Finance your next powersport adventure the smart way


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October 17, 2017 | Updated October 19, 2017


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Key Points

Things to consider before getting a powersport loan

  • Powersport loans encompass vehicles such as dirt bikes, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), snowmobiles and personal watercraft.
  • These loans are similar to auto loans, considering terms, and financing taxes and fees.
  • Budget well, considering the cost of the loan, and secondary costs such as a trailer, accessories, safety gear and maintenance.

Before getting a rush of adrenaline from a powersports adventure — whether you’re pounding a trail on a dirt bike or zipping along on a snowmobile — you likely put some thought into the product you wanted to buy and how you planned to pay for it.

Whether you’re a veteran driver of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) or looking to take up snowmobiling as your next hobby, there are many things to consider when shopping for and financing a powersport vehicle.

Many banks and credit unions offer powersport loans for specialty vehicles like dirt bikes, ATVs, snowmobiles, personal watercraft, horse trailers and utility trailers, among other items. These loans can offer flexibility for the borrower, with terms up to seven years — similar to an auto loan  — no down payments or prepayment penalties, as well as financing of taxes and fees into the loan amount.

FactorTrust, an alternative credit bureau, said there are more than 4,500 powersport dealerships in the U.S. and about 3 million consumers apply for financing on these products each year. It estimated the annual U.S. market for loans on new powersport vehicles at more than $20 billion. And a 2016 study from Synchrony Financial found the average consumer spends 244 days researching a potential powersport purchase, with about 45 percent of consumers exploring financing options.

With most types of powersport equipment, consider test rides during specific times of year, often known as “demo days.” Dealerships may only offer rides during these periods. They may also offer discounts, rebates, warranty upgrades or promotional financing to pique your interest.

Here are some other things to keep in mind before purchasing some of the most popular powersport products.

Dirt bikes

The newest dirt bike models generally start at $2,000. On top of the cost of the loan, you can expect to add several hundred or a few thousand dollars for safety equipment, such as a helmet and face shield; sunglasses; body and leg protectors; and riding boots. There are also regular maintenance expenses, such as oil changes, as well as insurance and registration, that can cost a few hundred dollars per year.

When buying a dirt bike, consider the rider’s experience level. A child who is learning to ride will need a smaller bike with less power and an automatic clutch. Adults and experienced riders may be comfortable with a larger bike with a manual clutch. Body weight is also a consideration — people who weigh less than 150 pounds may be more secure with a smaller suspension of 250 cubic centimeters or less. Strictly speaking, dirt bikes aren’t legal for taking on the road. You’ll need a way to transport it.

ATVs

You may be able to find a new model in the $5,000 to $10,000 price range, although state-of-the-art ATVs approach $30,000. Set a budget for an ATV loan and look for loan prequalification offers based on your income and credit scores. Safety gear, maintenance costs and insurance should be included in your budget, as well as a trailer to haul the vehicle.

Determine the purpose of your ATV purchase. If you’re a hunter, for example, you’ll probably want a vehicle with a quiet engine, even if you have to sacrifice speed to get it. Or you might need something with more room for extra gear or passengers.

Snowmobiles

New snowmobiles are often priced between $7,000 and $10,000, although you may be able to find a reliable used model for around $2,000. Before purchasing one, consider taking a safety class. Some states require them to get licensed. Similar to other powersports vehicles, factor in the costs of safety gear — helmets, bibs, jackets, gloves and boots — as well as the costs of fuel, oil changes and replacement parts.

Compare and contrast models based on your experience and needs. Entry-level snowmobiles, or trail models, are less expensive. They are lighter and easier to maneuver, with engines of 60 to 70 horsepower. Performance snowmobiles typically have 85 or higher horsepower and cost more due to their speed and responsiveness. Touring models have a two-seat configuration.

Personal watercraft

The cost of a new Jet Ski, or personal watercraft, fluctuates from $5,000 to $15,000, sometimes more. Along with a personal watercraft loan, your budget should include the cost of a trailer for hauling, as well as registration, licensing and insurance expenses. Accessories such as life jackets, dock lines, anchors, wet suits and even an air horn or fold-up paddle in case of an emergency are also useful purchases.

Some Jet Skis have space for one or two passengers, while others can seat three or four. Generally, the smaller the watercraft, the faster and more maneuverable it is. Decide if you want a PWC with towing capabilities for water skiing, wakeboarding or tubing. More horsepower will be necessary for these purposes.


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