Would You Let a Friend Ride Your Harley?

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Do you value your Harley over your friendship? Either way, lending out your bike is a risky decision.

We’ve all been there. Perhaps it’s a friend or family member, or even somebody you don’t know that well. But inevitably, that person has asked if they can ride your Harley. Now, this isn’t exactly a new phenomenon. We’ve let folks borrow things or try them out since the invention of things. But a Harley is a different thing altogether. It’s a prized possession and something that not just anyone is capable of operating safely.

Such is the dilemma that faced H-D Forums member NobodyKnowsMe recently, but in a different kind of way. A good friend of his is down on his luck and bikeless. He has a Harley to spare, so it seems like the right thing to do to offer it up. So, he headed to the forums and sought advice from our community of riders. As you might imagine, the responses were quite varied, but all carry valid points.


“Have a really good friend who is down on his luck and between bikes. Happens to be one of the better riders I have had the pleasure of riding with. Called him earlier and asked if he would join me tomorrow and ride one of my bikes. Just torn between which bike. Month old Road Glide or 17 year old Road King?

The old bike is worth almost as much as the new one, at least to me. Both have their quirks. The new one with that clutch and power, and old one has crazy power, and again, the clutch. A Barnett Scorpion, which is quite stiff. Stupid, I know, but what would y’all do? The Road King has almost zero rear brake and throttle lock, but it’s been tweaked for so long it is like CC. Thoughts???”

For the most part, people are obviously skeptical about loaning out their Harley. And for good reason. These bikes, in particular, are quirky and not the kind of thing you want to risk letting someone else ride for the first time. But among the responses, PurpleDeuce has a great suggestion.

“My thoughts – have him rent one on his own. Just to play devil’s advocate for a minute. You let him ride your brand new Road Glide and he wrecks it, then what? Or you give him your 17-year old Road King and something fails, causing him to wreck. Rental is a better option in my opinion.”


Uncle Larry has a harsh, but realistic view of things as well.

“If he can’t afford his own he can’t afford to fix yours either … I know it sounds cold, but that’s the way it is.”

Obviously, friendship means more to some than others. It all depends on which you value the most – your friend, or your bike. And quite a few folks, including Tarkus60, value non-material things more.

“That’s what a good buddy does. I would let him pick which one he’s more comfortable with.”

And clearly, it’s not like the OP doesn’t know or trust his friend, as Cygnusx51 points out.

“You trust his riding ability, you will be with him, and you have insurance (he may be covered under his own policy also). Don’t worry about him crashing or something like that because it could easily happen to you instead of him. Risks are the same. 

Rock, paper, scissors, the winner picks what bike to ride, then switch half way through the day. Make it fun and have a great ride!”


For others, like Sanjuro, the answer isn’t so crystal clear.

“Depends. If if you are good with him causing any damage and not paying for it, then no worries. If not, then you risk your friendship.”

But then again, maybe we’re making a mountain out of a molehill here. As we get older, our priorities change drastically, as Bopple Hill Rd so eloquently notes.

“Years ago, it would have been out of the question. Not because the bikes are so precious that I wouldn’t let anyone touch or ride them. But because, as covered earlier, if something goes wrong, it can get complicated.

Now, as I’m older, relationships and friends as well as the experiences of riding together mean far more to me than a motorcycle. So God forbid something does go wrong. I’ll always side with the friendship and not let it get complicated. For me, as I’ve aged, it’s just not worth letting it get weird. Bikes can be replaced or fixed. And if something did go sideways and I was left with the short end of the stick…oh well. Life’s too short. At least that’s my POV. But I totally would understand were I the one without a bike and if a friend was not comfortable letting me ride one of theirs.”

All of which are excellent points. But we want to know how you feel about this highly controversial subject. Are you cool with lending your Harley to a good friend? Or would you rather avoid the situation altogether and keep both your bike and your friendship intact? Head over here and chime in with your thoughts!



Brett Foote is a longtime contributor to Internet Brands’ Auto sites, including Chevrolet Forum, Rennlist, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts.

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