It’s a great time to not own things and to rent them instead. You can rent cars with GetAround, get rides with Lyft, rent houses with Airbnb, and now, you can rent a motorcycle online with Twisted Road.
Join Twisted Road and get your first day’s rental free. (I also get $25 credit, but you’re the winner here!)
In a nutshell, Twisted Road is a website that lets you rent out your motorcycles to other riders, or rent a motorcycle from a fellow motorcyclist.
The first reaction any of you might have to renting out your motorcycle to others is: NOT MY BABY! And with good reasons. I’ll address some of those below (see the section on the community).
But first, a brief history of Twisted Road.
Are you obsessed with motorcycles?
Well, I am. That’s why I created this site — as an outlet. I love learning and sharing what others might find useful. If you like what you read here, and you’re a fraction as obsessed as I am, you might like to know when I’ve published more. (Check the latest for an idea of what you’ll see.)
Overview of Twisted Road
Austin Rothbard launched Twisted Road in 2017. Then he massively upgraded its website in late 2019, somewhat of a “re-launch”.
Today, in early 2020, they have motorcycles all over the US, from cities as big as Chicago (where Austin is based) and Los Angeles, all the way down to … Bend, Oregon (the smallest city I could think of wanting to visit to ride).
In total, Twisted Road has over 2,500 motorcycles for rent, in every state in the US but New York (because of prohibitive regulations).
Austin’s thinking behind Twisted Road was much as you’d expect. He tried to rent a motorcycle from someone, found it was really complicated and expensive, and thought “hey, people should be able to borrow motorcycles from each other”. A business was born!
Aside from individuals renting out their motorcycles, sometimes, store owners put their fleet on Twisted Road, converting their business into a rental business so they can make money off assets that would otherwise sit around.
There are lots of reasons you might want to put a motorcycle on Twisted Road. It might be to market your business as a builder, as a mechanic, or as a hobbyist motorcyclist.
Whatever the reason, the real winners are people like you and me who just want to rent awesome rides.
Renting a Motorcycle on Twisted Road — Signing Up
I decided to try out Twisted Road to get a fix of motorcycling while I was in LA for a couple of weeks and write a review of Twisted Road as a user.
My general theory is that I don’t know any motorcycle until I’ve ridden it for a couple of hundred miles, no matter how many reviews I read (because reviews of motorcycles are nearly always positive… I mean, there’s always something to love!). A test-ride of a motorcycle is just to confirm everything works — you rarely get a chance to do anything fun with it.
That’s where rentals are great. When you rent out a motorcycle you can try something really unusual and see if you like it. Best of all — it’s obligation-free. No hard sell at the end (unless the owner is trying to sell it).
So I opened up Twisted Road in Los Angeles and had a look to see if there’s anything I like:
What motorcycles are available on Twisted Road in LA? How about EVERYTHING? Including:
- A Ducati Monster 1200S, one of the latest in the series of my favourite motorcycles of all time
- A Moto Guzzi V7 for when I feel like “café racing” (which sounds fun, but nobody does it to my knowledge)
- A Harley-Davidson V-Rod to see the pinnacle of Harley-Davidson experience, the last muscle cruiser
- A Yamaha R6 in glorious 2016 60th anniversary colours
- A Ducati Panigale 1299 for rent (who would rent out their Panigale for $95 a day?? Is there a catch?), and
- The Harley Davidson LiveWire, an electric with a 0-60mph (0-98km/h) of 3.0 seconds.
Beyond these six, there were many, many others I could have rented. Sportsbikes, cruisers, classics, scooters — you name it.
The main difference between Twisted Road and renting from a big company from Eagle Rider or Dubbelju is the sheer range of vehicles.
When you rent from a big motorcycle rental chain, you get the usual suspects of Harley-Davidson cruisers, BMW adventure motorcycles, and precious little else.
