As the world is slowly trying to get back to normal, fly and ride adventures might soon be back on the menu. Renting a bike abroad, however, especially if you’re doing it for the first time, can be confusing: where do you even begin? How do you pick the right company, make sure the bike is in great shape, and get all the paperwork processed?
There is no shortage of motorcycle rental companies out there, regardless of which continent, region, or country you pick. But the more research you do before you commit, the better your chances of making the right decision and having a great ride. So here are some of the most important questions to ask if you’re thinking of renting a bike abroad:
Choosing a Motorcycle Rental Company
The best way to start your research is by putting together a list of motorcycle rental companies in a country you want to visit. Pick at least two or three for comparison, especially if they have similar offers and similar motorcycle fleets; see if you can compare prices and packages. Next, look up reviews of each company, and be thorough: don’t just trust Google, but get on their Facebook and Instagram pages, too, and see what past customers had to say. Beware that if all of the reviews are glowing but very short, abstract, and left by accounts that are either brand new or have very little information on them, they might be fake. If in doubt, trawl online forums and social media groups for reliable information.
Paperwork and Insurance
Now that you’ve chosen your rental place, it’s time to get the paperwork done. To be able to legally ride in a foreign country, you’ll need your driver’s license (in some cases, an international driver’s license might be required – double-check with the rental company) and your passport. Having travel insurance is not required, but highly recommended, and when you’re getting your travel insurance policy, make sure you’re covered in case of a motorcycle accident. Read the fine print – sometimes, insurance does not cover motorsports or action sports.
When it comes to your motorcycle insurance, this should be taken care of by the rental company. If you’re bringing a pillion passenger, make sure they are covered, too. Always ask the rental company what sort of insurance they offer, what exactly is covered, and whether you need anything in addition.
Is your pillion passenger covered, too?
Mileage and Luggage
Depending on whether you’re going on a guided or a self-guided tour, you’ll probably need some help with navigation and luggage. Always ask the company if they provide GPS units (if not, bring your own); alternatively, you can always navigate using your phone, but make sure the bike at least has a phone mount on the handlebars. Finally, ask what kind of luggage, if any, is offered. Depending on the duration of your ride, you may not need much, but the basics – a drybag and some saddlebags or panniers – should be provided, unless there’s a chase truck carrying the luggage.
As you’re getting ready for the trip, make sure you know whether the mileage you can do is limited or unlimited. In most cases, it’ll be unlimited, but ask just to be sure and plan your route accordingly.
Accidents and Breakdowns
Even on guided tours, accidents can happen, and bikes can break down. Your travel insurance should cover you personally and your motorcycle insurance should be taken care of by the rental company. However, if you want to make sure you get a refund for your deductible, some insurance companies offer additional policies.
When it comes to breakdowns, a motorcycle rental company should supply you with a replacement motorcycle if the bike breaks down due to a mechanical issue. If you’ve been in an accident, they might not be obliged to replace the bike, or might charge you extra for the replacement; however, if the bike breaks down for no obvious reason, you should get a replacement immediately.
Will your rental motorcycle have luggage?
Paying the Deposit
If the bike and the paperwork look good, the next step is paying your deposit. Most companies will take card payments, but some may ask for a wire transfer or cash. Always make sure the cash deposit is documented reliably: a confirmation email stating the exact amount and conditions plus a signed agreement is a good way to ensure your deposit is safe.
Going Over your Rental Bike
When renting a bike abroad, you want to make sure the motorcycle is in excellent condition. If it’s a make and model you know well or own back home, you know exactly how it should sound, feel, and behave, and you can take a quick look at the bike yourself. However, if you’re renting a bike you’ve not ridden before and you aren’t mechanically minded, it’s a little more difficult. Typically, though, a reputable rental company will go over the bike with you doing a quick check to see if the lights are working, the tire pressure is right, and so on. Most rental companies will work hard to ensure their motorcycles are well maintained because sending a chase truck with a mechanic to your aid or replacing a broken down bike can cost a lot more than regular motorcycle maintenance.
Picking Your Bike Up
You’ve chosen your rental bike, sorted out the paperwork, paid the deposit, and you’re about to embark on your adventure. There’s just one last thing – where do you pick up the rental? Most companies will ask you to come to their HQ so they can finalize the paperwork and hand over the bike. However, some companies offer airport or hotel delivery, so always check with them and see what would work best for you.