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Would like to build a custom runabout.

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  • Would like to build a custom runabout.

    Hi everyone,

    I am new to this forum and have just returned to biking three years ago.

    Being of a certain age (62 years old) I find my current ZZR600 is not quite the bike for me so I am thinking about making something in the garage which suits me better. Plenty of ideas but here is my problem.

    Watching TV I note that Henry Cole pushes the virtues of homebrew bikes and often shows custom builds with noisy exhausts or no front mudguards etc. I am not convinced all those bike are legal on the UK roads.

    I joined this forum in the hope I might find some some information on just what can and cannot be modified on a bike. For example I have recently been told that its no longer allowed to change the handlebars and control levers from standard! Is that true?

    I should like to take a standard road bike and change things like the headlamps, indicators, handlbars and seat etc.

    Any advice or pointers to legal info for this old biker would be very welcome.

    Thanks for reading and safe riding.



  • #2

    I'm not sure who's been advising you, but as far as I know, you can alter pretty much whatever you like. On the most basic level, the only legal requirements are a brake light, a horn and separate brakes operating on each wheel. You don't need any other lights whatsoever, but any that you do have must work. mud guards are not compulsory, but a very good idea if you're likely to be caught in the rain. A lot of things are age dependent.

    For a definitive view on what you can and can't do, I'd recommend having a chat with your friendly local MOT chap. After all, he's going to be signing it off.

    Depending on what skills and/or funds you have, it might be easier to buy something modern like a triumph twin that already has a massive after market supply of custom parts, rather than cutting up and old bike and doing it from scratch as it were.


    • #3
      As Greenhorn says, you can still change just about anything you want. The primary requirements are,
      Is it safe ?
      Is it suitable ?
      Does it meet the legal requirements ?

      There are a few areas to watch out for such as indicators/lights and (as mentioned) mudguards.
      The MOT says very little about them but construction and use regs state specific requirements regarding some form of mudguard and lights and E marks (depending on vehicle age).
      You can fall foul of having an MOT but failing to meet C+U. A technicality but we know how insurance companies love technicalities.

      But, don't worry, the amount and quality of things such as E marked aftermarket indicators is growing every day.


      • #4
        Hi greenhorn & bluedog59,

        Thankyou both for responding to my post and it sounds as though my proposed modifications should be ok but I will follow your advice and research the subject prior to consulting my local MOT man and making any changes.

        bluedog59 wrote:
        You can fall foul of having an MOT but failing to meet C+U. A technicality but we know how insurance companies love technicalities.

        Thats a very good point and thanks also for the pointer to "E marked aftermarket indicators".

        Thanks to your replies I now have a little more confidence in the project :-)




        • #5
          If you post up a list of the mods you're thinking of doing we should be able to help in a little more detail.


          • #6
            Originally posted by bluedog59 View Post
            If you post up a list of the mods you're thinking of doing we should be able to help in a little more detail.
            Hi bluedog59 and thanks,

            The list is pretty short really and would consist of taking a bike aquired at the right price and simply "tweaking" a few things to suit my paranoi regarding safetey. What I had in mind was....

            Big bright headlamp or twin headlamp (unless the bikes standard headlamp is ok)

            Big bright indicators. e.g. Those large round things you would see on old bikes from the mid 70's era. While LED lamps are all the rage many of them are small and have a poor viewing angle and simply dont cut the mustard for me.

            Possibly a more comfy seat if the bike needs it.

            Possibly the exhaust for one that I (and other people) can hear but without exceeding the legal noise limit.

            And perhaps some higher, wider handlbars if needed.

            Thats about it really aside from a few cosmetic additions perhaps to hide the usual scratches on a second hand bike. The problem for me is that most of the newer bikes (newer to me is post 1980 !) have pretty decent breaks, reliable engines and pretty good all round performance but often those same bikes are let down by rubbish lights. A case in point is the new breed of Hinkley Triumphs. Most of them still look pretty cool to me but the indicators are like fairy lights and the headlamps are not much better :-)

            Just out of interest, my ZZR600 came with slightly raised handlebars (some sort of after market alloy blocks fitted between the head-stock and the bars) which makes the riding position a little more comfortable and upright as compared to the standard ZZR. Do those raised bars constitute a breach of regulation or is that an accepted modification?



            • #7
              All of those should be perfectly ok. If you do go to twin headlights there are a few regs about layout etc but nothing that's not common sense with a little thought.
              Get the spanners out.


              • #8
                Hi again bluedog59,

                Thanks, I feel more confident now to "get the spanners out" :-)




                • #9
                  New laws say if the bike is over 40 years old i.e pre 1978 it no longer needs a m.o.t so you can do what ever you like with no worries..........happy days


                  • #10
                    You can fall foul of having an MOT but failing to meet C+U
                    What is C+U?


                    • #11
                      Sorry, "Construction and Use regulations". Basically, rules about build standards and requirement such as bulb wattage, tyres, light position and size, etc.