Singapore Expats Forum

buying a motorbike for SE asia tour

Discuss anything relating to automotive here, from car leasing to buying a vehicle.

Sponsored by:
Image
AVIS Car Rental

Is this a terrible idea?

Poll ended at Wed, 30 Nov 2011 12:19 am

yes
1
50%
no
1
50%
 
Total votes: 2

zilley
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue, 08 Nov 2011

buying a motorbike for SE asia tour

Postby zilley » Tue, 08 Nov 2011 12:19 am

I am planning to fly into Singapore in mid-late December and buying a decent but cheap touring motorbike and using to to travel through Malaysia, to Koh Phangan Island, to Bangkok, then through Cambodia, into Vietnam staying in Ho Chi Minh then making my way up to Hanoi. When I get to Hanoi I will sell the motorbike before returning home.

That’s the plan.

I have never tried to purchase a motorbike before and certainly not in a foreign country. I need all the help I can get. If you know anything about any of these things it would be much appreciated:

-what kind/model of Motorbike I should be looking for and at what price
-where to find such a bike in Singapore on relatively short notice
-information about insurance and license requirement for a trip like this
-road conditions through the area and local laws and other things I should have to worry about
-what kind of research should I be doing before I leave
-amazing places to see on my trip through South East Asia
-any and all advice for me on my adventure

THANK YOU ALL VERY MUCH!

User avatar
JR8
Immortal
Immortal
Posts: 16514
Joined: Wed, 24 Mar 2010
Location: K. Puki Manis

Postby JR8 » Tue, 08 Nov 2011 2:53 am

You need to speak to Strong Eagle...

User avatar
Strong Eagle
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 10413
Joined: Sat, 10 Jul 2004
Location: Off The Red Dot
Contact:

Postby Strong Eagle » Tue, 08 Nov 2011 8:04 am

I hope you are planning on doing this in mid-late December, 2012, because, as of now, there is no way you will get a bike, visas, insurance, travel planning, hotels or guest houses, etc, all set up to take a trip in December, 2011.

You face two large hurdles. First, it can be very difficult to bring a bike across a border... and if you do, the taxes for doing so can be very high. I rode from Vietnam into Laos. We had to leave our bikes at the border and ride bikes that had been trucked in from Vientiane. You really need to clear this with the appropriate commissions/embassies for each country, and make sure you have something in writing. I can guarantee you that border guards at remote crossings won't take your word for it, even with a little palm grease. You must have the correct documents and professional looking letters from an embassy to make this work.

Second, trip planning is crucial. You can't really go very far every day, with the exception of running the expressways north in Malaysia. Most all other roads will limit you to a top speed of 70 to 80 km or so, which means that a long day would be pushing 300 km while a normal day would be much closer to 200 km. This means it is necessary to stay in guest houses and hotels along the way, and unless you know the towns that have decent hotels/guest houses run by expats, you will find yourself staying in local guesthouses. I have done this in Laos… it is OK for one night… not a comfortable thing for many nights. If you are expecting to stop and get something pot luck, you will be disappointed.

Finding your way will be a challenge. In the big cities like Bangkok and KL you will get signs in English… even then, you will be challenged to find the correct routes to your destinations without proper maps and preparations. Once out into the countryside, and particularly in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, the signage can be considered “minimal”
Last edited by Strong Eagle on Tue, 08 Nov 2011 8:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

curiousgeorge
Reporter
Reporter
Posts: 549
Joined: Thu, 03 Jan 2008
Location: Singapore

Postby curiousgeorge » Tue, 08 Nov 2011 8:28 am

You are in for a world of research, and asking a few questions on a non-specialist forum isn't going to give you the answers you're looking for.

First off, try these websites:

www.horizonsunlimited.com the biggest adventure motorcycling website of them all

www.advriders.com american based, but with some good Asia forums

www.gt-rider.com a Thailand based motorcycle touring guide. You simply can't ride the Golden Triangle without their maps (well, you can but you would miss all the good roads).


For instance, riding in Vietnam, you need a vietnamese drivers licence...but you can buy one for a couple of million dong (unless things have changed since I last looked at this).

You really, really don't want to be buying a bike in Singapore. To have a vehicle on the road in Singapore requires a Certificate of Entitlement from the government, and all bikes have an Additional Registration Fee here, which makes them VERY expensive. You *could* buy a bike, de-register it and have someone drive it over the bridge into Malaysia, but I think you are going to find it much easier to buy the bike in another country.

It used to be the case that you couldn't even ride a bike into Vietnam from Cambodia, I don't know if that still holds true.

Also, for internation bike travel, you usually need a carnet de passage, which is like a passport for the bike. These cost a LOT of money (usually the price of the bike, unless you can get one from your local motoring organisation for around 10% of the cost of the bike, which I don't think will be possible if you buy the bike over here). This is to guarantee that you won't leave your bike behind in the country you are visiting (i.e. not importing it for sale!) So you plan to buy & sell in different countries might not work out.

If memory serves, either Cambodia or Vietnam has a limit on bikes larger than 175cc or 250cc. It is possible to tour on a small bike, but not ideal for the distances you are looking to cover.


Roads will vary in quality - major highways will likely be quite good, but anything thing else you take a gamble...pot holes, cracks...some roads may not even be metalled, so you want a bike you can control on such roads.
Of course, the ideal bike is a BMW 1200GS, maybe 800GS/650GS twin or the older 650GS single or the KTM equivalents. But continental bikes are going to cost a bomb over here. Then you have similar stuff like the Yamaha Teneres, or you might be able to grab an old Africa Twin.
But for spare parts, easy servicing and help along the way, get a Honda Wave scooter :p Seriously though, a Honda CB400 is probably going to be the most popular slightly bigger bike and will just about do the job you are looking for. The chance with buying over here is that you don't know if the bike will last for the trip or become a money pit...


