How to Rent Route 66 by Motorcycle, Part 1

It only crosses eight states. But Route 66 looms large in America’s imagination. (Anders T. Carlson/)

America is awesome. But it’s huge. Do you want to spend days riding through all of it to get to the good parts? What if you just want to ride in one awesome place, ride through other awesome places, then just go home? Enter EagleRider Motorcycle Rentals & Tours.

Sure, it’s fun to take mechanically suspect used motorcycles and travel long distances to prove your man- or womanhood. But then you get older and/or wiser. You get a van or trailer and just drive to the good parts. Then you get even wiser, which is where the motorcycle rental part comes in.

In the spirit of full journalistic disclosure, EagleRider gave Motorcyclist a Club membership with 18 credits to ride wherever somebody from Motorcyclist wanted. I volunteered to be that somebody. In return, I offered to write an honest account of whatever the hell I felt like.

First, a little background. EagleRider started renting new motorcycles to touring enthusiasts in 1994 and currently has 200 locations in 30 countries worldwide. There are 26 North American guided tour options and 60 self-guided tour options, complete with an app that highlights Instagram-worthy points of interest. The company tailors packages around events like Harley-Davidson’s 120th anniversary or Sturgis, in addition to regional tour themes like “Wine Country” or “The Civil War.”

Where it starts: EagleRider’s immaculate Chicago location on opening day, 2023. (Anders T. Carlson/)

A self-guided eight-day Chicago to Albuquerque tour starts at $1,600, while the 15-day Chicago to LA version starts at $2,816. I made up my own Route 66 tour starting in Chicago and returning eight days later. I have no idea how far I’ll make it. Technically, I’m taking a self-guided tour, complete with hotel accommodations and itinerary, courtesy of EagleRider. A self-guided tour works for me since I’m a loner. Just like PeeWee Herman in the movie, PeeWee’s Big Adventure.

The listed prices are for Club EagleRider members. There are three levels of membership: $29, $55, and $79, which earn you one to three credits per month, which can be applied toward rentals or tour offerings. Club members also get deeply discounted rates on rentals. It’s basically a subscription model. The idea is to offer the ride without the hassle of ownership, transport, or cleaning bugs off windshields.

I download the app, log in to my complimentary Club membership, and begin choosing which bike I want. The Yamaha Ténéré 1200 probably has heated grips. Sold American.

So what’s the experience like? Time to find out.

The Mother Road begins in godless Chicago: at the corner of Jackson Boulevard and Michigan Avenue. (Anders T. Carlson/)

Day 1

Renting motorcycles is all about convenience and ease. But I choose the hard way to see the USA. I’m leaving Chicago on a rainy, 40-degree-Fahrenheit April Fools’ Day. Arriving early at EagleRider General Manager Danny Brown’s Chicago location, I am the first customer of 2023.

Dozens of gleaming Harley-Davidsons, BMWs, Yamahas, and even a few Royal Enfields grace his spotless shop. Everything you could possibly need (or have forgotten) is available for sale. Cargo nets, farkles, leather vests with patches, and even chapstick. Danny gives me a safety and operational briefing on my Ténéré 1200, gives me papers to sign, and I’m off.

“Hey, what if I decide to change my itinerary?” I ask.

“Just let me know as soon as possible,” Danny says.

He gives me a card with his personal cell number and tells me to call him if I need anything. If anything happens with the bike, call him. If tire pressure is low, call him. He has no idea I’m writing about this and got tons of expensive stuff for free. Danny, you’re a mensch.

Of course Route 66 starts in Chicago. Historically, it’s one of America’s best places to leave. EagleRider’s app offers an itinerary and map,

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By: Anders T. Carlson
Title: How to Rent Route 66 by Motorcycle, Part 1
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Published Date: Thu, 13 Apr 2023 10:00:03 +0000


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