The learner-approved motorcycle scheme - LAMS - has brought much more choices for learner and restricted licence holders in New Zealand and Australia. With a cap of 660cc and a power-to-weight ratio not exceeding 150kw per tonne, there is plenty of options to swing a leg over. But what are the rules when it comes to modifying your new ride?
According to NZTA's own website "Learner or restricted licence holders are responsible for ensuring their motorcycle is LAMS-approved. Any motorcycle modified in a way that increases its power-to-weight ratio is not LAMS-approved, regardless of whether it appears on the LAMS-approved list."
This has long been the general interpretation of the rules, but recently it seems NZTA have softened their stance and given us a list of what we can and can't do to our LAMS class bikes for clarity. If a cop pulls you over and gives you the third degree, link 'em to this!
Here's what NZTA says:
250cc or less non-prohibited motorcycles
These modifications are intended to allow the motorcycle owner to personalise their motorcycle without lifting its performance above the maximum for a LAMs approved bike and without changing the classification of the motorcycle (lifting it over 250cc).
Full exhaust system including ignition and fuel supply tune
Wheels and tyres
Any other minor modification eg handlebars or seats.
Note: Low Volume Vehicle (LVV) certification may be required for some modifications (such as changing brake or wheel sizes) and your insurer should be notified of any modifications you perform.
So as an example, the On Throttle Honda CRF250L Rally can potentially have a full system exhaust and an ECU tune while remaining a LAMS-approved motorcycle. There are modifications that are prohibited for the 250cc LAMS bikes however, such as increasing the engine displacement, fitting nitrous oxide or adding forced induction (turbos and superchargers). So that dream of making our Rally a 286cc like the new CRF300 range might just stay a dream...
The list for bikes over 251cc to 660cc the list is very similar – including the same restrictions on increasing displacement or using nitrous – however, full exhausts and ECU tunes are not allowed - but a slip-on muffler is thankfully ok. That means those MT07LA's advertised on Facebook marketplace with a "full power tune" should probably be given a miss if you want to stay on the straight and narrow (or don't, I'm not your mum).
250cc to 660cc learner-approved motorcycles
The modifications below are intended to allow the user to customise/personalise their motorcycle without increasing the power-to-weight ratio. Some modifications will have a minor effect on power and others a minor effect on weight. However, these are not considered to be significant.
Wheels and tyres
Any other minor modification that would not affect the power-to-weight ratio eg handlebars or seats.
Big bore or stroker kits, or any other modification that increases engine capacity
Ignition or fuel supply tuning/modification
Exhaust system (other than a slip-on muffler) – replacement components on older or classic bikes must be as close as possible to OE specification
Fitment of a turbocharger or supercharger
Nitrous oxide (NOS) injection
Any other modification intended to increase engine power or significantly reduce motorcycle weight.
So there you have it, what you can and can't do to a LAMS bike in terms of modifications. Be sure to double-check with the NZTA website before you get stuck in to modding your LAMS bike, as the rules can sometimes change with little to no fanfare.
Hat tip to Greg Boyd from Boyd's Motorcycles in Hamilton for the heads up and inspiration for this story.
If you’d like to support OnThrottle, you can “Buy Me A Coffee” for as little as $3 a month. In exchange, you’ll gain access to downloadable full-size pics of our test bikes, early access to video content and more as we think of cool perks. Check it out at buymeacoffee.com/Onthrottle.