Going for an extended test drive before buying a car is important, but it’s even more so for motorcycle shoppers. You won’t really know if you’re more comfortable on a cruiser or a standard until you ride them. Luckily, as with cars, motorcycle rentals from sites like Riders Share offer such opportunities. However, as Riders Share CEO and founder Guillermo Cornejo discussed with me in a recent interview, these sites may also offer ways of bringing in new riders.
Riders Share is basically Turo for motorcycles
Riders Share is what’s known as a peer-to-peer motorcycle rental service, WUSA9 explains. What that means is that potential renters choose from a selection of privately-owned bikes, rather than from a dedicated rental fleet. If you’ve ever rented a car from Turo, you’ve used a peer-to-peer service. And, by Riders Share’s admission, it functions “similar to Airbnb and Turo.” Here’s how it works.
An owner who wants to rent out their bike uploads at least one photo and fills out an information form about it, RideApart explains. This lists the make, model, current mileage, model year, license plate, and an overall description of the motorcycle. The bike itself needs to be up-to-date on maintenance, no older than the 2000 model year, and street-legal. The owners also set their motorcycle’s rental price, including any extended-period discounts. Riders Share takes a 25% cut of that price.
On the renter side, you need to be at least 21 years old, hold a valid motorcycle license, and wear both a helmet and any additional required safety gear. Some owners, though, do rent out extra gear, Ultimate Motorcycling reports. One thing you don’t need, though, is your own motorcycle insurance, ADV Pulse reports.
Riders Share covers both the rider and the owner with its insurance, and renters can purchase damage waivers. CEO Guillermo Cornejo estimates about 80% of renters buy the waiver. If you don’t, that increases the safety deposit the site asks for.
As far as the actual motorcycle rental goes, potential riders search via location and rental period. Once you pick the bike you want, Riders Share notifies the owner, who has 48 hours to accept or decline the request. If it’s accepted, the rider and owner are connected and can freely message each other. Again, very similar to how Turo works. And while Riders Share can’t list non-street-legal bikes, renters can go off-road with the owner’s OK.
How CEO Guillermo Cornejo started the company
Guillermo Cornejo didn’t start out wanting to make a peer-to-peer motorcycle rental site. Before he founded Riders Share, he worked in the financial departments of several automakers, including GM, Nissan, and Hyundai. But he was and is a motorcycle rider.
A few years ago, he crashed his bike at the time, a Ninja, and couldn’t afford a replacement, Share Traveler reports. But then he thought, “I don’t use it that often, why not just rent one?” However, when Cornejo started looking, he found that renting a bike cost 5-10 times as much as renting a car. And mostly, he says, that was due to the summertime increase in insurance costs—and in the US, winter riding really isn’t a thing. So, to offset costs, rental agencies have to charge more during the summer. Plus, at the time, a motorcycle rental fleet wasn’t really something that existed.
But “with the peer-to-peer rental model, it doesn’t matter,” Cornejo says. For the owner, their bike is “a sunk cost,” rather than a business expense. And you get more selection than you would from a traditional rental agency’s fleet.
However, for Cornejo, Riders Share isn’t just about helping bike owners make some extra cash. It’s also about growing motorcycling in the US.
Cornejo sees Riders Share as helping to remove riding’s biggest hurdles
Before the pandemic, 90% of Riders Share’s rentals came from travelers. Now, that’s dropped to 70%, Cornejo says. The other 30% comes from local riders. And 2/3rds of which are renting to figure out what their first bike should be. Before I bought my first bike, I considered doing exactly that.
Oh, and that other 1/3rd? They don’t even own a motorcycle. Instead, they rent “as a replacement for ownership,” Cornejo says. And that’s not unusual. In 2019, the Motorcycle Industry Council reported that there were roughly 13.2 million registered bikes in the US. But Cornejo quoted the MIC as saying that roughly 30 million people had a motorcycle license. That’s a significant ownership gap.
Admittedly, as riders age and start families, the risks of riding become less and less acceptable. But “a lot” of that gap, Cornejo says, is “because of the financial cost and responsibility of maintaining” a motorcycle. That’s where Riders Share and other peer-to-peer motorcycle rental sites come in.
The peer-to-peer nature of Riders Share and similar sites also make renting more convenient. And after low prices and reliability, that’s one of the most important things needed to bring in new riders, Cornejo says. In the US, motorcycles are still seen more as entertainment than practical transportation. So, in Cornejo’s eyes, Riders Share and other rental sites are competing with things like Netflix and Amazon Prime. And usually, it’s easier and cheaper to stream a video than ride a motorcycle.
However, the interest in riding experiences is still there, Cornejo told me. Roughly 15% of potential renters on Riders Share don’t have motorcycle licenses. Naturally, the site has to turn them away. But there are future riders out there—they just need access.
Manufacturers are getting in on renting, too
Riders Share has grown since its establishment in 2018. Cornejo told me that the site’s logged over 20,000 rentals. Plus, the company has over 15,000 bikes available, MPN reports. And both the manufacturers and established rental agencies have started taking notice.
Known agency Eagle Rider, for example, just started its EagleShare program, which lets owners rent their bikes out. Hertz has also expanded its motorcycle rental services to more US cities, RideApart reports. And Yamaha, BMW, as well as Indian have all started rental services, too. In fact, Cornejo told me that Riders Share pitched its services to Indian before the latter started its program.
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Cornejo acknowledges that peer-to-peer rentals alone won’t change how bikes are perceived in the US. “What we need,” he says, “is for people to have fun, and not crash.” That changes riding from something scary into something fun. Specifically, something fun that isn’t priced out of reach. And one that lets more bikes get some exercise, Motofomo reports.
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