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Experiences with grey imports?

Discussion in 'Bike Reviews, Questions and Suggestions' at netrider.net.au started by LumberjackMac, Jun 1, 2014.

  1. Hey guys.
    Looking to purchase my first bike soon having recently gotten my learners. I was looking to get something naked since insurance for them would be so much cheaper. This got me into doing some research into what was available and I stumbled across two makes of bikes that really took my fancy - The Kawasaki Balius ZR250, and the Honda CB250F (Hornet). One big attraction to these motorcycles is that they can both be found relatively cheaply, compared to say a CBR250r.

    Only issues with these bikes is that they're grey imports, aside from the later model Balius II which was sold here for a bit.
    How big of an issue would this be, and should this be a big deciding factor when it comes to my choice in motorcycles?

    I've been involved in car imports for a while now. I have some "connections" (if you want to call them that) who can buy parts in Japan and have them sent here for me, so small parts aren't a big issue although larger parts like engines may be. Will there be many workshops around who could work on either the ZR250 or the CB250f?
    I don't mind spending time to become mechanically minded so a fair bit of work can be done myself, but having shops around who can do servicing is always a bonus.

    Any recommendations? Should/shouldn't I buy a grey import?

    Thanks guys!
  2. being so high revving, engine life might be a bit shorter than other bikes (I may be completely wrong?)..
    when I was looking recently, many cheap ones seemed to have around 40-50,000km or so, and either just had or needed engine work.

    I reckon if you can source a cheap replacement engine easily, the risk is low as other parts should be fairly easy to locate
    but if you pick up one in good condition, you may not need much work at all apart from servicing

    have you priced up insurance of naked grey imports? may not actually be cheaper..

  3. Thanks for the reply mate.
    I did price up insurance on the grey imports. The CB250f is expensive but the ZR250 is much cheaper than most Australian delivered sportsbikes. Maybe since the ZR250 was sold here Swann Insurance don't consider it to be a grey import.

    I've seen a few ZR250's at about the 30,000km mark sell for $2,500 in decent condition. Probably one of the reasons why I'm looking heavily into the ZR250 rather than the CB250f, as the Hornet can still be a bit more expensive.

    Apparently there's a wrecker here in Melbourne that specialises in ZX2R's as well, and since the ZR250 shares a lot of parts with them it does make things easy. So sourcing an engine for a Balius mightn't be hard but a CB250f would be extremely difficult I could imagine.
  4. I'm a noob so take it with a grain of salt ;)

    other suggestion would be to actually put your arse on one before getting too set on getting one... you may not fit or it may not suit you :)
    they do look and sound good tho (but I'm happy with my ZZR ;) )
    • Informative Informative x 1
  5. Depends on what you want to spend and condition. Maybe an older Honda VTR250 ?
  6. I've recently purchased a grey import suzuki purely based on price. Why it may not have factory backing anything I will ever need for it is only a mouse click away. If you like the bike and the price is right then go for it.
  7. wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole
  8. Be aware that some shops won't work on grey import motorbikes, that's not a problem if you live close to several shops but if you're out in the suburbs or rural and the only local shop says "don't work on grey imports" then it's a pain (yes I speak from experience).
  9. Any specific reasons why?

    That's one of my big worries.
    Last thing I want is to be stuck on the side of the road, have my bike towed home, only to hear every close by say "Sorry, no grey imports".

    Debating whether to wait a while for a CBR250r. I'm expecting Honda to rush them out the door crazy-cheap in a month or two given that the CBR300r is just around the corner.
  10. Really? Are working on grey imports that frowned upon by mechanics? I can imagine some actual dealerships turning it down, but what's the incentive for a mechanic that's not a dealer of your particular bike's brand got going for them by turning it down?
  11. Some mechanics, quite reasonably, just don't want the added hassle of sourcing parts for bikes that were never sold here.
    It can be a pain in the arse getting some bits.

    How can you offer a warranty on your work if the parts are "non standard?"
  12. My son brought a grey import some years ago for his first bike, what a POS, not sure what he was thinking, it had about 14000ks on it, anyway after I put new rings and clutch in it, with alot of drama finding parts, a manual and no help from dealers in Australia I kinda got it to run ok, but that engine was flogged, it had done a lot more than the 14000 on the clock.
    He sold it and took a huge loss.
    Never again.
  13. I bought an RVF400 as my second bike which was grey import, did some research first to see what was available parts wise.
    Most of the stuff i bought was from the UK where grey imports seem popular so parts dont have to come from Japan.
    Freight was a bit more but the worst part was the wait, shipping from UK was slow. Luckily i never had the bike off the road due to this though.

    For consumables like oil filters, air filters and brake parts, see if there are any models sold locally that share the same parts.
    If your not handy fixing mechanical issues or dont know an independent motorcycle mechanic who will work on a grey import you might want to steer clear.
  14. Insurance can be a pain
  15. Ok - so we're talking about models that aren't available in Australia. For bikes that are identical / use the same parts as their overseas counterparts (such as a VFR vs an 'Interceptor') - there wouldn't be an issue?
  16. #16 Womble, Jun 6, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2014
    Mostly correct, however be aware that some models, even though they share the same name, model etc info, will still have different parts to cater for different markets.
    For example, different cooling for hotter / colder climates, different fueling set up for local fuel standards etc.
  17. From memory the hornet uses a cbr250r/rr (4 cylinder version) engine which should make it easy to find an engine. Plenty of those bikes have been thrown down the road over the years!
  18. I bought a Kawasaki Concours (a grey market GTR1000 tourer and the GTR1000 was sold here for many years) and it turned out that the forks are different and the local Kawasaki dealers couldn't source fork seals. The bike was stranded (and so was I) out in the middle of no where and it took months to get parts and I had to freight the bike 600kms to get it back to Victoria.

    I haven't been game to touch a grey market bike since...
  19. Sounds pretty scary! Definitely makes me want to reconsider my options.

    Thanks for sharing, ZRX.
  20. As you have been involved with grey import cars I think you know what your in for. Yes there will be some stuff that's hard to get but most things should be fine.