Some customized trikes require inspection before titling.
A special kit can transform a motorcycle into a three-wheeled trike. A converted trike typically does not require special titling, as crucial elements, such as the engine, are unaltered, and the bike has an assigned Vehicle Identification Number. In contrast, a custom trike’s appearance varies wildly from the traditional appearance of a motorcycle with a spare wheel to a drag strip funny car with a rear-mounted engine. When a hobbyist or custom shop creates a trike from scratch, also referred to as a kit bike, meticulous record keeping and an official inspection make the bike legally eligible for registration.
1. Research state safety requirements and insurance company guidelines, preferably before building the bike. The trike construction must include turn signals, a horn and headlights with low and high beams. Some states require only a left-side rearview mirror. Check restrictions on pipe noise and handlebar height. If the bike does not meet the standards for your state, make modifications. Pay special attention to the frame choice. Some insurance companies may not extend coverage if the frame was not made to properly support the bike’s weight.
2. Compile all receipts for all parts purchased, particularly the engine, frame and transmission. In addition, a Manufacturers Certificate of Origin must accompany the engine, frame and transmission The MCO lists the originating country and assigns ownership of the part. Documentation dispels any suspicion of stolen parts. Records also prove that key parts approved for the intended use are present in the trike.
3. Schedule an inspection. The title-issuing department in your state requires inspections on salvaged or custom vehicles to verify safe, road-worthy condition. Bring your photo ID and all receipts and documentation to the inspection. In some states, such as Rhode Island, photos of the bike in addition to the supporting documents must be mailed to the department prior to inspection.
4. Fill out an Application for Title. Apply in person at the department of motor vehicles or secretary of state office, depending on which handles such transactions. Alternatively, print the application online and bring it into the office.
5. Apply for motorcycle insurance. Once you successfully elect a policy, you may register the vehicle for road use in addition to titling its ownership.