Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Adventure Preparedness: Buying A Scooter

Buying transportation sucks but adventures are critical. It also sucks 100 times more when you don't know how it works or where to get started. When it sucks that much it's easy to take the path of least resistance and just stay home and not do anything. DON'T DO IT!!! Adventuring in Korea is too awesome to be missed.

Over the next few weeks we are going to try and demystify buying transportation in Pyeongtaek, or at least make it seem a little less scary. First on the menu, how to get your adventure loving butt onto a scooter seat. Starting with...

Three Options for Buying A Scooter In Pyeongtaek
and the Plus and Minus of Each

1) Individual Seller on Facebook Buy & Sell Groups or Seoul Craigslist

  • Plus: There are lots of foreigners who need to unload their motorcycles and scooters quick so they can be weirdly cheap. Many of the online foreigner individual sellers speak English as a first language.
  • Minus: Paperwork can often be sketchy as hell. Many scooter/bikes on these sites are without paperwork or maybe the lost some of it. Maybe you think you have what you need but by the time you find out you don't the last owner is out of the country. High turnover owners have questionable bike maintenance track records.
This was where we started our hunt for scooters and we thought it was the route we were going to take since we are super cheap. It's also a system we're comfortable with using. However, it turned out to be too much work. Sellers didn't know much about their bikes, we didn't feel comfortable with their assessments of their engines, some didn't have paperwork, others were too far from us to be worth the effort. Maybe if we were in Seoul or had tons of time to shop, but in the end it was too much work for not enough gain. We NEEDED (ok, maybe wanted) a scooter NOW! Not in a few weeks.

2) ACS Korea

  • Plus: They speak English fluently. They also work hard to make sure the bikes they sell have been checked out and are in good shape. They sell primarily to US Military and don't want any complaints so they do their best to sell quality. They respond quickly and know a lot about registering SOFA bikes. They will make an honest recommendation about what are their best bikes.
  • Minus: The bikes they are offering might not be in your area. You won't get a test drive before you order. You will pick the one you want and it will be delivered at a cost of 50,000-100,000 won depending on your location. It will also take a few days for your scooter to arrive. They don't have a huge selection.
We actually found these guys through a FB group but they are scooter sales people living in Koreal. Not folks about to jet. They have more than one bike, they know the rules for registration, they have a reputation to think about so we decided to give them a try. They were quick to respond and very forth coming with information and recommendations. Despite my reservations about working with a foreigner focused business, we bought my scooter from them and was very satisfied with the cost, quality and service. We absolutely wouldn't hesitate to buy from them again.

3) Geomgang Autobike 금강오토바이
Contact Information in the South of Seoul App

  • Plus: Very friendly and helpful. Went out of his way to find us the perfect bike. We told him what we wanted and he built it for us for the price we wanted in 36 hours. Small shops often give great deals on accessories when you buy the bike and provide solid follow up services.
  • Minus: He doesn't speak English so you will need to use a phone translator. Not open on Sundays so weekend shopping can be hindered. Not huge selection of bikes on hand read to go out the same day.
After my husband took delivery of my scooter from ACS Scooters he immediately decided he also wanted one. Since ACS didn't have any more 125cc in our price range we started looking around town. Most of the bike shops didn't had poor selection, weren't open, or didn't seem excited about customer service. Not until we got to Geomgang Autobike 금강오토바이.

He didn't have what we wanted in house, but we told him what we wanted and he built it for us for the price we wanted to pay. He did fast and excellent work. We grew up doing small engine repair and the work we saw him do was exceptional. We did have an issue with the bike the day we first picked it up (quite common when first riding a completely rebuilt bike so we weren't upset) and he put it back on the stand and had everything worked out within 12 hours and zero attempt to charge us anything. We took it on a three day road trip right out of the gate (NOT what you should do on the first day of a re-built engine) and it ran like a dream. We absolutely will use him again.

Costs and Process for Buying a Scooter

So you now know where to get your bike, but what are the costs and how do you get it ready to legally ride? Let's take a look at what you will need to do in order to feel the wind in your hair riding through the rice paddies.

SCOOTER COST: A new, average auto bike in 2017 in Korea is going to run between 2,300,000 - 5,000,000 won. We aren't talking fancy imports.  A solid, average used scooter is going to run 500,000 - 1,000,000 won for a 50cc and maybe 700,000 - 1,500,000 won for a nice 125cc with lost of wiggle room in the middle.

LICENCES: You will need to have a valid Korean drivers license to drive a scooter in Korea. You only need a motorcycle endorsement for bikes over 125cc.

INSURANCE: You will have to get this before you can register your bike. It can be done very quickly and over the phone using online signatures. We use Sami Tut at 010-8321-3222 for all of our insurance needs. One year of Insurance is often between 200,000 - 400,000 won depending on driving history, bike type, etc. We pay about 230,000 a year since we have lived here a while and had no accidents.

REGISTRATION: You MUST register all scooters and motorcycles and you - unlike with cars - register it yourself. You MUST register it within 7 days of purchase or you will be fined. Some services will do it for you for an additional 100,000 but it's a waste of your money. You will register your scooter/motorbike at your local community center/residents center. Sometimes this can take a while to track down. They will not speak English but it's also very easy. You need to just fill in basic contact information on a form and they will do the rest. If you are here on a SOFA visa you will need to register your bike at the DMV that handles SOFA visas in your area.

NOTE!  If you are not military but living near a military base, you are going to run into the issue that everyone will tell you to register your scooter/motorcycle at the DMV. You should NOT do this. They will send you away. Find your local residents center and go there.

When you go to register you will need:
  • 1) three pieces of paperwork from the seller
  • 2) your Korean ID
  • 3) your Korean drivers license
  • 4) proof of insurance. (I simply texted messaged a screen shot of my insurance and text messaged it to the guy helping me. He printed it out.
You will pay your taxes at time of registration and they will be between 5,000 - 50,000 depending. We don't entirely know all the things this depends on. We paid 7,000 when we registered each of our old used bikes.

HELMETS: You must wear a helmet. They cost between 70,000 - 150,000 depending on what you are looking for. 

COST TO FILL UP: When we run our tanks dry it costs 7,000 won to fill up. We have long commutes so we fill up twice a week.

Now that you know the gritty details, don't mess around. Living in Pyeongtaek becomes immeasurable better with transportation of any kind.

Per usually, the places mentioned in this blog have all been added to the South of Seoul app for easy reference. You can download the South of Seoul app from Google Play or Apple App Store.