To buy or to hire? That is the question.

I guess like most people traveling to a different continent, taking my own vehicle wasn’t the first thing that occurred to me. I thought that shipping my bike half way across the world would be both slow and expensive.

Instead my options seemed to be either to hire a bike or to buy a used one when I arrived. In either case, I knew it was a Harley I wanted, preferrably a Dyna Super Glide.

I wasn’t certain of my port of entry at the time, but I was able to do some general internet research on the likely cost of rental. Eagle Rider are one of the largest short-term hirers of Harley-Davidsons in the US, and some of Europe, but they are no means the only ones. The first thing I learnt was that unlike compact cars, which can be hired for between $30-$50 per day, Harley-Davidsons are expensive to rent. I didn’t find anybody offering reasonable size Harleys for less than $100 per day, and often considerably more, especially if you wanted a good insurance package and unlimited mileage. I seemed to be looking at, at least, $10,000 to hire the bike for 3 months.

Aside from the cost, the other potential problem with hiring was the availability of bikes. Many of the smaller cities seemed to have only a small selection of models, usually a Sportster, a Soft-tail Heritage and a Road King. I’d have settled for a Soft-tail, but would have much preferred a Dyna. Also most, if not all of the renters within the vicinity of South Dakota, didn’t seem to have any bikes available at all over the Sturgis rally week. My advice to anyone thinking of heading over for the rally and renting a bike, is to book very early to avoid disappointment.

As it happened, I was beginning to favour Chicago as a port of entry – there were direct flights from the UK, it was relatively close to South Dakota and very near Milwaukee were my good friends Thomas and Travis were working. Chicago is a big city with a good few Harley dealers and hire shops. Bike selection looks good, and when I last checked, they had availability over the rally week – I guess it is far enough away from Sturgis for their fleet not to snapped up by rally goers.

The other option was to buy a used bike when I arrived and to sell it again when I left – this is precisely what John and Roz did. The cost of a 5-6 year model was broadly comparable with the 3-month rental cost, but I would get a good chunk of that back when I sold it on departure. My estimate was to be able to get at least half of the cost back.

Buying and re-selling a bike certainly seemed to be the most attractive option, and that is precisely what I planned to do. But John and Tom’s books had put a niggling doubt in my head over insurance.


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