high rates are a sign you don't want their business. Any of their business.

Motor madness

As you can probably guess, I’m a motorcycle nut. In fact, motorcycles are my primary transportation — I ride one of my bikes to work every day it’s not snowing too hard. Recently on a large online forum, the topic of financing motorcycles came up. I was very happy to see that several people recommended visiting a friendly local credit union, but I was amazed to note the huge range of variation in rates, terms, and treatment.

Brown County, Indiana

Apparently, some credit unions won’t finance motorcycles at all (unless it’s through an unsecured or home equity loan). Some CUs assign very high rates to motorcycle loans — I’ve recently seen auto loan rates below 3%, but many people reported motorcycle rates over 10%. Others reported maximum terms restricted to 36 months and 20% down payment requirements.

Happily, other folks reported that motorcycle financing at their credit union worked the same as financing a car, truck, or van — the same rates and terms were available for any road-going vehicle, whatever the number of wheels. Several people reported switching to a credit union or from one CU to another in order to get financing at a reasonable rate.

I think there’s a lot of opportunity here — you have something people feel very strongly about (motorcycles), and you have a wide variation that creates plenty of room for opportunity. And, of course, motorcyclists are significantly better-educated and have higher incomes than average.

There’s plenty of emotional appeal, too — motorcyclists are used to being second-class citizens in many other ways. Offering attractive financing makes motorcyclists feel welcomed and respected, while high rates are a sign you don’t want their business. Any of their business.

Even if you don’t ride, it’s well worth taking a look at what you offer people with a passion for two wheels. Review the local competition as well — chances are, there’s a big lending opportunity ready for the taking.

Brian Wringer

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