Motorcycle modifications: Check before you change anything

Many motorcyclists buy bikes with a view to making modifications, to extract the best ride, performance and look of their motorcycle.

Once a motorcycle has left the manufacturer, any changes to it are classed as modifications. These range from upgrading your exhaust, to a change in colour, to uprated suspension. No matter how small you consider the modification is, you could be invalidating your insurance policy, even fitting a top box!

Some insurance companies will not want to cover a modified motorbike, so owners would need to investigate specialist insurance policies and may have to pay a premium for the cover. However, many insurers will cover modifications. If in doubt, contact your insurer to discuss it. It’s really not worth the risk if you have an accident!

There’s a common misconception that modifications will always increase their insurance premium. This is not necessarily the case.

Insurers companies report that aftermarket exhausts cans are the most common modification made and if they are seen as performance enhancing, they could affect your insurance premium.

Changes that increase a motorcycle’s capacity by up to 5% are unlikely to increase an insurance premium, but anything over that could lead to an increase. Always check before your modify your bike.

Insurers strongly recommend motorcyclists notify them of any modifications so they can assess whether they’ll affect the premium.

The last thing a biker wants is to be involved in an accident or to have their bike stolen, only to find that because they failed to notify their insurer about a modification that their policy has been invalidated. Your insurer could even refuse to indemnify bikers against any claims made by other individuals!

If you fail to notify your insurer and you are involved in an accident or your motorcycle is stolen, on some occasions your modifications may not invalidate your policy, but it could mean your insurer will only replace the model of bike you were insured for, and wouldn’t include sums for modifications that had been carried out.

Some modifications can affect the legality of riding your motorcycle. No modification should include objects that protrude from the bike, which in an accident could injure the rider or another individual.

Some modifications could also affect your MOT, so it’s always best to check before you go ahead and change anything.

In addition, the DVLA must always be informed when you are making the following changes:

  • colour
  • engine size
  • cylinder capacity
  • replacement or modifications of chassis or body shell

frame number