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Old     (wakerider42)      Join Date: May 2002       02-07-2011, 3:13 PM Reply   
Hi guys,

I'm looking for some tips and advice from anybody who has experience with this. Google is only giving me results for moto tours, rental places, and generic shipping results from various companies. My wife and I are moving from southern California to Costa Rica (specifically Santa Ana, near San Jose) in late March for work. We'll be there for about 2-3 years, so I really want to bring my dirt bike down. I ride a 2008 Honda CRF450R and am interested in trails and track. I come from a racing background in my teenage years, but now keep it mostly to desert and sand dune trips (I'm 27 now). It sounds like there is a lot of riding opportunity down there, and 2-3 years is too long to go without riding!!!

Before I just blindly pick a random shipping company, I'm trying to figure out what I am getting myself into as far as import taxes, rough shipping cost, things to look out for, tips, advice, required paperwork, etc. I already have a Honda MX crate lined up from a buddy in the industry. I'm hoping that having it pre-crated will help reduce the shipping cost. I talked with a guy at a local MX shop last time I was down there, and he made it sound like since it's an MX bike and wouldn't be used on the streets, I wouldn't have to register it for street use which in turn would not trigger the huge fees. He said just to make sure I have the papers to prove I own it (I have the title). I'm not sure how accurate this information is, though. I guess another thing to consider - looking into the future - is any major obstacle bringing it BACK to the US (costs, issues, etc.)

I'm not really interested in purchasing there because for what I'd get for my money, I imagine I'll be on some roached-out jalopy.

I'm gonna look through and sign up for some MX forums to see if I can get any response there as well.

Old     (bendow)      Join Date: Sep 2005       02-07-2011, 9:46 PM Reply   
If it were me I'd forget about trying to ship with customs and all that...unless the company you're working for will offer assistance. Also, I'd see what the riding is like may already know, not sure, but if it's mostly trails that 450R will suck in trails. (my opinion after I rode my little bro's 450R in the trails, fun on the track though). AND 2-3 years is quite awhile and in the long run I don't think shipping it there and then shipping it back would be worth it.

Just go down there...find a 2011 KTM250SX 2 smoke, get the bolt on 300 bore kit, and burn all the 4 strokes! hehe
Old     (ilikebeaverandboats)      Join Date: Jul 2007       02-07-2011, 10:03 PM Reply   
you could just ship it to me, and then I it down there for ya...hahaha
Old     (trace)      Join Date: Feb 2002       02-08-2011, 9:03 AM Reply   
You might want to consider a roached-out jalopy. I would not leave a nice bike like that unattended anywhere in CR. It would be a big attention magnet, in a bad way.

I'm not sure how the tariffs work if you're just moving there temporarily, but if you have to actually import it, you will not be happy. I briefly looked into starting a bike/atv rental/tour business there, and with the tariffs it didn't make much financial sense. Also, if you need parts or any work done, good luck.

I'd personally recommend a cheap older dual sport. My main concerns for a bike to use full time in CR would be fuel range and reliability. Never heard of an MX track there.

Last edited by trace; 02-08-2011 at 9:06 AM.
Old     (wakerider42)      Join Date: May 2002       02-08-2011, 11:38 AM Reply   
Don't tell me bad news!!! You're supposed to say "Oh, it's no problem, it's like $10 and you won't have any problems!" Hehe, yeah right!

Benjamin, no, my company will not assist with this. From what I can see, there is at least some open area and there are MX tracks. <--These guys are pretty far north, but they have about 6 tracks apparently! I may call them to see if they have any background and tips. I see full MX bikes on their pictures, so someone MUST have done this before and have experience...

Trace, the bike wouldn't be unattended. The place where we'll be living is a gated community and has an enclosed garage (the only place we looked at that did have an enclosed garage!) I'm trying to really figure roughly what the import would cost before I decide if it's worth it or not. I already know that it isn't going to make financial sense, but if it costs $1000, maybe I say screw it and just do it. I just don't have any idea how to really truly find out what the $ amount is without talking to someone who has gone through it similarly or can point me how to find out.
Old     (trace)      Join Date: Feb 2002       02-08-2011, 1:02 PM Reply   
Google came up with this:

It ain't pretty.

Old     (wakerider42)      Join Date: May 2002       02-08-2011, 1:50 PM Reply   
Great leads. Using the calculator, import taxes on a $3,000 CIF would be like $1,100. Of course, who knows how they come up with CIF... If the CIF is actually $5,000 or $6,000, I'm looking at more like $2k in import duties. Plus what it takes to get it back to the US, I'm probably in it for $3k, plus shipping which god knows how much that is, probably another $500 each way, so maybe $4k total. Damn, that's what I paid for the bike to begin with!! There's a 2007 CRF450R on the Costa Rica Craigslist for $6,800. Damn! Let's say I sold my 08 for $3k, I could maybe get into something like this 07 for another $3500 which isn't THAT much better than paying to bring mine down (sort of a wash maybe). What a pain. Don't know how I am going to decide! Maybe I just don't ride for 3 years. BIG FROWN FACE
Old     (trace)      Join Date: Feb 2002       02-08-2011, 2:27 PM Reply   
Don't worry, there are PLENTY of other AMAZING things to do in CR. Take your time and just keep an eye out for something once you get settled down there IMO. I am jealous. If my wife or I found a good job, we would move there in a heartbeat.

Also, look into some kind of temporary importation or something, assuming you won't be a permanent or dual citizen. You could also take the bike apart and ship it there in pieces; might get under the radar that way. That was another option I came up with during my rental business dreaming.

