Buying big bikes in Thailand

Sep 1, 2009
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In my experience i would say that an older bike of a low value is ok, i have had a bike with the wrong numbers and cc in the book for years ,been to cambodia on it 8 times,been stopped on the road endless times, NEVER been asked for a green book ,however i wouldnt advise it on a high priced machine,.
 

hs0zfe

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Aug 31, 2009
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Howdy, an hour ago I met a senior, 72 who let me ride his Tiger Boxer 250 RS outside Piston Shop in Chiang Mai. He had trouble due to the last frame number looking "dodgy". This being a Thai brand, this shouldn't be a problem. But it was for the officials. The factory had to re-work the frame number... Now imagine the magnitude of hassle when you have a dodgy bike / book / or combination thereof. :evil:

Much appreciated, you sharing your experience, Franz!

Those Honda Waves are fantastic value, no doubt.

Chris
 

Franz

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Jun 28, 2007
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Thanks Chris, info from page one was from 2007, so some things might have changed. My experience here in CNX is that they are working in a totally correct way. Had both car from Chonburi registered without any fuss at the big transport office near Big-C Hang Dong road. At the Nong Hoi outlet for bikes had the SRX-Bkk rego, the DR-CNX rego, the Bros from Chon to Phrae rego (in Phrae and also perfect) and the Step from Chon rego done without any problems, they waited for the masterfile including the whole rego history and fotos come up from Chon or Bkk and then did a thorough comparison with docs and numbers and when they were satisfied the rest was done on a blink off an eye. They were polite and helpful as one could only hope the EU ones were. Further on did I get the assurance that all are leagl regos and not one grey or restamped vehicle is in my possession. Rgds, FR
 

KZ

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Aug 20, 2003
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Quote: "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."
This was posted in August 2007 - three years ago. What has really happened since then?
Kawasaki is selling several 250 / 650cc models for a price that's acceptable to the general public plus some expensive 900 and 1000cc bikes.
Yamaha is selling several models (which I personally am not interested in) for a price higher than in most civilised countries.
Maybe it's time for an update - what else has improved in TH in the last three years?
 
Sep 4, 2007
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I do take your point KZ, as with many things here the pace of change is not always as fast as one would expect or like.
We could say that things are moving in the right direction, but much slower than many of us would like. The entry of Honda, and also Suzuki, has alledgedly been delayed by the economic downturn, so the expected increased competition has not materialized.
One thing that has changed in the last 3 years is the focus by customs and excise officers on unplated bikes on which proper import duty has not been paid. This has increased the reluctance of foreigners (I was going to say Farang, which I have no objection to, but I will not in case some find it offensive), to buy bikes which are invoice only. This should make proper legal, registered bikes with good books more desirable, but as the bottom seems to have fallen out of the second hand market in the last few weeks, this is difficult to see.
From personal experience I would also say that the service competence of Yamaha and BMW big bike shops that I deal with has improved.
 

KZ

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Aug 20, 2003
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I didn't mean my question to sound negative - of course I wish more things would have developed positively concerning MC in TH, especially my personal preferences (affordable bikes in the 250 to 400cc bracket). As John pointed out, the economic downturn probably played a role, even though I read that Honda sold more bikes last year than expected. Guess people had to sell their cars and bought a new Wave.
One of the good things is that KTM and Triumph are trying to get a foot into the Thai market. Unfortunately out of my league, too big and too expensive. Even if I'd win the lottery I wouldn't buy anything bigger than 400cc!
Just read that big Suzukis are for sale in Pattaya in another thread. I wouldn't know what to do with a Hayabusa in Thailand - overkill! At every red light you're stuck behind a car, sweating...
But maybe we'll get the DR400Z or the 650 V-Strom...!
 
Sep 4, 2007
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Been reading in the Bangkok post this week that Honda now consider that it is a good time for them to get active in the big bike market in Thailand. Hopefully that means we will see some action sooner rather than later. eg This year.
 
May 6, 2009
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I hope that happens John. I can just see the king of all bikes, a brand new 2011 CBR1000RR (not yet released) joining my collection.
 
Sep 4, 2007
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I too hope that happens for you and I will be happy to look after any of the less used bikes while you are enjoying the new one :lol-sign:
 

KZ

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Aug 20, 2003
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That would be great to see new, legal big bikes from Honda - and why not?
I read an article somewhere that they're entering the Indian market with an affordable 230cc single streetbike.
Rumors about the 250 VTR are still rumors, but there's hope.
I wouldn't need a 150hp superbike, even the Varadero 125 would make me happy! With the 250cc VTR engine it would make me even happier!
 

