After moving to Montevideo with the intention of purchasing a motorcycle to allow the freedom to explore the country the author began his search, this article details a few observations on the state and culture of motorcycles in Uruguay.
The author of this post hails from Europe where the majority of countries have easily accessible, large (+ 500cc) and reliable motorcycles; as a result his assumption was it wouldnt be difficult or expensive to purchase a motor bike of this size – it turns out this is not the case!
Most motorcycle riders in Montevideo sit astride machines ranging from 49cc to 125cc with the occasional 200cc motorbike appearing but they are not common. The majority of riders here are delivery riders and almost all small cafes, restaurants, shops and pharmacies have a home delivery service. As a result the market for large (in Montevideo terms +200cc) bikes is limited and vendors are not easy to come by, this article details a few along with the more common brands in Uruguay.
Uruguay went through an economic crisis/downturn at the same time as Argentina around 2001; the result has been that the general population have a lower disposable income and as a result the market for luxury goods has been lower in the recent years. The author believes this may account for why the majority of motorbikes in Montevideo are cheaper Chinese brands that are based on Japanese brands.
The popular brands of motorcycle available brand new from any vendor are names such as Yumbo, Winner, Asaki and Uzuki, it is also possible to purchase second hand Kawasaki, Suzuki and Honda bikes up the 100cc from most second hand vendors. The author’s observation of most of these Chinese brands is that they are very cheap copies of popular motorcycles, they appear to be reliable from the fact I have yet to see one break down that isnt 20+ years old. However they do look cheap and prone to faults and I wouldnt be prepared to take even the 200cc versions on a long journey – with the exception of one brand called Keeway.
However what do you do if you want a bigger machine capable of 100+ Km per hour and the range to explore the country, you could look in a few places:
- El Pais: The popular local newspaper in Montevideo that is published every Sunday with a cars and motorcycle classified section. (tends to have more than the online version)
- www.gallito.com: The online classified adverts for the biggest Montevideo newspaper (El Pais)
- http://www.mercadolibre.com.uy: The uruguayan version of eBay
- Avenida Daniel Fernandez Crespo – this is a long street and there are a few second hand dealers near the Palacio Legislativo building. Asking in any of these stores for a motorcycle bigger than 250cc will get you pointed to whichever of them has one at the time – they seem to speak to each other frequently.
The author tried all the above options and decided that after being offered two twenty year old Kawasaki GT550 motorbikes in reasonable condition for more than US $5000 and a 10 year old Yamaha Virago 200cc for US $8000 that buying from a second hand dealer was out of his price range. After looking at all the above sources for 2 weeks the author found a dealer stocking new Keeway 250cc motorbikes for US$3600.
Keeway make two lines Supershadow (based on Virago) and Cruiser that are 250cc bikes and appear to be designed for longer distance riding. They are also sold in the EU and USA; as a result have been able to pass the more stringent safety checks for those markets. The author has test ridden both models and is of the opinion that both feel and look much more sturdy that the other Chinese brands on offer here. Read subsequent posts for updates on the Cruiser model which the author has recently purchased from a very helpful (and English speaking) salesman name Alejandro Portes at Vladimir Kaitazoff.
At the time of writing the author is currently awaiting delivery of his new motorcycle but thus far Alejandro has been an invaluable source of information and put us in touch with insurance agents, reputable safety equipment vendors as well as accomodating any number of stupid questions from the author – always with a smile and friendly approach.