Última actualización / Last update: May 1st, 2019
As you could read in our previous entry, one good day we went crazy and decided to buy a bike to tour Pakistan. This decision was made by having clear the following premises:
1- We have never had any vehicles before, ever.
2- Never (never, ever! ) we drove a bike, therefore we had zero idea.
3- We were in Pakistan.
But we did it and we are alive and well to share our story, so here you will find EVERYTHING we know, on how to buy a motorbike to travel around Pakistan as a foreigner.
*If you speak Spanish remember Spanish is the main language of this blog so go ahead and read this article better here.
The first steps to buy a motorbike in Pakistan
The first thing you need to be honest is a good friend or someone you can trust. Do not fear, Pakistan, against everything everyone ever told you, is the best country to find one, for real, in every corner, there will be someone willing to help you and be delighted to do it.
If you don’t have the luck yet we recommend you to visit the following facebook groups and ask for advice.
Backpackers in Pakistan (in Spanish)
The Karakoram Club
Motorcyclists association of Pakistan
Don’t be afraid, Pakistanis are the kindest people we’ve found on the way so far (it’s not an exaggeration), you WILL find someone.
Get your SIM card and Pakistani number
We’ve already explained how to buy a SIM card in Pakistan so find that article here. This is obviously necessary to be able to communicate, both with your friends and with your potential sellers.
What kind of bike to buy?
This is not India where tourists travel to buy 350-500 Royal Enfield cc bikes. Also, here barely anyone has such a bike, so get comfortable with the idea, you’re going to tour the Himalayas riding a 150 cc maximum.
We bought a Honda 125 cc where we both travelled plus a bag we attached to the back, while the bike suffered a little in some mountain steps (just like us) it took us everywhere, to the most remote places. On the plus side, you won’t be the only one, those bikes are monsters, they do whatever you want. When you’re almost dying on your bike up the Shandur Pass you’ll laugh at it when you see how someone passing you with their 70 ccs and three passengers on top.
If you have a bigger budget and you are two people I would recommend you try a 150 CC (Honda or Suzuki are the most common brands), or even buy two bikes. If you go alone you can even risk with a 70 cc but I would not recommend that plan.
Pakistan is a motorbike country, everyone (well, not women, but that’s another story) has a motorbike and everyone knows how to fix them, but there are bikes of all kinds. Buy a brand bike, a Honda or a Suzuki are always a good bet. Jesper was able to try a 70cc “United” after more than 4000 km in our beast and could see right away that there was no point of comparison.
How to find a motorbike to buy?
There are different options to locate your motorcycle. If your contact has already contacts (from some reseller) listen to him/her, they will know better. But otherwise you can announce your interest in the groups mentioned above to begin.
Then you can head over to the resale websites being Pakwheels the most important and OLX the most generic. Make the first contacts, a vast majority of Pakistanis speak a decent English. You can start with SMS’s or emails that way will always be easier for both of you.
What documents do I need to buy a motorbike in Pakistan?
You can make a change of name of the bike in Pakistan but it is a process that many people do not carry out (not even Pakistanis themselves) so most likely you don’t need anything. The bike will be registered in the name of its first buyer and you will have that registration paper that will be delivered to you once you have made the payment (at the same time) with all the data. You should be fine.
We are not saying this is the right legal process, but it’s the one that seems to take place in 90 % of the cases. No one will ask you for your driver’s license. In fact, 80 % of those who drive a motorbike in Pakistan don’t even have one (we’ll explain it later) since for motorcycles doesn’t seem to be “necessary”, you’ll see 12 y.o kids on top of a bike without problems.
Regarding the police, also, do not worry, they love you. You’ll be more likely to have problems with them for wanting to give you protection than for the motorcycle papers itself. They never tried to blackmail us, Pakistanis don’t know yet what that is (at least not with tourists, or at least not at the moment), they never asked us for the documents or driver licenses. In 8 weeks and countless police stops never asked us for anything.
How much does a bike cost in Pakistan?
Always ask for the opinion of your acquaintances, they will have much clearer the market situation, especially if they are local travellers (most of the people in the mentioned groups are) and will not let you be fooled.
If possible go accompanied by a mechanic, someone who is trusted to review the state of the motorcycle. Our friend Muzzammil called his friend, in 10 minutes he had already given us his opinion on our bike.
The price will depend on the model you have chosen. We bought our beautiful Honda 125 cc for 49.000 rupees, we were able to find it cheaper but we bought it with less than 4 days from the starting point of our search, so that’s quite good. Thanks to the mechanic we were able to lower the price (of 51.000) as a piston had to be repaired. In the end, the job cost was 3000 RP but the bike was in perfect condition to leave.