KZ

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Aug 20, 2003
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Blake, you wrote:
"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."
This bike may have been imported in one piece and it was cheap to get it legal. In the early 90s the law must have been different. I'm no expert, but I remember very clearly searching for a bike in Bangkok bike shops in 1993 and finally buying a Yamaha XT400 - it sat there, low mileage, complete, flat tires, dirty, no license plate, no battery, among lots of other bikes. Maybe bought at an auction, who knows. But it cleaned up very well after I told the owner of the shop that I wanted to buy it. Forgot how much I paid, I think it was around 80,000 baht. I was told to take it to the Department of Transportation to get it legal. Fortunately my then-girlfriend knew where it was and the bike was registered in her name, just like that, in one day, like a title transfer! It cost only about 1000 baht. The most time I spent waiting in line outside because the engine had no number so the guys stenciled one in and it appeared in the green book. Later I picked the license plate.
If you look for used bikes you will find that there are quite a few legal bikes, with real green books (no frame number change) from the early nineties. Lots of Honda Bros from that time are legal.
 
Jul 10, 2010
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QUESTION :

Providing a bike is already registered with a Grey green book with the mean of either option 1 or 2 or 3 hereunder (according to Hiko previous message on page 1) :

Quoted from Hiko:

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 centre (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.
"
What happen to the owner if the Grey/green book is LOST ?

Can anybody answer this question with trusted information for a book
From Option 1
From Option 2
From Option 3
?
Thanks
Philippe.
 

HIKO

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Nov 7, 2005
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I did not remember my answer from before, but I think it was quite fair.. It could be that Monsterman have a different opinion but I am quite sure that all old books for old motorbikes in Thailand are all "semilegal". Monsterman says that you can bring the bike to Bangkok and get a legal book. I do no understand how they can make legal books that the bikes comply with the Euro 5 norm on emsission and noice when no bikes in Europe comply with the new obligations. If you live in Thailand then you have to get used to the local corruption, you don't have to accept it but as long as it is quite moderate accept it, it will make your life easier. Maybe I am cynical but I am realist. Thailand is corrupt but at a reasonable level.

If you want a 110% legal book buy a new Kawasaki, Triumph, BMW, Ducati, new Suzuki or Yamaha they are 100% legal.. I have bought about 10 bikes from Wikrom at Red Baron and despite all the good stories people tell about Red Baron I can assure You they they uses the same semilegal registrations as everybody else. But Wikrom is a nice guy.... and he speaks good Japaneese.

Otherwise buy a used bike with a semilegal book, but use an expert when you change the book. I had one friend a time ago who tried to pay tax for his 400 Steed. When he wanted to pay the tax at the verifiction center they told him that your bike is a a 400cc 4 cylinder racing bike, and showed him the pictures, not a custom bike.. He contacted me and I paid the tax and now he is happy. Thailand is the country of good conections.

Anhow, now you probably dont" t want to buy a bike from me, now anymore but I am quite frank and serious. I know the game. Our big guru David has a semilagal book, Rhiekel has also etc Thailand is a little corrupt but you have to learn to live with it if You want to stay here.

Best Rgds

HIKO
 

DavidFL

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HIKO wrote: I did not remember my answer from before, but I think it was quite fair.. It could be that Monsterman have a different opinion but I am quite sure that all old books for old motorbikes in Thailand are all "semilegal". Monsterman says that you can bring the bike to Bangkok and get a legal book. I do no understand how they can make legal books that the bikes comply with the Euro 5 norm on emsission and noice when no bikes in Europe comply with the new obligations. If you live in Thailand then you have to get used to the local corruption, you don't have to accept it but as long as it is quite moderate accept it, it will make your life easier. Maybe I am cynical but I am realist. Thailand is corrupt but at a reasonable level.

If you want a 110% legal book buy a new Kawasaki, Triumph, BMW, Ducati, new Suzuki or Yamaha they are 100% legal.. I have bought about 10 bikes from Wikrom at Red Baron and despite all the good stories people tell about Red Baron I can assure You they they uses the same semilegal registrations as everybody else. But Wikrom is a nice guy.... and he speaks good Japaneese.

Otherwise buy a used bike with a semilegal book, but use an expert when you change the book. I had one friend a time ago who tried to pay tax for his 400 Steed. When he wanted to pay the tax at the verifiction center they told him that your bike is a a 400cc 4 cylinder racing bike, and showed him the pictures, not a custom bike.. He contacted me and I paid the tax and now he is happy. Thailand is the country of good conections.

