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Discussion Starter #1
Hey folks,

I am getting ready to move to northern Japan and just recently found out the requirements with bringing any motorcycle into this country...what a nightmare! I am really pulling my hair out on this one (and I shave my head) because I just happened to find this out because I know some people over there already. It is an absolute nightmare and the reality is, you have to prepare your bike so it will pass the import test the country will put on it and this can get insanely expensive. There are a lot of people over there that have to keep their bike garaged for their entire tour because they can't pay the $5,000 to have it pass the inspection test. With that said, I wanted to start up this thread so that if anyone else should get orders to Japan will have a heads-up on what to expect and what they need to do. This will be a growing step-by-step account and I will finish it off after I do this process and it is all done. Hopefully it can help someone else down the road, this is what I know right now:

1. American military are allowed to bring a bike in under the SOFA agreement but there are extremely strict inspection tests by the Japanese government and passing this test will determine if your bike can be registered in the country.

2. The bike must be brought back to stock form. There is a cold and a hot test. The cold test will incorporate reflectors on the bike, factory information stickers, stock lights, the amount of light emitting on to the rear plate, handlebar, and anything else you can imagine. If you did an airbox removal on your bike then plan on putting the airbox back onto the bike. They will want the manufacturers rated horsepower of the bike and will test that during the hot portion. Having a higher amount of horsepower compared to the manufacturer rating will fail the bike.

3. The hot test incorporates firing the bike out. The bike has to test out to Hinckley's rating. Everyone has to do this test if your bike was made after 2000. There is also an emmission test during the hot portion and I am being told that everyone pays on this part of the test; no one passes the emmission. You must put the stock pipes back on the bike. I am being told that the guys using stock pipes end up paying about $90 on the emission test. Buddy of mine didn't know about this and showed up with his HD with the Vance & Hines pipes on it and was given a $2,000 bill to pay if he wanted to put the bike on the road. The two grand was for the emission test alone.

4. The brakes have to have an ECE rating on them. If there is not a sticker on the bike stating that it complies to ECE standards, then you need a statement from Triumph that it complies to this.

5. The only testing facilities for this are two locations in central Japan around Yokota AB. This is about a $500 trip to bring the bike down from Misawa to have this test done. Okinawa does not have any test facility for this.

6. You must supply an official engine/frame number for the bike along with title and licenses. The template on the bike stating the serial numbers will suffice so long as they are not worn out and can be plainly seen. If they do not then documentation will have to be obtained from the manufacturer.

7. This is a one time deal so you get your bike to pass and then you can bring the back to what you had if you chose to.

This is what I have come up with so far but I will give a A to Z listing of exactly everything I did once I go through it. My goal is to have all this spelled out so that anyone else getting orders to Japan will know exactly what to do and have the time to do it. More to come on this...
 

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Um....kinda

B06T,

I had my triple over there and was able to get a letter (in japanese) from triumph certifying that my bike was made to the Japan specs. As for the emissions it's true, making it stock for the test will do the trick to get you through the test. I am a little surprised there is no check center up near misawa (but i was able to drive to the Yokota one) Make sure you write the base drivers license center asking for all the information they have. I'm sure people have gone through the pain before and figured it all out for you.

On that note, i wouldn't bring my bike to japan again. i didn't get a whole lot of time to ride and buying a cheap-o bike to run around on for your 3yrs there will be much easier. Also, finding someone to work on the bike was TOUGH. I lived just out side of tokyo so their was an Triumph dealer but he took one look at the sprint and said this was the biggest motor he has ever worked on. no confidence instilling even though he did a great job.)

good ruck!
JS
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the info Scratchy but it is true; Akishima is the closest one which is the one right down the road from Yokota. This is part of the reason why the cost is so outrageously high if you are stationed anywhere else on the island. Taking the highway down from Misawa to Yokota will cost between $500-$600 with fuel and tolls. You are really screwed if you are stationed on Okinawa because there is no facility whatsoever.

