West Sussex Motorcycle Hire - Chichester, Wst Sussex, UK
Four of us recently toured the UK by motorcycle (two couples on two bikes) and we rented from West Sussex Motorcycle Hire <http://www.westsussexmotorcyclehire.co.uk/>. We rented a K1600GTLE and a R1200RT, both were 2015 models I believe. The rental paperwork does not list model year, but I believe that is what Peter told us they were.
Overall, we had a good experience, but had a few issues that people who choose to rent from West Sussex should be aware of so you can hopefully not have the same problems.
First the good:
1. Both bikes were in very good condition with low mileage. My GTLE had 3,200 miles at delivery and I think my brother-in-laws RT was around 5,000. The RT had one loose side bag mount, but that didn't cause a problem during the trip.
2. Delivery to our B&B near Heathrow was provided for at cost of £110 which has since increased to £120 each way. However, this was still a better deal than four of us paying for transportation to Chichester to pick up the bikes.
3. West Sussex' rates were among the best we found in the UK and they had the best selection of BMWs that we found in our search. I am not saying we found every company in the UK that rents bikes, but we looked at 6-8 in England and Scotland.
4. The bikes were totally trouble-free during our ride.
5. We had no hassles with return of our damage deposits on the bikes or accessories, but, as I will mention below, the accessories were the weak link of West Sussex. Fortunately, we did not drop the bikes or have any incidents with them so we had no need to haggle over any damages.
6. Peter was prompt in both delivery and pickup of the bikes being within 30 minutes of the promised time.
Now the bad:
1. Peter brought no tools with him in his delivery truck. When we discovered that the right side bag mount (small plastic piece held on by two screws) was loose and missing one of its screws, he didn't even have a screwdriver to tighten the screw. Fortunately, the primitive RT tool kit did have a screwdriver which he used to tighten the remaining screw which held for our 14 day trip.
2. I had not rented a GPS since I had my own Nav V, but my brother-in-law had rented one and was told he would get a Zumo 590, as I recall. When the bikes arrived, my 1600 had a Nav V in it and the RT had nothing. Not a big deal since both accept the Nav V so we moved the rental Nav to the RT. But this was our first indication of lack of attention to detail.
3. West Sussex web site stated that the 1600 came with bag liners and I confirmed this via email a few days before our flight as I was planning to not bring my own to save space packing. However, I decided to bring mine at the last minute as a backup in case the GTLE didn't have them and so that my sister and brother-in-law could use them in their RT if the GTLE did have the promised liners. It was a good thing I brought mine as Peter forget to check the GTLE and it did not have the liners in it. Second indication of lack of attention to detail.
4. We both rented Sena headsets and the model provided was the Sena SMH5. The headsets were missing several parts according to the "what's in the box" list. Both headsets were there, but only one charger for each set rather than one for each unit. Which meant we had to remember to swap helmets sometime late at night so that both could be charged each night. And we had only one Allen wrench for all four headsets so we had to take turns installing them in our helmets. Peter installed one of the four headsets to show us how and he paired one set of the headsets and then we installed the remaining three after he left.
5. Neither headset was fully functional. My headset worked fine and paired quickly with my iPhone, my Nav V and my wife's headset. However, I could not hear her even though she could hear me. After messing with volume, re-pairing, etc., nothing worked. Suspecting the mic, I swapped mics between our helmets and, sure enough, I cold then hear her, but she could not hear me. And we could not get the intercom pairing between the two bikes to work for the bike-to-bike communications that we had hoped for.
My brother-in-laws headset would not pair with his Nav V. We tried everything including factory reset on the Garmin and it simply would not recognize the Sena. However, my sister and brother-in-laws headsets paired with each other and they could communicate fine, but could not hear me or my wife and could not hear their GPS direction commands.
I had texted Peter to see if we could meet early the next morning before we started our journey to address the headset issues, but he was two hours from our location and we couldn't lose 4+ hours of time and still get to our first night's hotel in Newcastle. I asked if he could meet us halfway and he said he could not due to another delivery. So, we learned a key lesson in that we should not have let Peter leave until everything was installed in the helmets, paired and fully functional. Peter did tell me by text message that he would not charge me for the one headset since it wasn't working.
After our trip when the bikes were picked up, I had planned to have Peter look at my headsets before he left, but it began to rain and he said he would check them out when he got back to his shop. So, we didn't bother to ask him to stand around in the rain to check them in our presence. Mistake #2. When we got our deposit refunds there was no deduction of £30 for the nonfunctional headset. When I inquired, I got an email that the headsets "worked instantly" back it his shop so no refund was allowed. He said that he found the volume was turned down on one headset and when he turned that up it all worked fine.
Well, I wasn't there, but I simply don't believe this. I have been an electrical and software engineer for 33 years and am reasonably familiar with things electronic and this was not a volume issue. I could clearly hear my GPS and my wife could clearly hear me talk with her, so that 100% rules our volume as the issue. And when I swapped mics, the problem traveled with the mic. So, I am 100% certain it was a mic issue. Now, I can't say it wasn't a bad connection that happened to work when he tried them, but I checked all connections (not many as most of the Sena parts are hard-wired) and we adjusted volumes and tried every troubleshooting thing we could and nothing made the one mic work. And the same claim was made that the rental Nav V "instantly" paired with the headset back at his shop. Again, we weren't there so it is one word against the other.
Given the lack of attention to detail, I would not be surprised that the headset that was paired with the rental Nav was mine rather than my brother-in-laws. When my brother-in-law inquired by text about the pairing issue before we left, Peter insisted he had a Zumo rather than a Nav V. He had to send him a picture of the unit to remind him that he had brought a unit other than what he had promised and had it in the wrong bike.
I give West Sussex 4 out of 5 stars. I would have given a solid 5 had things been provided as promised (bag liners for my GTL) and had the headsets worked. Alternatively, had we been given the promised £30 refund, I would have also given 5 stars still as I realize that "crap happens" and as long as a vendor tries to offset it I can live with that.
West Sussex delivered on the basics. We got sound bikes at a good price delivered and picked up on time. Based on that alone, I would rent from them again with little hesitation.
However, West Sussex simply doesn't sweat the details the way Moto-Center Thun did when we rented a 1600 from them in 2013. That was simply a first class experience from start to finish and is my benchmark for motorcycle rental. So, should I rent again from West Sussex, the main things I would do differently are:
1. I would state in writing that if things aren't delivered as promised (bag liners, in my case) that I will deduct £X from the rental price so that they have a financial incentive to sweat these details.
2. I wouldn't let Peter, or whoever delivers the bikes, leave until ALL accessories are fitted to the helmets and working properly. This would have taken an extra hour of Peter's time and we thought we were doing him a favor letting him get back on the road as we figured it couldn't be that hard to install the headsets and pair them. Our mistake for letting him leave before all was installed and demonstrated functional.
2007 K1200LT "Starship Enterprise"