News Feature

Taking the Twisted Road to motorcycle rentals



April 16, 2018 | Rahoul Ghose

twisted road founder and ceo austin rothbard | rahoul ghose
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  It’s leaning into a turn. Making your own path. Exploring. The journey. And the ride. It's about not knowing what's around the bend but being able to enjoy the moment of wheel on earth. But it’s mostly about the ride.   

-- Austin Rothbard, Twisted Road
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It’s an idea long in the making … an ‘airbnb’ of motorcycle rentals allowing bike owners to connect with enthusiasts looking for that special ride when they are far from local roads and their own bike.

For Twisted Road founder and CEO Austin Rothbard the concept stemmed from a very personal need.

“Two years ago, I was traveling through the Southwest, visiting our National Parks: The Grand Canyon. Horseshoe Bend. Zion. Bryce,” says Rothbard, originally from Bergen County, New Jersey. “I was cruising through Mother Nature’s playground surrounded by beauty -- in a car. I needed to experience it on my bike. But my bike was parked in my garage 1,600 miles away. This happened again when I was trying to plan a trip to Motos in Moab; I didn't have nine days off work to ride my bike there and didn't want to attend on four wheels. And then in Italy, Vespas were abundant, but Moto Guzzis were not. The shame.”

Rothbard needed to have a bike to ride when traveling; and he also wanted to take advantage of the down time for his own bike – a 2010 Moto Guzzi v7 Classic – which could be rented out to visitors in his current hometown.

“Over the next few months, I spoke to more than 100 people about the idea. Entrepreneurs. Adventurers. Mentors. Artists. Builders. And of course, riders. Lots of people were excited to make money off of their bike when they weren't using it,” he says. “Others weren't sure if they'd rent their bike out but were thrilled to have the option of riding while traveling or even trying new bikes in their own hometown. Still people wanted to both rent bikes and list theirs. I knew we had something.”

The name Twisted Road itself reflects both the challenge of starting the company – which now has 500 bike registrations – and Rothbard's own passion for motorcycling.

“It’s leaning into a turn. Making your own path. Exploring. The journey. And the ride. It's about not knowing what's around the bend but being able to enjoy the moment of wheel on earth. But it’s mostly about the ride.”

twistedroad.com
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  Lots of people were excited to make money off of their bike when they weren't using it. Others weren't sure if they'd rent their bike out but were thrilled to have the option of riding while traveling or even trying new bikes in their own hometown. Still people wanted to both rent bikes and list theirs. I knew we had something.   

-- Austin Rothbard, Twisted Road
____________________________________________________________________

Twisted Road is Rothbard’s first foray into the moto industry, but the former civil engineer and Cornell business school graduate has spent 25 years in corporate America, the last decade as the president of four different companies: Cabo Yachts, Brunswick Billiards, Baker Furniture, and World Kitchen (Pyrex's Parent Company).

The 46-year-old has been riding for the past three. And his Guzzi is available for rent in Chicago.

Literally a rental hub, twistedroad.com allows bike owners to register their bikes for rental (currently earning a $25 credit) and allows them to set up a personal profile and a page for their ride with photos and details.

Renters can search the site by brand, location and even price to find a ride. To reserve a bike a current insurance card and driver’s license number (which are verfied by Twisted Road) must be uploaded to the site.

“Our company runs a Motor Vehicle Report on all riders. This report provides information on motorcycle endorsements, suspended licenses, and other information that we use to ensure the rider is legally allowed to ride.”

The eligibility requirements to rent are necessarily quite steep:

  • You must hold a current, valid, unrestricted driver's license, with a motorcycle endorsement, and present your license to the owner when you begin the trip. Your license may not be temporary, probationary, paper, or otherwise limited.
  • You must be at least 21 years of age to rent in the United States.
  • If you are under 25, you may be required to demonstrate at least two years of current motorcycle riding history in the US.
  • If you hold a non-US driver’s license and are renting a motorcycle in the US, you must be at least 25, and you will need to provide your passport and a photograph of your license.
  • You must possess a mobile phone in your own name that we can verify through text message.
  • You must be a registered user of Twisted Road.
  • You must have motorcycle insurance.
  • You must have experience riding a motorcycle and document this in your profile.
  • You must be able to cover Twisted Road's $2,000 credit card hold on all rentals.

twistedroad.com
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  Our company runs a Motor Vehicle Report on all riders. This report provides information on motorcycle endorsements, suspended licenses, and other information that we use to ensure the rider is legally allowed to ride.   

-- Austin Rothbard, Twisted Road
____________________________________________________________________

The rental process then moves to bike owners reviewing requests and either approving or rejecting them. If approved a meeting is set up for key pickup and bike inspection by the user. The meeting is also an opportunity for the owner to talk about the bike.

The bike owner is responsible for delivering a motorcycle with a full tank of fuel at the beginning of the rental period. The rider is responsible for returning the bike with a full tank of gas.

When the bike is returned it is again inspected by the owner for any issues, and both parties can submit feedback on the experience and rate one another. The end process also involves the owner getting paid for the rental – 70 per cent of their listed daily rate on the site.

In the event a bike is damaged, owners are covered as follows:

  • Twisted Road covers the owner for damages that occur during a rental period, up to the market value of the bike, with a maximum payout of $15,000.
  • The rider is responsible for any damages to the motorcycle. To the extent possible, Twisted Road will get reimbursed for these costs through the rider’s insurance company. But regardless of what the company is reimbursed, the owner will be covered for up to $15,000 worth of damages caused to his or her bike.
  • All liability claims will otherwise be covered by the renter’s insurance provider – Twisted Road is not responsible for paying any liability claims.

Rothbard said the Chicago, IL-based company is also working out safeguards on the renter side, in terms of allowing owners to gain special status if maintenance records are also uploaded as part of their bike’s information page.

Rental companies such as Eagleriders monitor and maintain their fleets on location and have records for all work performed on their bikes, offering renters a promise of safety.

Rothbard hopes to provide that same peace of mind.

He is also already looking to version 2.0 of the website, which will be more robust and could include a smart phone app (android and apple) in time for the 2019 riding season.

“We are in an iterative process. This is our first version, and we continue to evolve. Today's site is more efficient and easier than our initial site. (And) we have many plans for the future … just none I am ready to discuss yet.”

twistedroad.com
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  We have the most bikes in Texas, followed by California. We have 500 bikes on the site, in 42 states. There is (even) a user now from Iceland who is renting a bike for a month to ride across the country.  

-- Austin Rothbard, Twisted Road
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The Better Business Bureau-accredited idea is taking off, says Rothbard, who has been touring the moto show circuit to promote his service. He had a booth at the recent OG Moto Show in Los Angeles.

The site’s inventory includes a wide variety of bikes: sports, cruisers, café racers, on-road off-road and even classic vintage options, hailing from Los Angeles to New York.

“We have the most bikes in Texas, followed by California,” says Rothbard. “We have 500 bikes on the site, in 42 states.”

Some renters are using the website in the hopes of selling their rides, banking on the possibility their customers will want to buy once experiencing their bike.

“There is (even) a user now from Iceland who is renting a bike for a month to ride across the country.”

Rothbard welcomes any questions, feedback, ideas, issues, stories, or photos you want to share. Send him an email at info@twistedroad.com. You can also visit Twisted Road on social media below.

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