Top 4 Options for Financing a Motorcycle

Buying a motorcycle is an exciting venture. However, it should not be taken lightly. How you pay for it should be one of the first factors you consider and plan for.

The good news is that you don’t need the entire price tag saved up in cash to get on a hog and take it home. The bad news is that if you don’t research before financing a motorcycle, it doesn’t take much to get in over your head. You may lose a good chunk of change and possibly the bike you’ve already made payments on.

To learn about the different types of motorcycle financing and which one may be right for you, continue reading on!

Motorcycle Loan from Financial Institution

Motorcycle loans from an institution such as a bank, lender or credit union are a good starting point to research. Many financial bodies offer pre-approval applications.

These applications inform you of the estimated amount you may be able to borrow and the approximate interest rate. You may then search for a motorcycle that fits within those parameters and isn’t going to overextend you.

Motorcycle loans are typically secured, meaning that the lender will declare asset(s) of yours as collateral. For these purposes, the collateral is almost always the motorcycle itself. This means that if you cannot keep up with payments and you default on the loan, the lender can then repossess the motorcycle.

Secured loans are much safer for the lender, but they do come with some perks for the borrower. Since the lender knows they will receive something of value in return, the line of credit usually comes with a higher limit. The interest rates are much lower and your credit score may not have to be as high in comparison to unsecured loans.

Personal Loan from Financial Institution

Many people don’t know this, but it’s possible to use a personal loan to buy a motorcycle, too. Similar to a vehicle loan, you may fill out a pre-approval application in many cases.

Personal loans are commonly unsecured. This means that you will not need to put up any asset(s) for collateral. Sounds great, right? 

It can be. It should be noted that you will need a good-to-great credit score to qualify for one. The interest rates will be significantly higher than those of secured loans. Lenders will also review your cash flow and debt-to-income ratio. These are more difficult to obtain, but can still be a viable option in some cases.

Financing through a Manufacturer

Some motorcycle manufacturers offer their own financing. Brands include Harley-Davidson, BMW and Suzuki among others. Many of these manufacturers offer loans for both new and used motorcycles. Depending on circumstances, they may offer you lower rates than banks, credit unions and online lenders.

Participating manufacturers will often offer several ways to secure this financing. You will typically have three options: through the manufacturer’s website, an authorized dealer’s website or the physical dealership.

If you finance a motorcycle through your local Harley-Davidson authorized dealership, the loan will go through Harley-Davidson Financial Services (HDFS). You’ll make payments directly to HDFS instead of the physical dealership. HDFS can also help with financing when buying a Harley-Davidson from a local private seller in many instances.

Financing through a Dealership

In some cases, riders are also able to finance their bike through the dealership itself. This sounds similar to manufacturer financing, but is different in some ways.

Some dealerships, not authorized by an official manufacturer, offer their own in-house financing. These financing offers are usually advertised with phrases such as “buy here, pay here” or “we finance.” These dealers may still need to verify your income, but typically don’t check your credit.

This option may seem great, especially if your credit isn’t ideal. However, these loans can become very expensive in a hurry. The interest fees are much higher when compared to loans from banks and credit unions. It’s also common over time to pay back an amount much larger than what the motorcycle was originally worth.


The very best motorcycle financing plan for you will take some research, but fortunately there are options to choose from. Get quotes from multiple lenders and compare them. Look over the complete terms. Pay special attention to the interest rates offered for each.

Have you ever financed a motorcycle in the past? Are you currently making payments now? Let us know your motorcycle financing experience in the comments below!

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