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Ship TW to Europe?

6305 Views 11 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  Donzo
I have friends who have shipped bicycles to Europe successfully. Has anyone ever shipped a complete TW? I've never been to Europe, but the idea of exploring on a TW continues to intrigue me.
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There is a book called "lois on the loose" written by a British lady who shipped her bike from UK to USA by air and traveled from Alaska to the very south of South America (on an XT225). I know it's the other way around but it shows it is possible.

By the way it is a fantastic book and I recommend it to any one interested in motorcycle travel, or any armchair travellers.
sounds interesting.

europe is a beauty
I shipped a SL100 to Europe about 35 years ago. Wasn't terribly difficult:

1) Obtain permission and registration/insurance/licensing/inspection details from a European government and show proof of meeting all requirements,

2) Pay all associated fees,

3) Build crate around motorcycle,

4) Drop crate off at international shipper's terminal,

5) Fly to Europe,

6) Try to pick up crate at shipper's termional in Europe,

7) Deal with European import restrictions,

8) Deal with more european import restrictions,

9) Deal with even more european import restrictions,

10) Repeat 6) through 9) 4 times,

11) Repeat 10),

12) Pay off European duty inspectors,

13) Get your crate,

14) Uncrate motorcycle,

15) Find out rule changes make your Europeanized american motorcycle no longer legal,

16) Make further changes to bike,

17) Finally qualify for European licensing,

18) Ride.

I seriously suggest renting a motorcycle in Europe if your intent is to do a riding vacation. If you plan to live there, buy a European motorcycle. Much easier in the long run. You'll find the European market has a plethora of wonderful small and medium displacement motorcycles in types ranging from scooters to commuters to dualsports to tourers to race replicas that are not available in North America.
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Since reading your post, I've done a tiny bit of research on the BMWMOA (BMW motorcycle owners of America) forum. Some people have shipped their own bikes, but as Qwerty has pointed out, renting a bike seems to be the easiest and least expensive option in most cases. The exception seems to be if you are planning on spending a great deal of time there. Here is a link to a German company that will ship your bike, as well as rent you a bike if you choose to go that route. His rentals seem to be BMWs, but the R80GS (800cc twin) he rents was BMW's original 'adventure tourer' and is relatively lightweight, sits lower to the ground, and would make a fine rental to explore the back roads, as is the F650GS (650cc single, also an adventure tourer, but more similar to a Suzuki DR650 or Kawasaki KLR650). http://www.knopftour...Site/Hello.html

Here is a quote from someone that used this company's services in the fall of 2009 to ship their own bikes. Also here is a link to some more info:,180.0.html Hope this give you a few ideas!

The Bikes:

To make a long story short, Stefan Knopf had a container leaving from Denver on August 24, 2009. Buck and I secured a space in the container and Buck U-Hauled both bikes to Denver. Prior to putting the bikes on the container Stefan guided us through the necessary paperwork and he takes care of customs on each end. The bikes are scheduled to arrive in Bremerhaven, Germany on September 27th. If you go for three weeks or more, it is less expensive to ship your bike than it is to rent the bikes. Stefan will store the bikes in his warehouse (where there is access to his shop). We plan on storing the bikes with him for a while because we wish to make return trips. His storage rates are very reasonable.

Gas is expensive but it does not seem to be. In the Western US we would normally ride 400-500 miles a day and burn multiple tanks. In the Alps you can ride all day long but you are not covering many miles. We never burned a full tank of gas in one day. Expensive but not as painful as you think. One does not put in the mileage in Europe as they do in the Western US.

When to go:

We fly into Frankfurt on October 7th and make our way to Stafan's B&B where we will rest before heading to the Alps on the following day. We love the "shoulder" season of September and October. The weather is great and the tourists are gone so there are not many crowds. In most cases, there were only a few other campers in the campgrounds. Most campgrounds have a small market, cafe and many have coin operated laundry facilities. Prices are cheaper in the off season.

Our camping philosophy:

As stated earlier, we camp most of the time. We did get a pension when it was raining one night so we did not have to deal with wet gear. The European campgrounds that we visited were clean and almost every single one of the campgrounds were in scenic places. We camped riverside on the Moselle and Rhine, lakeside at Lake Garda and we camped at the base of the Eiger. We took Kermit chairs, a small folding table, a backpacking cookset. Our tent was light weight and we had inflatable foam pads under our goose down sleeping bags. We were always dry, warm and comfortable. The campgrounds charge by the person, for a tent and for each motorcycle. We almost always camped for less than 20 euros. They have clean facilities (bathrooms, showers, sometimes laundries and often a cafe and small market. Because there were two of us, that was less 10 euros each. We would fire the stoves up each morning for coffee and we would cook oatmeal and ate yogurt, fruit, cheese, etc. We got to meet alot of people in the campground who were curious about us. We never felt unsafe and we felt our equipment was secure. In the past, we only stayed in any one campground once night but that will change on this trip. We will probably stay in one campground two or three nights due to all the wonderful riding.

