Two days after Christmas, I left cold New York for chilly California. If you aren’t familiar with California, you might assume a few things:
- It never rains there
- It’s always warm
Both of those things are incorrect. But while sitting in my office, I impulsively decided that I should burn the rest of my 2016 vacation days riding there anyway. I looked at the forecast for the areas that I thought I wanted to ride in and it seemed okay, so? I figured what the hell. As long as I had my heated and GORE-TEX gear, I’d be alright. One thing was for sure – it was worth taking a chance on when the alternative was hanging around the house for a week.
I’ve received some questions on how flying to a place and renting a motorcycle works. There is something that strikes people as little more complicated than renting a car. But when push comes to shove, it really isn’t all that different. You need to pick the size and style of vehicle that best suits your needs, has an easy rental process, and is cost efficient.
For this trip I rented a Triumph Tiger 800 from Eagle Rider near LAX airport.
I’ve rented for week+ jaunts a few times now. These are the criteria that I want in a bike. These help me pick where I’ll get a rental from:
- A bike I know I can touch the ground on (!)
- Unlimited mileage (!)
- Something with hard bags or luggage of some kind
- Well-suited for highway and backroads
- Decent gas mileage
Of course the costs, insurance rules and proximity to the airport also factor in.
Eagle Rider’s rental reservation process was simple and all done online. I would use them again. They offered good daily rates, a good bike selection, and some discount options like AAA that knocked a few extra bucks off the price.
There were a few things that I didn’t like about their process. Rentals are final sale once booked. Shit happens and I would hope for some rescheduling or cancellation flexibility. With Eagle Rider, you would have to buy trip insurance that covers cancellation for protection. This bugged me.
Also, I called to ask about power outlets on the bike. No one could seem to tell me what my options were. The rental fleet just wasn’t that big. Knowing whether the less than 10 Tigers for rent had Powerlet or SAE power plugs wasn’t a reach. But no one could answer that. Knowing which plugs/adapters/wires to bring for GPS and heated gear was a mystery. Bringing extra or the wrong stuff is annoying.
During the pickup walk around, the bike’s right mirror was so loose that it just flopped towards me. I had to ask them to tighten that down. Also one of the handguards was broken and completely disconnected on one side. I also had to ask them to replace that. Nit-picky things like that should be dealt with before a customer walks around the bike.
Eagle Rider will pick you up or drop you off at any hotel within something like 7 miles of their LAX shop. That’s a nice service. They won’t pick you up or drop you off at the airport, though. The 3 miles or whatever it was to LAX ended up being a $20 cab ride.
Because there were no topboxes available on the Tiger, I used my Kreiga 30 bag on the luggage rack that came on the bike. Before leaving home, I packed my Kreiga bag as though it was the only bag I would use on the trip. That worked out well. The Tiger had 2 side bags giving me a lot of flexibility for moving stuff around for ease of access. I also packed my small tankbag for things like my camera and whatever I don’t want to carry in my jacket pockets.
That’s everything that came on the plane with me from home. My rolling duffel weighed in at a hefty 44 pounds but it had everything I needed to hit the ground running – my Klim Altitude jacket and pants, my boots, heated liner & gloves, regular gloves, my packed Kreiga bag with my street clothes, toiletries, etc. and my tankbag. My helmet and anything electronic I didn’t want to lose at the airport were in the backpack.
I packed pretty light. Maybe the lightest ever of all my trips. I did laundry one night at a hotel so that helped. I also did wash-and wear of fast-drying things like Under Armor and underwear along the way, too. That helps cut down on stuff I needed to pack and kept my funkiness to a minimum. I hope, anyway. I assume I go noseblind to my own armpits.
The sidebags on the Tiger were not lockable. They were Moose Racing branded Pelican cases. They did have slots that would allow for your own locks to be added. That is something you might want to remember to ask about if you’re doing a rental and are concerned about the security of your things. I didn’t have anything of any value to worry about so I didn’t care. If you want to steal my Gatorade? Have at it, bro.
Does it sound like I’m griping about small stuff on this rental? I don’t mean to sound like sour grapes, if so. The rental was actually a good experience. There were just a few things that kept it from being “perfect.” The staff was really friendly and easy to deal with. The bike was in overall good nick. And I had a great time.
So, breaking things down after buying an extra damage waiver, taxes, fees – the total cost for the bike was $122 per day with unlimited mileage. Does that seem like a lot? To me it doesn’t. I think of motorcycles as a kind of specialty rental and would never expect them to be “cheap,” ya know?
Have you thought about doing a rental somewhere but have questions?