Eagle Rider is helping to eliminate ‘Stuck Without a Bike’ Syndrome by providing motorcycle rentals across the U.S.
It’s a re-occurring problem that every motorcyclist will experience at some point. You’re out of town on business and unexpectedly find yourself with a free afternoon. Or it’s the fourth day of the family vacation and the kids are getting restless. Or you’ve flown in to visit family and reached your limit of couch conversations and take-out. And then it happens. Standing on the corner waiting for the light to change so that you can cross the street you hear it coming. Without a glance you know what it is, but you look anyway. A motorcycle. It passes by, a blur of motion, noise, shiny chrome and bright paint. The rider sits smirking, as if to mock your predicament. Your eyes follow the motorcycle until it turns a corner and disappears out of sight like a dog watching its master drive away. The sinking feeling is in your stomach before it’s gone. It happened again. You’re stuck, a long way from home, it’s a beautiful day and you don’t have a motorcycle.
Enter Eagle Rider rentals, a business that just may be the cure for the common ‘stuck without a bike’ syndrome. One of the first motorcycle rental companies, Eagle Rider has grown from its humble beginnings in 1992 to include more than 75 locations at major metropolitan areas around the country, offering a variety of motorcycles for local and one-way rentals.
The fleet of Eagle Rider D.C. includes a Can Am Spyder, Honda Shadows, Gold Wings and, of course, Harleys.
I recently found myself matching the criteria of an ideal Eagle Rider client; away from home with free time on my hands, but no motorcycle. It was a beautiful July day and the fact that everyone who owned a motorcycle seemed to be out riding was driving me crazy.
Eagle Rider operates with a network of both corporately owned and independent franchise locations throughout the country. In the Washington D.C. metro area, where I found myself, their closest location was an independent franchise called Eagle Rider D.C. Owner Jay Staggs maintains a fleet of over 50 motorcycles. His herd includes Hondas and BMWs, popular models like the Gold Wing and the R1200GS, but the bread and butter of any Eagle Rider location are Harley-Davidson tourers.
The process of picking up an Eagle Rider bike is simple and familiar to those who have ever rented a car. Plunk down your driver’s license with motorcycle endorsement and credit card for the rental fee and security deposit, legally sign your life away and in about 15 minutes you’re ready to go. For my ride I selected a Harley Road King. The model Staggs brings out front is a pristine machine in Sedona Orange.
Depending on the bike, the rental rate will vary from $75 to $150 a day. Helmets are included with rentals, jackets are available for an extra charge and other essentials, like gloves and rain gear, are available for purchase.
Although it varies from location to location many Eagle Rider franchises offer discounts for AMA and H.O.G. members and active military personnel.
Nearly half of Staggs’ clients are international, flying into the East Coast to ride across the continent. In close proximity to Dulles International Airport, many come directly from their flight. The most popular destinations for one-way rentals from the East Coast are Los Angeles and San Francisco.
For his local rentals Staggs is always ready to recommend a ride. Well positioned near the nation’s capital with prime roads in every direction, he often directs out-of-towners to Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park, west to the mountain roads of West Virginia or north into Pennsylvania farm country to view attractions like the Harley-Davidson factory at York. Eagle Rider will even rent you a GPS.
I did one better. I contacted a friend in the area who agreed to spend the day guiding me on some local roads.
The next eight hours pass in a blur. I leave Chantilly heading against the mid-week traffic, quickly making my way past the clot of morning commuters and into the countryside. Heading north on Route 15, a state scenic byway, we pass through the McMansions of Northern Virginia horse country before crossing the Potomac River into Maryland on the Point of Rocks Bridge.
In Frederick I meet my friend. Our first stop of the day is Jackman Custom Cycle, an old-school bike shop where the owner has grease under his nails and the machine tools in the back tell you that the bikes he’s building aren’t coming
out of boxes. We get the grand tour from owner Jerry Jackman himself, looking through the Panhead engines in various stages of rebuild, partially finished bikes and freshly painted customs.
From Frederick we continue north on Route 15, the roadside lined with everything from produce stands to a zoo. Passing into Pennsylvania it’s lunch time and no road trip would be complete without road food. We pull into Chubby’s Barbeque, a nationally known road side joint, where the sign says ‘Bikers Welcome’ and the pulled pork sandwiches fill up a plate.
After lunch we make the last few miles to Gettysburg, the small town that gave the Civil War’s most famous battle its name. Whereas most East Coast battlefields have been swallowed up by strip malls and subdivisions, the Adams County landscape looks much like it did in 1863. The open countryside, dotted with small farms, is bisected by narrow back roads that run along the edges of split rail fenced pastures and cross shallow streams. The V-Twin Harley is perfect for the slow speed cruising, rolling past the marble statues, the crowded cemetery, the silent cannons…
And then it hit me. For the first time in quite a while I was riding for fun. No schedule. No deadline. Not pushing to get anywhere. The machine I ride is not a product to be evaluated, not a vehicle to be tested. It’s just the means to an end. And that end is riding. Not riding for anything or anyone. Riding to ride.
Five o’clock comes quick on a motorcycle with nothing but open roads ahead. I rolled back into the parking lot of Eagle Rider D.C. with less than 15 minutes to spare, reluctantly relinquishing the keys to Staggs. As I leave the building I give a final glance to the still warm Road King that has made my day so enjoyable. Off in the distance I hear the rumble of a bike, but I don’t pay it any attention because I’ve had my own ride today.