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Choosing your motorcycle and rental company on Route 66

You can also transport your own beloved motorcycle from home to the US, but it will travel in a container for several months and with insurance and shipping issues and charges, you are likely to get a higher final price than the rental fee.

03/08/2019

Renting a motorcycle is the most expensive item of the trip – the rental fee is high enough to buy a used bike 🙂 So make sure to breathe deeply and don’t faint after receiving the first rental quote.

You may be disappointed, but even after an extensive Google search you’ll find that Eagle Rider has a monopoly in the US. Other players on the market are either Eagle Rider brokers or smaller rental companies with a small selection of motorcycles. You can rent a motorcycle directly at Harley-Davidson dealership.

The Motorcycle

Before choosing the rental company, you should be clear about what you want to ride on Route 66. We chose the most expensive but the best classic – Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Limited, with an alternative choice of Indian Chieftain or Roadmaster.

Beware – the Glide is not for everyone. With no operating fuel it weighs 420 kg and fully loaded with the passengerit is over 700 kilograms. Not recommended for shorter and slimmer riders. Don’t underestimate this; if you realize that you can’t handle the bike while already on the road, it will be too late.

The Eagle Rider offers a wide choice of different bike models – so choose at your own discretion. Rental companies have only a few restrictions. You must be over 21 years of age and at least 2 years of experience on a bike with a 650 ccm engine and above. However, only the age is checked, the second restrictions is just a recommendation in reality. Again, I emphasize to NOT TO OVERESTIMATE yourself – riding for 15 days on a beast that you can’t easily handle will be pure suffering.

When riding just in your shirt and open-faced helmet plus a passenger, your choice will be greatly reduced by the need to ride a bike with a comfortable seat, with three luggage compartments and ideally a carrier – for this, Electra Glide or Indian Chieftain are absolutely insuperable in terms of performance. However, we saw many German BMW R1200GS in full gear on the road.

The Rental company

Whatever the different agencies or rentals offer, the total price is comprised of three main items – the basic price of rental, insurance, and shipping fee from Los Angeles to Chicago (or vice versa).

The base rental price is usually relatively low, but the remaining two items plus the environment tax and VAT increase it significantly.

Eagle Riders’ motorcycles are serviced and should remain in good condition throughout the trip. But always remember that it’s just a machine and it can break down. It’s up to you whether you take the risk of going on your own or pay extra for assistance on the road in the event of a breakdown or other services.

We were fortunate enough to have three completely new H-D Electra Glide. We needed to add oil twice and the rental company paid for it. At the same time, we had a minor breakdown along the way – one Glide started leaking oil. We looked up an HD dealer and got it repaired for about $160, but after calling the rental office we didn’t have to deal with any subsequent papers or payments.

The people at the rental office and the car repair were extremely accommodating and willing on the phone and in person. As I say – here you will experience much better service and customer care.

Our experience

With the exception of the last stretch of the desert, Route 66 runs near the highway or through populated areas. H-D dealerships are quite dense in the US. That’s why I believe that a bigger problem could be solved on the road and save $10 a day on assistance (for 15 days it is $150 and with three motorcycles the savings are $450). However, we don’t have experience with a major problem on the road, so choose yourself whether you want to be safe in this case. With other brands, we’d probably go with the charge for assistance services.

If you are a responsible rider with appropriate experience, choose the EVIP Plus Damage Waiver insurance, which combines a reasonable risk and price ratio. We recommend others to be safe and go with EVIP ZERO, since fees in the US are very high for everything.

Once you are all set up, you can start Googling and reaching out to different rental companies. Eagle Rider is relatively expensive. Brokerage agencies were cheaper at the time we searched. We have also discovered an anomaly – while the Eagle Rider raises the prices with the upcoming date of travel, an agency can freeze the prices for several weeks.

Also, be aware that everyone will ask for full payment upon confirmation of a binding order. This means that the sooner you book, the longer they’ll keep your money.

The money transfer is seamless, but the banks will wring you out like a sponge with charges – both American and ours. So consider paying via TransferWise or PayPal, for instance.

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