I'm still going to bring the Trumpet though. I am already overseas so my only option would be to have the government ship it back to the states to some storage facility until I move back. If I get everything down and get the bike to pass then no big deal; the biggest cost will be the transportation from Misawa to Yokota. If not then at least the bike is still with me and I can take care of it myself rather than it sit sitting in some crap garage rusting out. There is a Triumph in Hachinohe which is about an hour from the base. I speak Japanese so the communication aspect won't be a problem. So I'm bringing Bonnie; if everything falls through then I will just pick up a beater and keep the Trumpet in the garage where I can at least winterize it/tend to it so I still have a bike when this tour is over.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
If for whatever reason the Trumpet has to stay garaged then I might take advantage of being in Japan and pick up one of these:



I think this bike would be a scream to ride and kind of excited that they are bringing back the CB line with the old school flare to it.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Good Information

As promised, I am updating this thread as I find out more things before making the move to Japan. Good news: Triumph offers some very good support in this venture because of the similar hassles people have to go through if they import their bikes to other EU states. I tell you, a lot of Americans complain about California laws but they do not have half the hassles as some of these other countries. Anyways, here is the information that I have found:

Importing Your Bike

If you wish to import your motorcycle into a country where it is not originally from, you may need to make some modifications to your motorcycle. Triumph Motorcycles are unable to advise the modifications required to each model. Please contact your local vehicle registration authority to obtain the required information. Please refer to the links below for more information.

In most cases, to import your motorcycle you will need a Letter of Manufacture or a Certificate of Conformity (COC). To request either of these, please send a letter stating your full name, address and the model and colour of your motorcycle along with a copy of your registration document and your driving license to:


Export Sales Department
Triumph Motorcycles Ltd
Normandy Way
Hinckley
Leicestershire
LE10 3BZ


* Please note that if the last six digits of your VIN number is lower than 098000 or built prior to 01/01/2000, then we will not be able to provide a COC. Before this time no EC approval numbers are valid, therefore COC's cannot be printed.


Once again for Japan, you do not need this documentation IF your Triumph was made before 2000.

http://www.triumph.co.uk/uk/6801.aspx

These are the letters that the Japanese authorities are looking for from what I am told. Then it will be a matter of arranging for the hot and cold test. If you have done mods such as airbox removal then get ready to bring your Trumpet back to stock before this test. I will keep updating this thread as I process through this adventure and when it is all said and done and Bonnie is rolling down the road, I will then make up a step by step checklist of what I went through. You know us military types...we need our checklists:D
 

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Across the board that's great information. I was just getting ready to look up how to import my Triumph to England but that link answered all my questions. Thank God my new Sprint was left completely stock, that'll eliminate one headache.

And yes, California is a pain in the ass for everything but hella good riding year round!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
If you plan on remaining overseas like me, then I strongly suggest you keep your bike stock, or at the very least, keep everything so that she can return to stock. I know there is a consensus on this forum that keeping a bike stock is ridiculous but in our situation, it could be the difference between riding our bikes or keeping them garaged for our entire tour. The UK is not nearly as severe as Japan by the way. My Bonnie was shipped from the states and I had minimal amount of things to do in order to get her on the road.
 

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not so bad

I live here near a Navy base in Yokosuka. Not sure where you are going but should be about the same. I help servicemen get their bikes and cars registered here all the time. I own a car shop and partner on a bike shop here. You will need to have the stock pipes and lights installed. The main thing they check are the blinkers and headlight. The net biggest check is the high gas test. In total you are looking around 200,000 yen to get your bike up and running here.
If you decide to buy a bike here you are looking at about 700,000 yen to get the same bike you have now. A smaller 400cc Japanese crusier will be about 250,000 yen. Email me if you have any questions or need any help here. I do real estate and own a biker/rockabilly bar in Yoko.
Chris
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for the information, I will be getting in touch with you then. One of my other major headaches is that I will be getting at stationed at Misawa and the only test centers are in central Japan. So I will have to transport the bike down in order to have this test accomplished. My bike is carb'd so I can lean it out as much as I need to during the test itself. The blinkers and headlights on the bike are stock so there shouldn't be a problem there. I am waiting on the letter from Triumph as far as certificate of manufacture and that they comply with the ECE braking system. I sure will be glad when this is all over and the bike is on the road.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Being overseas, I have come to the decision to keep the Creamsicle close to stock as possible with the exception of the TORs because they are easy enough to switch out. It would be nice to do some mods but at least at the end of the day I can still keep the bike on the road and it is the riding that this is all about :D It is a pretty good ticket to payout but I'm being told now that a decent used bike is going to start around 5 grand so it is still more beneficial to go through the hassle. Of course, I am seriously thinking about picking up that CB1100 before I finish this tour...
 

