Updated: Jul 29
Whether to buy or rent a motorcycle for your dream motorcycle tour of Colombia is a common question we often encounter. Despite making our living from motorcycle rentals, we strive to provide an objective viewpoint. Several factors come into play when deciding between renting or purchasing, with money and time being the primary considerations.
You don't even get a good discount when you buy 10.
Renting A Motorcycle in Colombia
If you have a generous budget and limited travel time, opting for a motorcycle rental is a straightforward choice. The process of buying and selling a motorcycle can consume a significant portion of your vacation time, and if money isn't an issue, renting eliminates unnecessary hassle.
The decision becomes more complex when you have an extended vacation period. In Colombia, you can rent a 150cc import quality Honda motorcycle for around $40 USD per day, or larger touring motorcycles (Honda, Yamaha, BMW) for $80 USD and above. Negotiating prices becomes possible if you intend to rent the bike for several weeks. While cheaper Colombian/Chinese models are available in the local market, they are not known for their reliability, a crucial factor during a motorcycle tour of Colombia, regardless of your budget.
Buying a motorcycle in Colombia
Purchasing the same motorcycles brand new in Colombia will cost approximately 30% more than in Europe or North America due to the 35% import tax on vehicles. The process of buying through a dealer typically takes around five days from payment until you receive your bike, ready to ride (if you're lucky).
Opting for a second-hand motorcycle in Colombia may yield better deals with proper haggling skills, but they will likely still be more expensive than the same bike overseas. Buying privately involves additional complexities.
Similar to many developing countries, buying a motorcycle in Colombia requires extensive paperwork and bureaucracy, manageable with a good understanding of Spanish. There are vehicle taxes to settle before the sale, title transfer paperwork, sales contracts, payment of fines, registration at the department of transport, third-party injury insurance, vehicle emissions clearance, and issuance of new paperwork that must be completed before transferring ownership.
When purchasing through a dealer, they handle all these processes, with associated fees included in the purchase price. However, if you buy privately, you'll need to undertake due diligence, and regardless, you'll be responsible for these tasks when selling your bike at the end of your motorcycle trip.
It's highly recommended to be knowledgeable about motorcycles when buying from a private seller. Many Colombians use generic versions of motorcycle parts, including internal engine parts, due to cost and limited availability of original factory parts. For instance, a Yamaha motorcycle might have a non-factory-quality engine part, like a brand-new $12 piston, especially for bikes with high mileage.
That $12 piston, probably.
Buying or Renting a Motorcycle: A Final Word
When comparing the cost of renting a Colombian motorcycle with buying a used $4,000 USD mid-range touring motorcycle and accounting for a 20% loss on the sale, the crossover point between the two options, considering the cost of sales paperwork, falls around the 14-18 day mark.
This analysis doesn't include the cost of a helmet, protective gear, luggage racks, etc., which might come with a second-hand motorcycle but are usually provided for free or at a nominal charge with rentals.
For trips lasting longer than 3-4 weeks, buying and selling the bike appears to make financial sense, assuming you speak Spanish, have sufficient time to handle paperwork, and understand what to look for in second-hand motorcycles. Alternatively, if you're not on a tight budget and time is a concern, renting makes more sense. Reputable rental agencies usually offer maps, recommendations, gear/tools, routes, tips, and tricks that private sellers or retailers won't provide. But either way, get out there and enjoy the ride. Peace, love, and motorcycles. The AA team