There’s a good reason for the limited range of motorcycle rental businesses — those are the most popular motorcycles around. They’re great (not everyone like Harleys, but they also have BMWs, Husqvarnas, and a couple of other big brands), they’re new, and they’re highly in demand by people who want to do motorcycle touring.
Those motorcycles are great if you want to cruise around the country. But if you want to do it on something a little different, try out Twisted Road.
Eventually, after browsing the website while, I set my eye on the Harley-Davidson LiveWire, which I had been thinking about since I saw reviews on them start to trickle out.
Here are my thoughts on the soul of the LiveWire, if you’re interested in that.
A few notes on the sign-up process
- Sign-up was very painless. I gave my driver’s license details (yes, international driver’s licenses work!)
- You can’t contact renters before making a rental. There’s no “hey, just checking you actually exist”. I don’t know what happens if they don’t.
- Not everyone can become a renter. I don’t know the rules, but you do need to be an experienced rider, with a full license, and a good driving record. There are other requirements, on the website.
The Twisted Road Community
You probably already know that motorcyclists are cool. No questions, right?
The thing you don’t know is that the kind of motorcyclist that would lend out their motorcycle is very cool. Even the people who rent from others are cool.
I would know — I’ve been on both sides of the table. In San Francisco, I used to rent out my old Honda CB900F on another platform, Riders Share.
Every time I’ve met a person renting my motorcycles I’ve thought “man, in another life, I’d have just given this to you for free.” Just as I would to any friend.
The same thing happened this time, when I met the owner of the LiveWire, Diego.
Diego is an affable, friendly guy. He has a dozen stories, and like many motorcyclists (especially those with a lot of other interests) we quickly found many things in common.
When he realised I didn’t have gear, he gave me everything he had short of the shirt on his back. He just wanted to make sure I had a great ride! (I learned something though — always check in advance about gear.)
I’ve been that person to other renters, and I’ve also been surprised at how cool renters can be. This is the thing to remember when renting out your own fleet. In the end, it often feels like giving your motorcycle to a new friend and getting paid for it in the process.
Still, I’d only rent out motorcycles I’m comfortable with. In my personal fleet at home, this would include my Kawasaki Ninja 650 and my Honda CB900. These are motorcycles that are low-maintenance and cheap to fix. (They’re also cheap to rent!)
Making an initial booking (and sticker shock on insurance)
The first thing I did was baulk at some of the low prices. Only $75 a day for a Yamaha R6? In anniversary colours? Hold me back!
Well, I quickly killed that idea. I had no gear with me and really wouldn’t get on an R6 without wearing all my favourite stuff, so I cancelled that plan. But still, I clicked through to see what the pricing was like.
The truth is, it’s not as simple as $75 a day. Yes, that’s the base rental fee that the owner gets. But the total pricing per day is actually:
- Base rental: $75
- Twisted Road’s 20% fee: $15
- Insurance (mandatory by law, unless you get your own): $35-45 (most people choose the $40 option), and this is still with a $2000 deductible
- Tire protection: $5 (somehow I got worried a flat tyre would cost me a ton… I don’t know these roads)
- Breakdown assistance: $5 (I don’t want to get stuck anyway)
In total that comes to a much higher $140 a day — almost twice the initial indicated.
I had a chat with Austin about this and he mentioned to me they’re trying to be as transparent as possible with pricing — and those add-ons are consistent across every motorcycle. Still, I think they should include the 20% fee on the main page (and it’s something he’s considering doing).
Secondly — insurance is pass-through — Twisted Road doesn’t make any profit on it. And they’re looking for cheaper vendors.
Luckily, if you haven’t used Twisted Road before, you can sign up with the link at the top to get your first day’s booking free. (You still pay for insurance, though.)
Pro tip: One way of circumventing high insurance prices is to see if your other insurance would reduce rental deductibles, even for motorcycles. Check your policy. Travel insurance can do it too (this is my experience).