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I understand why you're doing it. I guess it's not the money that bothers me, because if you want to do something, you need to be willing to pay the entry fee.
It's all the hoops and bureaucratic BS that would drive me over the edge. I suppose I would be more comfortable paying that kind of cash, or more, if the process could be simpler. It's not like your the first military guy to import a bike.
 

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I have to agree with you there Greg; the bureaucracy is enough to drive you mad and I would like to add that the Air Force isn't getting any better either. With this new online/do-it-yourself PCS system is enough to cause a stress disorder! The claim is that it makes things more efficient and uses less manpower. The actuality of it equates to not having an expert to go to for questions, hunting eveything down yourself, and the amount of time it takes to get something is doubled now. Rules upon rules, policies upon policies...it is so frustrating and I am definitely at my foulest each time PCS season rolls around. I am under the opinion that Air Force is not thrilled at all about its members riding motorcycles; the risks involved versus readiness aspect argument. So with that said, they are not necessarily going to go out of their way to try to make things easier. Funny how if someone is bringing their car with them, then they can get everything they need to get done either right at the base or just outside in the local community...
 

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I have to agree with you there Greg; the bureaucracy is enough to drive you mad and I would like to add that the Air Force isn't getting any better either. With this new online/do-it-yourself PCS system is enough to cause a stress disorder! The claim is that it makes things more efficient and uses less manpower. The actuality of it equates to not having an expert to go to for questions, hunting eveything down yourself, and the amount of time it takes to get something is doubled now. Rules upon rules, policies upon policies...it is so frustrating and I am definitely at my foulest each time PCS season rolls around. I am under the opinion that Air Force is not thrilled at all about its members riding motorcycles; the risks involved versus readiness aspect argument. So with that said, they are not necessarily going to go out of their way to try to make things easier. Funny how if someone is bringing their car with them, then they can get everything they need to get done either right at the base or just outside in the local community...
Fully Web based outprocessing? I seem to remember that they were headed that way. I have noticed that going computer based has not made it better for users of a service. It does make life easier for the provider. Finance does't do money any more. Supply doesn't really supply things. MPF has apparently gotten out of the personnel support business.
I could actually see the USAF make owning a bike so much trouble that few will bother. Most of the same rules apply as a civilian if you want to ride on Uncle Sam's base. (I really hate the goofy vests.) Heck, look at alcohol. I remember having kegs at Commander's call and unit parties. I remember beer machines in the dorms...(Damn I'm getting old). Now you get hammered by the man if you look at beer the wrong way. God help you if your under 21. Your life as you knew it is over. The Nanny mentality is going strong in the military.
 

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long post but helpfull

I'm in Atsugi. I just got 06 Speed triple street legal here. I cheated and paid someone to do it. You can do it yourself but by time you figure everything out you might save yourself $100 dollars. And my time is more valuable then that.
The biggest unknown. When your emissions test has been completed and the bike passes you have the option to buy 9 more certificate for the same year/model/type bike. I.e. when my 2006 1050 speed triple was done most likely the guy who did my bike paid the extra $450 for the 9 other certificates.
The guy that did my bike (SATO-SAN very well known in the area). Now if anyone comes to Japan he with a 2006 1050 speed triple, He does not have to take their bike for the 98,000 Yen (a little over $1100 right now) inspection fee. The bad part is he will charge you the price that it would cost to do the inspection. It sounds like a scam but it is a business.
I have also been told that there is a importer association amongst the smaller bike shops, and that they sell these certificates to each other for around $500. So if you have a 2006 Speed triple and you go to one of the smaller shops for help it is possible that they can get you a certificate and your bike will never be inspected.
If you need your brake certificate Triumph Japan (Tokyo head quarters not a dealer) was truly helpful. Mr. Yohei Wada is the person that will help you and he can speak English the only problem is the reception person that answers the phone does not. If you cant speak Japanese just keep saying his name and they might transfer you to him. I have a Japanese worker in my office that helped me. He will ask you for a copy of your customs paperwork and proof of ownership to be faxed to him. 2 days later I got a little sticker with picture instructions on where to put the sticker. (The sticker is your Brake Conformity Certificate)
Once you have those two items every thing else can be done at your local LTO/Land Office.
I hope this helps out a I thought I could save money and do it myself but after all the research I did. I found out it would be cheaper and easier to have someone else do it. I bought my bike used here from someone that did not want to pay for everything. The bike was $5000 it cost me another 160,000Y (about $1800) for Sato-san to take care of the Emissions and Registration. And finally I had to pay for the following items which I would have had to pay for if I bought a Japanese bike any way.
3 years JCI (Japanese compulsory insurance)
1 year Liability insurance.
Base inspection

