“You never let another person ride your bike.”
I’ve heard that sentiment no-less than 20 times since I started riding motorcycles in late 2017. It’s a topic of conversation that pops up often when I talk about riding motorcycles, particularly with the old-school Harley guys. While there is certainly some validity to that statement (I’d be very cautious to let someone hop on my V-Strom without seeing how they ride first), it definitely makes riding while you travel all the more difficult.
In early October, I decided to fly out to visit my Dad in California for a week. I hadn’t seen him since December 2019, so we were going on a year, and I’d had to cancel my trip to Spain that I had booked due to COVID restrictions. As soon as I called Dad to tell him I’d booked the flight, the first words out of his mouth:
“So what bike are you gonna rent when you’re out here?”
It was a great question, and I had absolutely no idea. I knew I wanted to ride while I was out there: riding season was coming to a close out here in New York, and dad lives in Oxnard, CA: a small city nestled right off the Pacific Coast Highway at the foot of the Los Padres National Forest and the Santa Monica Mountains. When I was there in 2019, I was quite literally salivating at the chance to get on a bike and ride…
Unfortunately for me, I had neglected to do any serious research into how to rent a motorcycle. Prior to that trip, I had thought it would be just like renting a car: I’d get to Cali, I’d call a motorcycle rental company, and I’d be on my merry way by the end of the first day, new wheels under my butt. Nope. That trip taught me that not only is the motorcycle rental industry a *woefully* untapped industry, but that there’s only one major rental company in the USA: EagleRider. I tried desperately to get on a bike that week, but all of the bikes in my price range were completely sold out (seriously: the only bike left in my area was a 2018 Road King for, I kid you not, $279 a day BEFORE FEES).
Let me be clear: this is NOT a shot at EagleRider: I know many riders who have used EagleRider to rent bikes, and they RAVE about their experiences. That said, it became clear to me that their services were not going to be best for me, a 25 year old guy on a budget who’s currently saving up for a round-the-world motorcycle trip.
When it came time to figure out a motorcycle rental for my week in LA with dad, I knew that there had to be a better option, so I did what any resourceful 20-something would do: I went to Reddit. I posted in the r/motorcycles subreddit asking a simple question: “I need a bike for a week in LA: What are my options?”
8 responses in the first two hours, 8 of which recommended Eagle Rider. I was discouraged, but begrudgingly opened up a new tab and went to their website. Again, I had almost resigned myself to a $148/day Harley, as that seems to be ER’s specialty. I found an affordable option, a $79/day 883 Sportster, but they were unavailable for my timeframe. Frustrated, I closed my laptop and went to bed.
I woke up the next morning and checked Reddit: One new comment. This person recommended a website called “Riders Share”. They
described it exactly as it is: “a website that allows you to borrow bikes from other riders who rent out their personal rides.” I decided to give it some research…
…And I was blown away. It became very clear that, while Riders Share hasn’t taken off here in New York, it’s very active out in LA. I had the pick of the litter: brand new 2020 BMW RS1200’s, Ducati Hypermotards, Kawasaki Ninja’s, Hyabusa’s, Harley’s, Triumphs, etc. Any bike you could imagine, there was someone looking to rent their’s out to a total stranger.
It took some digging, but I found the perfect bike: a 2018 Ducati Scrambler. I’d wanted to ride one of these since first seeing one back in 2018, so it was an easy choice. As for the price? $59 a day. FIFTY NINE DOLLARS A DAY. That was a full $20 cheaper than any bike I could find on EagleRider, and they were available for the entire month of October if I wanted one. The price included 300 miles/day, or 1500 miles for the week, more than I could ever plan to use. After fees, insurance, and taxes, the total cost came to $477.00, which included basic liability and roadside assistance if I needed it.
Before you ask yourself, “Well how do they know you can actually ride?”, RidersShare requires you to validate your license and motorcycle endorsement before you’re allowed to checkout and reserve your ride: to do so, you have to take a picture of the front and back of your motorcycle license and upload it to your RidersShare profile.
To pick up your ride, it’s very simple: upon reserving your ride, you get the address and name of the person from which you’re renting. In my case, I was reserving the Ducati from a guy named David, and his office was right on West Sunset Boulevard. The morning before my reservation began, I logged into my RidersShare account and checked-in. I texted David confirming the reservation, and he responded promptly. It was very reassuring being able to actually talk and communicate with the person from whom I was renting: it wasn’t robotic. I was even able to pick up the bike an hour early with that open line of communication.
Once I arrived, pickup took all of ten minutes: the Scrambler was right outside waiting for me. David and I looked over the bike, taking note of any scratches or damage to the bike. He gave me a quick rundown of the controls and menus, then checked my license to make sure I was the right person. Quick note: I had actually lost my wallet a few days before the trip, so I only had my passport at the time, which sufficed without issue. Once my ID was cleared on the app, David gave me my insurance form, said “Have fun!”, and sent me on my way.
I’ll write another post describing my week on the Scrambler at another time, but one thing is for sure: the bike was pristine. Not only did it run like a dream, it felt like I was pulling it right off the showroom floor. Every time I parked during the week, people passing by would compliment the bike, to which I’d just say, “Thanks: It’s a rental!” That bike took me up the coast, over mountains, and through the desert… and it just kept asking for more. To say I’m sold on one in the future might be an understatement.
Saturday morning came all too quickly. My dad and I had ridden out to Joshua Tree for a three day trip, so we were on the road early to drop the bike off by my 10am drop-off time. Despite an early start and California’s very relaxed views on Lane Splitting, I was still running about a half hour behind. I was worried about getting charged for a late drop-off, so I fired off a quick text to David:
“Hey David. Scrambler has been running like a dream. I hit some traffic on the freeway so I’m running about 30 minutes behind. Sorry for the delay.”
He responded almost immediately, “Not a problem. Take your time.”
Drop-off went even quicker than pickup: we quickly looked over the bike, then confirmed the odometer readings and gas levels. I gave them my signature, closed out my trip on the RidersShare website… and was on my way. It was the easiest, most streamlined process for renting a vehicle that I’ve EVER done. I’ve rented U-Haul vans that took longer to pickup and drop-off!
So that’s that, folks. Overall, I hope everyone gives this service a shot. With car-sharing and ride-sharing becoming more and more commonplace in 2020, I think services like RidersShare are going to be the next big thing in mototravel in coming years. If you’re handy with bikes, it also seems to be a great way to may some extra cash if you’re looking for it: David has a stable of bikes that he rents out regularly - I counted about a dozen in his lot.