Let a Stranger Ride Your Bike? Inside Peer-to-Peer Motorcycle Rentals
Companies offer rentals for bikers through online services and apps. But would you rent out your Harley?
The modern world is full of “disruptors” that use the tools of the information age to change the way we all do things. eBay connected buyers with sellers and created a payment and feedback system that protected you from rip-offs, Uber and Lyft monetized hitchhiking or at least legitimized gypsy cabs, and AirBnB made it okay to let strangers stay at your house without fear of getting murdered. Now, Twisted Road wants to offer motorcycle owners and riders convenient rentals and a way to make money to support their hobby.
Now, renting a bike is a great idea if you want to use a motorcycle when you’re out of town or want to make a few bucks off your trusty ride. But, in order for it to work, it requires bike owners like you and me to trust strangers to ride our bikes. The rental company claims that if one out of every 100 bike owners comes on board, they will have plenty of bikes to offer. So, do you have a bike you’d let random people off the Internet rent by the day?
The two bikes above are very useful examples. The 2017 Zero DSR has an MSRP of $16,500 and although they have as much power and torque as a Harley big twin (at least the DSR does), they are as easy to ride as a scooter, you just twist and go. A used Road King only has a retail replacement value of about $10,000, but to a non-Harley rider, it is going to be heavy handling, with a clutch and clunky gearbox, and a lot of mass to keep under control. So a concern might be that renting out a Harley to a non-Harley rider might be tricky. Its likelier to have a parking lot mishap that scratches up all that nice chrome.
On Twisted Road, the owner of the bike has the ability to approve or disapprove the rental up to the time of the actual meeting and handing over the keys. When Twisted Road contacts you with a rental, you do get the profile of the renter and what bikes they allegedly own or have owned. You probably won’t be renting your Road King to a rider who only has a Ninja 250 at home, or only has experience riding light DR-Z400 dual sports.
So, how about this rider here?
Pictured above is Austin Rothbard, the Twisted Road CEO. Rothbard looks like a well-heeled, responsible, middle-aged rider. But according to the L.A. Times, he’s only been riding for three years. In my book, that is not a lot of experience on a bike. I would probably not be willing to rent a bagger or touring bike to this guy.
You probably won’t be renting your Road King to a rider who only has a Ninja 250 at home, or only has experience riding light DR-Z400 dual sports.
If he is properly insured and licensed though, I would see no problem renting him a Sportster or maybe a Dyna if I had an extra one. In fact, if this service takes off, I bet there will be guys buying used Sportys (or Hondas, Triumphs, Suzukis, etc.) just to rent out. Buy a clean used bike for $5,000 and you could pay it off in a year renting it just two days a month. You set the rental price and split the fee 70/30 with the service. For many of us, we care as much about our bikes as our significant other, or at the very least our pets, and $75-200 a day isn’t going to change that.
What about the insurance though?
According to Twisted Road, they only allow riders who own their own bike, with insurance, to rent bikes from their service. They claim your liability coverage extends to a bike rented through their service, and they pick up the tab for property damage up to $15,000. I looked at the policy documents for my own bikes (from Progressive) and it would seem to indicate that my coverage would carry over to anything I rented but does not indicate if it would cover me if a renter sued me and tried to claim I or my bike was at fault.
Twisted Road doesn’t address the bike owner’s liability, but addresses bike damage this way in their FAQ “Twisted Road intends to cover the damages up to the value of the motorcycle, or $15,000, whichever is lower. For example, if your bike’s value is $4,500, and the bike is totaled, we intend to pay you for the value of the bike, or $4,500.” Why include the word “intend” in that answer twice, though?
A similar service, Riders Share, has been doing peer to peer rentals since 2016. mostly in Southern California. According to their research, a rider’s own policy does not cover rentals like this. They specifically sought out a supplemental liability policy to cover their customers, on both sides. Turo, is a peer to peer car rental company that our company, Internet Brands, has used occasionally to get cars for photo shoots. Turo also has their own policy that covers the owner of the car being rented through the service.
Still, if you are looking to ride something different or rent a bike while out of town, the $75-130 a day Twisted Road charges seem like a much better deal than their competitors. For example Eagle Rider charges $139 and up (plus surcharges and fees) for a Harley. Of course, there is a $2,000 security deposit authorization against your credit card, which is steep but not unusual (Eagle Rider does the same unless you purchase their supplemental coverage). And that seems to protect both the company and the motorcycle owner.
It seems, much like AirBnB or Uber, there will be a lot more people willing to use Twisted Road from the consumer end of things than the provider side. Only time will tell if works out for everyone involved.