Can you lease a motorcycle?

Yes, you can lease a motorcycle, although it's less common than leasing a car. Motorcycles often cost less than a car but can still be an expensive purchase. Monthly lease payments could be cheaper than a loan payment, but you may end up paying more overall than just buying your bike outright. At the end of the lease, you'll have to finance the purchase if you decide you want to keep the motorcycle.

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How to lease a motorcycle

First, find a dealer that offers leasing. Many dealerships don't offer it due to the lower overall cost of motorcycles. Shop around like you would if you were buying your first motorcycle, focusing on your budget and must-have features. Once you've narrowed it down, you can discuss your lease options with the dealer.

Two of the most popular companies that provide motorcycle lease programs through dealers are MotoLease and Speedleasing. If you'll be using one of these programs, get familiar with their requirements and options:

How Motolease works

  • Leases both new and used machines up to 14 model years old
  • No mileage limitations
  • Able to finance any make and model available in the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Powersports Guide

How Speedleasing works

  • Leases used Harley Davidsons from 2007 models up to current models
  • Leases new and used Indian Motorcycles from 2014 models up to current models
  • No mileage limitations

If your dealer works with one of these companies, you may be able to lease a motorcycle and ride off the lot that day.

How does leasing a motorcycle work?

Here's a step-by-step breakdown of how leasing a motorcycle works:

  1. Apply for a lease

    You can either apply for a lease online through a lease program like MotoLease or through a program-authorized dealer.

  2. Get approved for a lease

    Your application will be approved or denied based on your ability to meet the requirements of the dealer or lessee. Requirements vary, but most commonly, you must:

    • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and 18 years of age. A permanent resident is a foreign national who's been granted the right to reside permanently in the U.S.
    • Show proof of regular income. You'll be asked to submit your most recent pay stub or other verifiable income.
    • Have a satisfactory credit score. Leasing programs and dealers often have flexible credit requirements. If you have a low credit score or no credit, you're still encouraged to apply.
  3. Understand the terms and conditions

    If you're approved for a lease, you'll receive a document that states the terms and conditions of the lease. These terms and conditions are based on individual cases and vary widely but often include:

    • Price of the motorcycle: The higher the price, the higher the monthly payment
    • Down payment: 10-30% of your lease amount
    • Lease length: 18-60 months
    • Monthly payment: Determined by the motorcycle price, the amount of your down payment, lease length, your credit history, and state taxes

    It's a good idea to read all the terms and conditions carefully. This will protect you from any hidden fees and prepare you to negotiate effectively.

  4. Negotiate terms with the dealer

    It's expected that you negotiate with the dealer after the terms and conditions are delivered. A few terms up for negotiation include the motorcycle price, down payment percentage, lease length, or monthly payment amount. You may also receive credit for a trade-in that's either credited to your lease balance or increases your lease amount.

  5. Submit documents

    Once you've agreed to terms, it's time to sign your lease and submit any required documents. These often include the lease agreement, a paystub, a copy of your insurance, a voided check, and your driver's license. Once your documents are verified, your bank will transfer the funds to the dealer, and you can schedule a time to pick up your motorcycle.

    You can negotiate terms with the dealer to find the best deal for your circumstances. Most motorcycle leases range from 1.5 to 5 years, with the option of purchasing the bike at the end of term or trading in for another model. Buying a used motorcycle could mean further financing and monthly payments. Trading in for a new bike is often the more expensive option in the long run but allows you to try other motorcycles.

    Learn more about buying a motorcycle at a dealership or buying a new or used motorcycle online.

Benefits of leasing a motorcycle

  • Less stringent qualifications: Qualifying for a motorcycle lease is generally not as difficult as qualifying for a motorcycle loan. There are lease programs that offer flexible credit requirements and smaller down payments
  • Improve credit: Making on-time lease payments on your motorcycle is a great way to develop trust with dealers and build your credit. Plus, motorcycle leases often have lower credit requirements than loans.
  • Gain experience: If you're a beginner, leasing can give you insight into motorcycle ownership. You can gain experience on the bike and learn the ins and outs of maintaining a motorcycle without the long-term commitment of buying.
  • Try out different styles and models: Leasing a motorcycle gives you the chance to test different motorcycle styles such as sport bikes, commuting motorcycles, cruisers, and touring bikes. You can find the style that you need before buying a new or used motorcycle.

While leasing a motorcycle is possible, consider all the pros and cons of leasing vs. buying before you decide. Due to the lower cost and rapid depreciation of motorcycles, buying a used motorcycle model might be the better choice for someone on a limited budget who wants to begin riding. But if you aren't sure that riding a motorcycle is right for you, then leasing a bike or renting a motorcycle short-term is worth considering.

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