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Motorcycle insurance modifications explained: Accessory or modification?

What’s the difference between a modification and an accessory on my motorcycle and how will it impact my insurance?

An accessory is generally part of your motorcycle which is not directly related to how it works as a motorcycle. These include audio systems that form an integral part of your motorcycle. Accessories also include top boxes, panniers, mirrors, heated grips that are fitted to your motorcycle.

A modification is therefore changes to your machine that change the performance and / or handling of your motorbike.

When it comes to your motorcycle insurance, if in doubt, disclose all changes to your motorcycle that are different from the standard manufacturer specification.

Generally, when it comes to bike insurance modifications and accessories…

Accessories – are rated on their value as additional to the machine

Modifications – are rated on their effect on the machine and are usually replaced as standard if viable to do so

Are my modifications accepted as standard on my bike insurance?

You may find certain insurers stating that they have X amount of modifications accepted as standard, quite often these are defined as accessories and therefore their cost should be included in the amount that you state as the value of your accessories.

If you don’t state the value of these “modifications”, that are actually accessories, and state your bike is, for example, worth £3,000, but has an extra £3,000 worth of accessories that you don’t disclose – then you’ll only be insured for the value you stated for your bike of £3,000. The value of these additional, unadvised items haven’t been disclosed as insurable items or factored into the premium.

Here at Devitt, we advise that you state the value of all your accessories when obtaining a quote to ensure that they are properly covered. Inform us of your modifications so we can ensure that your bike is properly covered, if you don’t disclose your modifications, then it could invalidate any potential claim. It’s important to know that when you insure your modifications properly, they’re covered by standard replacement in the event of a claim.

Not sure what’s defined as a modification and what’s defined as an accessory? Then keep reading…

Modification or accessory?

Are you trying to work out if your new piece of motorcycle kit is a modification or an accessory? Then check out our handy alphabetised list of mods and accessories to find out.

If it’s an accessory then we accept it as standard, just make sure you include its value in your accessories on your bike insurance quote!

If it comes under modification, then please declare it to us to ensure that you have valid insurance, should you need to make a claim.

Incorrect cover can result in claims being denied by your insurer, so it’s essential that you declare all modifications.

Modification descriptions

Are you considering making a modification to your motorcycle? Are you wondering how much it’ll cost or what it will actually do to your motorcycle? Remember, when it comes to your bike insurance, if the modification is power enhancing it’s going to have an effect on your insurance premium (i.e. one that you probably won’t like!).

If we can give one piece of advice about mods, it’s to make sure you speak to your insurer before making any modifications to your motorcycle, especially performance enhancing ones. If not, you might find your insurance premium rocket after you’ve made it or worst case scenario, they don’t want to insure you anymore, in fact, the worst of the worst case scenario is… no one will!

