How to Buy and live with a Superbike in India


While you can buy a Ferrari F430, Porsche 911 Turbo and even a 4 crore rupee Rolls Royce Phantom off-the-shelf in India, the same simplicity does not apply to a superbike purchase. For some unfathomable reasons, the bike industry has not kept up with its automotive counterparts and the Yamahas and Hondas of the world seem content with selling 100cc economy motorcycles. For the enthusiast, however, this is hardly a deterrent as several grey market options are available. The options also come with their own disadvantages as the grey market is full of uncertainty and disorganization. While superbikes attract an import duty (customs) of 142% (used) or 88% (new), the market is very unpredictable. A correct and well-informed approach will go a long way in ensuring peace-of-mind with your superbike purchase.

Team-BHP shows you the formalities in buying / living with a superbike, and the measures you must implement to ensuring a hassle-free ownership experience.

Disclaimer: We use the term “Superbike” here as a blanket term to cover all forms of 2 wheeled imports. Strictly speaking, the term “Superbike” is applied to sports bikes with an engine capacity of 750cc or over.

The most important part first: Paperwork!

  • A lot depends on how reliable the seller is, what condition the bike is in and how clean the paperwork is. Search within the Team-BHP community for information on reputed superbike merchants and ask around in biker circles for recommendations. The reputation of a seller is very important.
  • An overwhelming 99% of import bikes in India are brought down via the “transfer of residence” route, wherein an Indian, living abroad for a certain period of time, is allowed to bring back the vehicle that he was using there (for a reduced percentage of duty). Under the “Transfer or residence” route, the vehicle cannot be sold for 2 years from the time of registering it in India.
  • Therefore, the first step is to verify the age of the bike and ensure that it is more than 2 years since it has been brought into the country. Remember, it doesn't matter how old the bike is; it is the date of registration in India that is to be considered. This important step ensures that the superbike can be registered in your name.
  • The second unspoken rule is to look out for where the bike has been registered. It is widely accepted that bikes imported and registered in Mumbai (MH-01/02) are considered as the cleanest imports. Bikes with “MP” and “KA” registration plates are to be looked at very cautiously.

  • Different states and cities have different ways of registering vehicles. For example, Mumbai issues a proper RC book (Registration Certificate) which includes all details about the vehicle as well as the import document numbers, bill of entry details, bill of lading number, passport details of the original importer etc. The RC book also keeps a record of the number of buyers. The RC book will also make a note of the declared value of the bike, the duty paid and all tax charges that have been cleared.
  • Very often dealers/brokers/owners will tell you that the original bill of entry was submitted to the RTO at the time of registration. This is absolute rubbish. The concerned authority generates three copies of the bill of entry; one stays with them, one goes to the RTO for registration and the last copy stays with the bike owner.
  • Many superbike owners do not register the bikes to their name. They simply hold on to the transfer papers and ride the bike for a few months before selling it to someone else. Make it a point to try and buy a bike from a person who has transferred it to their name as this shows that the owner is not a use & throw kind of rider, and the bike would have been maintained in a better way.
  • In the case of an out-of-state purchase, insist on an NOC (No Objection Certificate) from the RTO where the bike was registered. Without this, you will not be able to transfer the bike to your name or sell it on to anyone else.
  • What you have to watch out for are the bikes that are imported as parts, and then assembled here. In some cases, you will find that the RC book data would not correspond to the bike's data (engine/chassis numbers, make of the bike etc.). Many “baggage bikes”, as these are popularly called, do have the correct details (colour, engine cc, imported vehicle information, etc) of the assembled bike on the RC. Therefore, the key points to look out for are the Passport details of the importer and corresponding bill of entry number being mentioned on the RC book.
  • Buying older bikes is inherently safer as these bikes are now too old for the officials to really bother about. Also, chances are that the bikes have already been through the system a few times between owners and any problems would have come to light earlier.

Most major superbike manufacturers such as Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki and Suzuki are expected to offer superbikes officially on sale in India. We await that moment with open arms but until then, the above-mentioned route is the only way for you to own your dream machine.

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