We all are very fond of our bikes. For many of us, they are the first markers of freedom in terms of mobility. The adrenaline rush from zipping through the tough traffic of Indian roads is unlike anything else. So it comes as no surprise that we wish to personalize our vehicles a little to reflect our personalities. However, if you go too far with the modifications, you may land up in legal trouble! As astonishing as it sounds, the Motor Vehicle Act is out to get you if you get too adventurous in customizing your bike. The Act restricts the modifications that can be made to vehicles in India. It would be in your favour to know what these modifications are and to what extent they are acceptable. Here’s a quick look at the modifications allowed under the Motor Vehicle Act and the procedure to register a modified bike if you decide to go ahead with your plan of alterations.
The first thing you need to know is that in accordance with the law, altering the structure or colour is detrimental and in breach. In fact, it may even have serious repercussions for the roads. Here’s why — any alteration in the structure of a vehicle changes the strength of the vehicle. Such change often only reduces the strength and that can cause serious injuries to the occupants or riders during an accident.
If you are too keen on making some changes, however, the best way is by seeking proper approvals. As a bike owner, you have to get the new modified parts approved by the ARAI (Automotive Research Authority of India) and get an endorsed registration certificate for the same. If you fail to do so, the vehicle penalty is right away the risk of getting your registration cancelled. If you do change the structure of the bike from what it originally was without any approval, your bike will be listed as illegal.
The authorities are already taking stringent action in this respect: the State Police, especially from Kerala and Karnataka, have started a crackdown on modified motorcycles. It is envisaged that the other states and UTs will soon follow suit. You will be able to witness cops stopping drivers and issuing them tickets for a bike that leaves visible exhausts or that have illegal extensions or modifications.
So, the question is, how to modify a bike and not be in breach of law or bring a vehicle penalty upon yourself?
While it is still possible to go through the process legally, it is a long one. As mentioned before, you need to seek appropriate approvals. You can get the modifications approved by ARAI and then get it entered on the Registration Certificate. Another way is to add features that do not interfere with the structure of the motorcycle. Before you are confounded, let us explain with an example. You can add auxiliary parts like a remote locking system to your bike and that will spruce up the bike without altering the basic foundation. On the other hand, you cannot change the handlebar of the motorcycle since that is a crucial tool in its performance.
Another important question, what about the times when the colour of the bike is changed? Does that have any stipulations under the MV Act?
The answer is yes, you can change the colour of the bike by adding a vinyl. There are certain modifications called the “RTO (Regional Transport Office)-approved paint changes”, including body graphics and wraps which are still permissible. But if you tamper with the original colour by repainting it to a different colour altogether, then you are in breach of law. Again, the same process has to be followed. The colour change has to be endorsed on the RC by the local RTO.
If you choose to change from petrol or diesel to CNG, that is also permissible since it is not counted as a structural change.
If your bike undergoes any massive modification with ramifications, you need to consult the concerned people in the RTO, ask them in advance what is to be done regarding re-registration of your bike post all these modifications. Keep your documents faultless and aligned with the MV Act at all times.
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