Wednesday, March 05, 2008


Two bikes arrived at the SFO Virgin Atlantic Cargo terminal this week from British Only Austria; my 1925 Sunbeam Longstroke, and Nick's 1950 Norton Inter racer. BOA crated both bikes together, which saved us a bundle on airfreight - they built an amazing crate which is ready for re-use, and which fit perfectly into my Sprinter. The forklift drivers at Virgin had to use a little finesse to get the box into my van, as the skids under the crate face the short direction, but with two forklifts they gently eased the box inside.
Thankfully, the warehouse I share with James and Harley has a forklift too, and we used this to bring the crate out enough to make a ramp for the bikes to roll off. As you can see, it all proved very easy, and the bikes look great. No time to ride them today though, which is a shame as the weather is perfect in SF at the moment. Maybe I'll toss some petrol in the 'Beam and go for a surreptitious spin tomorrow.

We are lucky in the US that we pay no duty on imports of old bikes, as long as they don't compete with Harley Sportsters! Bikes of 883cc-1000cc are taxed at 3%. It usually takes about 2 hours to negotiate the shippers and customs, which are fairly close each other, and there is never a line to wait in. If you're importing a bike, do your own paperwork (which means driving from the shipper to customs and back), and you'll save hundreds over using an 'importer' or 'customs broker'.

The Norton is amazingly original, down to the 'BMCRC' stickers (British MotorCycle Racing Club, or 'Bemsee') on the forks and oxidized aluminum on the Bowden clutch and brake levers. Nick will be a happy fellow, and the bike will be shown at the next Legend of the Motorcycle Concours event on May 3.

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