How to rent a motorcycle for a road trip

There are many reasons to rent a motorcycle for a road trip, whether you already own one or not. Perhaps you are flying to a place far from home or to a destination that is difficult to access by road. You may have a motorcycle that isn’t the perfect fit for the type of riding you plan to do during your trip, or you just don’t want to go through the hassle and expense of maintenance and otherwise prepare your own bike for a long ride. adventure.

I have rented motorcycles in faraway destinations and rented them in my hometown for a day just to try something new. The reasons to rent a motorcycle are endless, as are your rental options.

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What to look for in a motorcycle rental

Renting a motorcycle is not always as easy as renting a car. While most car rental companies carry similar makes and models, not all motorcycle rental companies carry all types of motorcycles. The first step when looking for a rental bike is to find out what type of trip you are going to take.

“The first question I would like to know is, what is the purpose of the trip?” says Austin Rothbard, founder and CEO of peer-to-peer motorcycle rental company Twisted Road. He suggests looking at the type of riding you’ll be doing and narrowing down your options based on the type of motorcycle.

Two motorcycles parked next to a sign that says "Biscayne National Park"
Two rental motorcycles in Biscayne National Park, Florida. | Photo: Sanna Boman

Are you traveling with a passenger? Look for something with a passenger seat and foot pegs. Are you planning a long-distance road trip? Look for an extra comfortable motorcycle with a larger gas tank. Do you plan to camp or carry a lot of equipment? Look for a bike with panniers or other storage possibilities.

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“You can always contact the owner and ask if he has [a certain feature]because sometimes it doesn’t show up in the pictures,” says Rothbard.

If you have a specific make or model in mind, your chances of finding it may be higher at dealerships with rental departments or peer-to-peer platforms than at traditional rental companies.


Motorcycle rental options

Just like when it comes to renting a car, RV, or vacation home, your options for renting a motorcycle will range from large rental company chains to family-owned providers and peer-to-peer platforms. Some will just rent you the car, while others offer all-inclusive packages and guided tours.

Below are some of the most popular options on the market.

eaglerider

EagleRider is one of the best known motorcycle rental companies with over 150 locations in 30 countries. While you’ll most likely find multiple Harley-Davidson models (in fact, many EagleRider locations are inside HD dealerships), around 70 locations also carry other brands, from adventure bikes to electric motorcycles. Just like when you rent a car, you have the option of one-way rentals for an additional fee.

In 2021, the company also launched EagleShare, its own peer-to-peer platform, which allows people to rent their motorcycles, ATVs, snowmobiles, and more.

crooked road

Launched in 2017, Twisted Road is one of the most popular peer-to-peer motorcycle rental companies in the US. Like Turo for cars or RVshare for RVs, you’re renting someone’s personal vehicle. This often means lower prices and more options to choose from, depending on your location and preferences. You can search by features such as price, style, make, and year to narrow down your results. The company also recently released a 20-point inspection checklist for owners in an effort to increase passenger safety.

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passengers share

Another popular peer option, Riders Share offers privately owned motorcycles for rent across the country. With over 15,000 registered owners in 2,000 locations, they offer a wider selection of models than you’ll find from a traditional rental company. If you can’t pick up and drop off at the same location, Riders Share also offers one-way rentals for an additional fee (expect to pay $800 to $1,000 more than for a one-way ride).

local dealers

If you’re looking for a specific make or model, check to see if your local motorcycle dealer offers rentals. Some harder-to-find manufacturers, like Indian Motorcycle, will have their own rental counters inside dealerships.

Guided visits

Longing for an adventure in a more remote or rugged location, but don’t know where to start? It may be worth considering a guided tour. Companies like MotoQuest offer motorcycle rentals as well as on- and off-road tours in Alaska, Baja California, and beyond. Many tour companies will also rent a motorcycle for you and allow you to design your own itinerary if you prefer.

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Close-up from below of an orange motorcycle with a sign behind it that says "Rapid City Regional Airport"
You can now rent a motorcycle for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally directly from the Rapid City Regional Airport in South Dakota. | Photo courtesy of Rapid City Regional Airport

Special events

Some people may be looking to rent a motorcycle for a big event, like the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Please note that rentals at popular times in busy areas may be more expensive and require you to book further in advance. But it could also mean that you have more options.

As an example, Rapid City, South Dakota, launched motorcycle rentals directly from its regional airport in 2022, in partnership with EagleRider, as a convenient option for Sturgis attendees who fly in. The goal is to extend the partnership during the summer driving season for next year.


What you need to rent a motorcycle

The exact requirements for renting a motorcycle vary depending on the rental company or platform. At a minimum, you must be at least 21 years old and have a valid driver’s license with a motorcycle endorsement. You will also need a credit card.

Most motorcycle rentals include unlimited mileage. Some may offer equipment rentals at an additional cost, but that’s not always the case, so do your research ahead of time if you need to rent equipment. In general, it is mandatory to wear a helmet on a rental bike, even in states that do not require a helmet by law.

A black motorcycle parked in front of a retro city in the style of the Old West
A rented Harley-Davidson in Punkyville, Kentucky. | Photo: Sanna Boman

When it comes to motorcycle rental insurance, you are going to see similar options to renting a car. Depending on the level of cover you’re comfortable with, you can usually purchase basic or premium insurance plans along with your booking. It’s also worth calling your own vehicle insurance company to find out if your policy covers motorcycle rentals. In that case, you may be able to waive the additional rental insurance fee, but be prepared to put down a hefty deposit (in EagleRider’s case, the deposit is $5,000).

Be sure to read your rental agreement carefully so you know what is allowed and what is not. When riding a rented motorcycle, you will most likely not be allowed to go off the road, cross borders, or do stunts (such as wheelies and stunts), just to name a few examples.


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