Perhaps you're planning a vacation but can't bring your usual motorcycle along for the ride. Maybe you're thinking of buying a new model and want to test it out properly before you commit. Whatever the reason, renting a motorcycle often makes a great choice. But like everything that involves parting with a chunk of your hard-earned money, there are a few things to consider first. Before you make any hasty decisions, be sure to check out these ten important tips on renting a motorcycle.
1. Check the return policy
As thelostadventure.com notes, one of the most important questions to consider before you rent a motorcycle is whether you'll be making a round trip, or one-way. Many motorcycle companies will require you to return the motorcycle to the same place you rented it. If you're planning on using the motorcycle for local riding, that won't be an issue. If, on the other hand, you're planning on using it to ride from one coast to the other, it could be. If you plan on making a one-way journey, your best bet is to avoid smaller, regional rental companies and opt for larger, national companies such as EagleRider who will allow you to pick up from one location and drop off at another.
2. Make sure you have a valid license
Regardless of who you rent from and where, there's one thing every motorcycle rental company will ask to see before handing you the keys to your ride - your license. As packupandride.com notes, a learner's permit won't cut it - you'll need to have a valid driver’s license with a motorcycle rating that's recognized in the state or country you have residency. If you're from outside the US, your motorcycle license will be accepted providing it's valid. You might, however, want to consider getting an international driver's permit if the license is written in a language other than English to reduce any possible issues.
3. Consider the best motorcycle for your needs
Before picking which motorcycle to rent, be realistic about your needs. Consider how many days you'll be renting it, where you intend to drive, what kind of weather conditions you might run into, and what kind of luggage capacity you'll need. If you intend on riding across the country, a touring motorcycle with enhanced weather protection, good luggage capacity, and improved passenger comfort is likely to fit the bill better than a city bike.
4. Get the right insurance
Choosing the right kind of insurance can seem like a minefield, but it's simpler than it looks. At a minimum, you'll need to take out basic liability insurance - this is a mandatory requirement for driving on any public road in the US. You'll also be offered the chance to purchase additional coverage for damage to the bike, along with additional liability insurance in case of injury to a third party. To avoid any nasty surprises on the day, always ask the rental company about the types of insurance policy they offer, along with the cost of the options, when you reserve your motorcycle.
5. Shop around
No two rental companies are the same. Although it's tempting to go the easy route and settle for whichever company your online search returns first, it pays to shop around. Check and compare the rates, available motorcycles, and additional costs like late fees and insurance costs. Although the products might be much of a muchness, you'll be surprised at just how much you stand to save by doing a little upfront legwork.
6. Check your contract
Once you decide on a rental company and a motorcycle, make sure to read the rental contract thoroughly before taking things any further. It may seem unnecessary, but you can't always rely on the staff at the rental company to fill you in on every last detail - and it's those details that can often cost you the most. The rental contract should tell you whether you need to fill the tank with gas before returning the motorcycle, and any other restrictions and requirements that could result in a hefty fee if you skip them. If you come across anything that's not clear or you're not sure of, ask for clarification before signing.
7. Take a test drive
Before you head off into the sunset, take your rental bike for a quick spin around the town. If there are any problems with the motorcycle, it's far better to discover them when you're still close enough to the rental country to request a change than when you're 50 miles away. Pay attention to the brakes, any leaks, and any other mechanical issues you notice. If you're planning on using the motorcycle for touring, it's also worth paying close attention to the comfort, along with how suitable the features and luggage capacity are for your needs.
8. Ask for a discount
Renting a motorcycle isn't always cheap. Depending on the style of motorcycle you rent, you can expect to pay anything from around $125 to $300 per day. Some touring bikes could come in for even more. Although you'll need to consider your riding ability and needs just as much as your budget, it never hurts to slash a few dollars off your final bill if you can. If you're in the military or law enforcement, let the rental company know - they may offer a discount. Some companies will also offer discounts to members of auto clubs like the AA, along with riders aged 55 plus. As offers vary according to the rental company in question, don't be shy about asking for the full details of their individual discount policy.
9. Check for additional costs
Asides from the cost of the motorcycle, there are various other costs involved in renting a motorcycle that it pays to be aware of. Although policies vary, most motorcycle rental companies will require that you pay a security deposit at the time of hire. If the bike is returned in the same condition it was handed over, the deposit will be refunded to the same credit card it was charged against. Depending on the type of insurance cover you take out, the security deposit can be as much as $5000 - to save any last-minute blushes, make sure you have the necessary amount of credit on your card before you hand it over. Other additional costs to consider are cancellation fees and late charges. If you're reserving the motorcycle in advance, check the cancellation policy in case of a last-minute change in plan. At the same time, make sure you know exactly what time the bike needs to be returned at the end of the hire period - it's not unusual for rental companies to charge as much as $25 for every hour you go over.
10. Be aware of the age requirements
If you're hoping to celebrate your 18th birthday by hitting the road on a rented motorcycle, you're out of luck. As ripsandrides.com notes, most rental companies will require you to be at least 21 years old. Some may even have a minimum age limit of 25 years.
Written by Benjamin Smith
Read more posts by Benjamin Smith