I suggest you read *everything* on the gt-rider and horizonsunlimited sites, then you have a better idea of what you are in for, and what is possible.

User avatar
Strong Eagle
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 10413
Joined: Sat, 10 Jul 2004
Location: Off The Red Dot
Contact:

Postby Strong Eagle » Tue, 08 Nov 2011 8:44 am

curiousgeorge wrote:For instance, riding in Vietnam, you need a vietnamese drivers licence...but you can buy one for a couple of million dong (unless things have changed since I last looked at this).


Although that is allegedly supposed to be the case, I have never been asked for a drivers license, only a passport, and that is anywhere in Vietnam, Cambodia, or Laos. I was asked for my drivers license in Thailand but that was only because they wouldn't give it back to me without me paying a "fine".

It used to be the case that you couldn't even ride a bike into Vietnam from Cambodia, I don't know if that still holds true.


I think that still holds true. Apparently, you can ride into Laos from Vietnam but the border guards may not be fully aware.

If memory serves, either Cambodia or Vietnam has a limit on bikes larger than 175cc or 250cc. It is possible to tour on a small bike, but not ideal for the distances you are looking to cover.


I concur on the engine sizes. I heard but did not confirm, that a tax equivalent to the price of the motorcycle would get you into Vietnam. In general, though, if you stick with 250 cc or less, you won't have a problem... other than all the other cross border problems CG and I have mentioned.

zilley
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue, 08 Nov 2011

thanks for the help

Postby zilley » Tue, 08 Nov 2011 5:53 pm

i have been checking out a few other forums and sites and there seems to be a consensus that it is really hard to get into vietnam with a bike. i have seen posts of people trying to smuggle bikes across the border.

other than getting into vietnam with a bike though it seems that i shouldnt have much trouble touring around thailand and cambodia and laos without too much hassle.

i found a Honda NSR 150 in good shape on craigslist for about $700 USD in bangkok. is this a good price? would this bike work for the kind of distance and terrain i am talking about?

User avatar
JR8
Immortal
Immortal
Posts: 16514
Joined: Wed, 24 Mar 2010
Location: K. Puki Manis

Postby JR8 » Tue, 08 Nov 2011 8:28 pm

I now feel in an informed enough position to vote in your poll.

You seem to be willing your plan ahead, and trying to fit your means into how it might conceivably work. Rather than studying what is required, and planning off that.

The fact you apparently ignore those who have gone before and propose going next month on a mini pseudo track-bike seals it.

Your plan is bonkers and I would be surprised if you successfully survived the proposed trip.

Er, good luck!

User avatar
Strong Eagle
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 10413
Joined: Sat, 10 Jul 2004
Location: Off The Red Dot
Contact:

Re: thanks for the help

Postby Strong Eagle » Tue, 08 Nov 2011 11:04 pm

zilley wrote:...it seems that i shouldnt have much trouble touring around thailand and cambodia and laos without too much hassle.


I am wondering if you are reading for meaning as you cruise the various forums.

a) You say you have never bought a bike anywhere let alone a foreign country. Do you already ride? How long have you ridden? What kind of bike? What kind of riding? You obviously don't know anything about bikes, else you wouldn't even ask about the NS 150. I judge that you are a newbie.

b) The NS 150 is a shit bike for long distance touring. You have a terrible seating position, and the two stroke is a 'buzzer'... enjoy your hands going numb after 100 km hanging onto the bars while your ass groans and your back aches. Don't forget you need to carry bags for your kit. That high muffler precludes panniers or saddle bags.

c) $700? What's good shape for a 2 stroke? Most of the buzzers need to have the top end, if not the whole engine, rebuilt around 35K to 40K... oiling on a two stroke aint that good. If you can't figure out fer sure how many km on the engine, then prepare for an engine seize up while you are riding... an exhilarating experience. I doubt a $700 bike has been rebuilt. You are much better off with a four stroke for reliability.

d) You seem to think that cruising Cambodia and Laos is like a trip through Colorado. Wrong. You must carefully plan your trips to ensure that you arrive at a decent destination before dark. I've ridden dark... it's tough... narrow roads and that is when the trucks come out. You riding a buzzer in the dark with trucks whizzing by... I dunno.

e) Where will you stop? By mid December the Europeans flock to all the good places... do you have a reservation? Things get packed. There is a lot of nothing in Cambodia, somewhat better in Laos... and being between major towns is not a good place to be.

e) When you do stop, the local cops and commie party official will often come visit you. Part of their mission is real... their asses would get kicked if a tourista like you got hurt... and part of their mission is to extract money from you to keep you 'legal'... you ready for that?

f) You have glossed over visas. Even as an American you must apply for a receive a visa for each of Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Vietnam VOA only good at airports. If there is any chance you will cross a border more than once, you need a multi entry visa. Your visas will cost you 1/3 of your motorcycle costs.

Bottom line... you have no idea what you are getting into... I'm all in favor of stepping out of the box... and doing something unique... but I plan... apparently not your forte.

User avatar
Strong Eagle
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 10413
Joined: Sat, 10 Jul 2004
Location: Off The Red Dot
Contact:

Postby Strong Eagle » Tue, 08 Nov 2011 11:11 pm

You would really be better off taking a tour with a recognized, competent tour operator. You could do it for only twice the cost of your USD 700 bike and get a lot more out of it.

taxico
Director
Director
Posts: 3150
Joined: Sat, 10 May 2008
Location: Existential dilemma!

Postby taxico » Thu, 01 Dec 2011 8:59 pm

no offense to the honda and i know this reply is late...

i vote the GN250.
Aut viam ad caelum inveniam aut faciam


  • Similar Topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post

Return to “Cars & Motorcycles”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest