For most motorcyclists, their bikes are their pride and joy, their utmost treasure. However, many times, it can be all too easy to succumb to the pressure of lending your beloved steed to someone else. Recently, a story about a borrowed motorcycle which figured in an accident went viral. In that particular scenario, it turned out that the person who borrowed the bike was under the influence of alcohol. Not good for him, but even worse for the actual owner of the motorcycle.
Now, we’re not going to go into the details of the viral story. However, we are going to go into the details of why it may not be a really good idea to lend your motorcycle to someone else—be it a friend or a relative. Similar to why it is highly recommended that you transfer a newly acquired second-hand motorcycle under your name as soon as possible, lending a motorcycle to someone else could potentially pose some difficult legal scenarios for you, should things go sideways.
You're still liable
In the scenario that you lend your motorcycle to somebody, and you do so without providing any legal documentation stipulating that you are giving the person the authority to use the motorcycle registered under your name, you run the risk of making yourself liable for all or any mishaps the bike is involved in. From a simple fender-bender, to a major accident, you could be charged as the person liable.
What makes things even more complicated is if the person whom you lent the motorcycle to refuses to take responsibility for the incident. In this case, you virtually have zero leverage to have the person pay up, other than to file a case against them. Of course, we don’t want to have to go to that extent, right?
You don't know how that person will treat your bike
Legal ramifications aside, lending your motorcycle to a stranger, or even an acquaintance, could lead to some serious headaches down the road. Are they safe and competent motorcyclists? Do they know how to treat your motorcycle with respect, and not hit the redline or pop wheelies at every stoplight? Sure, your bike may return to you without a scratch, but sometimes damage caused from improper riding only comes to the surface weeks, or even months after the deed has been done.
Furthermore, if you lend your motorcycle to someone for more than a couple of days, can you be guaranteed that they will park it in a safe, secure location overnight. It’s pretty obvious that motorcycles are a lot easier to steal than cars, as just a trio of able-bodied men can lift even the heaviest of bikes onto a flatbed or closed van.
Motorcycles can be more dangerous than cars
Lending your car to a friend or relative for a day is something that’s pretty commonly done. This is because cars are generally safer than bikes thanks to the fact that they have four wheels, airbags, seatbelts, and a whole myriad of safety features meant to keep you safe. A motorcycle, on the other hand, can seriously hurt you even just sitting in the garage with just one slip on the driveway. As such, lending your motorcycle to a friend, relative, or acquaintance could be very risky, especially if you’re not familiar with the way they ride, or their skill level on a motorbike.
What you should do instead
It’s clear, given the points above, that we recommend you not lend your motorcycle to anyone, if at all. However, if you must do so, we suggest you furnish a letter of authorization which basically grants the person you are lending the bike to the authority to use the bike. Be sure to explicitly state in the letter that the person using the bike will indeed be liable for any damages caused to and around the vehicle, as well as those involved in any untoward incident. Make sure the person you’re lending the bike to is fully aware of your conditions, and affixes their signature on the letter. It helps if you include a photocopy of their ID, alongside a photocopy of yours, as well.
Additionally, if you must lend your motorcycle to somebody, it may be helpful to purchase a tracking device for the bike, so you can monitor its location at any given time. Several options ranging from motorcycle-specific trackers to Apple AirTags do a good job at helping you keep tabs on your beloved machine.