It is important that you are attentive to the year of registration and the KM on the bike. Ours although it had 93.000 km on the back, was in perfect conditions once the piston was repaired. Our model was from 2010. The oldest, the cheaper.
In addition to buying the bike, it is important to take into account the insurance. We make sure our travel insurance covered us in case of an accident (as long as we use a helmet no problem, they don’t cover damage to third parties) and we finally made the necessary arrangements to the bike to be able to leave.
We bought a couple of elastic bands = 300 RP
We bought two medium quality helmets = 5000 RP
We bought two sets of gloves = 2500 RP
We added an iron platform at the end of the bike and we welded it to get the backpack = 1030 RP (welding and cut included)
We added two rearview mirrors and fixed the steering lights = 500 RP
Also, Rao lent us two sets of protectors for knees and arms and a magnetic bag for the front of the motorcycle.
We spent a total of 61.330 rupees (480 €).
Could we have spent less? Without a doubt.
For example, if you have gloves at home bring them or even try to buy them second hand. Also, if you have no rush you might have more time to search for everything. for us was alright.
How much does it cost to maintain a motorbike in Pakistan?
In addition to the initial costs, you must take into account the oil changes. In our case recommended every 1000 km by the mechanic. Every oil change was about 500 RP approx (we made 4 or 5).
Past the Shandur Pass we had to change the gears, it was probably our fault since we were learning how to drive along the way. The gear change had cost us 1500 RP (we never had to do it again). It’s good to also have an eye on the brakes, the brake change is about 400 RP approx (we only did it once).
Finally, it is important to have clear the price of gasoline in Pakistan. Depending on the place we filled the tank with 600-700 RP. Don’t fill the tank if it’s just to go around the city, getting gas out of the bike is very easy and it’s a common practice (we believe it happened to us once on the whole trip).
How to sell a bike in Pakistan?
If you have already finished your trip you can get rid of your bike in a short time. You can do it anywhere in the country without limitations as long as you have the registration papers (they don’t have to be in your name as we mentioned).
Sales channels can be the same. We announce ours in the few facebook tourist groups and finally, we found a reseller who ended up offering us 39.000 RP for her (310 €) without having to make any fixing.
We donated the helmets to our friends who will be able to use them with other people, with tourists or with whom they actually want. We still carry the gloves in our backpack because we are planning to do something similar in Vietnam (that never happened but we have them at home :D)
It took us less than 5 days to sell the bike. Could have we gotten a better price? It’s possible. But we thought it was a fair amount taking into account the more than 4000 km we did to our beloved friend and also, as easy as it was.
We lost only 10.000 RP of its initial value. It’s little for the use we gave her. I’m sure you can resell the helmets or try to sell the full package, especially if it’s another tourist.
Is it a good idea to buy a bike in Pakistan? How about the traffic?
I don’t know if it is a good idea, to be honest, but it was one we really enjoyed. Pakistan left a hole in our heart, especially since we were able to have discovered the country at our pace and with freedom.
Traffic is crazy, but look, if we had never driven a bike and we did it then everyone can. Jesper spent 4 days learning to drive around Lahore with Rao’s help, and I have to admit that I was scared on the first day of our journey, it will be scary. On top of that, on our first day, we did one of the longest journeys, the 300 km that separate Lahore from Islamabad during one of the hottest days of the year and in full Ramadan.
That same day a tuk-tuk almost killed us when in the middle of the highway he showed up driving in contra direction in the middle of the road, so no, don’t trust the traffic.
We had a tremendous scare once on the road when at more and 60 km per hour a minibus passed us at full speed and touched Jesper’s leg. We lost control of the bike for a few seconds and we also broke the brake (yes, in that fucking moment). Is a miracle we didn’t fall and we were able to stabilize the bike before stopping.
So if you have the guts to do it (and trust me, it’s awesome) drive calmly, leave space, don’t rush and try to enjoy to the fullest. The worst roads we had was the road from Islamabad to Peshawar, from Dir or Swat and the surroundings of the big cities. On the north, there is barely any traffic and you will have the road for yourself.
Finally, getting used to using the horn here is a rule of life. The horn specially used to indicate that you are passing someone or being passed (many people do not have mirrors). Don’t worry, if you don’t get it immediately but always try to leave space and slow down.
If you have to not trust someone don’t trust…
Minibuses: they drive like crazy, let them pass as soon as you see one on the mirror.
Same goes for Jeeps and Chicken trucks (you will recognize them when you see them).
We hope we have been helpful if you plan to do the same or at some point crossed your head. You will also find here all our itinerary around the country. As I said earlier we do not regret it a second, it is one of the best experiences of our life and Pakistan our favourite country in the world. For Real.