Anhow, now you probably dont" t want to buy a bike from me, now anymore but I am quite frank and serious. I know the game. Our big guru David has a semilagal book, Rhiekel has also etc Thailand is a little corrupt but you have to learn to live with it if You want to stay here.

Best Rgds

HIKO
:clap: :clap:
Good sensible realistic comments Hiko.
What many guys misunderstand is that the BOOK is legal & technically not the bike. But if the bike matches what is in the book & your local vehicle rego office accepts it...you are in the "clear."
It appears to be a system that works, but a corrupt, possibly technically illegal one.

If you buy a brand new bike from Kawasaki, Triumph, BMW, Ducati, new Suzuki or Yamaha they should be 200% legit books & bikes (with NO re-stamping of VIN numbers.)

Most of the others - 60-70%? - are probably recycled books?
Check your engine & frame numbers to see if they match up to the model bike you have.
If it is not for the bike you have, then you have a recycled book & a re-stamped bike; & there are thousands of them in the kingdom. You are not alone & probably not in the minority.

But if you've got a book for your registered bike, then you can present this to the customs & have it accepted when you leave & re-enter the country by the Customs Dept. The book is legal & according to the book so is your bike.
The legality of the bike is only under the jurisdiction of the Land Transport Dept; & if your local office accepts them you are onto a winner. If not, then leave the bike & licence in the province where it is registered. It is legal according to that office. You can get it inspected & pay the tax every year. "No worries."

I hope this clears the air a little. :think:
 
Sep 4, 2007
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As the last 2 posters confirm, there is no mystery about having a vehicle registered in your name. You just need to prove your address, by a work permit, letter from immigration, or a Yellow Tabien Bahn, plus the documents mentioned above. I have never had a problem in offices, in Bangkok, Khon Kaen, Sakhon Nakhon, and twice in Chiang Mai. I just bought a D-Tracker. The whole transfer process took less than 1 hour, and that included solving a slight problem, because the previous owner had changed the panels from Yellow to Black. We were asked to provide a receipt for the new panels, which he had not kept. We were then told where to go to BUY a new receipt for 100 Baht. we were charged 15 Baht for changing the colour in the book. My Tabien Bahn has my Khon Kaen address, I left the D-Tracker on a Chiang Mai plate and my FZ1 on a Sakhon nakhon plate. No need to change to the current province unless you wish to. That is the easiest process, to go to the office in the province that the bike is registered in. If you go to a different office, the process can be done, but you have to visit, submit the papers and then go back after 1 week to complete the process. during that time, they request the change of paperwork from the other province.
In Chiang Mai, all was done in 1 hour, but they type the new entry in the bike book later that day and request you return after 1pm the next day to collect. No queuing for this, just go to counter 5 and collect. Sakhon Nakhon did the same day, as did Bangkok and Khon Kaen; depends what time of day you go.
 
Jul 10, 2010
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quote fr(om Davidfl
"
Most of the others - 60-70%? - are probably recycled books?
Check your engine & frame numbers to see if they match up to the model bike you have."

How do I do That ?

Thanks
Philippe
 

cdrw

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Oct 6, 2006
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PhilippePhuket wrote: .......
What happen to the owner if the Grey/green book is LOST ? Philippe.
While I've not had a green book lost or stolen, I had a situation, a few years ago, where my bike was stolen out of a hotel lobby
in Sihanoukville, Cambodia...on Christmas day! Long story short, the bike was later recovered due to the help of my friends that have businesses
there, but the bike was missing the Thai license plate. The culprit was later caught & deported, but for reasons other than the theft.
I had a police report from the Cambodian police. With the report, the bike, green book and my passport in hand, I went to the Pattaya
Land & Transportation office. About 4-6 weeks later later I was issued a new green book which matched the numbers on the newly issued license plate.
Cost, as I vaguely recall was about 1000-Bt? So, I would imagine that taking your plated bike and ID/passport to the L&T office, that they can verify
the bike's serial numbers against their records and you could obtain a replacement for your lost or stolen green book. However, depending on the L&T office,
it could be a problem if you have a recycled green book.

