Motorcycle frames are a very important part of a motorcycle. Its role is to hold the different parts together in one rigid structure and prevent it from falling apart. And its Title is the motorcycle’s identity.
Yes, motorcycle frames have their own Titles and VIN numbers. The Title proves that you own the motorcycle and, in most cases, serves as the Title for the whole motorbike.
So how do you get the Title of your motorcycle frame? By having the documents to prove that the motorcycle belongs to you. With this ready, you can go down to the nearest DMV and proceed to apply for the Title.
Additionally, if the motorcycle is custom-made or home-built, you have to sign an Odometer Disclosure Statement. You also need to have proof of ownership of the engine and transmission. You may also need to provide an emission certificate.
Getting a Title for your motorcycle frame
Motorcycle frames have their own Titles and VIN (vehicle identification number). In most cases, the frame Title also serves as a Title for the whole motorcycle itself.
Ideally, you need to get a Title for your motorcycle frame only if the frame is homemade or customized. New motorcycle frames from a manufacturer will come with VIN numbers. And if it is an already-existing frame, then the previous owners should already have a legal Title for it. For example, if it is from a used motorcycle.
But if you are the one who is customizing the frame or building it at home, then it won’t have a Title. And in this case, you can apply for one.
Additionally, you can also apply for a lost Title. This is in case it is a barn-find motorcycle.
Applying for a Title for a new frame
Each state has slightly different procedures for applying for a new motorcycle frame. But the steps below will give you an overall general idea of what you need to do.
- Prepare the documents to prove that the frame belongs to you. This can be a bill of sale or receipts of purchase.
- Apply at your local DMV (department of motor vehicles) office for a new Title using your proof of ownership documents. You can do this online or in person, depending on what the DMV allows.
- Then complete a smog check from an authorized party and get a safety inspection certificate. The authorized party can include your local DMV office, law enforcement, or other agencies, depending on the state you are in.
- Pay the required fees for the Certificate of Title. This can be around $100 to $150 with sales tax and other taxes, depending on where you are.
What if you have a customized or home-built motorcycle frame?
In this case, apart from the documents mentioned above, you will need to add a few more.
- If it is a homemade frame, the first thing to do is to create a document of the frame’s blueprint. It should have all the details about the entire frame construction. In some states, you may need to get the document notarized.
- Have all payment receipts ready to show what you bought the parts to create the frame for the custom vehicle. To be on the safe side, keep all bills of sale, receipts, and documentation related to the frame. No matter how miscellaneous they may seem, they may be necessary later.
For example, you may be using a salvage engine, or you bought the parts from a friend. In this case, the sale may be informal, but you should still document it and try to get receipts. This will prove that you are the current vehicle owner.
- To title a custom-built frame, you must also have proof of ownership of the motorcycle’s engine and transmission. If these parts are new, you will get the manufacturer’s certificate of origin when you buy them.
If you bought the engine secondhand from an older motorcycle or received it as a gift, get the payment proof.
Also, if you are buying the frame or other parts secondhand, make sure the VIN on the frame matches the VIN listed on the Title of ownership.
- Provide an Odometer Disclosure Statement. This applies if your engine is not new. If it is new, then the Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin will suffice.
- Get a VIN number for the frame of your custom-built motorcycle. If it is a homebuilt motorcycle, applying for a new VIN is not very difficult. As long as you have proof of ownership of the motor, transmission, and frame, you can apply for a new VIN.
- When you apply for a new VIN, the DMV may conduct a theft inspection or VIN inspection. This is to ensure that it is not a stolen motorcycle. But, again, for a custom-built motorcycle, this step may not be necessary. That is, as long as you have the documents to prove that you own the engine, transmission, and other important parts.
- As a precautionary step, you should also get a safety check of your homemade motorcycle done by a law enforcement officer. The officer can check if the vehicle is road worthy and can be driven on public roads. Then they will issue a Safety Inspection Certificate.
Here, a motorcycle safety inspection means checking the lights, horns, tires, mirrors, exhaust, etc.
- You may also need an emission certificate for your home-built motorbike. This depends on the laws and standards of your state. So, check with your DMV and see if it is required.
Some states may require you to have insurance when you apply for a Title for your motorcycle and motorcycle frame. Check with your state DMV and see if it is a requirement.
Some insurance companies may be reluctant to provide insurance for a customized frame or motorbike. But as long as you have all the documentation to prove that you are the legal owner, this problem is not insurmountable.
Do some motorcycles not need a frame Title?
Depending on the state or county you are in, older motorcycles do not need to have a frame Title. Here, the cutoff for the age of the motorcycle varies. But generally, if it is more than 15 years old, you may not need to Title the frame.
For classic or antique motorcycles, a registration receipt may be all you need to have.
Again, check with your local DMV office and see what rules your state and county have about this specific aspect of titling.
Builder Title Limits
If building custom motorcycles is something you do regularly, then be aware of builder Title limits. Some states limit the number of builder Titles you can receive in a year. Some have a maximum of six, while others limit it to 10.
The number varies from state to state. But the takeaway here is that you should verify the number with your state DMV. This is an especially important point to remember if you are planning to build custom motorcycles for resale.
Motorcycle frames have their own Titles and VIN numbers. To get a Title for your motorcycle frame, you have to apply at the DMV with important documents. They include proof of ownership.
Additionally, for custom-made or home-built motorcycles, you have to present more documents. You have to present an Odometer Disclosure Statement. You also need to have proof of ownership of the engine and transmission.
You may also need to provide a safety inspection certificate and an emission certificate.