Motorcycle buying tips in China

I thought I’d share some tips from my experience of looking for a used motorcycle in China.

My friend Karl and I decided a bit over a month ago that we wanted to try and find some motorcycles second hand that we could take to travel around china once classes were over. As I mentioned in my previous post, almost all you see around China are bikes at the very most of 250cc, usually smaller. The reason we found for this is apparently because during the period of the Tianamen Square incident, students used motorcycles to send messages to each other, and as a result the bigger ones were banned. So any motorcycles you see above this are illegal and have fake plates. However, we found that the cops will rarely if ever stop you, and, as a foreigner, if they do, you just pretend not to know any Chinese and they won’t want to bother. We heard a story from one guy who’s bike we were interested in that he rode past some cops at 300km/h and then saw them not too far down the road at a gas station. All they told him was to make sure to be careful.

As for finding places with bikes, even those of 250cc, it’s not easy. One strategy we took is whenever we did happen upon bigger bikes, we wrote a note and left it with the bike saying we liked the bike and if he/she knew of anyone who was selling or places to buy. This yielded a couple results and one that we considered following up on. This guy was helping a friend sell his 400cc Kawasaki Ninja for 7000 RMB. Also the place where he was storing the bike, a mechanics near Liangmaqiao and the 4th Ring, happened to have a bit of a collection of bigger second hand bikes for sale that seemed promising.

There is also a very good street just north of the Wudaokou subway station that is filled with bike, scooter, and motorcycle shops. It’s definitely worth a walk around though to see what they have at the time. It’s also where karl and I found our helmets, jackets, and chain, all for 720RMB, just over $100 US.

Both the best and scariest part of buying a bike in China is that the only necessar paper work is handing over the money in cash in exchange for the keys. Also, of the bike doesn’t have plates, as was the case for me, some places can make them for you for 500RMB and even fake register it! Gotta love China.

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