- bought in Colombia (two at the same time) – new
Royal Enfield Himalayan $3000 +/- bought in Colombia – used
Yamaha XTZ250 lander $3000 +/- bought in Brazil – used
Zongshen 150 $1000 +/- bought in Peru – new
Honda XR150 $4500 +/- Bought in Colombia – new
The three other bikes unknown, but bought in Peru…the country will become more important than the bikes, explained later…
The common connection here is buying in Colombia an looking to sell again in Colombia, why? One word from all of them – Easy!
The main reason for buying in Colombia, was selection, good prices and ease of export and resale. Colombian bikes can be exported and ridden all over South America by a non-South American with ease, same goes for that one bike bought in Brazil.
Peru, on the other hand, has a very complicated export paperwork procedure, and if you are not extremely confident or fluent in Spanish, you could be stuck at the border for days if not weeks…ALL FOUR RIDERS WERE!
With a Colombian plated bike returning to sell in Colombia you can sell privately easily and get market current prices and good quality bikes are in demand, hence why the riders bought new or good brands, resale will return most around 75%+ of their initial outlay.
The process, I spoke with one of the Indian riders at length, he has minimal Spanish and gave me guidelines to pass on that he assures me a rider with no Spanish could use and be riding in a few days on a bike that they got a good price on.
This information came from inmate MAK who is sitting taking with me right now, so this information is as current as can be, hot off the press so to speak – quote
I hope to travel for 4-6 months through Ecuador and Peru and return to Medellin where i can legally sell the motorcycle to either a local or foreign national.Legally buying a motorcycle in Colombia
I reached Colombia on the 15th of August 2018 with the intention of buying a motorcycle to travel through parts of South America ending my trip in Colombia a few months later.Colombia is a one of the few countries in South America where you can legally register a motorcycle in your name, cross international borders and legally sell the motorcycle In Colombia.Legally is the keyword over here as there are cheaper ways of buying foreign registered motorcycles while in South America. They may be cheaper and will involve photoshop skills. But I don’t recommend them and wouldn’t do it myself.So here we go.
Basics you need to buy a motorcycle in Colombia as a foreign National.
- A motorcycle you like.
- Your Passport.
The Initial Research
Figure out where you want to buy before hand. The reason is primarily to find the going rates and availability of the motorcycle in the cities your planning to visit.
The best cities would be
Obviously, the bigger cities have a better selection online as well a more structured second dealer network.
The websites to look for motorcycles online are
These are in order of preference and ease of navigation.
I would not recommend buying a motorcycle without seeing and riding it. But they are a good place to get an idea of prices of motorcycles and how they vary across cities. As well as the year of manufacture and number of KMs run. It will give you an idea if someone is overcharging for a motorcycle or its ridiculously cheap.. both tend to be red flags.
Check the motorcycle
I’m not getting into too much detail over here. because I have a really long checklist. I used to be a mechanic so I know my way around an engine, but it was the first time I had ever seen a Tenere 250 in my life. So after I was satisfied with the motorcycle. I was able to get an independent mechanic to look at the motorcycle. I definitely would recommend this.
Check Frame and engine number as per registration
Check all documents
- Registration Card
- Technico Mechanica
- Police clearance – not a document
The Registration Card will have details of the owner, vehicle number, chassis, and engine number. the model number and smaller details. Just make sure everything lines up and matches and you will be fine.
The SOAT, which is the insurance cover for your motorcycle and any third party damage caused. it is linked to the Motorcycle and not to you. Note the SOAT is valid only in Colombia and you will have to buy a new SOAT for every country you visit in South America. It isn’t very expensive and varies from $15-$30.
The Technico Mechanica, states that the vehicle is mechanically fit to be on the road.
The Technico Mechanica is more expensive and will have to be valid for the entire time you are in Colombia as well as when you re-enter the country.
The SOAT and the Technico Mechanica should be valid at the time of transfer. they typically have a validity of 1 year.
Get a clear chit from the police, just to make sure the vehicle does not have any pending fines, or was involved in any accidents.
This can be done by going to a nearby Police station or even to a policeman who has a data connection. They will enter the vehicle number and will be able to tell you on the spot if anything is out of place.
The Money Transfer
It is typical to pay a small amount as a security deposit for the motorcycle. There is an official document when both Buyer and seller fill in their details along with finalized amount as well as the initial deposit that was paid. Index finger prints of both parties are required for this document.
A lot of individual sellers will prefer to do the transaction in cash. Dealers will be ok with bank transfers but cash seems to be the preferred method.
Be aware of carrying large amounts of cash. Always do the handover in the bank itself and take a signed note from the seller that they have received the money.
Typically they will be ok with installments if you have limitations with ATM withdrawals.
Speak to your bank beforehand ifyou intend to do a large international transaction. You could alternatively usea service like Transferwise or Xoom to transfer the money into a local bank account.
The transfer process in major cities is very straightforward and typically takes half a day if you go yourself with the seller, and you will have the papers in your name legally.
Knowledge of Spanish is required to make this process seamless.
If you are buying a motorcycle from a dealer, they typically will take care of the paperwork and the entire process will take one or two working days. You will still need a RUNT (so you will have to read a bit more).
- Rubbings of the Engine and Chassis number.
- Transfer forms – can be obtained at the Movilad/Office
- Your Passport.
- Original Registration Papers
- Technico Mechanica
To have the motorcycle you will need a RUNT.
The RUNT is the National Registry for all individuals who own vehicles or have licenses. Basically, anything Automotive related requires you to exist in the RUNT database.
Registry for the RUNT is free and as a foreign only requires your original passport. Not even a license.
They will fill in your details as per your passport, scan your index fingers(both of them) and take a photo. You won’t get an acknowledgment of the RUNT, but you can always retrieve it from the RUNT website using your passport number.
The RUNT registration takes around 15 minutes, not including waiting time.
The Paperwork for the transfer
For the transfer, the seller/dealer will have to bring the original registration for the vehicle.
Transfer forms can be obtained at the office of transfer and are not charged. You will have to use a local address. even a hotel address is fine.
Just a single large detailed form which will need your passport number, your index fingerprint and signature. it is in Spanish but well laid out and easy to understand.
Submit the forms and make the payment for transfer.
Cost of Vehicle transfer
The fixed amount for the transfer 77,000COP + 1% of vehicle value.
From what I understand. If it is a dealer, it is included in the price. But for individuals, the cost of transfer is split equally between both parties.
After making the payment. You’ll be asked to return to collect the papers in an hour or two.
Go grab a coffee and enjoy the anticipation.
Return to collect the papers and you’re done.
Make sure all financial transactions are done, collect the SOAT, Technico Mechanica and keys from the seller and you’re done.
I bought the motorcycle directly from a seller and not through a dealer. My spanish is basic at best and not equipped to conduct business with government agencies. I was lucky to have a patient seller who accompanied me and helped with the paperwork.
Remember to smile a lot, be patient and accommodating.