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What motorcycle should I rent in a foreign destination?

Published Jul 28th 2019, 2:47pm


Rent to Ride Not to Impress - When leaving your personal world behind it’s tempting to rent the flashy bike that will make you look cool. Don’t do it. The locals can kick your ass on a 20 year old 250cc scooter because they know the road. Also pounding pain pills at the end of the day because you choose the racy looking bike or spending your whole trip in fear trying to rein in a high performance rocket is no way to have fun. Paying extra to rent the “Big” bike when the mid sized bike is more fun is a classic mistake. Rent for your enjoyment not your ego.

The Right Tool For the Job That Fits Your Size and Ability - Don’t choose what you know, choose for where you are going to go. The right bike for long highway miles with a passenger is different than the right bike for narrow twisty mountain passes. If you are on a tour with a luggage truck then a top case or some soft side bags or a tank bag is all you need. Riding two up with no support then you’re gonna want some luggage capacity. Leod Escapes tours almost always have a luggage support vehicle on them. Shorter riders face challenges but also advantages. Shorter riders often weigh less and need less horsepower and can enjoy cheaper rental bikes larger riders can’t. Midsized engines are often easier to handle, challenge you to become a better rider because you can’t cheat with horsepower AND they cost less. If you are worried about your abilities get the bike that weighs less and is easier to ride.

Try Before You Buy - Renting a bike for a week or more will really get you familiar with it in ways a short demo just doesn’t. Lots of motorcycles are purchases right after someone returns home from a successful trip. If you are considering a purchase what better way to familiarize yourself with a model than to rent it and have some fun. Hello Japanese manufacturers, please court rental fleet owners as it will increase your sales. Nothing wrong with BMW but it wouldn't be nice to try some Japanese machines once in a while.

Leod Escapes Opinions on Particular Sport Touring Models
BMW R1200GS - the most common rental bike anywhere, not great at anything but good for everything.->
BMW F700GS - common, easy to ride, low seat height, it's odd but faster than it looks->
BMW F800GT - good sport touring option but the F800R outshines it on our tours->
BMW F800GS - more of a dual sport machine than sport touring->
BMW F800R - feisty but easy to ride favorite for shorter riders in tight stuff->
BMW R1200R - naked boxer good for short riders with a passenger->
BMW R1200RS - wind protection helpful but the R or XR models are usually better->
BMW S1000XR - gentleman's curves assault weapon, not for beginners->
BMW S1000R - rare naked rocket that will tempt you to do bad things->
DUCATI M797 - sexy fun with Italian attitude->
DUCATI Hyperstrada - bad boy hooligan machine with reliability problems->
DUCATI Scrambler - easy to ride, smiles all round for midsized intermediate riders->
DUCATI MTS950 - the sleeper in the Ducati lineup that's a tour guide favorite->
DUCATI MTS1260 - the best sport touring machine for couples->
DUCATI Supersport - pure Ducati, the best looking bike on our tours->

Renting First Tier, Renting Second Tier and the Dealer Demo Trick - In wealthier destinations with lots of visitors you’ll find first tier rental fleets. The fewer visitors to a destination the fewer the machines and in particular the variety of model available. First tier fleets machines are rarely more than a year old with low mileage that are usually premium brands like BMW, Ducati etc. These fleets are more expensive but you have greater assurance of machine quality. Leod Escapes generally only uses first tier rental bikes. Second tier rental fleets are older bikes of assorted brands with more mileage on them. Second tier rental fleets are harder to find and there’s always a bit of a worry about how well the machines are maintained so ask questions. On all rental machines you should demand enough rubber left on tires, brake pads with life left in them and brake fluid that’s relatively fresh so your brakes aren’t mushy. On second tier fleets check closely for loose bolts, suspension rebound damping, chain and sprockets. Be aware rental fleet bikes tires are often over inflated which can be dangerous. If you’re doing a bit of a longer term rental and would like a new high quality bike you can sometimes work a deal with a local dealer. Dealers are allotted demo bikes which must get a certain amount of mileage on them before they are allowed to sell them. They might be willing to bend the rules a bit and let you help them get those demo miles put on the machine while they pocket some rental money. It’s not common but don’t overlook the possibility.

Shipping or Buying a Motorcycle - You might be wondering, why don’t I just ship my own motorcylce? Unless you live in the same economic community importing a motorcycle can be very complicated. Differing emissions standards alone mean you can have difficulty ever getting the motorcycle legally licensed. Not to mention import duties and customs issues. If you are going to be in a destination for two or more months, consider buying a used motorcycle there and then selling it when you leave. A local dealer might be quite happy to help you with this.


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