Buying big bikes in Thailand

Discussion in 'Motorcycle Buy and Sell' started by Franz, Aug 10, 2007.

  1. Franz

    Franz Ol'Timer

    Having read all communication about buying big bikes in Thailand, let me contribute my own experiences & thoughts.

    As I see it there's 4 ways to get a big-one locally:
    1.) Get a brand new from an official dealer
    2.) Import a brand new one yourself or by a private shop
    3.) Buy a second hand one from a private shop
    4.) Buy a second hand one from a private owner

    ad 1.) According to Thai laws, you are not allowed to import a second hand motorbike neither as a whole or in parts (somebody tells you else, he/she's lying, just want to free you of some cash for their own good), nor is it allowed to import second hand spare parts.
    So, to my knowledge there's several companies who do the import-customs-taxation-registration legally for: BMW, Harley Davidson, Kawasaki, Triumph and Ducati.
    Advantages: Services offered, Sparparts available, Guarantee on the bikes, product information, accessoiries available
    Disadvantage: high prices through high customs fees (seel below under ad 2.). All the a.m services of "advantages" are of course not free and have to be paid for. Just understand that the dealers need to have space & staff available, at least have some important spareparts on stock (and that's called working capital, anybody who knows, it should be as low as possible; non-moving.....)

    ad 2.) A year ago I wanted to import on my own a brand new KTM-SM640LC4, it was offered to me by an austrian dealer for about Euro 5.800,- (all austrian taxes, fees and also a discount already deducted). You may add up between 70-100% for import, taxes, registration, dealer profitmargin and so on and will end up having costs similar to the prices of the official dealers of the other brands here 9for a similar bike). Maybe a little bit cheaper but you will have a lot of paperwork to do and obstacles to overcome. In the end what do you do when your bike breaks down during guarantee period and also after it has expired? Nobody here to take care of that, spares have to be imported,........
    Another fact is that you will have to do many official tasks on your own, and here it will depend on you behaviour (like everywhere in the world), shorts, slippers, tatooed up to your head, smelling of beer or be accompanied by some self employed girl will get you nowhere and most probably put the cost-estimate up to over 100%...........

    ad 3.) As many of you know that this is sometimes very embarrassing in some shops, not my idea of getting a big one. News are out in this forum of a lot of cheats and shops that are promising everything but delivering nothing. Be aware that all non-registered bikes will cause you a lot of problems once you are involved in an accident. In case of a 'green-book' somebody should carefully check with the vehicles registration office if the preferred bike is really registered..... and don't believe when you hear: 'we will register you the bike, no problem'; when the bike is imported it must be registered immediately, can't be done with an older import, but when done then not according to the law........(make your own mind up about this.....)

    ad 4.) there's a lot of second hand big-bikes around, just go through the Thai websites. Second hand bikes from BMW, Harley and Ducati should have proper registration & paperwork as their dealers do business here already for years. Kawasaki just introduced the Vulcan 900 and Triumph just got a dealer by end of 2006. Technical knowledge is a must so you don't buy scrap. Concerning registration of other brands, check with the vehicle registration office too.

    Previously bikes were brought into the country in parts and then assembled here, no customs paid, so not legal.......

    Be aware that there are still no KTM (no more dealer), Honda, Suzuki or Yamaha big-bikes imported into Thailand, at least I could not find any information in the respective websites. If I am wrong here, please tell me, it would be to our all information & advantage.

    Finally after considering all the options, having been all over the Thai websites, been shown some nonregistered scrap bikes for a high price (years of manufature: 1980-1994 but advertised as 1995 up), visited many shops and dealers, I dismissed options 2-4 and got myself a brandnew BMW-F650GS at Barcelona Motors in Bangkok. All accessoiries needed, registration & insurance were delivered and done within 3 months. What else can you wish for ? I'm satisfied with the way things turned out. Considering the condition of the roads especially during the rainy season BMW F650's, R1200's and Triumph Tigers are the recommendable options. For newcomers to Thailand: you're not allowed on tollways, overpasses and underpasses in towns even with big motorbikes, so forget about 2nd floor Bang-Na-Trat or the motorway to Chonburi......

    Of course the prices......there's three options:
    a.) pay up in cash
    b.) leasing; here you need a valid workpermit with Non-Imm. "B" visa, 30% cash downpayment (so you don't need a Thai guarantor), no negative credit history and a moderate to good monthly income as you must show your salary slips.
    c.) you can't afford it, then you would also be troubled by sparepart prices and repairs for a second hand 'big-bike' and you may run risk of heavy financial troubles in cause of an accident. To put it quite simple: get yourself a 125 cc Honda Wave or a 110 cc Yamaha Mio or any other local manufactored motorbike as you can get parts and service even in the remotest places in Thailand.......

