It sounds like a bargain to import a motorcycle from overseas where they may be cheaper, but there are also pitfalls for riders.
Bruce Hartwig, consultant to Queensland Imports, which is one of about 14 federally registered workshops for complying imported used vehicles, says the easiest and cheapest motorcycles to import and comply are in standard trim. “Highly modified choppers are difficult to import and can be very expensive,” he says.
Even bikes in standard trim may require modification by a company such as Queensland Imports. Most of those compliance changes involve lights (size, colour and distance from the rear of the bike), but may also involve the exhaust, handelbars and number plate holder. He says most are an easy fix, but choppers with a low seat and high bars can be expensive to remedy.
If you are after an historic bike, the news is a little better as bikes made before 1989 are easier to comply and those made before 1975 when there were no Australian Design Rules only need a roadworthy certificate.
Note that the rules on importing vehicles changed in 2018. You will be able to import vehicles that are not already imported by official distributors, have comparable standards to Australia, are no more than 12 months old and have no more than 500km on the odometer. You will also be able to import only one vehicle every two years.
Bruce says costs to comply a bike start at about $2500, which includes fitting new tyres and brake pads, metric speedo, amber indicators and reflectors.
He says most people buy bikes from the US and it costs about $1000 to ship from LA. “You can get cheaper quotes, but check whether it includes quarantine and other fees,” he warns. You will also need to pay GST on the landed cost of the bike.
He says that these costs make it unviable to import cheap bikes. He says the general rule of thumb is that if it’s $5000 cheaper than you can get it in Australia, it’s viable if the current exchange rate is good. It becomes unviable when the Australian dollar is below 80c.
“More expensive bikes are better value, but it depends on their accessories, mileage and the rarity of the bike. Some people want to import Royal Enfields from India, but you can buy them here for under $5000.” He says the most popular brands to import are Harley-Davidson and Ducati.
Qld Imports can also find suitable vehicles, buy them, ship them, handle all the compliance issues and even deliver them to the new owner. The whole process can take up to 10 weeks.
All vehicles to be imported into Australia require an Import Approval. They can be imported under the Specialist and Enthusiasts Vehicle Schemes (SEVS) for modified performance machines or as an unrestricted vehicle through the Registered Automotive Workshop Scheme (RAWS) using a company such as Queensland Imports.
Bruce is a rider and collector of bikes, some of which he plans to sell. They include two Honda Runes, a Heritage Softail, a Ducati Diavel, BMW R 1150R, Kawasaki Mean Streak, Honda Goldwing and a three-wheeler Grinnall Scorpion powered by a BMW K100 engine.
He owns a business, Sapid, which does testing and approvals for modifications – such as single seat modifications for cheaper registration in Queensland and trike conversions – and individually constructed vehicles which can be motorcycles using an Australian or imported frame, or trikes or sidecars, or wheelchair sidecars.
Vehicles which can be imported under SEVS are on the SEVS register. However, being on this list does not mean that anyone has actually done the testing to allow them to be sold as used imports.
Vehicles on the unrestricted imports list are mainly motorcycles and are mainly from mainstream manufacturers.
Email Bruce with you queries about importing bikes: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Australian Vehicle Imports (QLD Imports Pty Ltd) Vehicles Currently Approved
|Make||Model||Range||Prices Starting from#|
2012 and later may incur some additional costs depending on the speedo and lamps fitted. This could be as much as $1500
Screamin Eagle models may incur an additional charge of $500 depending on speedo fitted.
|Tri Glide Trike||$5500|
|Street Glide Trike|
|Indian||Chief 2||Bomber, Classic, Dark Horse, Deluxe, Roadmaster, Standard, Vintage.||$3000|
|Chief||1/119/99 to 31/12/2003||$3000|
|Scout||1/1/1999 to 31/12/2003|
|Spirit||1/1/1999 to 31/12/2003|
|Honda||Valkyrie Rune NRX1800||1/1/2003 to 31/12/2005||$3000|
|VFR1200||1/06/2009 to Current||$2500|
|Goldwing GL1800||1/1/2001 to 31/12/2010||$3000|
|996 / 998||996, 996R, 998, 998S, 998R, 998FE|
|1098/1198 H7||1/1/07 to current
1098, 1098S, 1098R, 1198, 1198S, 1198R, 1198SP
|Streetfighter||Streetfighter, Streetfighter S.|
|Multistrada 1200||1/1/2010 to Current||$2500|
|Diavel||1/6/2010 to Current||$3000|
|Monster||1/1/93 to current.