As others have mentioned we referenced John Herman's books (example:John Hermann's Motorcycle Journeys through the Alps and Corisca ). We also cross reference Herman's books with Rick Steve's, "EuropeThrouigh the Back Door" series and other reference books. If you know where you wish to go, the Michelin Regional Maps are much better than the map of the entire country. We use both the Country Map (such as Italy) but we also use the regional maps (such as NE Italy) because they provide so much detail. We will use GPS unites this time.

Costs - Shipping Bikes:

It cost us about $1200 to ship our bikes from Denver. This includes Green Card insurance, bike insurance (for the sea voyage only), Stefan handling the customs paperwork and a bit of storage time in Stefan's warehouse. It was all inclusive The cost to ship the bike is just about the cost of 10 days bike rental.

Hi there. I just signed on to this forum to reply to this post. I've been checking it out for the last couple of days because I'm looking for a TW200 to buy and also because I wanted to learn more about the bike.

I recently shipped a bike to Europe and back so thought I'd chime in. I moved to London from Washington DC in January 2008. At that time I decided I wanted to take my Moto Guzzi Jackal with me. I did the research and shipped it over. I moved back to DC in Jan 2010 and shipped the bike back. I loved that bike, otherwise there was no reason to spend so much on shipping (a little less than $1000 each way including transport, tax/customs, broker fee etc). Got the bike back to the states about a year ago. I was riding home from work (in DC) a couple of months ago and someone ran a red light and hit me. I'm fine, my Guzzi is not--thus the search for a new ride.

Anyway, I chose Roll On Roll Off shipping (RORO) because it was cheaper and less of a hassle. Basically, I arranged with a shipping company here in the US (I used one out of the port of Baltimore) and all I had to do was ride to the port, and drop it off. They loaded it on to a boat--roll it right on so no need to crate and the bike sailed to Southhampton UK. I subsequently flew to London and when the bike arrived in the UK I took a train down there and the importer got it through customs for me and I just picked it up rode it to our place in London. I used it as my daily commuter and took lots of trips around Europe. Wouldn't trade that experience for anything.

Here's why you probably do not want to try to ship your bike over now. I was living in the UK but kept my USA tags on the bike. They changed the law to make it pretty hard to do that now b/c no one will insure you while you are there if you have foreign tags. And like here, it is illegal to ride w/o insurance. Previously you could get a 6 month tourist ("green card") policy through a subsidiary of AIG (and others too probably). I just renewed the green card policy every six months while I was there. My final policy expired right before I was going to leave and the company said EU law changed and US companies can no longer write the tourist policy. I tried to get an EU company to sell me a policy but they wouldn't do it for US tagged bikes and it didnt make sense to switch my bike over to UK standards and get it tagged there for just a month or so.

Anyway, bottom line, unless you are doing a semi permanent move, you are much better off renting. And even if you are moving there, unless you are stupid over your bike (like me!! and maybe you too...) then it is really simpler to buy one there. Even if you are only going for a few months, you could buy a bike and sell it. If you got $1500 less on the resale, you would still come out ahead of the game.

Final thought, if you are into TWs and you do go to the EU and think about buying or renting a bike, you should check out the Suzuki Van Vans. That's actually how I got interested in TWs. Lots of people ride the Van Vans as a commuter and I thought they looked cool. When I got back to the states I couldn't find any, but I came across the TW which is a close cousin. And of course its got a bigger engine to boot so it seemed to make sense to me.
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Very useful information...many thanks! From what you've described, my ideas sounds too complicated and expensive. I guess I'll have to find another way.
I have friends who have shipped bicycles to Europe successfully. Has anyone ever shipped a complete TW? I've never been to Europe, but the idea of exploring on a TW continues to intrigue me.
Hey, why not just rent a motorcycle? Some rentals in Europe are quite costly, still there are some cheap motorcycle rental websites like, but for motorcycles, you can find a cheap options almost for any location Good luck!
What is it with people who necro an 9 year old thread to advertise a site they work for ?
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All you need to know, and then some.....

When Piggies Fly.
I would rent for shorter use of month or less - buy one there for longer real exploration and sell before returning home. You could be close to breaking even in cost of bike if you find a decent deal. Good luck!
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