MODIFICATION DESCRIPTIONTypeApproximately how much to fit?ADDITIONAL HELP ON MODIFICATION EFFECTEffects
Air filter changesMODIFICATIONUp to £150Usually fitted using a better quality air filter for your motorcycle to complement exhaust changes for a better or smoother performance.Power increase – Minor
Air intake guard / coverACCESSORYUp to £150This simple bolt-on accessory allows better housing of the air intake, channelling in air more efficiently or just making the appearance of the bike better.Cosmetic
Bar endsACCESSORYUp to £50These are fitted at the end of the handle bars to protect the motorcycle from impact damage and can be cosmetic due to different styles and colours.Cosmetic
Belly panACCESSORYUp to £250A small piece of plastic moulded to the underside shape of the bike. It is mounted underneath the engine / radiator to give a naked motorcycle a better look and better protect the underside of the bike from small rocks and dirt.Protection from damage & Cosmetic
Braided hosesACCESSORYUp to £180Braided brake hoses can make a huge difference to the braking performance of a motorcycle. There is less flex in the tube / line when you brake so the force is pushed into the brake calliper as opposed to the inflating brake hose.Handling / Cosmetic
Brake changes: master cylinder / callipers / discsMODIFICATIONUp to £2000Motorcycle brake system (operated by the brake lever), callipers and discs on the wheels are usually changed to make braking more efficient.Cosmetic
Carburettor changeMODIFICATIONUp to £400Motorcycle carburettors look very complex, but with a little theory, you can tune your bike for maximum performance. By design and better efficiency, increased air / fuel mix pressure can assist in making fuel and air flow better in order to overcome issues in the engine, caused by age, temperature or trying to obtain optimal performance. Most modern bikes use fuel injection which bypasses the need for carburation.Power increase – Minor
Catalytic convertor removedMODIFICATIONn/aA catalytic converter releases a chemical catalyst that acts upon the gases that travel through a motorcycle’s muffler and exhaust and converts those gases into states that are less harmful to the environment. Increases power and in some cases changes the sound of the bike.Power increase – Minor – Also may mean it’s NOT ROAD LEGAL
Chain guardACCESSORYn/aA chain guard goes above the motorcycle chain. A benefit of a chain guard is that if you over lubricate the chain it will not spurt oil everywhere. It will also help shield the lubricant on the chain from dust, sand, dirt etc. Also, if the chain ever breaks whilst riding, it will protect you from the impact.Protection from damage
Chrome changesACCESSORYUp to £2000This could be anything made of chrome fitted to the bike to replace the steel / aluminium. It looks better, less prone to rust, but is expensive to replace compared to regular materials used. Harley Davidson riders tend to replace many of the standard component parts to increase the ‘bling factor’ of their bikes to really show off the custom / cruiser look.Cosmetic
Clutch coverACCESSORYUp to £250This cover goes in front of the clutch (handlebars) and is mainly seen on Off Road type motorcycles.
There are also more naked bikes being fitted with these.
The benefits are that it protects you from wind and from small particles flying on to your hands (insects or small rocks). This cover goes on the side (Round circle near engine) of the motorcycle. The cover reduces noise, damage to clutch box and is also used to make the motorcycle look good if used with chrome or carbon fibre.
Cosmetic
Crash bobbins / mushrooms / bungsACCESSORYUp to £150These are made of strong plastic or metal and usually fitted on the side of a motorcycle, onto the frame to protect the engine, motorcycle frame and / or bar ends from further damage following an accident.Protection from damage
Custom tankMODIFICATIONUp to £1000This is the petrol tank on a motorcycle, if different from standard. The replacement may allow larger / smaller fuelling based on practicality vs. function.Cosmetic
Dash panelsACCESSORYUp to £500Motorcycle dashboard shows details of speed, indicators, fuel and lights system. Replacements tend to provide a customised look.Cosmetic
Decals / stickers (unless race replica refer)*ACCESSORY£25-£80Stickers for motorcycles to replicate race team colours or to personalise a bike.Cosmetic
De-restricted bikeMODIFICATIONn/aMainly carried out on bikes, scooters and mopeds to increase power. Scooters and mopeds are manufactured deliberately restricted to comply with vehicle classification. Removing the restriction will invalidate warranties and could also mean the tax class is invalid as well as the driver’s entitlement to ride being invalided.Power increase – Material
Disability adaptedMODIFICATION£100 / £1000Bikes are often adapted to meet disabled riders’ needs. These include clutch less gear change, foot controls moved to handle bars, one handed controls and buttons to replace levers and throttle. For wheelchair conversions, the work required is extensive and usually involves conversion to a trike.No Effect
