Are you thinking about buying a motorbike in India? But you are struggling to find the information that you need, to embark on such an epic adventure?
I have been there. I've spend countless hours on the internet, trying to figure out what kind of paperworks I needed and how to get around to get them. To spare you these precious hours, I will tell you exactly what you need to know (and do).
The below requirement lists may look daunting at first, and I admit: IT IS NOT EASY! But the important thing is: it can be done. So let's get started.
Buying an Indian motorbike
Your grand motorcycle adventure can only really kick off once you've got the bike, right? I've met quite a few travellers who were pondering whether to go for a new or second-hand motorbike. Let me lay out the pro's and cons for you.
The most important advantage of buying a second-hand motorbike is that it's fast. You can literally go to a shop and get one. It's faster than buying a pack of cookies at the local convenience store.
Disadvantages: you'll need to haggle and know the market price OR -especially as a foreigner- you are going to pay too much. An obvious disadvantage of buying any second-hand bike is that you don't know the history. And if you aren't a mechanic yourself, you run the risk of buying a complete wreck!
So have it checked with a (trusted) mechanic before you buy anything.
When you buy a new motorbike in India, keep in mind that this process takes time. This is probably the biggest disadvantage of buying a new motorcycle. Getting the Registration Card (RC-card) may take up to 60 days. Mine took about a month, including 10 wasted days of laying around at a post office. All forgotten.
To me, the advantages outnumber the time-issue. The price is fixed and catalogued so you can't be scammed buying the bike. You are sure everything is brand-new and it won't fall apart (just yet). My new Royal Enfield Himalayan came with a 24 months warranty or 30,000 km - whichever comes first. Additionally, it came with 4 free services, so up until 9000 kilometers I don't have to pay the man hours during the services.
Royal Enfield or ...
Besides deciding on new or second-hand, you'll have to figure out what kind of bike you want. At this moment, Royal Enfield is still king of the motorcycle industry in India. They control the main market and there are workshops and spare parts all over the country. The Bullet is by far the most popular bike and the easiest model to get fixed or find spare parts for.
The Himalayan, which I bought, is a bit trickier and spare parts are more difficult to get in remote parts. So bring them with you! In November 2018, the Jawa was launched in India. So far, it looks like it will become very big in India and a large competitor for Royal Enfield. But until they've really conquered the market, Royal Enfield is your safest bet for now.
Registration of the motorbike
When you buy an Indian motorbike as a foreigner, keep in mind that the motorbike cannot be registered in your own name. This means that the person you'll buy the bike from, needs to be willing to have the bike registered in his/her name. What you should do next is arrange a notarised document which states that you are in fact the owner of the vehicle and responsible for the vehicle.
I heard of some people that managed to find a way around this and got their bikes registered in their own name. I don't know how they did it and assume it is not entirely legal.
Note that you will have to arrange an insurance for the motorbike before you can start riding. The Royal Enfield shop can help you with that as they have a Royal Enfield Insurance Program. I got my motorbike insured through this program with Aditya Birla Insurance Brokers Limited for one year.
This insurance is only valid within India. If you want to ride your India motorcycle into other countries, you'll have to buy a third-party insurance locally. Sometimes it is mandatory to get such an insurance and in that case, border officials will always show you where to buy it at the border itself. When nobody asks or tells you anything at the border, it's up to you whether you want to go and search for an insurance company and buy the insurance or not.
That's it, you are all set to ride your motorcycle within India!
Do you have an adventurous spirit and do you want to ride your motorcycle outside of India? Then you'll need to arrange a little bit more paperwork! Read how that's done here.