Has anyone ever asked to borrow your motorcycle?
What did you say in response?
For some people, it’s the easiest question in the world to answer.
ARE YOU KIDDING? NO WAY!
And there’ll be some choice swear words in the mix there, too.
But for other people, this is a complicated question that’s harder to answer.
Lending your motorcycle is a risky move.
It’s easy to forget how quickly things can go very wrong.
You might find yourself with a wrecked motorcycle, a ruined friendship, and be thousands of dollars out of pocket.
You need to know what you’re signing up for when someone asks to borrow your motorcycle.
We just went through the experience of lending a motorcycle.
We’re still having nightmares about it.
A friend came all the way from England to New Zealand for our annual motorcycle rally.
Naturally enough, he needed a bike to ride there.
Sure, you can borrow our 2001 Triumph Bonneville, we said.
Pat has a lot of motorcycles, and it felt good to share the wealth.
Our visitor had decades of riding experience, and a Triumph of his own back at home.
What could possibly go wrong?
Well, fast forward a couple weeks, and the answer was scary:
“Pretty much everything can go wrong”.
To start with, we all got the Covid (again), so no-one was in the best state to ride after that.
Then we had planned a challenging ride on 200 km of rough gravel, at the other end of the South Island of New Zealand.
As usual in the summertime here, it had been raining heavily, so the roads were slippery, with all the gutters filled with rushing streams of cold water.
A worrying combination, that’s for sure.
And from there, it all turned to custard.
In the space of a couple days, our visitor dropped not one, but two of our motorcycles.
One – our special favorite – in a fast-moving river filled with boulders in the middle of nowhere.
Miraculously, the damage was minimal.
And at least he offered to source new parts to replace the bent clutch lever, brake lever, brake cylinder, snapped foot peg and warped side stand.
But I’ve been amazed at how stressful the motorcycle lending experience has been.
Out on the road, Pat and I would lie awake in our motel room, turn on the light at 2am and try not to panic about what might happen the next day to our borrowed motorcycle.
There’s a horrifying feeling of helplessness and dread.
Because once you’ve said yes to lending your motorcycle, there’s nothing you can do but hope for the best.
If you’re a control freak like me, this is a problem.
And circling our guest like a worried hawk doesn’t do much for his riding confidence.
Our visitor has now gone home.
We’ve calmed down.
And overall, there was no major harm done.
No-one got hurt.
Our motorcycles can be fixed.
The friendship has survived.
But things are different now.
I don’t want to go through that trauma ever again.
So Pat and I sat down and had a long talk.
Clearly, it was time to re-think our motorcycle lending policy.
This is how it went…
Should You Lend Your Motorcycle?
When to Say Yes
Here’s my take on this.
It’s OK to lend your motorcycle in 3 scenarios:
- On the 12th of Never
- When Hell freezes over, or
- When pigs grow wings and flap through the air.
The rest of the time you should say no.
And here’s why.
Should You Lend Your Motorcycle?
7 Questions to Ask Before You Do
Letting a friend borrow your motorcycle seems harmless enough.
But so much can go wrong.
And you don’t really realise it until you see your precious bike broken and bleeding in your garage.
So here are 10 things to think about before you hand the keys to your spare motorcycle to someone else – even someone you like and trust.
1. How strong is your friendship?
Lending your motorcycle could very easily end a friendship.
When you send your friend a bill from the bike shop for $3,000 and he refuses to pay, you can pretty much forget any more Friday night dinners or Saturday rides.
The friendship is over.
And you may be up on an assault charge, too, after you go around to his house to collect the money.
Move over, Tony Soprano.
2. Are you OK with seeing someone else riding your motorcycle?
I freely admit I’m a naturally jealous person.
I hate it when other women flirt with my man.
And I hate seeing someone else sitting on one of our precious motorcycles.
I don’t have a great poker face.
It’s hard for me to hide my feelings.
And so I’m sure it’s difficult for someone to ride a borrowed motorcycle confidently when I’m zooming past scowling at them.
How will YOU feel when someone else is riding your metal beast – right in front of you?
It just feels so wrong.
3. Can your friend pay for any damage he does?
It’s not a great idea to lend your motorcycle to someone who’s flat broke.
If you notice he can’t afford a coffee when you stop for a break on a ride, you should start to worry.
Because if he does some damage, you know who’ll be paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars for parts?
4. Does your insurance cover a guest rider?
Motorcycle insurers love to wriggle out of paying on claims, let’s face it.
That’s the nature of the insurance industry.
So read the fine print on your policy – is your friend covered?
If so, are you willing to go through all the paperwork, make all the phone calls and write all the emails to lodge a claim?
And what if your friend is NOT covered by your insurance?
Well, then we’re back to the reality of who’ll be paying for any damage.
You guessed it.
It’s still you.
5. How experienced a rider is your friend?
Does this person actually own a motorcycle?
Does it run?
Does he ride often?
And has he been riding for a long time?
You hope the answer to all these questions is YES.
Otherwise, he might fall into one of these two terrifying categories instead:
- He’s pretty new to riding, or
- He USED to ride in his 20s and now he’s in his 50s he should be fine, right?
These are red flags you can’t ignore.
Otherwise he’ll be getting in some practice on your motorcycle.
While you watch in horror.
How can that be a good idea?
6. What does your friend normally ride?
If he’s used to puttering along on a cute little scooter, DO NOT lend him:
- Your Hayabusa that goes so fast it breaks the sound barrier
- Your favorite bike that you’ve lovingly restored with 25 unique expensive parts, or
- Your $40,000 Indian.
He’ll get on, turn the key and accidentally pull a wheelie before falling off right there in your driveway.
At least you won’t have to get the motorcycle shipped back to your place on a tow truck.
7. You know motorcycle accidents happen, right?
If you’ve successfully stayed upright for awhile, it’s easy to get lulled into a happy little illusion that motorcycles are totally safe.
But even if you drop a motorcycle at a a very low speed, the potential damage you can do is still devastating:
- Brake and clutch levers can bend
- The fairing can get scratched up
- The mufflers can get dented and scuffed
- The tank can get smashed in
- The foot pegs can snap off, and
- The ends of the handlebar grips can get roughed up.
Of course, you think it won’t happen.
Until it does.
And there you are in the garage with your beaten up motorcycle, shaking your head and crying private manly tears of despair.
So Should You Lend Your Motorcycle?
I say a hard NO.
There’s just too much at stake.
From now on, I’ll suggest that visiting friends hire a motorcycle.
Let the motorcycle hire business take all of the risk.
They have insurance in place.
They don’t see their motorcycles as part of the family.
I’m still happy to roll out the welcome mat for visitors.
Of course visiting friends are welcome to stay in our spare room.
I expect to cook them dinner.
But we’re not running a motorcycle hire business (that costs US money).
Our new approach will protect our motorcycles, our bank balance, and our friendships.
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