    Why's there no big-bikes in Thailand, simply they are too expensive for most of the population and simpy not needed for their daily use, there's also no service network for most of them, it's only BMW who have 2 dealers in Bangkok, one in Chiang-Mai and one in Phuket. Thai's with plenty of funds mainly love to tuk-tuk along on their choppers if you have noticed, therfor Harley & Kawasaki is your choice. As for Tourers, here's the BMW's & Triumphs, Racers the BMW's-Triumphs-Ducatis, Enduros only BMW's and Triumph.

    In the end it all comes down to how much money you have or do want to spend if you are going for a new one. There's only THB 400.000,- up or 40-60.000,- for a small local one.

    Second hand big bikes are not so plenty, some are next to scrap-status, many are not legalised, so the choice here is quite limited. I recommend to stick here with BMW, Ducati or Harley as Spareparts will be more easily to come by.

    All above is just my private opinion, so there's no claim on perfection.
    Somebody got better information, please enlighten us, in the end its for our own good.

    Happy biking; after work today I'm off to Trat..............................
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  3. monsterman

    monsterman Ol'Timer

    Mostly true but there are sources of good secondhand legal , registered big bikes out ther if you are careful and very well informed.My Ducati s4 is 5 years old secondhand from japan , fully legal, book, inspection and registration only 450,000 baht.
    My old Harley 1990 Sportster was also legal as was my CB1300 and Buell all secondhand and no problems but then i am wised up.

    lots of guys have been ripped off due to scams and Thai shennaigans but many are not clued up enough .

  4. Franz

    Franz Ol'Timer

    You're right Jerry, it's not only some Thai's one should be aware of but sadly also a lot (even more) of farangs who are in this business.......
    Anyway, the more effort (time & looking around) one does, the better the chances of finding a legal, good conditioned second hand big-bike are.
  5. Blake

    Blake Ol'Timer

    Some older second-hand big bikes are legal also, although majority are not. The way I understand it, they are usually imported illegally and then later made legal buy paying the taxes etc if the owner decides they want it legit once its built. I for one have an early 90's Yamaha Enduro that is plated and fully legal. When it was newer, someone must have paid the big bucks to make it legal (paying taxes) after it entered probably in peices to avoid taxes. And the bike is for sale now too!
  6. Azoulay

    Azoulay Ol'Timer

    Hi Franz,

    Thanks for this interesting summary and overview of bike buyings in Thailand, I have a bit of different opinion on that having imported my goodself a brand new Ducati in Thailand last year and having bought a second hand dirt bike from a famous dealer in BKK, all with success....

    But it has been thousands of posts on this and no need for me to add one, i already explain the story and how easy it could be (I did not say fast) when you know the workflow...

    I would like just to complete your post by saying that for saving money, you can import a brand new bike from a high VAT country (example France or Italy has some 20 VAT on bikes, I don't know about Austria, but then it makes your 5800 € bike at 4640 € for all further calculation -of course consider then the CIF value-).

    Hope it could help.
  7. dotcom

    dotcom Ol'Timer

    Or you could head over to Red Baron & get treated right. Not cheap but done right. If Vikrom tells you something you can take it to the bank.

    Red Baron is Japanese owned with sister shop in Melbourne. No shenanigans. Cheap charlies, don't bother.
  8. Azoulay

    Azoulay Ol'Timer


    Fully agree !!! Red Baron is reliable
  9. knut

    knut Member

    I am thinking of buying me a 2006 Kawasaki zx-10r in Bangkok next week.It is an imported bike.Invoice.He says he has all the invoice papers copmplete.Would i get any problems with registration of this bike?????
  10. dotcom

    dotcom Ol'Timer

    Knut. About 50,000 to register legally with brand new green book. Invoice means the import duties have already been paid.
  11. knut

    knut Member

    Yes, but i am prefering till what is written earlier here.Franz wrote that it has to been registrated at once as it has been imported.Since this one was imported mayby one year ago, will i get problems?Is there a maximum time from iporting to registration? Ore is it ok when we have the invoice papers including recite of paid tax ?
    I need to know this, because i am paying for this bike next week.
  12. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Should be "no problem," but who's doing the rego for you?
    Take a note of the bike engine & frame nos. before they start the rego process, as more than likely you will end up with a recycled book & a bike with new nos. And later on you might need the original nos. for correctly identifying the bike to order parts & accessories.
  13. knut

    knut Member

    i have got a friend of me ,a thaiman, helping with me reg. the bike.He is a bigbike dealer here in Trang.He said he has don it before many times. is that the number that is on the frame and the engine.How can i know that this numbers are correct? ore cant i?This is importent after the bike is registrated, isnt it?Can you explaine for me what i must look for,because i am going alone to Bangkok.I need all the helpi can get.

