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RIDE Adventures Blog

Adventure Riding in South America: To Rent or Buy a Motorcycle?

Posted by Eric Lange on October 25, 2017
Eric Lange
Since riding his KTM 950 Adventure down to South America in 2008 and launching RIDE Adventures in 2010, Eric now resides in Oregon for most of each year. Riding is still a regular part of his work though, in that guiding tours is a passion he'll always have, and researching new routes and regions allows RIDE Adventures to continue growing and providing reliable travel services to adventure minded riders and travelers from around the world.
Frequent Question from Customers: "Can I Buy & Sell a Motorcycle in South America?"
This question comes to us quite frequently, and so we have this standard response:
"Sure, just about anyone can buy & sell a motorcycle in South America. But what address will you use to register your motorcycle? And for your insurance? How will you take care of the multi-week “trámite” (paperwork procedures) that go into making it possible for you to cross the international borders with addresses, passports, insurance, titles, and registration that all match?"
CharlesDavidsonPeruGroup.jpgWhat we’re saying here is “be careful!" because the time and effort that goes into getting all these issues straight is no small task, and rarely makes it worth while to buy/sell a bike instead of renting one. Without having all of this paperwork straight, not only would you be operating a vehicle illegally in the country you’re purchasing the motorcycle in, but you won’t be able to cross international borders for greater exploration of the Andes Mountains and incredible features between countries. (This is exactly why we have motorcycle rentals available in South America.)
Furthermore, any motorcycle once “used” in one country cannot be re-registered in another country without paying so much in taxes and paperwork fees that it’s just not worth it to the buyer. The bike would essentially be "purchased for scrap parts” as the new owner wouldn’t be able to register and title the bike.
Full_Patagonia_Adventure_Map-17-Apr-2017.pngEach of the South American countries we offer our services in (Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina at this time) has laws and restrictions in place to protect the new vehicle dealerships in their homelands. Without the same "volume buying power" as larger countries may have, the pricing for brands like BMW, Honda, Yamaha, etc. is already extremely high compared to other parts of the world. Combine this fact with luxury taxes / I.V.A. and other factors, outrageous insurance & registration costs, and that will help explain why buying/selling vehicles in these countries is so very expensive.
SO, this all means that by the time you go through the gigantic paperwork nightmare of buying the bike, registering and insuring it and making sure you're clear to cross the international borders, you'd then have more work to do, just trying to sell the motorcycle at the end! And that wouldn't even be possible (or not reasonably possible) unless you're back in the same country you purchased the bike from.

Yes, it can be expensive to rent a motorcycle (citing again the costs of vehicles, registration, insurance) in most South American countries, and yes, we also wish the costs weren't so high. But the simplicity we offer in being able to provide a late model, professionally-maintained motorcycle that is possibly the exact same as the BMW GS or Honda Africa Twin that you already have at home just makes perfect sense some times. On top of all the aforementioned paperwork challenges ... who are you going to trust to buy a motorcycle or truck from for your South America adventure travel? And then you'll be entirely responsible for the maintenance and condition so that you can complete your trip plans? Please, put this work on our shoulders. Our Customers have successfully navigated over 2 million combined kilometers in the Andes Mountains so far, and many of you have shared Customer Testimonials that we appreciate very much.

Call this a "P.S.A." or whatever you want to, but it's just a reminder to folks about why we exist as a motorcycle rental business in the first place: For adventure riding in the Andes Mountains less than about 2 months, it just won't make sense to ship your own motorcycle, or mess around with trying to buy and sell one. Let us help you. We've been doing this with tremendous success since 2010, and look forward to serving you.
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