As the OP's name indicates he's in Phuket, I should add a strange problem I had registering a bike that I bought in Phuket, earlier this year.
Pattaya L&T office said I had to transfer registration on the Phuket plated bike in Phuket. I've no idea why that was a problem as I've also have
a BKK plated bike, which I bought in Pattaya and had no problem changing the green book to my name with the BKK plates at Pattaya L&T office.
The Phuket L&T office would not accept my residence letter which I obtained from Pattaya Immigration. They said that 'Pattaya uses
the old form and I needed a residence letter on the new form'. Pattaya Immigration denied there was a different form in use.
The stalemate was finally resolved by my paying a worker at Pattaya L&T office to go to Phuket, with my green book and other documents,
and getting the green book changed to my name, still with Phuket license plates. Once that was done, I rode to the Chonburi L&T office
and obtained a Pattaya license plate and matching new green book.
 

HIKO

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Nov 7, 2005
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Maybe I am the right person to clarify the Thai registration system a little more.

As I said and David put his strong voice behind my words is that the registration system in Thailand is corrupt, as many other things in Thailand.

1. Buy a new "small" bike or a big Kawasaki, BMW, Triumph, Yamaha, Suzuki, Ducati or a Harley from the official importer and you will get a a red plate with the bike and your bike will get a 110% legal registration after a while. What the dealers never tell You is that the red plate nowadays is only valid one month, with the red plate you can only drive in the same province where the red plate is delivered and you cannot drive after the sun goes down....Lately the police has tightened up the use of Red plates and now they should only be valid for 1 month instead of the old 3 month period. The reason was that some dealers missused the 3 month to get a tax extension time and the government wanted to get rid of that. According to the government there is no reason why a dealer cannot get a "real" plate in one month.

2. Then we have the semilegal registrations. 99% of all these bikes ar imported as spare parts mostly from Japan. Many people say that they are stolen bikes but I think that is an urban legend. Why the hell somebody would bother to steal a bike in Japan when 3-5 year old bikes in Japan cost next to nothing. The business is solely handled by a few ten auction houses but foreigner are no allowed to participate direct, everything must be handled by by Japaneese agents. When I was still in the motorcycle business I got every month a few 500 pages thick auctionslists of bikes coming up for sale next month. The thai importers, mostly Thai-Chinese people buy the bikes through agents, who then dismantle the bikes into small pieces and send the bikes without engine to one customer from one company and then the engines to another customer from another company and to another port only to avoid the vehicle tax. They only pay a small custom duty on a "devaluated' invoice. The bikes really come in small pieces and if You want to see it in practice go and take a look at Chonburi Superbikes? They have all the time a few bikes on the assembly line with all the parts packed thorougly in Japaneese newpapers and marked so that knew to which bike it belonged. Amazing Thailand.

Anyhow these bikes can be registered in three different ways.

2.a. Bring the bike to a test center in Bangkok. In this way you can get a new book for the bike. Why I still call it semilegal is that I know that there is no 3-5 year old bike that can comply with the Thai regulations that are copied from Europe.
But this book is more legal than others and you have to pay a high tax and it takes a long time.

2.b. That is quite a good version. You use an old book and first you bring the tax paper for the frame and a few months later you bring the paper for the changed engine. All numbers are correct and "semilegal".

2.c. That is the third and worst version. Instead of bothering to bring the papers for a new frame and a new engine they restamp the numbers from the old book and that can mean problems. I would advice You to avoid such bikes.

Anyhow, if You have a bike with a "myddy" book never go yourself to the Land and Transport ofifce, or Verification Center as it is called in Pattaya, CRD. Use somebody who know the system, for example the agents sitting outside the office. They pay kickbacks to the officers and they can do things that the officers cannot do anymore. I think that at least Chonburi Land and Transport Office and Pattaya Verification Center are 100% corruptfree to day if you don't know some of their friends.

Then CRD had have a little problems with a book in Phuket. In principle and according to the rules it goes like this. If a bike is registered in another province you can register it in your name with an adress in another province. The problem starts when your bike get's old and you must show it up when you pay tax, then you must go to the province were it is registered. Therefore it is better that you go to your local Land&Transport/Verification center and ask them to order the papers from the other province. t will take a month and it will cost a little money but it worth it. On the other hand if your 'Book" is a little "myddy" all the original papers will show up at Your home office....But use a specialist.

Now I think I told everything I know about registering bikes in Thailand and now it is game over for me....

Best Rgds
HIKO

Ps1 I f somebody is interested to know what the European 17 digit Vincode or the American vincode (vehicle indentification number) consists of I have it in my head. I also know how to find information from Japaneese and Swiss 14 digit framenumbers if somebody is interested.