Canadian Pricing 

How to import a motorcycle from the USA into Canada

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I am a loyal Canadian and although I would prefer purchasing my motorcycle in Canada, I’m unwilling to line the pockets of greedy multinational corporations to do so. This is not the rhetoric of an individual crying out against big business. Below I have provided facts and figures that show the Canadian arms of the major motorcycle brands have chosen to milk Canadian wallets for all they along with a combination of lower sales volume and a conservative Canadian dealer network. Add to this high taxation and we have a pricing dilemma prime for encouraging end-user importations.

Our Canadian pricing disadvantage with the Canadian representatives of the major motorcycle brands – each sets up a “Canadian” division operated as separate company divorced from its US counterpart. For companies such as Honda Canada, there appears to be no association with American Honda – each is operated as an autonomous and potentially competing organization. Each established its own product line, pricing and policies.

American Honda’s Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the model of Gold Wing I had selected is $23,099. If you apply a 1.15 currency exchange rate, that brings the Canadian dollar value of their MSRP to $26,564 compared to Honda Canada’s MSRP of $29,399. This is a variance of over 10.5% which varies by model and the current exchange rate. Using different Gold Wing models and recent exchange rates, this variance can approach 20%. Although a sales organization must protect itself against currency fluctuation, recent rates indicate it is unlikely to justify this great a variance in the near future. Other industries faced with the same challenge have adapted similar measures leaving motorcycle consumers with no reasonable explanation other than price gouging.

Faced with the above base pricing model Canadian dealers are forced to endure higher purchase costs which are passed directly on to the consumer. Our local dealer is not totally without blame however as they are not nearly as competitive as their US counterparts. After considerable effort, the best discount I could obtain from a Vancouver area Honda dealer was 6.9% off the Canadian MSRP. In the US, many volume dealers will chop 13.8% off their already lower initial MSRP.

The pricing gap widens even more when you apply taxation. Although the tax rates are identical on both a Canadian and US purchase the GST and BC PST comes to $3,558.16 on a Canadian purchase ($29,399 - 6.9%) verses $2,976.75 on a US purchase ($26,564 – 13.8%). This puts my out of pocket cost at $30,928.63 for the Canadian purchase and $25,874.78 for the US purchase – a difference of $5,053.85. Now astute readers will note that although I’m now showing a savings of over $5,000, several costs are not yet reflected. That’s true, but neither are all the savings reflected yet either.

Few bike owners leave their motorcycle exactly like it came from the factory. Some add chrome, some comfort items, some go for functionality and/or safety items – but for the most part we all accessorize. When we add accessories the Canadian price gap widens even further. Honda CB radio and antenna, installed was quoted at about $1,600 by Canadian dealers. The US dealer I purchased from charged me only $950 (Cdn $). In Canada a 4-year extended warranty for my Gold Wing costs a bit over $1575, plus tax. The same coverage through American Honda can be purchased for $613 (Cdn $), which is non-taxable.

For me, the additional savings on Honda and third party accessories save me more than the additional costs combined, including the cost of flying down to Oklahoma and riding the bike home. Some might include the cost of my 2,900 mile ride home.

I did include the cost of my trip to Oklahoma and the total cost of the ride home in my price calculations. For me, it was kind of like a free vacation, included in the bike’s purchase price. I traveled across the secondary highways of northern Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. I then ventured across California and up the Oregon and Washington coast to the Canadian border. It was a bike rider’s dream vacation – what a way to break in a new bike.