Oh Bikey Where Art Thou?

Thinking it’s about time I updated you re the Mexico/USA/Canada Tour.

Quite a lot has changed, quelle surprise.  First of all I am delighted to say both myself and my partner have now been vaccinated, Gloria has had the second jab and I’m having mine in a couple of days.. well done UK.

With numbers dropping through the floor here I am expecting the ban on foreign travel to be lifted around the 17th May, so hopefully all systems go for the Americas Tour at the end of June.

I sold the Fatbob 114 to a mate so I now have the funds to cover the trip, Yay.

Newsflash! – I am going to be joined by my two very good friends from Germany Dykes on Bikes, Dori G and Steego for the first 2 weeks.  They will fly into LA around the same day as me and then hire bikes to ride up the PCH as far as Seattle or even Vancouver depending on their return flights.  We have already secured accommodation near to LAX and will stay in LA for a couple of days while we sort the bikes out.  The plan is then to ride to San Francisco and hopefully meet up with members of the Mother Club possibly for a ride out with them.

However, that is still a long way away and my plans have changed slightly, due to Covid, Mexico is not now a destination for a longish stay.  Annemarie does not recommend visiting at this time because cases are still very high and vaccine rollout incredibly slow.  I am disappointed of course, but have insured my flights and set about changing my plans.  First of all I attempt to change my flights from London to Mexico City to fly direct to LAX; 2 hours on the phone and it transpires that the agency I have booked through will not allow a destination change, only dates.  I try phoning Lufthansa direct and they simply direct me back to GoToGate.. WARNING.. do not book through GoToHell, they keep you waiting on the phone for hours and the supposed additional insurance isn’t worth shit.. it seems I can only change or cancel my booking if I am dying!!  Ok so plan B, I go to my Mexico to LAX flight and see if I can change my dates, yep no problem, there is an additional fee of course but that’s to be expected.  So after a full morning trying to sort this out I am now flying as planned to Mexico City via Frankfurt, staying overnight then flying the next evening into LAX arriving around 10.30pm on the 30th June; at least I will be able to spend a few hours with Annemarie for a catch up and perhaps to see a little bit of Mexico City.  I will definitely be visiting properly at some point though.

Now I am on the hunt for a bike and have come across a chap who lives in LA and has facilitated other bikers with purchase and registration etcetera.  I contact James to ask if this is something he still offers and yes he does, he will help me search for a bike, go and purchase it, deal with all the necessary paperwork and store it for me until I arrive on the 1st July to pick it up, all for $500 including the necessary fees etc.  The only restriction is that the bike needs to be within relatively ‘easy’ commute so a rough radius of 60 miles from his home.  James recommends Craigslist and there are certainly plenty of bikes on there.  I am however quite specific with my requirements, being only 5′ 2″ and 70kg I need to be careful about seat height and overall weight, (remembering that I will probably overpack too).  I set about looking for a large cruiser, preferably 1300cc or more with saddlebags, sissybar (passenger backrest), luggage rack, less than 15 years old and under 15000 miles.  Well that certainly narrows the field down.  I also have to be mindful of budget and therefore am looking to pay up to $5000, although I may go over this slightly for an exceptional bike.

In the meantime I am in contact with a couple of shipping companies and Motofreight to enquire about costs for bringing the US bike back to the UK; I am not pleasantly surprised.  It seems I missed an important piece of Customs and Excise information since I last imported back in 2016.  When Trump was in power he introduced a Metals Tax, aka the Trump Tax, which levies a 25% additional import duty on all items of metal imported to the USA from the UK and Europe.  The UK and Europe reciprocated in kind so now all motorcycles imported into the UK attract 6% duty plus 25% anti-dumping duty, (Trump Tax), plus 20% VAT.  So this means to bring a bike into the UK or indeed anywhere in Europe would cost somewhere in the region of £3000 which may indeed be more than the bike is worth once I have put another 10,000ish miles on the clock.  I even tried to look into shipping it to Portugal as a tourist and riding it in to Gibraltar for import there, but, even though I am a dual passport holder, neither my UK or Irish passports allow me to take a bike into Europe on a US plate without paying duty.  If I want to avoid the 25% TT I would need to ship it to Africa!!  If I was resident in the US I could probably get around this but, of course, that isn’t going to happen.  Ultimately I will have to decide what to do nearer the time, if the bike is really something I love and want to keep then I may decide to pay the duties… wait and see.

I have found the perfect bike, a Honda VT1300CT Interstate just 8 years old and 14,030 miles with bags, windscreen, mustang seats (big plus), sissybar with rack and cobra exhausts.  It also has some quite weird paintwork, that I wouldn’t normally look at. but it does make the bike stand out for sure.

I have decided to call it Octo-pussy!  Anyway I send a holding deposit to James and he goes over to see the bike.  The sale is agreed and I am delighted.  Unfortunately I have to wait for my funds to arrive into my bank before I can pay off the balance so James will have to return in a couple of days to pick up the bike, a bit of a pain I know… sorry!

I make arrangements and send the money over to James to complete the sale.  I am a little surprised to see the bike still on Craigslist despite a $1000 holding deposit, I hope he isn’t going to gazump me!  No sooner have I thought this than I wake up to an email from James to say the guy has called and said he’s changed his mind and is now not selling!! OMG stop it!  James has given me his number and as I check the time it is now 11.30pm in LA but WTF who cares, I give him a call.  All he will say is that he took the bike for a last ride and now can’t part with it… he then mumbles something about a ‘legacy for my children’ What!!! do stop it.. yep I think he has definitely got a higher offer.. I ask if he will take a revised offer, but he says it’s not the money.. yeah right.  Gutted, absolutely gutted I already had an official name for the bike Chlíodhna, (Klee-nah) Irish Goddess of the sea.  Oh well, not to be, I’m sure something else just as good will come along but I am really very, very disappointed.

Onwards and upwards, we have until around mid-May to find a bike to allow enough time for the title and registration process to fully complete.  This is different to when I bought in Virginia, I got title and registration handed to me at the DMV same day, but each state is different.


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