Includes 400, 600, 750, 900, S4, S4 FOGARTY, 620 I.E., 750 I.E., 900 I.E., 620S, 800S, 1000S, 620, 800, 1000, S4R, 620 DARK 1 DIS., 620 DARK 2 DIS., 1000, S2R DARK, S2R, 620 DARK, S2R 1000, S4RS, 695, S2R 800, S4R TESTASTRETTA, S4R S TESTASTRETTA, 696, S4R TRICOLORE, 1100, 1100S, 796
|Suzuki||GSXR 1000 K7||1/1/2007 to 31/12/2008||$2500|
|GSXR 1000 K8||1/1/2007 to 31/12/2008|
|Henderson Excelesior||Super X||1/12/1998 to 31/12/1999||$3000|
|Bimota||YB9 SRI||1/1/1996 to 31/12/1998||$3500|
|SB6||1/1/1994 to 31/12/1998|
|Yamaha||V Max 3UF||1/1/1989 to 31/5/2008||$2500|
|R1 YZF-R1 GEN 2||1/11/2008 to current|
|R6 YZF-R6||1/1/1999 to current|
|XV1900||XV1900A, Roadliner, Roadliner S, Roadliner Midnight, Custom Raider, Custom Raider S, Raider SCL, Stratoliner, Stratoliner S, Stratoliner Deluxe, XV1900CTC||$3000|
|Kawasaki||Vulcan VN800||01/01/1999 to 31/12/2006||$3000|
|Vulcan VN1600||Classic, Mean Streak, Nomad|
|Vulcan VN2000||Classic LT, Classic, Limited, 2000|
|American Iron Horse||Classic||01/01/2000 to current||$3000|
|Stalker||1/1/1999 to 31/12/2004|
|Texas Chopper||TX / TA 1/9/2001 to 31/12/2008|
|Thunder Mountain Custom||Black Hawk||1/1/2003 to 31/12/2007||$3500|
|Victory||Vegas||Zach Ness, Arlen Ness, Vegas, Jackpot, 8-Ball, Low||$2500|
|Boss Hoss||1990 – 04/2003||$3500|
|Big Dog Motorcycles||Ridgeback||1/1/2004 to current||$3000|
|Mastiff||1/9/2000 to Current|
|Bull Dog||1/9/1997 to Current|
|Big Bear Choppers||Venom||1/1/1998 to Current||$3000|
|Toyota||Coaster 30||All must be complied as Campervans||$2200|
|Estima TCR10 / 20|
|Hiace 2WD /4WD|
|Hino||Rainbow Motorhome||1/1/1989 to 31/12/1995||$2500|
|Mitsubishi||Delica||PD8W, PE8W, PF8W,PD6W, PF6W PD4W||$2200|
|Pajero Convertible||V23C, V24C, V25C, V26C|
|Nissan||Cube BZ11||1/10/2002 to Current||$2200|
|Skyline R33||1993 to 1998|
|S13||1/1989 to 12/1999|
|Freightliner||M2 Business Class||1/1/2004 to Current||POA|
|Motortrike||V Rod trike||1/1/2002 to 31/12/2006||$3500|
|Gold Wing trike||GL1800|
|GG Taurus||Taurus Trike||$4000|
|California Side Car||Daytona Trike||$3500|
- Prices for all vehicles are subject to vehicle inspection. Additional costs may be incurred for non standard or modified vehicles. Prices quoted include GST.