Buying or Selling Used Motorbikes with MOTODREAMER

Buying or selling a used motorbike with MotoDreamer is a safe option when planning your next Motorbike Adventure Tour in South America.

Estimated Reading Time: 10 minutes

Are you planning your next motorcycle touring trip in South America and want to know the rules regarding buying and selling a used motorbike?

This is MotoDreamer´s Guide on buying and selling motorbikes in South America. 

1. MotoDreamer is a trustworthy option.
2. Things to consider beforehand.
3. Can I bring my registered foreign bike to Colombia?
4. Purchasing a pre-owned motorcycle in Colombia.
5. One more vital step – registering with RUNT.
6. Once the motorbike is under your name, you have the freedom to cross international South American borders.
7. MotoDreamer´s Morbike buy-back Scheme.
8. Buying a Motorbike elsewhere in South America?

If you’re contemplating a long-haul motorcycle journey through South America, you’re inevitably going to want a set of wheels of your own.

Provided you’re not hell-bent on bringing your own wheels from home, buying a used motorcycle on arrival is generally the most cost-effective way to country-hopping through the continent.

If your first question was; “can I, as a foreign tourist, legally purchase a motorcycle in South America” we’ve already given you the answer: 

YES, Buying or selling  a used Motorbike with MotoDreamer is a trustworthy option AVAILABLE TO ALL Adventure Motorcycle Touring Riders!

However, buying a vehicle in a South American country is a little more complicated than just answering a Craigslist ad and handing over a stack of cash.

Furthermore, legalities around non-citizens buying, registering, and selling vehicles vary significantly from country to country.

So, for the purposes of this blog, we’re going to focus mainly on what we know best. That is buying and selling pre-owned bikes in Colombia. Fortunately, Colombia is a great place to kick off a South American adventure from a geographical standpoint. In addition, it’s also one of the most accessible places to buy your own motorbike as a foreigner.

Things to Consider Beforehand when buying or selling a used motorbike.

Whether you decide to buy a new or a used bike in Colombia or another South American country, you’ll need to do some research up-front.

Some of the most important questions to ask yourself are:

  • Can I register a bike in my name as a foreigner, without a permanent local address?
  • Do I need any kind of special insurance?
  • What additional paperwork will I need to allow me to cross international borders legally?
  • Will I be able to sell the motorcycle relatively easily afterward?

And, if you’re buying a used motorbike:

  • How do I make sure I’m buying a bike that’s not a complete hunk of caca?

Often it’s that the last point that turns out to be the most frustrating. Generally, finding pre-owned motorbikes in good condition can be difficult and time-consuming without the right connections. And even if you buy direct from a dealership, service standards aren’t always as stringent as what you might be used to.

Seriously. Make sure your bike is up to the task. If anything is troubling you, get a second opinion from a reputable mechanic even after you’ve made your purchase. A remote mountain pass in the Andes or a muddy trail in the Amazon is just about the last place on earth you want your “new” set of wheels to give out on you.

Can I Bring My Foreign Registered Bike to Colombia?

Can I Sell It There Too?

Since opening MotoDreamer, we’ve received countless questions on importing, buying, and selling motorcycles in Colombia.

Being at that halfway point between the US and the rest of South America, Colombia is sort of a chokepoint for travelers. Some are at the end of their journey and desperate to sell their US and EU registered bikes before returning home.

There’s just one problem with that:

Selling a registered foreign motorbike in Colombia is illegal!

Now, plenty of people do bring foreign-registered bikes to Colombia, but this is only legal if the purpose of your visit is “tourism.” If you are indeed a tourist, Customs will issue you with a TTIP (Temporary Tourism Import Permit).

As a tourist, you are allowed to operate a foreign-registered vehicle in Colombia for three months. The TTIP also lets you leave Colombia with your bike and get a renewed three-month stay upon returning.

Occasionally, we do hear of the odd tourist in Colombia selling their foreign-registered bike to another foreigner. The problem with this is the original vehicle title cannot be legally transferred to a new owner.

This makes it:

  • Impossible to obtain mandatory drivers’ insurance
  • Extremely awkward when the new owner tries to take the bike out of Colombia. 
  • Impossible to ignore when stopped and checked out by police or customs at any random control point. 
  • Even more awkward when the owner is asked to hand over the vehicle registration card. Which will, of course, be invalid and will usually result in the offending vehicle’s immediate confiscation.
  • Extremely risky and costly should you be involved in an accident with injuries occurring as you will have no 3rd party coverage. And remember, nor will you be covered yourself. This will likely result in you taking the full blame no matter the fault and ending with jail time in severe cases.

Purchasing a Pre-Owned Motorbike in Colombia

Before You Buy 

As a foreigner, you can legally purchase a Colombian registered motorbike, have the vehicle title transferred into your name, and acquire mandatory insurance without requiring a permanent address in Colombia.

Before you start negotiations, make sure the seller has all the motorbike’s papers in order.

The documents required to sell a vehicle in Colombia are:

  • Registration Card
  • Technico Mechanica – a document from an authorized test center (valid for 12 months) verifying that the motorbike is currently roadworthy
  • SOAT – Basic, third-party insurance. Compulsory for all vehicles while in Colombian territory. While the insurance is about USD 150/year for smaller vehicles, the “SOAT” is valid only in Colombia. You will have to purchase a new SOAT each time you enter a new country in South America. Please note buying one month at a timeis acceptable.

Then, there’s one more vital step when buying or selling a motorbike in Colombia:

RUNT (Registro Único Nacional de Tránsito) is a national database for all drivers and owners of vehicles in Colombia. Registering with RUNT is free and essential. A valid passport and a finger for fingerprint registration will do nicely.