Grand total a littlie under $7500 (I could not have touched this bike out in town for under $10,000) so for me it was worth it.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thanks for the information Kingtama; I might get in touch with you once I get to Japan which will be very soon. Do you know if the emmissions certificates are year specific? In other words, do I have to specifically find a 2006 Bonneville T100 in order to do this? My other curve ball is that I am going to northern Japan and the only testing facilities are down by you and at Yokota which means I have the transportation monster to think about. Traveling inside Japan is insanely expensive. There is a guy up at Misawa that will do everything for you but he is charging $2500 for this service and then the JCI is on me once the bike gets back. I think I can make the trip down there myself and stay with some friends and not spend that much...I will have to see though. I will definitely contact Wada-san though about the brake certificate and the emmissions question. Thanks again for this input!!
 

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More info

It has to be the same year/model. Like I said the guy that will charge you $2500 might take it down there and might not but he will charge you the same no matter what. The bad part is he will make money no matter what because if he buys the cert for $500 bucks he still makes $2000 but if takes it down and does the inspection he sales the other 9 certificates and sales them to the another importer for a total of $4500. It’s a scam but it is there business.
I was told it cost about $200 one way in tolls. If I can, I will be going up there this summer for a MSF rider coach course. I am the motorcycle safety guy for my command so if I can pull TAD orders I will take GOV (put my bike in the back) and it will be free. If not I will ride up there. (12 hrs going the speed limit so maybe I can make it in 8 hrs on my bike haha).
I think I read you were in England? Is your bike a U.S. model? You might not need to do the brake Cert. if you are in Europe. My bike had the this bike meets all federal laws blurb on it but I was told the sticker I got to prove it meets Japan standards was really for Europe. Its just a small black sticker that has a lower case e inside a circle followed by some numbers. It goes on the frame left side behind the left fork if you have it you are in there.
I think I also read that you have been stationed in Japan before. I have about ten years total over here ( I brake for COLA). If that’s true you probably remember that most passenger vans will carry a bike. Best bet since trucks are hard to come by. But if it has been a while, Japan stared a new thing with the toll roads. ETC, it has been around for a while but a couple months back they made it where you can get from up north to down south on weekends for 1000 Yen trying to promote travel in the country. Basically you buy a control box that mounts in your vehicle. It has a slot for a credit card and when you go through the toll gate it charges you. For a car it cost about $100-$200 for a bike it’s about $300 because they are weather proof. I have one in my car if I ride up North for the class I will put it on my bike and it should pay for itself on that trip.
My bike failed the emissions test the first time so I know it went through. When I bought it aftermarket pipes, the previous owner gave me the stock pipes but said everything else was stock. So I switched them and then found out the computer had been re-mapped for the pipes once it failed. You only get two chances if you fail twice you have to pay for the inspection again. From what I understand your bike has to be schedule to be dropped off. It took a month for my bike to get done but that was due to his schedule not mine.
Japanrider posted on this thread in Feb said he is part owner of a bike shop in Yokosuka. I don’t know if his partner is in the network of importers but you might be able to get the certificate at price from him. You never know.
The only reason I know about the 9 extra certificates is because the base Harley dealer on base told me about it as they use to help the customers on base get theirs done. Then the Japanese worker in my office confirmed it when he was looking up the test centers rules when I was thinking about trying to do it myself. Other then that I think it is kid of hush hush.
 

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That is about right. The only issue is there is shelf life on those certs and they are only good for the bike listed, ie a 1997 Thriumph Thunder. We usually don't carry these but can sometimes find other dealers with them. Get me your info and I'll see what I can get.
Chris
 
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