As motorcycle season has arrived in some parts of the country while others are still stuck looking at the white stuff on the ground still, many will head south for a vacation at Daytona Bike Week or another warm destination. As it is difficult to take your motorcycle with you to those places from your winter wonderland many people turn to renting a motorcycle for Daytona Bike Week or just a weekend ride in Phoenix. Having rented several times, and the experience has been similar each time we have rented the motorcycle we thought we would share some tips with you.
You get to the shop and even if you're in a state that doesn't require you to wear a helmet, the company renting you the bike will. In fact on two occasions not only did they want to make sure we had a helmet with us and were wearing it when we left, the helmet had to be DOT Certified for the insurance company they had. Take your helmet with you, I hate the thought of wearing a helmet somebody else has sweated in.
Be very picky about the pre-trip inspection you will have to do. We rented two motorcycles to go to Daytona Bike Week a couple of years ago. During the pre-trip inspection I felt underneath the crash bars and could feel they had been dragged along the pavement. There was clearly damage to the crash bars, I requested it to be put on the inspection form. The shop owner told me "They are crash bars, they go from bike to bike and so yea they might have damage." I insisted that it be put on the form and he reluctantly did. When we returned and he did the post bike inspection...same guy, he felt under the bars and said "the bars are damaged, this bike has been down" I pointed it out on the pre-trip inspection in which he looked at and then said "oh ok". If I hadn't insisted I would have had nothing to back me up.
Make sure your oil is at the proper level when returning the bike. Yea, I know that sounds kind of simple but you will see most of the shop owners check your oil level as one of the very first things they do when the bike is returned. The contract almost always has a clause about you keeping fluid levels at the correct levels.
Finally on one episode, we put the deposit on the bike over the phone, when we were at the shop they ran the deposit again and took the rental fees. We ended up having double the amount on deposit then we should have had on deposit and were told by that owner this is just the way they do things. Now we have a pre-paid credit card we use for rentals, we put the amount of the deposit on that card and the amount the rental will be. If they try and charge over that amount for any reason, there is nothing there for them to charge. Protect yourself.
I don't mind renting the bikes, I have just learnt that you need to be more cautious when renting a motorcycle than you do when you are renting a car.