So you’re thinking about renting a motorcycle? Maybe you’re planning a vacation to a far off land where transporting your own motorcycle would be cost-prohibitive or perhaps you’re looking to get some seat time on a potential purchase. Whatever the reason, motorcycle rental is a great way to try something new or add some riding potential to a vacation. There are dozens of motorcycle rental companies around the world, some big, some small, but usually the process is relatively similar when it comes to the rental experience. We’ve put together what we believe to be the major points you should consider when looking to rent a motorcycle.
What kind of experience do you have?
Motorcycle rental is a great way to try out new motorcycles within or outside the genre of what’s sitting in your garage, but be smart when choosing a rental bike. If you’ve been riding lightweight small displacement motorcycles for your entire riding career, getting a track-ready 200-plus horsepower machine or a 1,000-pound hunk of American Iron probably isn’t the best idea, particularly if you’re planning a vacation somewhere you’ve never ridden before. Also, if you ride something like a sportbike for your daily but want to go on a vacation and cruise Route 66 on a big V-Twin, just know that there will be a learning curve. Take the first few miles (or more) to get acquainted with your machine. Learn how the power delivery comes on, get a feel for the brakes, and feel out any handling characteristics that may be different from what you’ve ridden before.
Large companies, like Eaglerider in the US and Hertz in the US and abroad, have sizable rental fleets that range from 250cc dual-sport bikes to top-of-the-line touring machines from various manufacturers. Even if a major company like that doesn’t have what you’re looking for, you may be able to find a smaller company with a different selection of bikes to choose from, depending on where you’re headed, of course. Then there are the motorcycle rental services, like Riders Share and Twisted Road, that allow people to rent you their motorcycles. This is where you might find some more obscure offerings if you’re flexible about the location you’re renting from. Of course, large population centers will have a wider variety of motorcycles available.
Where will you be riding?
Where you plan to ride will also make a big difference on which bike you choose for your rental. If you’re planning to get your kicks on Route 66, what better bike to do it on than the quintessential American V-Twin cruiser. Should you find your route snaking through mountain passes one day and freeway slogging the next, a sport-tourer should do the job quite well. Now, with the popularity of adventure motorcycling, there’s also the question of whether you plan to venture off the pavement for some exploration on the trail. There are a lot of fantastic choices on the market these days, so there should be no shortage of options when it comes to choosing the right bike for your purposes.
What will the weather be like?
Always check the weather where you plan to ride. It feels like it goes without saying, but if you plan to ride somewhere that you’re not familiar with, do some research but also ask the folks you’re renting from about the weather in the areas you plan to ride. This can also affect your bike choice. If you’re planning to ride in inclement weather or somewhere chilly, a touring machine with plenty of wind protection and heated grips might not be a bad option. Weather will, of course, also determine the gear you use as well. Some companies rent gear, but we’d always suggest bringing your own if you’re able.
If you’re planning a tour, you’ll want to make sure you know what kind of luggage comes with the rental machine. This may not be as big of a deal if you’re renting just to ride a new machine. I’ve personally traveled with my gear, clothes, etc. packed in bags that I can then strap to the motorcycle to make things easy. Some rental companies can store luggage for you during your trip if you plan to return your bike to the same location, as well. Again, if you’re planning a long trip for which you require panniers, be sure to confirm that your bike will have them.
Be sure to consider the entire cost
While a day rental, pending which motorcycle you rent, may not be overly expensive, a week or more can certainly add up. I always suggest giving the company you plan to rent from a call in order to make sure the rental is exactly as you want, and to be sure you have a contact at the company that can help you with any questions you might have. There are usually also discounts once you rent for, say, more than six days. Keep in mind that the rental, insurance, and whatever other add-ons you might decide to include aren’t the only financial factor. Many companies require a deposit in order to rent to anyone. That deposit may be more than $1,000, so be sure you’ve considered that chunk of money being held on a credit card during your trip.
Also, while it may seem obvious, don’t forget to factor in costs like gas. In general, petrol seems to be less expensive in the States than in many parts of Europe. Be sure to get a gauge for gas prices for where you’re headed, they may surprise you. Lastly, if you’re planning a long haul, expect some tolls, ferries, or other fees along the way.