How to leave Australia with a bike
if going to Europe or USA:

1. From where to leave, in huge Oz? Do it from Sydney. I studied bike-experienced shipping agents in Melbourne as an alternative but found a much better deal; some $1,500 better in fact. Sydney is the hub for people and freight. Besides the best bike garage and shipping agent is there; plus it's easier/cheaper to fly humans.

2. Sea or Air? Fly the bike unless you have plenty of time to sit and wait: Four weeks to USA (yes a whole month!) and likely even longer to Europe. A ship to LA was only some $900 versus $2,300 by air. But add in the cost of waiting, car rentals, hotels, etc. – flying is way cheaper and just takes a couple days including Customs etc.

3. Bike Crate: Get an original factory crate made for shipping your specific bike. They are likely free or very cheap from your brand's dealer – bike-specific crates are sitting there collecting dust anyhow. Making a crate is costly and time consuming, plus heavier.

4. Motorcycle Prep: If it's a Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki or Yamaha – you have one stop shopping only: Sydney City Motorcycles [link.] I made arrangements by phone with the Campbelltown (suburb) store to hold a crate and time slot for me to pack the bike, empty the gas tank, etc. to avoid paying "Dangerous Goods" at 50% higher freight rates.

I found them on-line, chose this store in the four-store chain because they do all the Goldwings. What a great find!

Never have I encountered a better bike shop. This comes from an experienced retailer: Enormous inventory of bikes and spares/accessories, in a huge facility much bigger/better than any I've seen in Canada. Spick and span, you can eat off the workshop floor. Enormous selection of new and used bikes – Goldwings to crotch rockets to scooters. Wish we had a place like this in Toronto.

And the nicest guys, everyone I met. Very reasonably priced. The whole experience warmed the coddles of me heart.

So glad that into their shop was the last overseas ride of this RTW; a fine goodbye memory. They in turn were mighty impressed this was the last overseas stop of the first RTW GL1800. (Manager Burnaby even alerted Honda Oz which may make a little noise about it, we'll see.)

Reports are also that their service department here is non plus ultra. If I were in SE Australia, this is where I'd go to buy wheels and/or get service. Check them out, then tell me I'm wrong.

Best bike guys: Mark Thompson (L) top sales guy hails from Minnesota.
Burnaby Turner (R) is general manager. Store phone (02)4626-3000.
Black Bike safely crated by Darren, ready to truck to airport.
The last air or sea trip of this RTW ride.

5. Trucker from bike shop to airport: I found nice guy Geoff Fox [phone o4o2-127-809] by simply Googling "man with truck Campbelltown." For $100 he showed up as promised and took the bike and me to the airport, about an hour's ride. Fork lift trucks at both ends did the loading/unloading. Big trucking companies would have been double-triple the price; were not likely to take us humans along, so we'd have added a big taxi fare.

6. Freight forwarder: After three full days of research by phone/internet, it does not get better, more efficient or cheaper than C. T. Freight [link.] Paul Rogers there [phone (02) 8337-8832, email:] is also very bike-experienced. His knowledge of "Dangerous Goods" rules saved me some $1,500 in freight.

I arrived at CT Freight's large near-airport depot with the crated bike; got my paperwork done within 45 minutes; paid by Visa; they called a cab. Done.

Simplest shipping of this trip – faster even than shipping Toronto –> UK which took a couple hours and more advance planning. Everywhere else in the world was a full day or more of work and prep. CT Freight looked after Customs, the Carnet, everything. A total snap – $2,300 all-in for a big bike. The only way to go!

7. Flight across, Los Angeles clearance: The bike flew by United Airlines (CT freight's choice due to the 'hazardous goods' issue.) On schedule, no problems whatever.

At LAX airport I had to get US Customs to stamp the papers before the bike was released, a few miles away with no taxis around. But such friendly folks these Americans, two courier guys kindly gave me rides back and forth, just being friendly/helpful. Customs was no problem, while-you-wait, maybe an hour max, no charge. With clearance paper in hand, United handed over the bike, charged me $35. They let me re-assemble the bike in their warehouse no problem then took care of crate disposal, no charge, no tips.

