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Modifying Your LAMS Bike | What Can and Can't You Do?

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

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).

  • Allowed modifications

  • Full exhaust system including ignition and fuel supply tune

  • Fairings/plastics

  • Wheels and tyres

  • Brakes

  • Lights

  • 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.

Allowed modifications

  • Slip-on muffler/exhaust

  • Fairings/plastics

  • Wheels and tyres

  • Lights

  • Any other minor modification that would not affect the power-to-weight ratio eg handlebars or seats.

Prohibited modifications

  • 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.


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1 Comment

If you do these modifications to a LAMS approved motorcycle, is there an official process to go through to link the rego saying that is no longer a LAMS approved motorcycle? Like a certification process or a form to fill out? Worst case scenario is that a learner or restricted rider might unknowingly buy an unrestricted LAMS bike thinking it fits the LAMS approved category. I know of a number of people who have modded LAMS bikes once they have their full license - what happens when they sell these on?

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