The Total Guide to Riding Your New Motorcycle in Medellin
If you’ve ever seen The Motorcycle Diaries, you can understand the appeal of riding a motorcycle around Medellin, Colombia. For an eager rider, the surrounding mountain hillsides are an open invitation of swooping, curvy roads surrounded by beautiful scenery. There’s plenty of trips, near and far, that riders can enjoy while savoring the temperate jungle outskirts and exploring a variety of cultural and natural wonders. Plus, a moto makes getting around Medellin a piece of cake.
With great roads, friendly police, interesting sites, quality tourist infrastructure (info, lodging, food), and good support systems (advice, repairs, service), riding a motorcycle is an easy choice. Not only is parking much cheaper inside the city but tolls on roads between cities are free, allowing you to cruise right through.
We’re going to cover the steps necessary for obtaining a driver’s license and the options for riding motorcycles in Medellin. You’ll be cruising in no time.
4 steps to obtaining a Colombian driver’s license
From start to finish, this whole process won’t take more than a month.
Upload your personal information, photo and fingerprint to RUNT – or Registro Único Nacional de Tránsito. This is the national database for vehicle owners in Colombia. You will have to do this in person at the local Transito office.
This service is free but remember to bring your cedula extranjero – or tourist visa. Your cedula is the gateway to driving and getting a license in Colombia. Your cedual will expire after three months.
What You Need to Get a Cedula
Registering and applying for a cedula must be done at the office of Migracion de Colombia: Calle 19 #80A-40, Barrio Belén.
- Copy of the data page from your passport
- Original visa (in your passport)
- Photocopy of blood test showing your blood type
- Filled out application form from online here or in the Migración Colombia office
Make an appointment ahead of time here.
2. Driving lessons
While most foreigners have more training than the average Colombian, you will be required to enroll in classes and driving lessons to hold a driver’s license in Colombia. That said, many of the riving schools are happy to fill out your paperwork and validate that you’ve taken all the tests – without so much as paying the $95 (300,000 COP) fee and signing the paperwork.
By the end, you’ll have a Certificado de Aptitud en Conducción. The driving school will upload this to RUNT and the turnaround time will be about a month.
Be sure to get a physical copy of the certificate, as it is requirement for receiving your license.
Driving schools in Colombia are called escuelas de conducción or Centro de Enseñanza Automovilística (CEA). Here’s a list.
You might also go to the Secretaria de Movilidad and ask for a waiver. For a fee of $30 USD, or 100,000 COP – and a chat with the director – you might be able to skip this step.
3. Medical examination
Since your exam is only valid for 30 days, make sure to do this after your paperwork has been uploaded into RUNT and is good to go. You’ll receive a call when it’s been successful uploaded.
Any socialized health clinic certified by the Ministry of Health will do – but ask the driving school for a recommendation, as it may be quicker.
You will need to bring an ID that includes your fingerprint. Authenticating your fingerprints can be done at a notary, if you don’t have them already.
The exam will include a hearing test, a visual test, a test of coordination. A brief questionnaire about your medical condition will follow. This whole process shouldn’t take more than an hour.
Upon completion you will receive a Certificado Médico de Aptitud Física, Mental y Coordinación Motriz, which you will need to present in order to acquire your license.
Cost is around $40 USD, or 130,000 COP.
4. Get driver’s license
Now, it’s time to get your license. Bring the cedula, the certificate from the driving school and the certificate of your medical test to the Secretaría de Movilidad, or Transito, office at Carrera 64 C No. 72 – 58 – Barrio Caribbean – Medellin, Colombia.
Your license will cost around $30 USD, or 100,000 COP.
They’ll take your photo on site and issue the license immediately afterwards.
Bring plenty of copies of both your cedula, as every entity you encounter will demand one. Losing your spot in line because you don’t have one is a shame.
Licenses are valid for three years.
Before You Buy a Motorcycle in Medellin
Medellin loves motorbikes of all shapes and sizes. That’s largely due to the variety of terrain available around the city and nearby. Taking a weekend out of the city and to a finca (farmhouse) is a local’s favorite.
Motos are considerably cheaper than cars. A new bike could cost anywhere from a couple thousand dollars to around ten. This all depends on what style of ride you’re looking for.
If you’re looking for a city cruising, any bike under 200 CC will do. But if you plan on driving up and out of the Medellin valley to see the countryside, or you’re living on a hill, a 200+ CC model will be necessary. If you’re an experienced rider, attaching some crossover tires for navigating back roads, streams, and more rugged terrain will be great. But again, ramp up the CCs for such intentions.
First, helmets are required for all riders.
Yes, There’s no quicker way to get pulled over by the police than without a helmet. There are an estimated 600,00 motorcycles in Medellin. Some of them drive quite recklessly, so a good, padded riding jacket is recommended.
Like in much of the world, there’s quite a few options for motorcycles in Medellin.
Yes, you can buy a Harley in Medellin. The dealership is in Poblado, right nearby Parque Lleras. Obviously, the Harley is going to be one of the more expensive offerings here, like anywhere.
This is a Indian import, cut in the classic, retro style. The cafe-racer look is rare in Medellin, so you’ll score serious style points for driving one. A friend of mine bought a Royal Enfield and had it customized – all for $3,000 USD – and he routinely has people staring and asking for pictures.
Other Indian Imports:
Bajaj: The Bajaj Pulsar is one of the most popular bikes because it’s a great commuter. It’s not flashy but it’s reliable. New 135, 180, and 220 models are available between $2,000 – $3,000 USD.
TVS: Comparable to the Bajaj in terms of features and price. The 180 model has higher power to weight ratio, which is great for going up the steep Medellin hills and highways.
Yamaha and Suzuki
My friend with the Royal Enfield had his custom work done here, at Moto Work. They offer a wide range of Japanese import bikes, mopeds, and motocross bikes.
The Yamaha 250 is the preferred getaway bike for ‘asesinos’ here. The young kids like the “fast and furious” look and you can hear them revving their engines. Or the the most popular (or most popularly priced) “big bike” is the Suzuki 650. Touring models are also available.
These bikes will cost, new, around $10,000 USD.
BMW offers great touring and crossover bikes. But since they’re a BMW, and pricey import besides, they’ll cost. But as far as reliability and longevity, these are the way to go. The dealership will handle the routine maintenance checks
Open Market Motorcycles
Since Medellin caters to a very large expatriate and mobile population, auto and motorcycle exchange websites like this have popped up to provide a market for used bikes.
A motorcycle is both a fun and practical means of navigating the streets of Medellin and all the beauty around it. Once you’ve taken the steps to acquire your license, you’ll be able to cruise on your new (or used) bike. With many options available in the city, motorcycle enthusiasts will quickly feel right at home in Medellin.