Extended tour. Should I ship a bike to the US from the UK, or buy?

I'm in the very early stages of planning a two month tour in the US. As I have friends in Minneapolis it makes a certain amount of sense to see the start of the IBR ( I did think about waiting and hope for a place in 2019), so that would be the start or end of the trip.

Renting a bike for two months is probably too expensive which leaves me two options.

I can ship my own BMW GSA and find a firm that is willing to insure foreign citizens.


Purchase a reasonable, low mileage used machine for around $10,000 and either sell at the end of the tour or find someone willing to store the bike ready for future trips. I would need help registering (licensing?) and insuring the bike as I think I would need a US address.

It seems to me that the IBA NPT makes a good basis for the trip.

Any thoughts or suggestions would be gratefully received.


IBR Finisher
Premier Member
At the moment, there are no tourist insurances anymore. Or you find a workaround with your American friends.


Staff member
Premier Member
IBR Finisher
You need to use your friends US address to title and Insure the bike. Buying from a dealer is probably the most convenient, in that you can walk in, use your credit card and walk out with a bike, rather than dealing with a private sale. Also, might be possible to discuss the possibility of a buy back when you're done with the bike.
Progressive Insurance have no issue with a foreign licence with a US address. You can walk into an office and come out fully insured.
If you don't sell back to the dealer, then you will need your friends to sell for you after you fly home..sign the paperwork before you leave.And then they have to transfer the money to you.

Storing a bike long term, has some obstacles. Don't expect a battery to sit for nearly a year and behave itself when you return. Then you need to fit in servicing and tyre changes either when you arrive or before you leave. Having understanding and helpful friends help
I kept one in a monthly pay lockup for a while.

Paying any yearly fees due to the state and insurance renewal, can in some cases, be done online from home if you're keeping long term..the new tabs for your plate get mailed to the US address.

Don't be too fussy about what you ride. As long as it's reliable and a decent tank range. I had a FJR1300 for 3 years , bought at 10 yrs old, rode 50,000 miles on it over 3 years and lost around $1000 when I sold. Don't worry at all about looking for low mileage bikes. Go higher mileage and you will minimise your loss when you sell because a 60,000 mile bike isn't going to drop much if it is resold with 85,000 miles.

Having a bike bought/insured/titled before you arrive is tricky to do. You might need to set aside several days at the start of the trip to sort a bike out and be prepared to travel to purchase. Easier, if you can get a friend to buy before you arrive and then you just transfer the title to yourself...paying the taxes (again) in doing so ( they are "selling it" to you after buying it in their name)

Buying for a single trip ( taxes/insurance/ loss on sale , might work out at slightly less than the cost of return air freight with Air Canada with your own bike, depending on what you buy and what you can sell it for, but their wouldn't be much in it. If you are buying, it would be much better financially to get at least two trips out of it. Time it right and you could do that with one years insurance and taxes. As long as your friend will care for it for one year for you..taking it out for an occasional spin.


Latvian rider transport!!!!!!
Premier Member
I totally agree with IBRX3 in as much as I have a house in NH and insure a car as a foreign licence holder with no issue.
On the shipping front - give James Cargo a call. It depends to where you fly the bike but when I flew my own GSA to anchorage it cost £1400. East Coast ports like Boston or NY are expensive. Less frequented hubs are cheaper.
I then flew mine back from Buenos Aires for about the same price (not bad considering the extra distance) but had I used a boat and been prepared to wait 8 weeks, the cost from South America would have been only about £600.


IBR Finisher
Premier Member
I had my bike shipped by James Cargo for the IBR17. They managed to lose the registration papers twice (!) and returned the bike finally after 8 months. Communication was a nightmare. Never again.