Can You Title a Motorcycle Frame?
On several occasions, I have purchased motorcycles with no VINs on the frames. I have also changed my motorcycle frame, and I have had to title the frame or inform the motor vehicle agency about the changes. In this article, I will show you how to get a title for a motorcycle frame, especially if your motorcycle is custom-built.
Note that a thief can sell you a stolen motorcycle with no frame VIN and claim the dealers sell replacement frames with no VINs (some dealers indeed sell frames with no VIN). I’ve discussed this with the motor vehicle department, but they respond that all frames must have VIN.
In this case, what do you do? If you purchased a motorcycle with no VIN on the frame, intend to change your motorcycle frame, or title a custom-built bike, this article is for you.
Following researches, most states have no requirement to title the frame only. So, by titling your frame, you are titling the entire motorcycle.
If you are titling and registering a custom-built frame, it can be tedious to have it titled. But if you just bought a motorcycle frame for your motorcycle, you will visit the registration unit with the old frame title and the new frame title. The reason is that a motorcycle is registered/titled with the frame.
Do motorcycle frames come with titles?
New motorcycle frames do not come with titles; you will get an MSO (manufacturer’s statement of origin) instead. Note that some states limit the number of “builder titles” you can obtain within a particular time without having a license. Some states do not have limits at all, though.
How to Get a Title for a Motorcycle Frame
Follow the steps below to get a title for a motorcycle frame:
Make a Doc that Shows the Frame Construction
I assume you have the motorcycle frame to title already. If it is a homemade frame, create a document that details the entire frame construction (some states may require a notarized document).
If you just bought a replacement frame for your motorcycle, prepare the bill of sale and title of the new frame. But if the frame has no VIN (it could be a track bike or a new frame entirely), you must get a VIN for it in the process.
Contact Your Motor Vehicle Department
Titling requirements are slightly different in all states, but there are similarities. The first step is to visit your local motor vehicle department website to check eligibility, requirements, and forms to submit. You can also visit the physical office for the forms and printed instructions.
Your state’s websites may not be up to date, so endeavor to check the physical office for updated requirements.
Prepare Your Payment Proofs
Since your motorcycle is home-built, the motor vehicle registration agency expects that you have the receipts in handy. The reason is to ensure that the motorcycle was built from scratch and not stolen because a thief can make a stolen motorcycle legit by swapping the frame.
You must also include the parts/materials you obtained from a friend or a motorcycle repair shop. In essence, prepare every receipt and bill of sale for every part used on the bike.
If it is not a home-built motorcycle, you need the motorcycle receipt and bill of sale for your motorcycle and the newly purchased frame.
Prove Ownership of Engine and Transmission
To title a custom-made motorcycle, get ownership proof of the engine and transmission. If the engine and transmission are new, you should have the manufacturer’s certificate of origin at the time of purchase.
If you purchased the engine from an older motorcycle or received it as a gift, get the payment proof. You may not need a title for the engine because the engine has its number, and the titling of motorcycles depends on the frame.
Provide Odometer Disclosure Statement
The registration agency will require the Odometer Disclosure Statement if the motorcycle is purchased in running order.
However, if your engine is newly purchased for the motorcycle frame, the Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin covers it.
For a used engine, basket case, or salvage engine, you will be required to prove its ownership. Typically, you have to complete and present a notarized form the state will provide you.
Apply for VIN
A new motorcycle frame should have VIN. Otherwise, you must VIN the new frame to make it legal. If your motorcycle frame has no VIN, you have to get a new VIN, but it is stressful if it’s not a homemade bike.
If it is a homebuilt motorcycle, you can apply for VIN easily. Typically, you’ll receive a form with proof of ownership of the motor, transmission, and frame.
Motorcycle Theft Inspection
If you are getting a new frame VIN for your motorcycle with no VIN, a theft inspection may be conducted to determine whether the bike is stolen. You may not go through this step for a custom-built motorcycle after proving ownership of the vital components.
Go for Safety Inspection
Get a Safety Inspection Certificate filled out by a law enforcement officer in your state. This step is applicable for homemade motorcycles only, and it verifies whether your motorcycle is road-worthy.
A motorcycle safety inspection checks the lights, brakes, horn, tires, mirrors, directional signage, exhaust, etc. Meanwhile, the frame VIN may be installed at this point.
Depending on your state, an emission test may not be required on your custom-built motorcycle. Nevertheless, there could be standards needed in your state to ensure your motorcycle is suitable for the atmosphere.
After a successful test, you will be certified to obtain VIN and title your motorcycle frame. The inspection officer will provide a document to submit during registration.
Get an Insurance
Some insurance companies would not risk giving coverage for a custom-built motorcycle.
However, if your motorcycle frame is not custom-built or totaled, you should have no problem insuring it.
- A completed Application for Title.
- A completed Statement of Construction (for a custom-built bike).
- Ownership proof documents such as receipts and bill of sale.
- Motorcycle verification certificate (custom-built only).
- A completed smog check certificate by the responsible agency in your state (custom-built motorcycle only).
- Safety inspection certificate.
- Titling fee.
What is the cost of titling a motorcycle frame?
The average cost is $100. You should budget about $150 if your motorcycle is homemade. If you are getting a replacement bike frame only, and your frame arrives with MSO, expect less than $100.
Titling a custom-made motorcycle frame, which covers the entire motorcycle, is not so easy. Make sure to understand your state’s demand before you commence building a motorcycle.
If you purchased a replacement frame, it is easier to title it, especially if it arrives with manufacturer VIN.
Attempting to title a frame with no VIN gives the impression that the motorcycle is stolen. Nevertheless, you can ride with the replacement frame with no VIN (not advisable), but keep your older motorcycle frame handy in case you have to give explanations someday (getting pulled over).
Meanwhile, learn how to get rid of a motorcycle without a title!