Custom Motorcycle Registration

Dec 28, 2012 View Comments by

Custom Motorcycle RegistrationPlanning to build a custom motorcycle? From using safe parts to having a certified mechanic inspect your bike, there are many things to consider in order to protect your legal rights. One of the most common questions people have is: “How do I register a custom motorcycle?”

Here are a few tips to ensure that you register your custom bike properly:



  • Every state has different laws and procedures for registering a custom built motorcycle, but many aspects are exactly the same. Contact your local registration office for details on your state requirements from the beginning.
  • Plan on building several bikes? Check if your state has a limit on the number of “builder’s titles” you can apply for within a specific time period.
  • Get the title if you purchase the frame and engine parts. Make sure the VIN on the frame/engine matches the VIN on the title.
  • Save all of your paperwork, including proof of ownership that states the VIN when applicable. If you find a part is defective and suffer future injuries, you will need the paperwork to identify who’s to blame for your medical bills and damages.
  • Do your homework on the parts you use to build your dream bike. Occasionally there are recalls, because a part may be dangerous or defective in some way.
  • Have a certified mechanic inspect your motorcycle as you build it. You must present your bike to a law enforcement agency. They will inspect it and determine whether it’s safe to take on the road.
  • If your state has required emissions inspections, find out what equipment you need to control emissions and where to go for the inspection certificate.
  • Apply for a new Title of Ownership for your motorcycle.
  • Once you receive the title in the mail, get adequate motorcycle insurance coverage and take proof of insurance to the registration office. You must pay a fee to register the bike, as well as a license plate fee.

Do You Plan to Sell Your Custom Bike?

After you sell or transfer ownership of the bike, know that you may be held liable if someone claims that a defect in your design or work caused him or her to become injured. Since you will no longer have the bike insured after you sell it, you may not be covered for defense of the claim or for the amount of any judgment. If you plan to sell a bike you built, be sure to discuss proper insurance with your local qualified insurance broker.

Finally, refresh your knowledge of your state’s motorcycle insurance laws and helmet laws, and be sure to follow these motorcycle safety tips.

Photography: Liz Jansen

Tags: , , Categories: Touring & Safety Tips

About the author

Attorney Michael H. Rosenzweig has over 20 years of experience helping bikers injured in motorcycle accidents. He is a partner and litigation manager at Edgar Snyder & Associates. The Edgar Snyder & Associates Harley-Davidson makes appearances at bike nights and rallies throughout the riding season.