There are many reasons to rent a motorcycle for a road trip, whether you already own a bike or not. Perhaps you’re flying into a location far from home, or a destination difficult to access via road. You might own a motorcycle that isn’t the perfect fit for the kind of riding you plan on doing during your trip, or you simply don’t want to go through the hassle and expense of servicing and otherwise getting your own bike ready for a long adventure.
I’ve rented motorcycles in far-flung destinations, and I’ve rented them in my hometown for a day just to try something new. The reasons to rent a motorcycle are endless—and so are your rental options.
What to look for in a motorcycle rental
Renting a motorcycle isn’t always as simple as renting a car. While most car rental companies feature similar makes and models, not every motorcycle rental company features every kind of motorcycle. The first step when looking for a rental bike is to figure out what kind of trip you’ll be taking.
“The first question I would want to know is, what’s the purpose of the ride?” 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 motorcycle type.
Will you be traveling with a passenger? Look for something with a passenger seat and footpegs. Are you planning a long-distance road trip? Look for an extra comfortable motorcycle with a larger-sized gas tank. Do you plan on camping or carrying a lot of gear? Look for a bike with saddlebags or other storage possibilities.
“You can always contact the owner and ask them if it has [a certain feature], because sometimes it doesn’t show up in the pictures,” Rothbard says.
If you have a specific make or model in mind, your chances of finding it may be greater 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 chain rental companies to mom-and-pop outfitters to peer-to-peer platforms. Some will just rent you the vehicle, while others offer all-inclusive packages and guided tours.
Below are some of the most popular options on the market.
EagleRider is one of the most well-known motorcycle rental companies, with more than 150 locations in 30 countries. While you’re most likely to find various Harley-Davidson models—in fact, many EagleRider locations are located within H-D dealerships—about 70 locations feature other makes as well, from adventure bikes to electric motorcycles. Just like when you’re renting 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 individuals to rent out their motorcycles, ATVs, snowmobiles, and more.
Launched in 2017, Twisted Road is one of the most popular peer-to-peer motorcycle rental companies in the U.S. Similar to 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 like price, style, brand, and year to narrow down your results. The company also recently launched a 20-point inspection checklist for owners in an effort to increase rider safety.
Another popular peer-to-peer option, Riders Share offers privately owned motorcycles for rent across the country. With more than 15,000 registered owners in 2,000 locations, it offers a larger selection of models than you’ll find at a traditional rental company. If you’re unable to pick up and drop off in 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 trip).
If you’re looking for a specific brand or model, check to see if your local motorcycle dealership offers rentals. Some harder-to-find manufacturers—like Indian Motorcycle—will have their own rental desks within dealerships.
Craving an adventure in a more remote or rugged place, but not sure where to start? It may be worth looking into 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 you a motorcycle and let you design your own itinerary, if that’s your preference.
Some people may be looking to rent a motorcycle for a big event, such as the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Keep in mind that rentals around popular times in busy areas may be more expensive and require you to book farther in advance. But it could also mean that you have more options.
As an example, Rapid City, South Dakota, launched motorcycle rentals straight from its regional airport in 2022, in partnership with EagleRider, as a convenient option for Sturgis attendees flying in. The goal is to extend the partnership throughout the summer riding season for next year.
What you need to rent a motorcycle
Exact requirements for renting a motorcycle vary depending on the rental company or platform. At a minimum, you need to be at least 21 years old and have a valid driver’s license with a motorcycle endorsement. You’ll also need a credit card.
Most motorcycle rentals include unlimited mileage. Some may offer gear rentals at an additional cost, but that’s not always the case so do your research in advance if you need to rent gear. In general, wearing a helmet on a rental bike is mandatory, even in states that don’t require helmets by law.
When it comes to insurance for motorcycle rentals, you’re going to see options similar to when renting a car. Depending on the level of coverage you’re comfortable with, you’re typically able to 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 prepare to put down a hefty deposit (in the case of EagleRider, the deposit is $5,000).
Make sure you read through your rental agreement carefully so you know what’s allowed and what’s not. When riding a rented motorcycle, you’re most likely not allowed to go off-roading, cross country borders, or do stunts (like wheelies and burnouts), just to name a few examples.