Last edited by trace; 02-08-2011 at 2:32 PM.
Old     (psudy)      Join Date: Dec 2003       02-08-2011, 2:34 PM Reply   
When I was in CR, there guys riding enduros everywhere. I was talking to a local about it and he said there are trails everywhere in the back country(this was around Quepos). I would just buy one there.
Old     (psudy)      Join Date: Dec 2003       02-08-2011, 2:35 PM Reply   
and why would a 450 suck at trails?
Old     (wakeboardingdad)      Join Date: Aug 2008       02-08-2011, 7:40 PM Reply   
Originally Posted by psudy View Post
and why would a 450 suck at trails?
Too hard of a hit, but to each his own. My buddy loves his 450R for the trails, but he hates single track and loves his grip to stick to the housing creating a cruise control effect. Go figure.
Old     (bendow)      Join Date: Sep 2005       02-08-2011, 8:28 PM Reply   
Originally Posted by psudy View Post
and why would a 450 suck at trails?
Like dirtbikedad sad, and maybe it was just the trails I was riding in. I'm sure a 450X would do ok, but the 450R sucked so bad that I wanted to leave the bike in the trails and walk back. I kept on killing it, overheated, it felt heavy, etc. I finally complained enough that my dad let me ride his ktm300 and it was sooooo much better. My dad seemed to do fine on the 450R, but despite being 52 he's way better on the trails than I am, or probably ever will be, so again, maybe it was just me.

These are the exact trails I wanted to abandon the 450R on.
Old     (jinxton)      Join Date: Mar 2002       02-08-2011, 11:57 PM Reply   
I was down there in December and was talking to a lady from Denver who opened a restaurant in Tamarindo and she was telling me everything you do down there i.e. starting a business, buying a car, buying or renting a home goes thru a lawyer. You might want to look into that.

I also saw a lot of locals riding new and old enduros every where I went. If you watch craigslist you can find some good deals, especially in San Jose or Liberia.

Just my .02
Old     (tripsw)      Join Date: May 2006       02-09-2011, 7:56 PM Reply   
Hey Danny, shoot me an email! I've been living here for more than 5 years now. Imported a boat; funniest story about cost and import taxes. It involved scissors and glue, a 6 (that was originally a nine) magically turned into a 2. Et voila! That's how it works here.
However, if you don't plan to use the bike on the roads, don't bother officially importing it, i.e. paying taxes. Bring it in on a tourist visa, officially valid for 3 months, and you're golden. No more worries.
And if you can have it shipped (or driven) to Dallas, a friend who's a truckdriver can take it to CR from there for a much better price than the imports-companies charge. Don't know how much he'd charge, but I guess maybe $300.
Aaaaaaaaaaaanyway, make sure you come riding with us when you're here! Good luck!
Old     (wakerider42)      Join Date: May 2002       02-10-2011, 10:39 AM Reply   
THAT'S the answer I was hoping for! It does sound like things works a bit differently down there! I will definitely e-mail you to discuss specifics. It might be a few days because I am just super busy at work and our house was packed up and put on a boat this week, so I don't have a computer hooked up at home right now.

- Danny
Old     (tripsw)      Join Date: May 2006       02-10-2011, 8:22 PM Reply   
Different world indeed! Sometimes nice, sometimes disastrous, but never boring!
Mail me whenever you have time, I'm not going anywhere.
Old     (bendow)      Join Date: Sep 2005       02-10-2011, 9:19 PM Reply   
WW making things happen...
Old     (SSGHopkins)      Join Date: Apr 2014       04-02-2014, 8:28 PM Reply   
Danny I know this is an old post but I am moving to CR and am looking to send some how did this workout?
Old     (wakerider42)      Join Date: May 2002       04-03-2014, 11:49 AM Reply   
Hi Jason,

I actually did not end up bringing it down. We are back in the US now. What an amazing experience! We were there for almost exactly two years (May 2011 through April 2013). We worked full time, but experienced a ton of what the country had to offer! Since I am not a super hardcore rider anymore, and didn't know who I'd meet, how often I'd ride, etc., I ended up deciding that it did not make sense to bring it. I'm glad I didn't, because we had PLENTY to keep us busy traveling all over the country. I would not have wanted to be like "Hey sorry babe, I'm going riding, have fun". I'd rather spend the time traveling with her, hanging out with local friends and whatnot.

I just chatted with my local buddy and he said itís fairly straightforward. But he recommended trying to contact a local broker for details. Here is a website he was reading (itís in Spanish):

Sounds like you ship it down, and it ends up in Customs. Make sure the title is clean. There is now a law that salvage titles canít be brought in, because people were re-purposing salvaged US cars and putting them on the roads in Costa Rica without disclosing the prior history. Once in Customs at the Fiscal Warehouse, the customs agent determines the value Ė the local I talked to couldnít tell me how that value is determined, but I believe the tax will be something like 50% of whatever that value is deemed to be. You pay that and the bike is released from the Fiscal Warehouse.

Then, if you plan to use on-road, you start the registry process. But if you are only using off-road, then I think you can avoid the whole registration thing altogether. My buddy says that part isnít real difficult. You would need a local lawyer to do a few simple tasks, basically connecting all the records and stuff. Registration is expensive down there. We were paying about $700/year for a crappy little 4-cylinder 2009 Hyundai Tucson SUV. Donít know what it would be for a bike.

I did see a lot of legit motocross bikes in trucks, but I'm sure these belong to the wealthy or foreigners. Most bikes down there are being ridden by 2 dudes to get around cheap as your average Tico would not be able to afford a car, much less the gas to put in it.

It's gotta be do-able with the right connections. There are plenty of ATV rental places that seem to be prospering, and they have fairly late-model Honda 400EX's typically.

Hope this is somewhat helpful, although I know it's not as solid as you were probably hoping.

- Danny


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