Top Tips for Renting a Motorcycle on Route 66

Updated October 31, 2023

When you're gearing up for the adventure of a lifetime, a motorcycle can be your trusty steed along the open road. But just like when you rent a car, there are certain requirements and details to consider when renting a motorcycle. So, let's dive into the nitty-gritty of what you need to know...

Meet the Requirements:

First and foremost, like any vehicle rental, renting a motorcycle comes with its prerequisites. The most obvious is a valid driver's license, with an M1 rating or motorcycle endorsement, recognized in the state you reside. Unfortunately, a learner's permit won't cut it, so you'll need a proper motorcycle license to ride.

For those coming from outside the United States, any motorcycle license recognized in your home country will suffice. However, if your license is not in English, consider obtaining an International Driver's Permit (IDP). It can help in case of any language barriers or confusion, especially in the event of an accident or encounter with law enforcement.

Age Matters:

Most motorcycle rental companies have age restrictions, requiring renters to be at least 21 years old. Some may even raise the age limit to 25. If you're under 21, you can typically rent a scooter or a small engine vehicle, provided you're at least 18. This age requirement ensures that renters have some riding experience or maturity.

Insurance Insights:

Just like with any vehicle, motorcycle rentals come with insurance requirements. The minimum coverage is liability insurance, which varies depending on the state you're renting in and is a legal requirement. Keep in mind that your personal liability insurance doesn't meet this requirement – rental insurance is a separate entity.

Liability insurance, included in the daily rental cost, covers you if you cause an accident resulting in injury or property damage to someone else. If you want more coverage, some companies offer supplemental liability insurance for an additional daily fee. This can increase the coverage amount in case of an accident.

Comprehensive insurance is another add-on cost. It covers theft or damage to the motorcycle, whether it's stolen or damaged by external factors, like being hit by a car or knocked over by unforeseen circumstances. Depending on your preferences, you can also upgrade to include coverage for personal property in case of theft from your saddlebags or luggage.

Do keep in mind that there may be a deductible for these insurance coverages, ranging from $500 to $5,000. So, while the insurance may cover damages, you could still be responsible for the deductible.

Cost Considerations:

The cost of renting a motorcycle can vary depending on the type of bike you choose. Smaller bikes tend to be more budget-friendly, while larger cruisers or touring motorcycles can be pricier. On average, expect to pay at least $125 per day for a small bike and up to $300 or more for a touring motorcycle. It's worth selecting a bike that fits your budget and riding abilities.

Also, don't forget to inquire about discounts. Some rental companies offer discounts for military personnel, law enforcement, AAA members, or even senior citizens. Explore all possible avenues to save on your rental.

Securing Your Ride:

Security deposits are a common requirement when renting a motorcycle. These deposits are placed on a credit card and should be available at the time of rental. Depending on your chosen insurance coverage, the security deposit can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.

Cancellations and Late Fees:

Cancellations can be costly, with fees ranging from 30% to 60% of the rental cost. Some companies even require cancellations to be made at least 30 days in advance. So, make sure you understand the company's cancellation policy before you rent.

Late fees are another expense to be aware of. Motorcycle rentals often operate on a 24-hour basis. If you rent a bike for two days, it's typically expected to be returned at the end of the second day. Late fees can be as high as $25 per hour, so check the exact policy with the rental company.

What's Included:

When you rent a motorcycle, the rental company is required to provide the motorcycle itself and one helmet. You can use your own helmet if you prefer, but if you don't have one, the rental company should provide it. Also, keep in mind that even in states without helmet laws, rental companies may still require you to wear a helmet for insurance purposes. If you need a second helmet for a passenger, most companies offer them for a reasonable daily fee.

Rental companies may also have riding gear like jackets, pants, leathers, gloves, or boots for rent. The availability of these items varies by company. It's a good idea to ask the rental company if they recommend local roads or routes and if they provide route maps for nearby rides.

Understanding Restrictions:

Each rental company sets its own restrictions and limitations, so it's crucial to read the rental agreement thoroughly. Here are some common restrictions:

  • Typically, if you rent within the United States, you'll be required to stay within the U.S. borders. Riding into Mexico or Canada usually requires special arrangements with the rental company.
  • Riding restrictions can be in place, especially depending on the type of motorcycle you rent. For instance, street bikes are often not allowed on unpaved roads, gravel roads, sand, or any unauthorized road.
  • Be aware of mileage limits. While some rental plans offer unlimited mileage, ensure you understand any limitations.

Your Responsibilities as a Renter:

Maintaining the motorcycle during your rental is your responsibility. While a reputable rental company ensures the bike is well-maintained when you receive it, you must keep it fueled up, lubricate the chain if you ride more than 1,000 miles, maintain tire pressure, and check oil and fluid levels daily before you ride.

You're also expected to follow traffic laws in each state you ride through, including speed limits, parking regulations, and pedestrian right-of-way. It's vital to be aware of local traffic laws and adhere to them during your journey.

Lane Splitting:

Lane splitting - or riding a motorcycle between lanes of slow moving or stopped traffic - is legal in only one state in the US – California.

So, whether you're a seasoned rider or a first-time adventurer, understanding the ins and outs of renting a motorcycle is vital for a smooth and enjoyable journey on the open road. Remember, the devil often resides in the details, and being prepared ensures a carefree and unforgettable experience. Ride safe and embrace the freedom of the open road!

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