Registering custom motorcycle in Ontario Canada

Tim

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I thought I'd post up my recent experience (spring 2023) for the search engines to consume and some AI chat bot to regurgitate in 2050.

Registering a new or used motorcycle in Ontario is a pretty simple affair. Title, bill of sale and a used vehicle information package (if used) and Bob's your uncle - they'll take your $35 or whatever along with sales tax on whatever you paid for the motorcycle (whatever you SAY you paid for the motorcycle and is shown on your bill of sale) and issue you a new registration/title in your name.

But - what if you go and buy a custom motorcycle frame from a fancy company somewhere? Perhaps they engrave their own VIN into the frame and issue you a Manufacturer Statement of Origin (MSO) or Certificate (MCO). You weld/grind/bolt a bunch of bits from a bunch of motorcycles onto it and end up with a motorcycle that isn't a Honda or Yamaha or Suzuki or Harley.

As of spring 2023, this is still possible to register in Ontario, contrary to much common thought and urban myth.

First off, this assumes your frame is made by a 'company' and you have a fancy MSO certificate that looks official and it has a unique VIN on it that isn't just a copy of the VIN from a preexisting Yamaha. If you're welding a neck-tube onto a frame, hardtailing a stock frame or re-engraving an existing VIN onto a new frame, this guide doesn't apply. In your case, you're basically skirting the issue pretending your chopped up Yamaha XS650 is still in fact a Yamaha XS650 when in fact you've modified the geometry, removed the rear suspension, compromised the structural integrity of the frame etc.

Step 1: Frame, MSO and receipt of sale for the frame - all self explanatory.

Step 2: Notarized affidavit declaring that you purchased the frame, list the VIN etc. On the affidavit, list the key components used on the motorcycle. I stuck with a list of motor, front suspension (mine is a rigid frame), wheels/brakes, gas tank and 'battery/ignition/charging' system, all from a 1975 Yamaha XS650 (even though they're from various XS650's and even an XT500 but who's counting).

On the affidavit I explained I don't have receipts for those major component parts because I acquired them over years from various 2nd hand sources.

Step 3: Take your printed bill of sale, the MSO and your notarized affidavit to the ServiceOntario office of your choosing and tell them you built a motorcycle on a new frame. The resulting registration should carry a Brand of 'None' (only valid brands in Ontario are 'None' or 'Irreparable'), the Make will be the manufacturer of the frame and the Model will be 'RBT' which stands for 'Rebuilt'.

Note - I'd avoid using the term 'rebuilt' as this is also a vehicle Brand in Ontario which actually isn't valid on a motorcycle.

I'll update this when I execute Step 3 tomorrow morning ;)
 
OK - mission accomplished

It took about an hour of discussion, much of which was because the 'invoice' I had printed wasn't quite up to the standards of the SO agent I was working with, and they can't print images sent to them by email to save their lives.

But - after all was said and done, with some assistance from a second SO agent and a few phone calls, I now have an Ontario registration for my 'VOOD' Voodoo Vintage motorcycle.

The make of a vehicle is limited to 4 characters, and it was literally up to me what to use so like HOND for Honda etc. I just went with VOOD for Voodoo. Maybe I should have used 'MINE' or 'STFU' or something clever but VOOD it is.

The model is 'RBT' which stands for Rebuilt. You have to be careful as the agent ALMOST put Rebuilt as the Brand. She started talking about needing a structural certificate etc. etc. which isn't actually possible for a Motorcycle. If you do this, make 1000% sure they're using 'None' for the branding.

I said 'Silver' for the colour as it isn't painted yet and there was no discussion about motor size, although I did indicate 650cc on the affidavit.

My affidavit simply stated I purchased the frame with the VIN, the amount I paid etc. and the list of major components I used on the motorcycle.

I have assembled a motorcycle using the above-mentioned frame and the following list of major components:
  • 1975 Yamaha XS650 650cc motor
  • 1975 Yamaha XS650 front steering and suspension
  • 1975 Yamaha XS650 front and rear wheels and brakes
  • 1975 Yamaha XS650 fuel tank
  • 1975 Yamaha XS650 exhaust system
  • 1975 Yamaha XS650 ignition, battery and charging system
The components on the list above have been in my personal possession for an extended period of time and I am unable to provide purchase receipts for those components.

I didn't bother with any other components and they didn't ask. I purposely left off lighting as this may end up with no turn signals, more than likely a non DOT tail light and I didn't mention rear suspension of course because there isn't any. I kept it simple with all the parts being associated with a 1975 Yamaha XS650 which is generally true.

To plate it and ride, it will need a safety inspection and this could have been done in advance, and likely would have made things a bit faster and avoided the potential mis-branding of the vehicle but it isn't necessary.

I had to pay taxes on the purchase price of the frame (again) but that was only $50 and was the only fee I was charged.
 

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So, you could have chosen VUDU? Glad you have that wrapped up, now. Some places it just involves a few hoops. Apparently, in some places it just doesn't happen.
 
So, you could have chosen VUDU? Glad you have that wrapped up, now. Some places it just involves a few hoops. Apparently, in some places it just doesn't happen.
Could have chosen any 4 letters it seems. I just kept it simple and went with the same method MTO seems to apply to other makes - HOND, YAMA, SUZU etc.

Insurance is next - this might prove challenging.
 
After some discussions with a few different brokers, it is possible to insure the bike in Ontario. Not cheap - a solid 40% increase over insuring a more typical 650cc bike, but it is feasible.

I was able to sniff out a couple of brokers that mention 'custom motorcycles' on their websites, and they've proven helpful. I don't want to post specific company info just yet as I don't want to misrepresent them or jinx my own luck ;) but if I can find them anybody can and of course I'm happy to share info privately.
 
Good morning Tim,
This has been an awesome and detailed write up regarding your registration odyssey with Service Ontario. It's a great "road map" for other Ontarians to follow. Service Ontario establishments seem, as a group, to be the most intransient people I've ever dealt with. If you don't want something "normal" - like a simple transfer or renewal, they tell you to get lost. My latest odyssey is trying to get a 50 year-old 175cc street bike ownership changed back from offroad to blue plate, so I can ride it on the street. And don't even get me started on the confusion that ensued with Service Ontario 'cause the owner hadn't transferred the bike into her name before selling it to me; I was told to "go away" on that one.
Great looking ride, BTW. Glad you had the grit to follow the rocky road to Ontario ownership registration.
Keep up the great work!
Pat Cowan
 
Good morning Tim,
This has been an awesome and detailed write up regarding your registration odyssey with Service Ontario. It's a great "road map" for other Ontarians to follow. Service Ontario establishments seem, as a group, to be the most intransient people I've ever dealt with. If you don't want something "normal" - like a simple transfer or renewal, they tell you to get lost. My latest odyssey is trying to get a 50 year-old 175cc street bike ownership changed back from offroad to blue plate, so I can ride it on the street. And don't even get me started on the confusion that ensued with Service Ontario 'cause the owner hadn't transferred the bike into her name before selling it to me; I was told to "go away" on that one.
Great looking ride, BTW. Glad you had the grit to follow the rocky road to Ontario ownership registration.
Keep up the great work!
Pat Cowan
That's when I draft up my own bill of sale and scribble a signature on it.
 
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