That was the total cost of landing Black Bike – $35. Compare that to Surabaya Indonesia where they extorted $500 for the same thing; versus Los Angeles with expensive labour and land! Ugh.

. . .Racial first observation in USA: Every single person of perhaps a
. . .dozen I dealt with at US Customs, United Airlines and the couriers,
. . .were either hispanic or black. Very racially integrated place after
. . .quite the contrary in most other places over the past two years.
. . .Bravo to America for that; we remember well when 'twas not thus.


The whole thing went like clockwork. Follow the above steps and it'll save you several days of research and a few thousand dollars. Plus likely worse service.

Culture shock be damned (see start of our Oz blog): It's sure nice when everything just works!


How to get to NZ? Wheezy spend three days locked in an Adelaide hotel room, phoning all over Oz looking for the least painful way of getting Black Bike and us to USA via NZ.

Bottom line: Flying Sydney directly to LA wins hands-down on cost/time efficiency.

And forget NZ on this trip!

Damn, it was going to be one of the scenic highlights, but just too costly and time-consuming a detour, given the stringent quarantine regs in NZ and the exorbitant shipping costs between the close neighbours.

Ironically, it's likely cheaper and easier to fly your bike from USA/Canada to NZ, versus detouring there on the way home.

But preferable still, is likely to just fly there sans wheels and rent a bike/car/camper. We'll have to do just that in the future.

Human transport to USA:

. . .Flying humans one-way from Sydney –> LA on Virgin
. . .is a bargain at $684 taxes incl. Having never flown with
. . .them before, we can report it's a fine low-cost experience.

. . .Very good entertainment system, current top hit movies,
. . .big in-seat selection, including Avatar and other recent
. . .Oscar winners. Decent food, on-time. They even use
. . .cheeky humour in the routine safety announcements.

. . .A vast distance of 12,000 km (= 7,500 miles) and
. . .about 15 hours. Over twice the distance of flying
. . .New York –> London.


Clearing bike in USA: Piece of cake. Simpler does not exist.

Bike flew via United Airlines a day ahead of us. Non-Dangerous Cargo rate, it's waaay cheaper. Find a way to get this.

I checked on line, confirmed it had arrived; took a taxi to United Cargo terminal.

United gave me my exit-stamped (by Oz) Carnet de Passage and the bill of lading.

Taxis are hard to get there, so a courier gave me a lift to US Customs a couple miles away, nicest Mexican driver went out of his way.

US Customs zero problems. Bill of lading was stamped in a half hour and away I go.

No taxis again (US Customs lady too not-my-job to phone one for me) but a friendly black courier guy came up to me and offered a lift back to United Cargo. Such friendly generous folks these Yanks.

(Every single person we have dealt with at US Customs, the hotel, United Airlines etc in last 2 days is either black or Mexican – which surprised me. All did an ace friendly job, but I had expected mostly white faces, a demographic indicator in South California anyhow.)

Container is delivered to me by an extra-helpful forklift driver, I disassemble it, put windshield and mirrors back on. An hour later I ride away.

It has all taken perhaps 3 hours, cost $35 for United's terminal fee.

Customers brokers etc. would have cost $350 (I'd been quoted that); they likely would have slowed down the process. I do not see how it could have been any faster. Do it yourself! It's easy.

Just ask people nicely what to do and they'll bend over backwards to help you. They like the occasional naive non-professional working his way through Customs etc.

That's been my experience anyhow.

Damn, it's so great when stuff just works as it should.


Put my North America GPS card back into the bike. Presto, detailed street maps for the entire continent. How we missed them ever since Europe. Paper maps work too but GPS is so dumb-simple.

Punched in the address, GPS led me to our hotel.

Thao and I high-fived Black Bike's safe arrival.

I crashed in a jet-lagged comatose sleep, it being some 18 hours time difference since two days ago.

So happy that we and Black Bike and we made it back to North America with zero serious problems. Damn, we're so lucky.

What a great time to be alive.

What a great trip.

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