Before you invest time and money in your project, you should confirm your project complies with any relevant requirements.
“Relevant” is the important word. If you are building a dedicated race bike, then the “relevant requirements” are the specifications for your race class.
If you are planning a street bike build, your local governmental vehicle registration authority might have some additional requirements.
Additionally, obtaining insurance might be complicated if you modify your bike.
None of these issues are insurmountable; you simply need to research carefully. Discovering these requirements at the end of your build could result in a trailer queen or substantial rework time and costs.
Local compliance and insurance
It's important that your bike is not only safe but legal to ride on the road. Of course, every local jurisdiction has their own regulations, so they can’t all be covered here.
Legal regulations often refer to specifications for manufacturing, importing and selling new vehicles. For example, the legal specifications might dictate the emissions levels permitted, or the maximum noise level for new bikes.
The bike manufacturer (or their in-country agent) is normally responsible for supplying a product that complies with these legal requirements. Occasionally, the local agent might have to perform minor modifications to every bike to meet specific local requirements.
You might see that modifying your project bike might make it non-compliant with those local regulations. This may – or may not – be a problem depending on the specific wording of the legal documents. Sometimes these requirements are only for the supply of new bikes, and do not apply to vehicles already in the market.
However, it’s not recommended taking on your government in a legal challenge over modifications to your bike!
At this point in your planning, you need to check two things:
- Can I register the bike I’m planning to build?
- Can I insure the bike I’m planning to build?
First, search the website for your local vehicle registration authority for any pages covering topics such as “vehicle modifications”.
Alternatively, search a phrase like “permitted motorcycle modifications in [your location]”.
If you’re already active in your local motorcycle community, ask other riders of modified bikes about their experience. Be careful; check and confirm any information provided against other sources.
In some locations (such as here in Australia), you may have to engage a third-party vehicle engineer to approve your modifications. If you discover this is the case, do so earlier rather than later. Again, you don’t want to reach the end of your project then discover you must add additional time and cost to gain approval.
While you’re online checking out registration requirements, search for motorcycle insurance coverage. If you buy a 40-year-old clapped-out project bike for $750, then spend $25,000 on a huge build, will your insurance payout on $750 or $25,000?
Ideally, source “enthusiast’s” coverage for a modified bike. Smaller, boutique insurance companies or brokers might have access to more suitable insurance products. Be honest and specific about the modifications and their value with the insurance company. This will prevent any issues if a claim is necessary.