  14. gus

    gus Active Member

    Knut, with all respect, it sounds like you may want to shop around for one thats already reg w/book. just from my own experiences- including now waiting for plate and book for over a month after submitting all paperwork on an FZ1, with no end in sight. And this thru someone with "an inside connection". I will never buy a bike w/o a good plate and book again.
  15. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Take a look at

    UNASSEMBLED BIKES – the "cheat’s way" in by the "back door." These come in by the container load as 2nd hand parts & are only subject to 30-40% customs duties. It is a bit of a huge racket. These are the bikes that you usually see on the roads of Thailand without a number plate. Without the plate they are technically illegal & if you’re in Bkk / Pattaya / Phuket, the police tend to give you a hard time. Elsewhere up-country it does not seem to be such a problem, but you normally can’t leave the country on an unregistered motorcycle.

    LICENSED BIG BIKES Any licensed big bikes you see could be either legally imported (BMW or Triumph) with full duties paid, or registered grey imports – previously unassembled ones brought in as parts.
    Cost for a grey import rego is anything from 50,000 baht up, depending on whom you are dealing with. Most of the books are recycled books with the bike having engine & frame numbers re-stamped to match up with an old book / bike that was previously registered. If you buy a bike that is not registered record the engine & frame number to keep an exact record of your bike model for ordering parts later on when it does not have the same engine & frame number.

    Now there are dealers who claim their books are not recycled, how they manage this I don’t know but the crunch always comes when you either need to renew your bike rego or transfer the place of registration &/or ownership.
    Most of the time it works, but there are cases where the renewal / transfer is not approved. Sometimes this is because the bike might be registered as 20 or 30 years old but it is only a few years old, the number of cylinders or capacity are wrong. These are all little traps you need to watch out for when buying a registered bike. If you never sell the bike or change the place of registration you might never have a problem, but if you’re buying, then check it all closely, especially if you are going to change the place of registration from one province to another. Your local officials might like to be official & pay attention to what you’ve supposedly got in the book.

    I think most people have to wait 1-2 months at least, before the rego is "sorted out," but mine took 5 months before it came through.
    How much is your rego costing?
    How long have you known your friendly big bike dealer in Trang?
    Get him to show you were the engine & frame numbers are on the bike, then keep a record of them.
    Last but not least how much is the bike costing you?

    More questions than you can poke a stick at & it makes you wonder why people rush into these deals without ascertaining all the facts first.
    Take care & don't get screwed by your friendly mates & dealers & make sure you get a "legal" receipt for everything.
    Good luck.
  16. knut

    knut Member

    Yes, it is the best to buy a bike with green book.But most of this bikes are expencive.I am not near this price of the kawasaki zx10r 2006.380.000 bath.even if i spend 70.000 bath in registration it will be a lot cheaper then the other bikes that is in the märket now.But if somebody can help me to find a good bike.Kawasaki zx10r,zx14,yamaha r1,honda cbr1000rr ore suzuki gsx1000r with green book.2006 model for aboat 450.000 so please informe [email][/email]
  17. knut

    knut Member

    HI David
    Thankyou for good advice.My friend in Trang lives next to my house, and i trust him for shure.The problem is if i can trust the seller in Bangkok.How can i check that this bike is ok?I think the price is ok, maybe i can even get it a littlebit cheaper.Who knows.I just want to know what i can look for when i am in Bangkok.How can i know that this is a clean invoice bike,so i will get no promlems with further registration?That is what i need help for.

  18. HIKO

    HIKO Ol'Timer


    If the bike is not registered it must have invoices and custom receipt for the engine and the frame with all numbers mentioned in the custom invoices (almost every time two separate invoices because they import the engine and the frame in different shipments) After that probably your friend in Trang is able to register either by:

    1. Changing the frame number and engine number on the bike and using an old book.

    2. Showing invoice first for the engine and later for the frame and get an old recycled book with your bikes data.

    3. Showing the invoices to a verification center (Land Transport Office) and pay a 60-80 thousand baht to the office even if the money probably is shared between the officers at the office and you will get a "clean" new book`` with the numbers and registration year OK.

    Probably none of the options are 100-% legal but I don"t think you will have problem with the last two options.

    It is not only your friend in Trang that can do it. In bangkok and Pattaya there are several shops that can do it but common for them all is that it takes time....


