Motorcycles in Colombia

motorcycle 1In Colombia, and many other parts of Latin America, motorcycles outnumber cars in many areas. Motorcycles offer many advantages. For starters, they are significantly cheaper than cars: you can buy a small motorcycle for a couple thousand dollars, brand new. They offer great advantages over cars with regards to traffic: while cars get bogged down in traffic jams, motorcycles can nimbly drift and dart through even the worst traffic jams. And finally, motorcycles offer incredible fuel economy. While cars with great fuel economy get 50km a gallon, motorcycles often get 150km or 200km to the gallon!

If you're interested in getting around on a motorcycle in Colombia, there are a couple of things you should know. First of all, think about whether you're interested in renting or buying a motorcycle.

Renting a Motorcycle

Unfortunately, renting a motorcycle can be difficult in many parts of the country. Colombia has relatively high rates of theft in some areas, and there is little demand for motorcycle rental outside of tourist areas. The best place to rent a motorcycle or "moto" is undoubtedly Leticia, Colombia's southernmost point, on the banks of the Amazon River. In tiny Leticia, you can cruise around on the 20 paved kilometers of the Via Tapaca, and explore Brazil's Tabatinga as well. 

Renting a moto is quick and easy in Leticia. There are numerous places that offer moto rentals at daily rates, especially downtown. Show up, present a document such as an American or European driver's license, passport, or cedula de extranjeria, and negotiate a price. You should be able to negotiate a price for as little as $25.000 or $30.000 daily. If you're renting it for multiple days, or weeks, you may even get a better rate. The motorcycle should come with the mandatory insurance document and a helmet.

Make sure that you understand how to operate the motorcycle before you take it out on the road. The first thing you should do is fill it up with gas. Gas in Leticia is about $8.000 a gallon or $4. This should get you very far...somewhere well over 100km at least. Theft of motos is not a big problem in Leticia, but at night you should try to find a way to lock up your moto in your hotel. Many hotels will be happy to offer you a place to park your moto.

Most of the motorcycles you'll find in Leticia will be semi-automatic with 4 gears or "cambios", and they will be 100cc or 115cc. Make sure to always wear your helmet, and watch out for potholes and puddles. Be extra careful at night, and don't drive too fast. 40km may not sound like much, but it feels pretty fast on a motorcycle!

Buying a Motorcycle

If you're interested in buying a motorcycle, do some research, and determine if you want a used or new bike. New motorcycles are often available for only $3.000.000 or $4.000.000 ($1500 to $2000). Motorcycles come with license plates on them already, but you will need to make sure that you have valid insurance documents. Insurance depends on the size of your moto, but in 2013 for a moto between 100cc and 200cc, it costs $328.400, or about $160.

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