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Should You Buy or Lease a Motorcycle?

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If you’re ready to head out on the highway, looking for adventure, consider leasing a motorcycle instead of buying a new or used bike. Depending on how much you want to spend and how long you want to keep your bike, a motorcycle lease could be a good alternative to traditional financing.

Like an auto lease, a motorcycle lease likely has lower payments than financing. However, this route is not for everyone. We’ll look at the options to help you make your best choice.

Can you lease a motorcycle?

Yes, it’s possible to lease a motorcycle, but it’s an uncommon choice. Like an auto lease, you’re only paying for the value of the motorcycle during the lease period. However, unlike a car lease, there are typically no mileage limits, so you can ride as much as you want without racking up extra mileage fees. Some finance companies also allow customers to lease a used motorcycle.

Leasing isn’t the best option if you want to keep your motorcycle longer than the typical 24-to- 36-month lease period or if you like to customize your bike with after-market upgrades or paint. You’ll have to restore the bike to its original condition if you return it at the end of the lease.

Motorcycle lease vs. motorcycle loan

One of the advantages of a motorcycle loan is that the bike is yours to do with as you please. You can customize your exhaust pipes, tweak the performance or spruce up your bike with a custom paint job. Plus, many manufacturers offer incentive rebates or rates on the purchase of a new motorcycle. However, you’ll pay more overall when you purchase a bike, since you’re paying for the full value of the motorcycle, plus interest and fees.

A lease offers flexibility and lower monthly payments. You’re only paying for the value of the bike during the lease, not the entire amount. If you’re a new motorcyclist, a lease could be a good way to try out bikes without long-term commitment, to find the ride you like best. It’s easier to upgrade to the latest model, and you may be able to trade up during the lease term.

If a nicer bike is out of your budget to buy, a lease might make it possible for you to take it home. If you fall in love with the bike, you have the option to buy it at the end of the lease.

Motorcycle leaseMotorcycle loan
Pros

  Lower monthly payment

  Drive a new motorcycle every few years

  Unlimited mileage

  Ownership

  Manufacturer’s incentive rates

  Personalize your bike

Cons

  Hard to find

  Can’t upgrade your bike

  Doesn’t build equity

  Need acceptable credit

  Higher monthly payments

  High depreciation

  Is a motorcycle lease right for you?

You might consider a motorcycle lease if you like to drive a new one frequently. You’ll have to pay attention to maintenance and upkeep, but unlike a traditional auto lease, many motorcycle leases do not have mileage restrictions. Like any type of financing, your credit score will impact the leasing rate you qualify for. If you have bad credit, you could use a lease to get the bike you want while rebuilding your score with on-time lease payments.

If you lease a new motorcycle from a dealer, it may come with a manufacturer’s warranty, or you may be able to purchase a warranty or service contract through the dealer.

Leasing can be a good way to try out different motorcycles to find one that fits your riding style and your budget. It’s also a good option if your credit history won’t allow you to finance a motorcycle purchase at a reasonable interest rate.

Where to find a motorcycle lease

Motorcycle lease financing is usually found at participating dealers, or you may be able to apply online. Lease terms commonly run from 18 to 60 months. If you have a certain bike in mind and want to lease, call the motorcycle dealer ahead of time to check on any available leasing programs.

MotoLease

You can apply for a lease prequalification online or at a participating dealer. If you find a bike that you’d like to lease but the dealer doesn’t offer MotoLease, let the company know and they may be able to recruit the dealer. MotoLease offers lease options on motorcycles and other powersport vehicles that are up to 14 model years old. There are no mileage limitations.

MotoLease says it works with credit-challenged borrowers and has a 90% financing approval rate. You can finance up to $20,000, so if you want to lease a motorcycle that costs more than that, you’ll have to make a down payment or offer a trade-in to cover the difference. MotoLease offers terms of 18 to 60 months, and you can pay off the lease early without penalty.

Horsepower Financial

This company specializes in 36-month leases through Harley-Davidson dealers. You can apply online or at a participating Harley dealer.

Speed Leasing

Concentrating on new and used Harley-Davidson bikes from 2007 and new and used Indian motorcycles from 2014, Speed Leasing places no mileage limits on the lease or the starting mileage for a used bike.

There is no credit or income minimum needed to apply for lease, with terms ranging from 24 to 60 months. Their financing is available to buyers with low to no credit. A down payment may be required, depending on your credit history, the price of the bike, and other factors. Speed Leasing doesn’t operate in all states, so use the dealer locator to find a dealer that offers leases near you.

Dealer Financing

Honda is one of the only motorcycle manufacturers to offer leasing through its captive lender, Honda Financial Services. Most dealers don’t offer in-house financing due to the overall lower cost and higher depreciation of motorcycles.

Alternatives to motorcycle leasing

Maybe motorcycle leasing is rare for a good reason. There are many other alternatives that will set you up with the motorcycle you want without the worries of leasing

  Pay cash

Especially for used bikes, cash is a good way to get the bike you want without financing. Keep in mind that you’ll also have to pay taxes and registration fees out of pocket in addition to the price of the motorcycle.

  Financing

With dealer financing, you can take advantage of incentive financing offers on a motorcycle loan available to buyers with good credit. It’s also the smart way to go if you plan to keep the bike for a long time. It’s smart to compare rates and terms from multiple lenders before choosing a motorcycle loan. LendingTree can help you compare offers from up to five lenders.

  Renting

Short-term renting is a smart way to try out different bikes to find one you like. Or if you need a bike for a special trip but don’t want to keep it long-term, renting might be a great option. You return the bike when the rental period is over, and someone else is responsible for maintenance.

  Balloon loans

For high-end motorcycles, a balloon loan combines elements of leasing and buying a motorcycle. The loan comes with relatively low payments for a set term, but the final loan payment is significantly larger, often thousands of dollars. If you want to keep the motorcycle, you can either pay the lump sum or refinance the balance.

These programs, like BMW’s Easy Ride and Ducati’s Premier Financing, usually come from manufacturers. This type of financing usually requires an excellent credit score, so not everyone will qualify.

Frequently asked questions

Several motorcycle leasing companies work with buyers with low to no credit or who are rebuilding their credit scores, though a minimum credit score is rarely specified. Of course, a better credit score will likely result in a lower financing rate on your lease and could reduce your down payment or monthly payment amounts.

Since you don’t own the bike, you can’t make any after-market upgrades. And much like renting a home versus buying one, your monthly payments won’t be building equity. Be sure to make an apples-to-apples comparison between leasing and financing options to be sure you’re getting the best deal.

Typically leasing payments are cheaper than loan payments, but you should also look at the down payment required and any other fees to understand the total cost.

Down payments range from 10% to 30% to lower your monthly payment, and can perhaps allow you to lease a more expensive bike than you could afford to purchase.

 

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