After deciding to buy a Honda Goldwing, I realised that prices of used bikes in Portugal were as much as €6,000 higher, for the same year and model, when compared to bikes available in the UK. That meant that my available budget would get me a much newer model in the UK than in Portugal. So I set out to import a Goldwing from the UK.
Before finding a bike to buy, I looked at the logistics of getting the bike back to Portugal. My first inclination was to ride it back, using a ferry crossing to either France or Spain. That idea was dashed when I learned how difficult it was to obtain insurance on a UK registered bike, as a non-resident. I did find a company that specialises in short-term insurance, specifically geared for circumstances such as collecting a newly purchased motorcycle. But such cover would not extend beyond the shores of the UK, so the bike would be uninsured when it reached France or Spain. I contacted my motor insurer in Portugal to see if I could take out cover here. No luck – they can’t insure a bike on UK plates unless there is documentation proving that the matriculation process to convert to Portuguese registration is already underway. With insurance proving impossible to acquire, I looked at shipping the bike to Portugal.
A friend directed me to EuroBikeTrans, located in Manchester. The company specialises in shipping motorcycles from the UK to Portugal, Spain, Italy and Norway. A quick enquiry revealed that they could transport a Goldwing from Manchester to Porto for 475 British Pounds (€528 at current exchange rates). A good rate for a hassle-free experience. And I suspect that I would have spent close to that amount riding the bike to Porto, considering insurance costs, ferry, hotels for 2-3 nights, toll fees and fuel. With a suitable method of transport available, I set about looking for the right bike.
Early in my search, I came across a nice-looking Goldwing listed by a dealer in Manchester. They had sold it to the owner when it was new and he had sold it back to them after getting too old to ride it. The dealer had done all of the servicing on the bike since new. The high-resolution photos that were provided to me all looked good. Due to other commitments, I couldn’t travel to Manchester for a couple of weeks, so I paid a 100-pound holding deposit, to secure the bike until I could get over to inspect and test-ride it. I booked a flight to Manchester, a hotel room and a return flight for the following day. Unfortunately, when I inspected the bike there was a large amount of corrosion on the exhaust system and underneath the side panels. I suspect that the previous owner kept the bike outside, under a cover. The corrosion was enough to deter me from buying the bike but I took it for a test-ride anyway. After all, I’d travelled all that way just to see it. There was some rattling/clattering whenever the bike went over a bump in the road – a further mark against the bike. I declined to buy the bike and lost my deposit. Extremely disappointed, I went to my hotel to ponder my next move. I considered extending my stay but decided to return home to regroup.
Within a couple of days of being back in Porto, I had gathered details of four potential Goldwings that were being sold by dealers in three different UK cities. I booked flights to Manchester that would give me four days in the UK to (hopefully) find and buy a Goldwing. I picked up a rental car at Manchester Airport and the hunt was on.
I drove from the airport directly to the first dealer and was immediately impressed by the gorgeous red Goldwing that was available. At 11,950 GBP it was at the top of my price range but it was in immaculate condition. Had this been the only bike I had planned to see, I would have bought it immediately. But I had three more to see the following day.
The following morning, my friend Paul and I set out to two more cities to see three bikes at two dealers. The three Goldwings failed to measure up to the red one, so it seemed that I would be returning to the first dealer the following day to seal the deal on the red beauty. But, on a whim, we decided to detour to the town of Shipley to visit Craig’s Honda, so that Paul could see their 2018 Goldwing models.
When we reached Craig’s Honda, Paul went to see the 2018 models whilst I wandered around the showroom looking at a wonderful array of classic (and expensive) motorcycles. When I rejoined Paul and one of the showroom staff, I happened to mention that I was in the market for something cheaper than the 2018 models that Paul was looking at. That’s when he pointed to a silver Goldwing that didn’t have a price-tag attached. It had just arrived in the shop and was only listed on e-bay the night before. It was a top-of-the-line model with airbag, ABS brakes, sat-nav, etc. It was in good condition. Not as nice as the red one – but 3,000 pounds cheaper. As nice as the red one was, I didn’t think it was worth 3,000 more than the silver one. It was towards the end of the day and it was getting dark already, but we arranged a quick test-ride along an adjacent road. That’s all it took. I agreed to buy the bike and we sat and completed the paperwork. Arrangements were made for the bike to be serviced and then delivered (free of charge) to the EuroBikeTrans shipping company in Manchester.
Once I returned home to Porto, I began to make enquiries to get the bike matriculated, or legalised, for use in Portugal. My initial enquiries were with a company that was referred to me as being able to quickly coordinate the legalisation process. Unfortunately, the company didn’t respond to e-mails and failed to follow through on promises made over the telephone. Meanwhile, my Goldwing had been delivered to the warehouse of DSV Transitários in Vilar do Pinheiro (north of Porto) and was waiting for me to collect it. I couldn’t ride it without insurance and I couldn’t get insurance without proof that the legalisation process was underway!
I began to make enquiries into the possibility of getting the bike picked up and delivered by a van. That is when I received a recommendation for Manuel Rocha, another company that coordinates customs clearances and vehicle legalisation. In contrast to the first company, I found Manuel Rocha to be both fast and efficient. I visited their offices on a Tuesday with the relevant documents. By Friday, they had completed the legalisation process and sent me the documentation that included my new Portuguese registration number. The cost for the legalisation service, including the various government and customs fees was €500. I highly recommend this company!
With a registration number in hand, I was able to scramble and get vehicle insurance sorted out, with just enough time to get a taxi to Vila do Pinheiro before the warehouse closed for the weekend. My bike was still in its shipping cradle and wrapped in plastic. Before long, we were able to unwrap the bike and get it out of the cradle, so that I could ride it home. I didn’t care that it was raining!
The final step was to get a Portuguese licence plate attached to the bike. There are several small shops around Porto that can print up plates. I chose a small shop called Matriculas Invicta, located at Rua Santos Pousada 893. After showing the legalisation document and proving my ID, the plate was printed while I waited for about €7.
So, for a bit over €1,000, I was able to get the Goldwing shipped from Manchester to Porto and fully legalised for use in Portugal. Add to that the cost of airfare and car-rental so that I could visit the dealers to see the bikes. Still a sizeable saving over the cost of a similar bike here in Portugal.
I’ve already had the bike out for a couple of decent rides and I’m really enjoying it. It has replaced the Honda CBF600 in my mini-fleet. Coincidentally, the CBF was sold on the same day that I collected the Goldwing from the warehouse.
You’ll be seeing more of the Goldwing once we are out exploring together.