Tips for renting a motorcycle in America

May 2, 2011
Tips for renting a motorcycle in America

EagleRider SF has a huge selection of bikes and scooters

(Note: we’re a fully licensed EagleRider tour operator, offering the most competitive prices on rentals anywhere. If you’re interested in hiring a bike for motorcycle touring in America, be sure to get a quote from us, we’ll help you save money and time. Contact us here.)

So you’re going to America to do some motorcycle touring and plan to hire a bike – great! Here are four important things to consider before booking a motorcycle rental:

1) Are you doing a round trip, or one-way? This is a very important question. Many small motorcycle rental companies (and even some larger ones) require that you return the motorcycle to the same place you rented it. That’s OK if you’re staying in one place and doing local riding, or if you can loop back on a longer ride. But what if you want to ride from Las Vegas to San Francisco, ride the Four Corners, or perhaps do a US Coast to Coast ride? Check with the bike hire company and make sure you can do a “one-way” rental. We chose to work with EagleRider because they have many franchise locations across the USA, which enable you to chose where you’ll pick up and drop off your bike. This enables you, the rider, to custom build a tour itinerary that works around your schedule. In most cases, a one-way surcharge fee applies.

2) Touring solo or with a pillion? A Harley Fat Boy or a Triumph Bonneville may look cool cruising down Sunset Boulevard, but if you run into a rainstorm high in the Colorado Rockies, you’ll be wishing you rented an Electra Glide or a Goldwing. For longer tours, where you’ll be out on the road for days, we recommend renting a purpose built touring motorcycle. They always have better weather protection, luggage capacity, passenger comfort, and surprisingly, are no more expensive to rent than other bikes in the EagleRider fleet. If a big touring bike seems intimidating, the Harley Davidson Road King is a good alternative. It’s got less luggage capacity and passenger comfort than an Electra Glide, but a lower center of gravity for easier control at low speeds.

3) How many days and miles will you be riding? Even if you’re not bringing a pillion along, you might want to consider hiring a bike with good luggage capacity. We always seem to bring along more gear than we need on longer rides, and the saddlebags always seems to be smaller than we need! Dedicated touring bikes like the Honda GL 1800 Goldwing or the Harley Davidson Electra Glide include a topcase, with plenty of space for camera gear, laptop, or a full face helmet. Of course, a longer tour minus the mod cons can be very satisfying, and if you pack very light, a Triumph Bonneville with a windshield would make for a memorable ride. A BMW R1200GS is a good compromise as well, as it offers light, crisp handling, good weather protection and hard bags with good capacity.

4) What level of insurance is offered for your rental? This can seem a bit complicated, but it’s not really. Basic liability insurance is required for all motorcycles to be ridden on public roads in America, but you can also purchase insurance that covers damage to the bike, with a set deductible. You can also purchase additional liability insurance in case you injure someone else. When calculating how much your total rental quote will be, make sure to consider what basic insurance fees will be required, and what if any supplemental coverage you’ll wish to take. Make sure to ask about the various coverages when reserving your bike rental, so you’re not surprised when you get to the rental location.

5) Lastly – you MUST be a licensed motorcyclist and provide documentation which proves this. Make sure to bring your license as most bike hire companies will not rent you a motorcycle without proof you’re licensed to ride in your home country. Also, most companies require that the rider is a minimum of 21 years of age.

Hope this was helpful! Wherever you live in the world, if you want to rent a motorcycle for your holiday in America, be sure to contact us for a quote.

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  1. motorcycle parts on May 18, 2011 at 7:26 am

    Thanks to Jim for this fantastic informative post on renting a bike in America….. All the five things listed here are very important one to be considered…..

    • Anonymous on May 18, 2011 at 12:26 pm

       Thanks! The one thing I forgot is advice on refueling. Just as Americans get confused at the pumps in Europe (I’ve nearly pumped diesel into a rental bike on a few occasions) so too the refueling can be a bit confusing for Brits. It’s more the payment system, lots of stations require you to pay prior to the pump turning on. The first few days on a trip, it always takes us 45 minutes to fill all 10 bikes! Maybe I’ll do a blog post about it – glad you found this helpful. Cheers Jim

  2. Lloyd-dxb on August 7, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    im turning 17 next year and i will be able to get my full bike lisences will i be able to rent a bike in america? since i dont live there.

    • Anonymous on August 7, 2011 at 5:30 pm

      Unfortunately Lloyd, you’re going to have to wait a couple of years if you want to rent your own bike. Eaglerider has a minimum age restriction of 21 years. You can however ride as a pillion if someone else pilots the bike. Sorry! See you in 2017?

  3. Matt on April 4, 2018 at 8:27 am

    Can I hire a bike myself if I am on a restricted licence in New Zealand.

    • Tim Orr on May 22, 2018 at 1:34 pm

      Hi Matt
      You can ride so long as you have some kind of bike endorsement. Restrictions are not recognised in the US. Just make sure your medical covers you.

  4. nguyen tu on May 20, 2018 at 10:24 am

    it is great

  5. Duncan Lance on July 27, 2018 at 8:00 pm

    These are some pretty great questions, especially the one about how many days and miles you’ll be driving. After all, the rental company might put a limit on that in order to protect their bike. That is why you need to be upfront with them about your riding plans so that they can get you the proper insurance and everything else you’ll need.

    • Tim Orr on October 11, 2018 at 12:28 pm

      Thats why we work with Eaglerider Duncan, Unlimited Milage on nearly every rental.

  6. Debbie powell on January 4, 2019 at 12:39 am

    Hi I was just wondering how long I’ve had to been riding in the uk before I can ride in America.
    I can’t drive in America unless I’ve been driving in England for 12 months and do I need a full bike licence.

    • Tim Orr on January 11, 2019 at 2:17 pm

      Hi Debbie
      There is not set time. A year is recommended just to make sure you have a certain level of experience but so long as you can show you can confidently handle the bike you will be allowed to ride.

  7. Anthony Ferrara on January 23, 2019 at 1:47 am

    What are the differences between a bike a car rental when it comes to using your own insurance or choosing to pay a dealer more for protection? I looked into a harley rental for an upcoming trip and they listed a 3000 dollar deposit unless you paid for extra insurance that still left you a 1000 theft deductible. Is my current motorcycle insurance policy able to be used in place of paying more and still avoid depositing so much money?

    • Tim Orr on January 23, 2019 at 1:00 pm

      Hi Anthony
      For bike insurance there is no equivalent to the personel policy you can take out with hire cars. This is just a matter of volume and risk for insurance companies. The advantage I have found using the rental companies own policy is there is no come back at all. With the private policy on cars if you damage the car you have to pay the hire company and then claim back, not always an easy thing to do.

  8. Emma on March 3, 2019 at 10:30 pm

    Hi there, I ride a restricted Sportster 883 in the UK on an A2 licence, will I be able to rent a bike in the US on this licence? I have been riding for around 4 years.
    Thank you.

    • Tim Orr on March 4, 2019 at 9:52 am

      Hi Emma
      Unfortunately we don’t have any bikes that fit the A2 requirements. You will need a full A licence Im afraid.

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