India’s passion for motorcycles has fostered a vibrant culture of customisation and modification, with enthusiasts constantly seeking to personalise their two-wheelers. However, navigating the process of registering a modified bike can be a daunting task, considering the country’s stringent laws and regulations governing vehicular modifications. The question still remains, ‘is it legal to modify bikes in India?’. Well, as long as the modifications are not affecting the performance and safety of your bike, it is legal. However, you will have to take permission from your local RTO and other important authorities before undergoing any type of change.
Therefore, it is important for you to know in detail about the essential steps and requirements involved in registering a modified bike in India. This article will make the motorcycle enthusiasts aware of the knowledge needed to enjoy their personalised rides while remaining compliant with the laws. So, if you have been contemplating giving your bike a unique touch, this article will give you enough information about how to register a modified bike in India.
Modifying a bike in India is a complex subject, and the legality of bike modifications depends on several factors. In general, the modification of bikes can be classified into two categories: cosmetic modifications and performance modifications.
Cosmetic modification, such as changing the paint job, adding decals, or altering the lighting, are usually allowed as long as they comply with the regulations set by the Regional Transport Office (RTO). You can also change the tyres of your bike if your bike company provides alternate tyres for the specific model of your bike. It must be noted that you cannot use any tyre other than the company-approved set of tyres. Besides, you also have the option to change your engine if the existing engine on your bike has been damaged beyond repair. However, it is always recommended to consult the local RTO or refer to the Motor Vehicles Act for specific guidelines and requirements.
On the other hand, performance modifications that alter the engine, exhaust system, or other vital components of the bike are more strictly regulated. The Motor Vehicles Act and the Central Motor Vehicle Rules define the specifications and requirements for such modifications. Generally, any modifications that affect the safety, emissions, or overall performance of the vehicle must be approved by the relevant authorities, such as the Automotive Association of India (ARAI).
It is essential to note that unauthorised or non-compliant modifications can lead to legal consequences, including fines, penalties, or even the cancellation of the registration of your modified bike. Hence, it is advisable to consult the local RTO and seek their guidance before making any modifications to your bike to ensure compliance with the applicable laws and regulations.
Now that you are aware of the types of bike modifications which are legal in India, it is imperative that you understand the steps required to register it. First and foremost, you must consult your local RTO for the modifications you wish to make in your two-wheeler. After this, you can follow these steps to register a modified bike in India:
Take approval from the RTO. It must be noted that RTO will allow for only minor cosmetic modifications to your bike so that it does not affect the performance of the bike and safety in any way.
Upon approval, you will have to get them registered on the registration certificate and your bike will be then regarded as a modified bike.
You can now incorporate the modifications to your bike.
The modifications made must exactly match the modifications you applied for at the RTO or your bike may end up getting seized.
If you fail to get legal approval from the ARAI and go ahead with the modifications, you will risk getting your registration of your modified bike 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 expected that the other states and UTs will soon follow suit.
Apart from legal implications prescribed by the Supreme Court on bike modifications, there are certain rules laid down by RTO for bike modification that vehicle owners must abide by:
1. The base specifications like engine, seating capacity, brake system, etc cannot be modified or altered by the vehicle owner.
2. After the bike modification is completed, the vehicle specifications and modifications should be mandatorily updated and recorded in the RTO database.
3. The change in colour of the vehicle or painting of any symbol on the vehicle should be approved by the RTO.
4. The addition of any accessory should not hamper the functionality of the vehicle.
5. Any modification or adjustment that compromises the safety of the riders or the citizens will not be granted.
One of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to modifying bikes is how to get approval from the RTO for changing the colour on your bike. Follow the steps given below:
Visit your nearest RTO office along with your RC book and a sample of the new colour you wish to change your bike to.
Fill out the NAVM form for colour available at the RTO and get a signed letter of approval from the RTO for the colour change.
Upon receiving the approval, visit a reputed bike workshop and get the colour of your bike changed. Make sure you only use high-quality materials.
Go to the RTO with all your documents and the bike and get confirmation and verification that everything is as per the RTO guidelines.
Once the RTO has approved the modifications, get the changes marked in your RC book by the relevant RTO official.
It should be noted that the RTO has prohibited using olive green or military green colours for civilian use, as they are only reserved for the defence forces.
There are five points every vehicle owner must remember regarding bike modifications -
Take permissions from the RTO rules for bike modification by following proper protocol and procedures as per their modification idea.
Inform your respective insurance company regarding the bike modifications.
While appearance makes the vehicle look more appealing, the functionality of the vehicle should still top the priority list.
Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) offers Anti-theft devices for vehicle protection and security.
Professional bike modifiers can cost a little extra on your pocket, but it is advisable to get your vehicles modified from them instead of a local mechanic.
Check out the table below to understand the impact of bike modification on Insurance premium:
Vehicle modifications that enhance the vehicle’s performance quality
In case of speed enhancement modification in the bike, the insurance company will hike the premium amounts, as they find it a risky affair
Vehicle modifications that make the appearance of vehicle appealing and aesthetic
Accessories that give the bike a sporty look
Insurance companies offer a choice to the vehicle owner to get insurance for these accessories. In case the policyholders want insurance against additional accessories, they will have to pay a little extra amount in the premium.
Vehicle modifications that enhance the safety and security of the vehicles
Safety measures taken by the policyholders for their bikes are appreciated by the insurance company, therefore, they offer a discount on the premium amounts.
If you are planning to make major changes to your bike, it is always a good idea to take approval from the ARAI and RTO beforehand. In case the authorities catch you with a modified bike but without papers for approval of modifications, your bike may get confiscated and you may have to face legal action. Hence, make sure all your documentation is in place before you make any modifications. You should also keep your vehicle protected with a two-wheeler insurance policy so that you are always financially covered in case of accidents. You can check out the various two-wheeler insurance plans on Bajaj Markets and choose a plan that suits your needs
Yes, you can modify your bike in India but only as per guidelines approved by the RTO.
Before you start any modifications on your bike, you will need to get approval from the ARAI and RTO by visiting them and filling out the relevant paperwork.
Yes, you can change the colour of your bike, but only as per the list of approved colours provided by the RTO.
If you fail to get approval from the RTO and still modify the bike, the authorities may take away your bike and you may face fines and legal action.
You will only be allowed to make minor cosmetic modifications on your bike so that the safety and performance of the bike are not affected.