Motorcycle Brokers

Who the heck were they?
My favorite pastime, other than spending quality time on my dirt
bike, is spending quality time reading what others say about
their dirt bikes. Every month or so I read a discussion thread
questioning how a company called Motorcycle Brokers can sell
dirt bikes so cheap. I wondered the same thing during the
summer of 2003 and did a little investigating.

Motorcycle Brokers is actually a company doing business as
Goodfellow Racing, located just outside Vancouver in North
Delta, BC Canada. Zach Graham is the man in charge, and his
business is selling new dirt bikes, ATV’s, snowmobiles, and
personal watercraft. He does it differently than most, as his
primary sales mechanism appears to be the internet. You may
have seen new 2003 KX250’s listed on eBay for $3,899. That’s
Zach and Goodfellow Racing. Although they sell off-road
vehicles made by most of the major manufacturers, they’re a bit
selective on what they offer. The motorcycle inventory list on the
Motorcycle Brokers web site shows plenty of motocrossers and a
few enduro bikes, but not much else.

Goodfellow Racing is careful to call themselves a
“broker/wholesaler” and not a dealer. Probably a reason for that,
possibly having to do with the fact that U.S. dealers surely can’t
be excited about the Motorcycle Brokers sales model. I've been
told Canadian import taxes on these vehicles are less than U.S.
import taxes, so that’s apparently how Goodfellow Racing is able
to sell these vehicles for what appear to be razor-thin profit
margins. As Canadian-spec vehicles, the bikes are sometimes a
little different than what a U.S. dealer would sell. For example,
the KTM EXC’s are described as “Dual Sport California Spec”
which means they come more or less street legal (if you want a
300EXC with turn signals, you may be in luck). However, most of
the motocross bikes are no different than what’s sold in the U.S.

So how do you buy a Canadian dirt bike? Here’s how:

1. Call up Zach using the number on the web site (his cell phone,
I think). Ask him questions. When you’re ready to buy, he’ll give
you the number of Brandie at the Goodfellow Racing office.
2. Brandie will gather your critical information and give you the
lowdown on what you need to get your bike.
3. First things first…you gotta send them some money in U.S.
dollars. Cashiers check, money order, or wire transfer is
preferred. Not sure you want to send thousands of dollars to
someone you don’t know? You can use PayPal (with credit card),
but Motorcycle Brokers charges an extra 3% to cover their
transaction costs.
4. After receiving payment, Brandie sends out the
shipping
information. The bikes are shipped in the crate via Forward Air
for $200. The day Brandie received my cashier’s check for
purchase of a 2003 KX250,
the bike was shipped and she faxed
me the tracking information.
5. My bike arrived at Forward Air’s freight terminal in St. Louis
exactly one week from its original shipping date. From there, it
was my responsibility to pick it up (although they might have
arranged home delivery for extra cost).
6. I took delivery of the bike,
drove it home and put it together.

That’s it, pretty much.

From there, you get to decide whether or not you want to title the
bike. I didn't title the previous two bikes I purchased, but with
the KX250 I decided that
strange Canadian documentation might
scare off potential buyers when I sell the bike. Many buyers are
okay with a Certificate of Origin in lieu of a title, but I could only
imagine the reaction to the documents that came with my KX.
Even though a title meant I would have to
pay sales tax on the
bike, I have a feeling I’ll get it back when the bike gets sold
someday.

So, the title process began. We've all been to the Department of
Motor Vehicles, and I think it’s safe to say that no matter what
state you live in, the best way to describe the overall DMV
experience is “challenging.” I didn't even want to attempt what
would surely be a painful procedure, full of blank stares and
“You wanna do what?” Since I was titling the bike in Illinois, I
visited a currency exchange in a town close to my parent’s farm.
Why would I go to a currency exchange to get a vehicle title?
Because many of them provide vehicle title and registration
services. This can be especially useful when you buy a used car
from an individual. At the currency exchange there’s a “hassle
factor” of about 2 on a scale of 10, versus the DMV which is more
like 15 on a scale of 10. Again, just my personal
experience…maybe yours is different.

Anyway, the currency exchange that I used does many
title
applications every day. They probably send the paperwork
directly to the State of Illinois and know the specific individuals
at the Secretary of State office where the documents get
processed. Although the currency exchange charges a fee for
title services, this seemed like a better alternative than wasting
half a day in the DMV office and probably having to follow up
later on because I didn't fill out the right form or some document
ended up in the wrong place. And even if the currency exchange
didn't get something right the first time, it was their problem, not
mine.

As it turned out, the nice lady who handled my title application
had never processed an application for a Canadian vehicle, but
she said she’d give it her best shot. Whatever she did, it worked.
The title application was done over Thanksgiving and
the title
arrived by Christmas.
My Continuing Quest for Cheap
A journey down the highway of frugality
Update June 2007:
It appears Zach Graham has moved on to other things, as the Motorcycle Brokers
website is no longer active. What follows is my 2003 account of an interesting method
of buying a motorcycle.
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