Mileage — unlimited. You can do as many miles as you can stomach! For me, given it was electric (and limited in range), and it was freezing cold by my tropical standards, I didn’t go too far. But I got my money’s worth.
Twisted Road has answers to many more questions on its FAQ page.
The Twisted Road Delivery & Return Process
Getting a motorcycle on Twisted Road isn’t a smooth process like calling a Lyft. People are involved. It’s really just the beginning of the transaction when you do it online, a way that the person knows that they’re getting paid and that insurance covers the machine.
For my process, I knew I’d have to go a bit out of the way to pick up my motorcycle of choice. Hey, the options near me just weren’t anywhere near as exciting!
The owner of the LiveWire, Diego, immediately sent me some texts and suggested a meeting place nearer to where I was staying. Great start!
Then I met him and we
- Went over how to use the LiveWire — how to start it, change modes, recharge it, run it and so on
- Took condition photos
- Confirmed the rental had started on the website
- Exchanged gear (he generously lent me his gear, but don’t expect this from every renter – arrange beforehand!)
Then I went on my way.
The return process was similar, except he asked I take it back to his place. This, it turned out, was 1.5 hours away… but we worked something out.
Suggestions for a Smooth Twisted Road Rental (as a rider)
This was the first time I rented a motorcycle peer-to-peer and I learned a lot about how I’d prepare next time. It was different from the times I’ve rented from shops.
In the past, I also used to rent out my motorcycles on another website. I learned a few things from that, too, so will share them here.
- Plan in advance, don’t make bookings the last minute! Because renters often have to meet you to hand over keys, you can’t just book a motorcycle for the next day and expect it to fly. Give them at least a few days notice, and preferably a week’s notice.
- Rent for more than a day. Because you have to go pick up the motorcycle and take it back, I really didn’t feel like it was practical to do it for just a day. Next time, I’d make it a 2-3 day period.
- Be flexible about pick-up and drop-off times. Especially on weekdays. I find renters are usually flexible about drop-offs and even grant a half-day extra without thinking about it. Just be sure to communicate well with the owner.
- Make sure you have gear or that you’ve arranged to borrow gear from the person with the motorcycle. They’re often generous and have extra stuff, but might ask for $10 a day or something small.
- Plan for the commute to pick up and return the motorcycle. In Los Angeles traffic is a nightmare. Distances also can be large. You have to plan to have a full tank of gas at the destination or a sufficiently recharged machine.
In the past, I’ve called an Uber for my clients and helped them out with gear. If you’re cool, you’ll find that others will be cool too.
Being a Good Twisted Road Owner
Renting your motorcycle out to owners has its own art. Many of it is like above, but there are a few additional things to bear in mind.
I used to rent out motorcycles on Riders Share in San Francisco. The most popular one was my Honda CB900 ‘919’, which I rent out for $60/day (or less for longer periods). I also had a BMW K1200S which some people took on longer trips.
Before getting my LiveWire on Twisted Road, I tried to get three motorcycles on a competitor website in the US. One never responded. One said that it was in the shop. And one responded about three weeks later, saying he was out of the country.
So, that brings up to the tips for owners, starting with communication.
- Tip no. 1 for motorcycle owners: Be a good communicator! Keep the status of the motorcycle up to date. If you forgot to update something on the motorcycle — respond right away.
- Tip no. 2 for owners: Be aware of all the mistakes owners might make (the above stuff — not having gear, not planning for traffic, etc.) and communicate all that.
- Tip no. 3 for owners: Tell the rider everything they might need to know: tips about gas/recharging, sketchy kickstands, alarm de-activation, or weird noises. Make a list, and maybe even give them a copy. It will get easier as rentals go on.
Here are some other tips for riding motorcycles in the US in general. These are things I learned the hard way!
I really enjoyed my time with the Harley-Davidson LiveWire. I already have my eye on other rentals in the process.
Try out Twisted Road today — you won’t be disappointed!