Q. Why are there so few bikes to hire in the UK?
A. Because the insurance costs and restrictions are prohibitive. The risks are quite high, minor damage to bikes is frequent, and for many, providing this service just isn't worth the hassle for the small return it brings.
Q. Why do I have to be over 25 years old to hire a bike from you?
A. Because the insurance policy says so. Although smaller bikes can be hired to those 21 years and over.
Q. Can I take a hired bike out of the UK?
A. Yes, in most cases, subject to additional recovery insurance in case of an accident or major breakdown.
Q. Do you hire helmets?
A. The short answer is "No"
Q. Why not?
A. Because they are a safety item, and I'm paranoid that in the case of an accident someone would try and claim that equipment they paid money for was defective in some way. I do have several spare helmets and items of clothing, which I will lend, free of charge, to people hiring my rental bikes. I'd prefer you to bring your own kit though.
Q. The bike hire prices are quoted "per day". What does this mean?
A. A day means 24 hours. So a late afternoon pick-up to a late afternoon return the next day, can be charged as one day's hire, not two.
Q. Why is it so expensive?
A. Mainly due to the insurance costs.
Q. Why is the insurance so high?
A. Because a lot of bikes get crashed or stolen in the UK, plus hire customers have a nasty habit of letting them fall over in car parks.
My 600 Bandit rental bike has just been stolen, in Oct 2004. Now I'm even more paranoid. You MUST leave a deposit and take care of the bike at all times.
Q. Why do you charge more for a one day hire?
A. Because we really don't want this business. A one-day hire generates the same amount of paperwork as a 14 day hire. I have to be here in the morning to send the bike out, and wait around in the evening to receive again and wash it. All for a couple of tenners. It's proportionately higher risk, because if a nervous rider is going to drop the bike, he / she will often do in in the first half-day. Mileage-wise, a renter will usually cover a lot in one or two days, whereas if a person has a bike for 2 weeks, they'll often not use it every day. A one day hire, booked well in advance will also prevent me hiring out the machine to someone who comes along later and wants it for 2 or 3 weeks. All in all, really not good business.
Q. Is there a daily mileage limit?
A. YES. I suggest no more than 250 miles per day. Why? A pair of tyres can cost £230 GBP and may last as little as 4000 miles. People have been known to do nearly half this in one weekend. Half a set of tyres demolished in 2 days? (plus chain, sprockets, brakes, oil, servicing) It's just not economically viable to carry on like this. 20 pence per mile will be charged if 250 miles per day is exceeded.
Q. "Can I, as an American, buy a motorcycle, ride it and then just sell it two weeks later?"
Buying one would be easy - there plenty of reliable used machines around in the £1000 to £2500 GBP price bracket.
A bike needs to be MOT'd and Taxed - these things might be in place already, at the time of purchase, but if not, you might have trouble here, not knowing our system. To get the tax disc, the bike must be MOT'd - easy enough if it's safe & sound. It's an annual safety check carried out by an authourised & licenced garage. But it also needs to be registered in your name (not a show-stopper), BUT crucially it must be INSURED, and the certificate must be produced. If buying from a dealership (quick, compared to a private sale perhaps), you'll find the tax discs have usually been removed & cashed in.
Despite looking for two years, I haven't found any UK insurer who will insure an overseas rider "unless they have a permannent address in the UK" (or under a rental agreement). This is the problem. If you find a way round this, let me know.
Some people have said, "well, I'll ride without insurance". Not a good idea. If you have an accident, you're shafted. Injure someone, and you'll end up in jail perhaps. OK this is a low risk, but it is ILLEGAL to ride without insurance, and there are roadside cameras now which check for valid tax discs. Most information on MOT's, taxation and insurance is held on National DVLA & Police databases now. Either automatically, via cameras with numberplate recognition systems, or by a call in from the Police, a vehicle's legitimacy can be checked almost instantly. The chances of getting caught are quite high. It's also illegal and immoral - if you kill or injure someone, they receive no compensation. I wouldn't do it.