    Hvernor smager en Tuborg best?
  19. knut

    knut Member

    Hi Hiko
    En Tuborg smager best allt for ofte.
  20. rich1968

    rich1968 Ol'Timer

    When a bike does not have an original green book as stated in previous replies on this subject i.e. the bike was registered when first imported into the country at a very expensive premium. The bike has been imported in bits and a minimal amount of import duty is paid ( a couple of thousand baht) then if it gets a green book once it has been re-assembled the price of this way of getting a green book depends on the the actual cc of the bike and the make and availability of an old book for a bike which no longer exists.
    What happens normally is that the frame number from the old bike is transferred to the frame of the bike that is now taking its identity so you get a new bike maybe from 2003 or onwards on a book that is maybe as old 20 years old that is why as you go up in cc the price of books become more expensive as they are hrder to find.
    Also if a bike appears on a book as more than 5 years old when you come to tax it every year you need a certificate from a testing station to say that the bike is 100%.
    The price of this way of getting a green book is therefore varied and ranges from 15,000 baht on such as Vespas ....30,000 baht on an XR 250 ..... 40,000 on a XR 400 an so on... the average waiting period is normally 3 months.
    I would like to point out though that the whole market on big bikes in Thailand is about to change as has been pointed out many times on GT rider over the past month. Pattaya's biggest Thai owned bike dealership which has over 30 shops in Pattaya, selling small bikes, is now in the process of building a new showroom at the moment to sell new big bikes.
    Therfore my advice to anyone wanting to purchase a big bike at the moment is hang on and see what happens over the next few months......... as to what bikes and models will be available and most importantly at what price.
  21. monsterman

    monsterman Ol'Timer

    Yep word is MP Mityon Pattaya are going to sell legitimate big bikes from a new showroom.
  22. ozzyboy

    ozzyboy Active Member

    An interesting thing happened when I went to re-register my Honda XL600, (that I had previously had for sale here) and update the rego certificate in another province, I saw all the info on the walls of the testing stating, and showing pictures of what is checked, and my thai friend translated what they said, so I made sure all the lights worked, horn, brakes etc, and this is the bike that has been fitted with a 500cc motor, replacing the 600. On the day, I watched the cars getting checked while I waited, and one in particular, that had the doors changed so they open upwards like an italian sportscar, was on a ten or so year old Toyota pickup When the driver got out, the doors seemed to wobble and stick halfway open, so the driver just ducked under to get out, but the safety check ended up being a look at the engine number !!! My turn came, and I switched on the engine, ready to have everything checked, but the inspector turned off the motor, got out some masking tape and put it on the chassis number, and penciled over it. Didn't even bother to check the engine number, OK was all he said, and waved me through..
    Only in Thailand !!!
    The real problem came with the paperwork, about 8 trips to the rego office, and 37 pieces of paper, all signed by me in front of the staff, and as I ordered a plate with a number I wanted, I have to wait 3/4 weeks to get it.
    At least it now has paid up rego and insurance.
  23. harrythefinn

    harrythefinn Ol'Timer

    The "green book" goes by the frame number. The engine/number can be changed etc if duty/bribe is paid on it. it is handy to know which provincial offices are lax in their job so some "suspect" paper work can be passed without hassle. Korat main city office is not, just so everyone knows.
  24. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    How'd you go with your bike any rego - get it sorted out ok?
  25. ozzyboy

    ozzyboy Active Member

    You don't see me post much on here, and sadly my job means I have no time for bike trips, and haven't for some time.
    Well I have now sold my Honda XL600 and the interesting thing about that is that the new owner had the book transfered to his name in just 2 hours.. (yep, it's not a typo)
    He decided he wanted to keep the plate as it had '1' on it, and the registry told him he could leave it registered in this province, even though he lived in another, ( I never knew you could do that) so all the paperwork was done straight away.
    Sure different to when I had to spend over 2 weeks and make 7 or 8 trips to the rego office just to get the book in my name!

    Amazing Thailand..
  26. sinclair1969

    sinclair1969 Ol'Timer

    I am in the process of transferring ownership of the bike I just bought. This bike, a Magna V45, has the green book and all taxes and dues paid, and I was told by the people at the motor vehicle inspection - who also sell insurance - that all I needed for transfer of ownership was a statement signed by the former owner and by myself (two documents) along with the former owner's signed copy of his passport, as well as the originals of my own passport and work permit. The cost of transfer of ownership is 1500 baht. This will be the first motor vehicle I keep in my own name in Thailand (the other vehicles are in my wife's name but that is no problem). I am going to give it a try to get the bike registered in my own name with the help of these people. They are very kind and helpful to me, and I have been doing business with them now for several years, bought all insurance from them and so on without a single problem. Well if things don't work out I'll just register it in the wife's name as the other bikes and truck.

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