Transferring the Registration

Finally, it’s time for you and the seller to head to the Transport Office where the motorbike is currently registered. Bring your driver’s license and passport.

There’s quite a lot of paperwork to be filled out during this process, and you must understand everything you sign.

By purchasing your motorbike from a dealership rather than a private party, the dealer should ensure that all procedures are followed correctly.

Remember, though, there aren’t too many second-hand motorbike dealers in Colombia who are expert at dealing with tourists.

Buying a Pre-Owned Motorbike with MotoDreamer

Helping tourists get on the road is all we do, so buy a motorbike with us, and we’ll help take care of everything. 

If you want to ride independently through South America, a rental is fine should you only plan to spend a couple of weeks, up to about a month on the road.

However, suppose your South American adventure is a long-term kind of thing. In that case, that per-day rental fee eventually becomes cost-prohibitive, and a pre-owned purchase ends up as the most sensible/affordable option.

Also, motorbike rented in Colombia is prohibited from traversing any border crossing into Ecuador.

At MotoDreamer, we have a small but highly maintained fleet of pre-owned motorbikes available for sale.

If you’re looking for something dirt cheap (and hey, there’s nothing wrong with that – provided your ‘bush mechanic’ skills are rock solid), you’ll need to search elsewhere, as we only deal in relatively late-model mid-to-high-end machines.

We know you just want to start riding as fast as possible instead of getting bogged down in paperwork. Part of our service is making sure you and your new motorbike are 100% road legal.

Once the motorbike is under your name, you have the freedom to cross international borders and explore South America as you please.

Altogether, from choosing your motorbike and having us set it up to your liking. You can be confident in knowing we will be sorting the paperwork and wheeling the bike out of the shop and into the world in the shortest time available. Our entire process usually takes between two and five days.

And, at the end of it all, we can even repurchase your motorbike! Yes, we can make the massively annoying headache of selling a used bike in a foreign country disappear entirely. Instead of you having to hang around and ruining the end of your holiday of a lifetime!

How Does MotoDreamer’s Motorbike Buy-Back Scheme Work?

Riding from the Caribbean to Tierra del Fuego and back is awesome. What’s not awesome is your trip ending, and you realize that the motorbike that brought you so much joy now needs to get rid of pronto.

After hearing from so many riders who ended up with issues selling their motorbikes before going home, we introduced the MotoDreamer Motorbike Buy-Back Guarantee. It’s the only motorbike buy-back scheme of its kind in South America.

We guarantee to repurchase the motorbike from you up to six months after the initial purchase for a pre-arranged value. There’s no obligation to return it to us in the end, however, should your motorbike find another buyer, or perhaps even another purpose.

Of course, there are terms and conditions:

  • The buyer must return the motorbike to MotoDreamer in the same condition as originally received in, accepting normal wear and tear
  • A full before and after workshop report is issued to bring to light any damage or unauthorized modifications
  • If we do discover any issues, they will be itemized and deducted from the return payment. Alternatively, the buyer has the option to fix the issues elsewhere before returning the motorbike.
  • The buyer is responsible for maintaining the motorbike in roadworthy condition and following the maintenance plan issued by the manufacturer.

What if you Want to Buy a Motorbike Elsewhere in South America?

Anything outside of Colombia is beyond our expertise. The rules in Colombia change often enough – we simply can’t keep up with them and all the other countries!

Motorcycle travelers – Colombia is an excellent place to buy a motorbike in South America, not just because of its strategic position but also because tourists can legally register vehicles in their own name.

In several other South American countries, the process is far more complicated, with all kinds of additional hoops to jump through, such as requiring sponsorship or acquiring a special permit.

In the case of Argentina. Now considered the worst country to buy a vehicle in as a foreigner in South America. Any vehicles that have Argentinian papers but, are registered to a foreign driver are prohibited from leaving the country!

If you’ve dreamt of exploring South America by motorbike, we urge you to get out there and do it.

Written by: Fiona Davies (extreme pillion rider and adventure travel writer)

Edited for SEO optimization by Mike Bowley at www.mikedbowley.com

Are you someone who is an avid Adventure Motorcycle Touring Rider and want to discover South America.

Then contact Mike at MotoDreamer, tell him your story, and seek his knowledge on building your experience safely.

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Final image showing a motorbike with the old motolombia logo for this article titled Buying or Selling Used Motorbikes with  MOTODREAMER.

Buying or Selling Used Motorbikes with  MOTODREAMER

4 thoughts on “Buying or Selling Used Motorbikes with MOTODREAMER

  1. James Herbert says:

    Mike, my name is Jim Herbert. I have spent most of the last decade riding in Southeast Asia doing my photography and creating short documentaries. I now want to ride South America and do the same. I would like to purchase another bike upon entering South America and have read the content on the Motodreamer web site. Being familiar with the whole “legal ” thing, I want to do it right! I will be looking for a bike in the 400 to 500 cc range. My last bike I sold prior to leaving Thailand was a Royal Enfield Hymalayan in May 2022. I want a bike I can get parts for. Please email me, thanks Jim

    • Mike Thomsen says:

      Hi James thanks for your message and email. I have responded to your email. Regards, Mike

  2. Rene Villeneuve says:

    Good afternoon i am planning on an long trip to South America
    I have been to many countries there but on a bus
    I also rent a motorcycle in bogota before
    But now i want to buy
    You guys seem to be the best option
    I was wondering of your inventory
    In the best case i would like a bmw bike
    But anything will also work
    I am from Canada

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