When you want a new car, you have two major options. You can buy it, or you can lease it. The same can be true with motorcycles.
For example, you might find a dealership with Harley Davidson promotions from the manufacturer if you buy a bike, or the dealer might offer the option to lease it.
So which option is right for you, and what should you know?
We talk about it below.
How Does a Lease Work?
The idea of leasing a motorcycle is similar to leasing a car.
When you lease a car or motorcycle, you’re paying not to own it but to use it and drive it. It’s like renting a car for a certain period of time and also a certain amount of miles. You’ll make a monthly lease payment, and then in exchange for that, the dealer is letting you drive it. When your lease ends, you can return the vehicle to the dealership, or you might have the option in your lease to buy it out and keep the car.
You need a good credit score to lease a new car for the most part, and even though you don’t own it, your history of making on-time lease payments will appear on your credit report.
A lease is similar to a loan. For example, with a lease, you might still have to put money down, and again, you’re also making monthly payments. One difference is that the payments on a lease might be lower than on a loan. There’s a downside to that, though. You’re paying just to drive a car, and you’re not building equity in it.
Typically when you get a loan, you can go through a bank or third-party lender, or you can go through the dealer. With a lease, you wouldn’t likely work with a bank.
Leasing a Motorcycle
It’s not very common to do so, but in some situations, you might be able to lease a motorcycle.
Because motorcycles are less expensive than cars, there are people who buy them with cash, or if you don’t have the cash on hand, you can get a motorcycle loan. Like a car loan, it’s up to you whether you want to go through the dealer for a motorcycle loan or you’d rather set it up with an outside bank or credit union.
If you want to lease a motorcycle so you can ride without committing to a loan, be aware that you may have to do some searching to find a dealership that will offer the option.
Motorcycles can be something that riders like to personalize quite a bit—this is true much more so than it is for cars, so you have to consider this when you’re weighing a lease or a loan.
One time when a lease could make sense is if you’re new to motorcycles. You might want to get a feel for what you like and don’t like and what type of bike you’re comfortable with. A lease can also give you the opportunity to decide how much you like riding and how much time you’ll spend doing it. Then, when your lease ends, you’ll be in a good position to choose a new bike.
What To Consider Before Leasing
If you were to find a dealer that would offer you the chance to lease a bike, think about the following first:
- How long do you think you’ll have the motorcycle? If you think you’ll get a new one every few years, leasing can be a good option. If you want a bike long-term, buying is inevitably the better choice.
- How are you going to ride? If you plan to ride your bike a lot, leasing is a bad choice.
- Do you take care of your bikes? If you lease a motorcycle, you have to be careful about the wear and tear you put on it. You could end up having to pay quite a bit when you turn the bike in if there are any issues.
- Do you want to modify the bike, ideally? Even something simple isn’t going to be an option when you lease.
Are There Alternatives to Leasing?
Of course, the primary alternative to leasing is to buy a motorcycle with cash. The next option is a motorcycle loan. Most manufacturers, as mentioned above in reference to Harley Davidson, will offer special financing offers for buyers who qualify.
Regardless of whether or not you think you’ll qualify for manufacturing financing, it’s still optimal to get loan preapproval offers from your bank directly or a credit union or online lender.
There are places where you can rent a bike if you’re not ready to make a long-term decision or you aren’t sure what you want.
There are also balloon loans, which have elements of both leasing and buying. You can try a bike and get relatively low payments for a certain period of time. Then, if you want to keep the bike, you can pay a lump sum, or you can then switch to a traditional loan. Motorcycle manufacturers are typically the entities that provide these types of financing options, and they usually require excellent credit.
You could potentially even buy a motorcycle with a credit card if the seller accepts this as payment. There are cards that offer 0% or low introductory financing periods.
Be Careful Before You Lease
Even if you can find a lender who offers motorcycle leases, you have to be careful.
Leasing usually costs more than an equivalent loan when all is said and done because your paying for the bike at the time it’s depreciating most rapidly. The cheapest way to get a motorcycle is the same as the cheapest way to get a car—buy a vehicle and keep it as long as you can after the loan is paid off. You drive it until it’s no longer economical to repair.
Finally, some lease contracts will specify the number of miles you’re limited to, and if you go over, you have to pay the penalty.