Success of EagleRider Draws Mainstream Media Attention
More than a few enthusiasts have considered their own moto-tour business – until the realities of logistics, insurance, expenses, etc., arrive to dissuade them. Chris McIntyre of EagleRider was not discouraged.
A recent article in Forbes Magazine by Alison Coleman outlines the story of how McIntyre and partner Jeff Brown created the tour/rental business 25 years ago, with just four motorcycles in a Los Angeles garage. Their business model combined the appeals of rentals and guided tours, which eventually drew more than 100,000 riders a year to the program.
As a student at the University of Wisconsin, McIntyre realized he could consolidate the practical and adventurous elements of motorcycling.
“Not only was a motorcycle economical and easy to park on campus, it was an exhilarating way for me to clear my mind and organize weekend escapes with my friends or girlfriend," he told Forbes. "I’ve always believed that touring on a motorcycle is a rite of passage and as pure to the symbolism of the American Dream as a cowboy’s journey across the American frontier of years gone by.”
Years later, when both McIntyre and Brown had grown weary of their white-collar jobs, they collaborated to form a business based on their shared passion for motorcycle travel and lifestyle.
“We literally started EagleRider by creating a business plan with financial pro-formas and presenting to endless banks and insurance companies to back our business,” he said. “After about a hundred rejections we decided to take our passion, and nearly every dollar we had, to pioneer and and prove our business model by buying our first rental fleet of four Harley-Davidson motorcycles.”
Over the years those four original bikes eventually became 4,000 motorcycles and an international network of rental outlets and guided tours. As the costs for new machines in all riding categories continued to escalate, the pair realized that prospective owners faced the same issues on price, insurance, and maintenance. EagleRider was willing to gamble that the market growth among boomers and millennials would continue to fuel their business expansion. And they were right.
“Memories and authentic travel experiences are much more important than money and ownership,” McIntyre told Forbes. “Our tipping point happened quickly because we were in the business of providing dreams, seeing fellow adventure travelers and motorcyclists from around the world search us out so they could experience and find their own personal American Dream. We didn’t know it at the time but EagleRider was quickly becoming the Disney of the motorcycle and travel industry.”
Now EagleRider employs around 300 people and does US $100 million of business annually. They’ve recently launched Club EagleRider, a $29 monthly membership program that provides members with access to thousands of motorcycles for rent every month across multiple locations in North America.
While competition among rental/tour groups has grown, McIntyre isn’t troubled.
“There have been many car rental companies trying to rent motorcycles, but they don’t hire motorcyclists that talk the talk, walk the walk, and ride the ride. The guided experience that we offer goes far beyond a mapped route, and we work to create tours that engage with area businesses and locals, while also enabling riders to experience the iconic region they visit with a group of like-minded adventure seekers. We produce memorable experiences of freedom; our products and services are simply a means to get to that experience.”