With the wind in your hair and the sun on your skin, riding a motorcycle in the summer can feel magical. And if you’re thinking about investing in one for the long haul, renting a motorcycle or scooter can be a great way to see if it’s right for you. So whether you’re touring the countryside on 2 wheels or you just want to try out a few different bikes before making a purchase, here are 7 things to consider before renting a motorcycle or scooter.

1. Are you qualified?

Most states require a license, permit or other endorsement to ride a motorcycle or scooter. Some rental shops will only rent to individuals over 21 (or, in some cases, 25). Others require you to have your motorcycle license for a certain number of years prior to renting. Find out in advance what’s required before you show up to rent your bike.

2. What’s your ability level? 

Be realistic about your riding experience when selecting a bike to rent. Choosing a bike that’s beyond your skill level will take all the fun out of your experience and may put you in danger. For the beginning rider, a lighter weight bike designed for a broad range of riding styles and with an anti-lock braking system (ABS) is recommended.

3. What sort of riding will you be doing? 

Before renting a bike, think carefully about the type of riding you’ll be doing. For example, riding in inclement weather will affect your choice of bike and gear. And for urban riding, a light, maneuverable scooter may fit the bill. But for extended highway rides with a passenger, a larger touring bike with plenty of luggage storage might be the right choice. Just be sure to discuss your needs with the rental agent and select a bike that makes sense for the trip you’ve planned.

4. What gear do you have and what gear will you need?

ATGATT is biker shorthand for All the Gear All the Time. If you aren’t a frequent rider, it’s important to understand that motorcycles don’t come with airbags and seat belts — your safety equipment is worn on your body. Find out what safety gear is available to rent with your bike or consider buying it elsewhere. Some rental establishments might even throw in a free half-shell helmet with your rental. Just remember a complete set of riding gear should include helmet, face protection, goggles, gloves, riding jacket, riding pants, and boots.

5. Where are you going to put your stuff?

If you’re used to traveling by car, traveling by motorcycle or scooter will be an adjustment. Plan ahead about whether you’ll need extra room to store any luggage or personal effects. If you need to follow directions on your phone or GPS, find out if the rental company provides bike mounts.

6. Don’t forget to inspect the bike!

When you pick up your rental, take a few photos of the bike or scooter from different angles so you have documentation of any scratches or damage before you ride. Check that tires are properly inflated and that the lights, signals, and horn are working. Do a brake check. And make sure you have the number of the rental shop and the agreement with you.

7. Will you be insured?

If you already have motorcycle insurance, parts or all of your policy will typically still apply for rentals. Be sure to check your policy contract or with your insurer before you set out on your travels. If you don’t have motorcycle insurance, check with the rental company to see what kind of options (and prices) they offer for coverage.

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about Rebecca

Rebecca is a freelance copywriter and editor living in the SF Bay Area with her husband and two kids. She enjoys productively channeling her anxiety into safety-minded articles for home and garden, running with her robot trainer, and advocating on behalf of the Oxford comma.