Motorcycle loans allow you to finance a new or used bike — similar to an auto loan. You can borrow from the manufacturer or dealership, and some banks offer motorcycle loans. If you aren’t going with traditional financing, you may also look into unsecured personal loans to finance your motorcycle.

Motorcycle loans tend to differ from standard auto loans, and bike loans generally have higher rates. Compare lenders carefully to avoid excessive fees and get the best deal.

How do motorcycle loans work?

A motorcycle loan will work differently depending on whether you opt for a secured or unsecured loan. Secured motorcycle loans work similarly to auto loans. The motorcycle is the collateral; if you fail to repay, your bike could be repossessed.

Unsecured motorcycle loans are like — or often are — personal loans. They tend to have higher rates, but you won’t automatically lose your ride if you fail to repay the loan.

Secured motorcycle loan 

A secured motorcycle loan differs from a loan for purchasing a car, but they work similarly. Once you find the lender you’re going to work with, the lender will transfer the money to the seller and file a lien on your collateral — typically the motorcycle itself. You’ll then pay your lender until your motorcycle is paid off.

Of course, the motorcycle doesn’t have to be collateral on a secured loan. There are other ways to secure your loan to get a low rate, but they may not be financially sound. After all, you would risk losing that collateral — like your house or savings account — if you cannot repay what you borrow.

Unsecured motorcycle loan

Unsecured motorcycle loans are based on your credit history and ability to repay. You may qualify for a low rate if you have a great credit score and a low debt-to-income ratio. Once approved, your loan is funded and deposited into your bank account. You then act as a cash buyer when negotiating with the motorcycle dealer or private party.

You’ll repay your loan just like you would a secured loan. But unlike a secured loan, the title will be entirely in your name.

Where can I get a motorcycle loan?

If you’re looking to get a motorcycle loan, you have a few options. Each of these comes with its pros and cons, so explore them all and find the one that works best for you. 

Auto and motorcycle dealerships

Auto and motorcycle dealerships will usually have financing options available to potential buyers, but their rates aren’t always the lowest. You may want to check out other funding sources before considering dealership financing. 

Banks and credit unions

Traditional lenders like banks and credit unions are another common way to finance a motorcycle purchase. They offer a variety of flexible loan options, and you will generally have more products to choose from if you have a strong credit score.  

Online lenders

Many borrowers select online financing companies because they offer competitive rates and flexible loan terms. Some online lenders will offer specific secured motorcycle loans, or you can consider an unsecured personal loan from an online lender. 

Manufacturers

If you’re buying a new motorcycle, you may be able to get a loan directly from your motorcycle manufacturer. While not every manufacturer offers financing, those that do may also offer financing specials. 

3 steps to get the best motorcycle loan 

Here are a few things to consider to get the best motorcycle loan possible. 

1. Review your credit

Knowing your credit score and what your credit profile looks like is an important step before you start shopping for your motorcycle. The higher your credit score, the more loan options you will have available, and the better interest rates you will be offered. 

2. Look for fees

Lenders can charge various fees for their loans, and it’s important to be aware of them. Fees can include those added by your dealership, prepayment penalties and late payment fees. Compare the fees attached to any financing options that you’re considering. 

3. Compare rates

Once you decide what motorcycle loan makes the most sense, you can compare interest rates. Take a close look at the loan’s annual percentage rate, or APR. The APR will determine how much the lender charges to borrow funds and could add several hundreds or thousands of dollars to the amount you will pay for the motorcycle over the life of the loan. 

The bottom line

You have many options to finance your motorcycle purchase, from dealers to banks, credit unions, online lenders and manufacturers. Each loan and lender comes with different advantages and disadvantages, so shop around to find what’s best for you.