United Kingdom, Hastings, 8-17 September 2014

I arrived in Hastings on the 8th of September, picked up a new Suzuki DL650 Vstrom on the 9th spent a few days bolting on accessories then visited friends in the area. The weather was perfect, ten days of sunshine and not a drop of rain, a first for me in the UK and probably some kind of record.

Buying a bike in the UK

Preparation started 2 months earlier when I did a search on Auto Trader UK and found Alford Bros in Folkestone. I contacted them by email and after some negotiation put down a £200 deposit via Paypal and arranged to buy the bike. Next I bought a Pannier system (38 & 45 litre) and Engine Guard from Touratech UK online and a Givi adjustable windscreen, Givi Topbox and SW Motech Crash bars from Bykebitz online. All the parts were delivered to a friends address. The balance of the bike payment due on pickup was made via a transfer to my friends bank account in the UK and he paid using his debit card, credit card payment attracts a 2% surcharge.

The Bykebitz order was fulfilled in a couple of weeks but I did not hear from Touratech so after a month I contacted them and was told that there was a problem at the factory and they could not tell me when the order would be delivered. Emails went back and forth until a week before I was due to arrive at which point I told them to send me whatever they could,  so they shipped 2 x 45 litre panniers and cancelled the Engine guard. I now had to find an engine guard at short notice, normal delivery time is 2-3 week so I called Bykebitz and they said they could get me a SW Motech Engine guard from Germany before I arrived but it would cost an extra £30 for air freight.

I arranged 12 months 3rd party Insurance through Bennets by calling them from Perth, they will give you a quote valid for 30 days. Insurance can only be finalised after you get the Registration number from the Dealer in the case of a new bike. I also called the RAC and Carol Nash but they will only insure UK residents.

On arrival in the UK I checked the Touratech order and found that they had shipped me 2 left hand pannier mounting racks and a complete rack system for a different bike altogether, it even had an invoice to someone in another part of the country hahaha. After several phone calls and emails with photos attached to prove their screw up they shipped me a right hand rack overnight. I have never had so many stuff ups from one company ever.

To summarise:

1. You need an address in the UK where the Registration and Insurance documents and parts can be delivered.

2. The process needs to start at least 2 months before your arrival and if Touratech is involved earlier than that.

3. The Registration documents take 5 to 7 working days to arrive after you pick up the bike so plan on spending a week or two in the UK.

4. If you buy a new bike you won’t need a MOT certificate for the first three years. You need an MOT certificate in order to register the bike every year. This is important as I do not plan on coming back to the UK for a couple of years at least.

5. Having a garage to work in is useful if it rains.

Note: Costs spread sheet – The Tusk seal guards were not wide enough for the fork tubes and the Tusk D-Flex handguards did not fit either, they fouled the levers. I will have to find alternatives.

I travelled to the continent on the train which goes under the English Channel from Folkestone to Calais, a first for me, cost £50, journey time 35 minutes. You have to check-in at least 50 minutes before departure and if you arrive early they will put you on an earlier train as they did in my case. You park the bike inside the train and stand or sit on the floor beside it, there are no facilities of any kind in the train and you cannot move between carriages. The Ferry costs £35 and takes a bit longer.


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