By Gabe Ets-Hokin
This is a great time to travel—many restrictions have been loosened, but there are travel bargains galore! If you're an Earpeace fan, you likely ride (and know the value of EarPeace's industry-leading hearing protection) and dream of riding beautiful roads in an exotic locale. We do too, so we put together a list of our favorite places to arrive—and then ride.
The Pacific Coast
Cliffs soaring above the stormy, gray Pacific. Redwoods touching the blue skies. Legendary wine and food. Exciting, world-class cities like Seattle and San Francisco. Twisty roads that go on and on and on. Sounds good, right?
That's because it is! Fly into San Francisco, get out to Treasure Island and check out MotoQuest. You'll find a range of affordable (as low as $75 a day) Suzuki and BMW adventure machines for rent—you can even do a one-way rental to LA, Portland or even Anchorage. If you're more into cruising, EagleRider's convenient South of Market location has a huge selection of Harley-Davidson models, from custom to full-dressers, as well as Triumph, Yamaha and even Zero electrics.
Eagle Rider is a global franchise, a one-stop shop to rent a motorcycle in dozens of locations around the world. Both companies offer tours and rental riding gear (including helmets) and luggage.
The Baltic Coast
We all know about Italy and Greece, but maybe not so much about Croatia, Slovenia and the other Baltic states just across the Adriatic sea from the Italian boot. And we're missing out—those countries have all the food, history, culture—and incredible twisty roads of their better-known neighbors.
There are myriad bike-rental and tour agencies in the Balkans, so do your research, but rates are in line with what you'd pay in the United States, and of course tours and gear rentals are available. Some agencies that stand out are Beyond Usual in Serbia, Rocker Motorcycle Rental in Croatia and Lobagola in Croatia, which specializes in lightweight dualsports so you can really get off the beaten path.
We love Spain. And it's not just because of the great food, wine and warmth of its people. It's also affordable and not as crowded a place as other European states. Icing on the cake? An enthusiastic and colorful motorcycle culture that embraces all disciplines.
So it's no surprise that there are a lot of motorcycle rental shops on the Iberian peninsula (don't forget Portugal!). One that stands out, just because of sheer size, is IMT Bike, with five locations including Lisbon, Malaga, Madrid and Barcelona. They offer 10 different BMW models starting at about $75 a day as well as gear rental and tours. Surprisingly, Hertz offers rentals in Europe, including six locations in Spain and Portugal. Models include BMW tour and adventure bikes and even an exotic MV Agusta.
Many of us have dreams of some challenging adventure riding, and for experienced travelers, Africa has all of that. A good suggestion is South Africa, which is a huge country offering a taste of everything—savanna, good-quality, sweeping roads, big cities, mountains, desert, coastlines and all kinds of wild flora and fauna.
Adventure-travel site Mad or Nomad has a good page about renting motorcycles in South Africa, and strongly recommends guided tours. If you're a more adventurous soul and want to go it alone, there are lots of options for that as well.
Motorcycling is a bit different in southeast Asia. The motorcycles are smaller—a 250 is considered a big bike—and used as everyday transportation by everyone. The most popular rides are 125cc step-through scooters, which are cheap to rent and ball-peen hammer simple to operate.
If you haven't ridden in Asia, it can be an overwhelming experience, so we recommend a tour package. There are on and off-road tours available and they're very affordable—as little as $150 a day.
The American West
If you're on a remote desert highway deep in the American West and you see a pack of leather-clad riders on snarling hogs, don't hide the women and children and load up the shotgun. They're likely a group of friendly, happy German or French tourists living the dream of riding a big American cruiser along the route of legendary Route 66.
To get your kicks on 66, there are plenty of options, depending on where you start out. USA on Wheels, a European-based company, offers Harley-Davidson, Indian, BMW and other brands at competitive rates for solo rentals or tours. The Route 66 tour is 18 days and follows the Mother Road from Chicago to LA, just like in the song.
Yet another golden nugget of the sharing economy is people renting out their unused or underused stuff, including motorcycles. There are now several peer-to-peer motorcycle rental services now—think AirBnB but for bikes.
It's a bit riskier than renting from an agency—if something goes wrong you're generally responsible for repairing the bike or getting it back to the owner—but not only can you save money, you can ride some incredibly interesting and exotic machines. Get on a Rewaco Trike (whatever that is!) in Salt Lake City with Rider-Share, cruise Miami Beach on a '98 Honda Valkyrie with Twisted Road, or take a Moto Guzzi V7 with sidecar for a spin around San Diego with Eagle Share (Eagle Rider's sister company).
Lots of choices of what to ride and where, but we're pretty sure you can rent a motorcycle and ride it about anywhere in the world! Be sure to research the legalities of your driver's license and insurance before you go—ADV Rider is a good resource. Happy trails!