What do expensive watches have to do with motorcycles? If you could rent a top of the line motorcycle for several months at a time each year, perhaps committing to several rentals, would that satisfy your annual need to ride? Is there a market for long term rental motorcycles? I don't mean renting a Harley for a few days to tour the Pacific Coast Highway or leasing a motorcycle for three years like leasing a car, it's renting for a month or two.
Just today, I noticed an article about a new startup called Eleven James. For about $250 per month, you can rent a series of watches for two months at a time, enabling you to sport the latest and fanciest $10,000 watch ($10K for a watch? Wow!) without having to buy one and commit to something you may find out later you don't really like. Maybe it doesn't get the reaction you were hoping for from the ladies and you need more bang from that bling, ... so to speak. Whatever the case, you have it long enough to enjoy it and wear it and then turn it in for another top of the line model.
Do you need to own it?
Now apply the same idea to motorcycles. A company like Eagle Rider will rent you a Harley for a few days so you can ride while you're vacationing a long way from home, but suppose you wanted to rent for two or three months during the summer. No winter storage, no long term maintenance, no commitment beyond those few months. Your payment might be a lot higher than if you were buying it, but the payments wouldn't last for long. You get to ride a top of the line bike without the huge investment and the following year you try something different.
Just enjoy the ride
We've had many comments on various articles here from owners who would rather ride their motorcycle than get their hands dirty. Working on a bike brings them no particular pleasure, it's all about the wind and sun and fresh air. If you're not going to modify the bike in any way, why not ride a factory stock example, especially if the model costs more than you're ready to spend?
There are lots of rental companies catering to the "rent to buy" segment of the market, which is really just an expensive way to get things on credit when your credit isn't so good. Furniture and appliances and big screen TVs are their stock in trade, but that leans toward the necessary furnishings found in the average home. When you rent $10,000 watches, you're into a totally different segment, the customer isn't struggling and the item isn't a necessity, but it still gives that customer the ability to have, at least for a while, something very nice without tying up lots of money or committing to a long term loan.
Pricey luxury items (Did you know there are companies that rent high end designer jeans?) are what we're talking here, and when you get to the over $10K price point you open up the possibility of renting a whole different type of item. Rent a Ducati for the summer, then turn it in and try out their next new model the following year. Why not enjoy an Electra Glide Classic or maybe even a new Confederate or perhaps a Motus?
Join the club
I seem to remember a company or two trying this idea some time back, but I haven't seen anything recently, though there may be an active rental operation out there I'm unaware of, but think about it, maybe make it an annual membership, six month rental, or two rentals of three months each or three rentals of two months, almost like those long term rides the bike mags get to report on. It's like joining an exclusive club with access to the best bikes. When the weather closes in, you turn in the rental and get a different bike the next time around. It would be more costly if you kept doing this, it would have to be to cover the overhead of the rental company, but it would give you a chance to ride more bikes than you otherwise would.
Would the motorcycle companies be willing to try it?
The motorcycle companies may hate this idea, they have to sell bikes to survive, but oddly enough, the limited production bikes like a Confederate or Motus might sell more units to rental outlets than to individual buyers, it's hard to say. (I remember when Shelby sold GT350 Mustangs to Hertz) I have to think through the economics of this idea, too, it may not work too well, but it's interesting to think about, isn't it?
Now, should I wear the Patek Philippe or the Girard-Perregaux tonight? Decisions, decisions.