Dyna Jet kit stage 1MODIFICATIONUp to £350A Dyno jet is a kit of replacement needles and jets that go in the motorcycle carburettors. The idea is to get more mixture into the cylinder for a given throttle opening so you make more power. They work best with a free flow filter (K&N or similar) and a new exhaust (so a new can as a minimum).
Stage 1 is most common and has minor effect – and helps improve the engine smoothness alongside air filter and exhaust changes.
Power increase – Minor
Dyna Jet kit stage 2MODIFICATIONUp to £800Stage 2 and 3 are more substantial changes that provide extra power. Intended for motorcycles with a stock or mildly tuned engine using a well-designed aftermarket pipe with a modified air box and a stock replacement air filter.Power increase – Material
Dyna Jet kit stage 3MODIFICATIONUp to £2000Stage 2 and 3 are more substantial changes that provide extra power. Intended for motorcycles with stock or mildly tuned engines using a well-designed aftermarket pipe and individual air filters. In most cases power increases of 10-15% can be achieved. However driveability may be compromised particularly with short stroke, high rpm motors.Power increase – Material
Engine casing guardsACCESSORYUp to £400These are usually external metal frames that protect the engine against dropping the bike on one side.Protection from damage
Engine changeMODIFICATIONn/aChanging the engine could be applied for a variety of issues (replacement, improvement, re-builds) due to the large amount of change the vehicle has gone through.Power increase – Material
Enhanced braking systemsMODIFICATIONUp to £800This is predominantly a fitment of ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System). Rare but a safety feature.Safety
Exhaust (not road legal)MODIFICATIONUp to £400Any Non Road Legal exhaust end-can should not be used on the road.Noise, Performance (Minor)
Exhaust (road legal) – end canMODIFICATIONUp to £400End can replaces and attaches to the last stage of the exhaust system. The replacement is common and allows a better look, as well as better performance and a noisier output. It is the noise level generated that can breach EU noise regulations.
All aftermarket Exhaust end cans and silencers are Acceptable provided they are BSAU193 or E (European mark) approved.
Look out for Arrow, Akrapovic, Blue Flame, Micron, Remus, Viper and Yoshimura.
Noise, Performance (Minor)
Exhaust (road legal) – full systemMODIFICATIONUp to £1200Full Exhaust system, from engine output all the way to exhaust pipe end (can) – Look out for Arrow, Akrapovic, Blue Flame, Micron, Remus, Viper and Yoshimura.Noise, Performance (Material)
Extended forksMODIFICATIONUp to £3500These are the 2 long metal poles holding the front wheel. Custom type motorcycles usually have extended forks to improve the ‘custom look’ of the bike. It can worsen the cornering ability of the bike but on low speed, show off cruisers and customs it’s not too much of an issue. The longer the forks, the worse the issue.Cosmetic & Worse handling
Fairing removalACCESSORYn/aThis is when a rider removes the plastic (fairing) from a motorcycle to give it a naked or streetfighter look.Cosmetic
Fairings changed (race fairings)MODIFICATIONUp to £1200Predominantly for use on a race track.Cosmetic and functional
Fork bracesMODIFICATIONUp to £250Goes between the 2 long metal poles holding the front wheel. This is usually replaced if the original is damaged. Also some fork braces provides a stiffer fork which improves handling of the motorcycle.Handling & Cosmetic
Fork changesMODIFICATIONUp to £5000These are the 2 long metal poles holding the front wheel. Could be lengthened, substituted, shortened and changes the handling of the bike for better or worse, dependant on the model and look desired.Handling
Fork protectorACCESSORYUp to £250Goes on top of the 2 long metal poles holding the front wheel. These are mainly used on off road / enduro / moto cross type motorcycles to protect the forks against dirt and small rocks.Protection from damage
Frame replacementMODIFICATIONn/aFrames are the core structure of the motorbike. Frame changes fundamentally change the bike.Rebuild – Big change
Front mudguard extension (mudguard extension)ACCESSORYUp to £250This is a piece of plastic that goes on the front mudguard to extend it. The benefit is that it protects the motorcycle from dirt and small rocks.Protection from damage
Grippers or motorcycle gripsACCESSORYUp to £50Some people prefer different types of grips for their bikes with different colours as opposed to the standard that comes with their motorcycle. Grippers go on the handlebar.Comfort and Cosmetic
Handle barsMODIFICATIONUp to £800Change the riding position and look of the vehicle by straightening, lengthening or making the grips higher (i.e. APE HANGERS). The most common handle bars are “Renthal Handle bars” and are used on naked type motorcycles.Handling & Cosmetic
Heat shieldACCESSORYUp to £250A heat shield is a piece of insulation that goes on the motorcycle exhaust.Protection from damage
Heated gripsACCESSORYUp to £75These are grips with heating to keep the rider’s hands warm in the winter and reduce numbness / discomfort by drawing a small amount of power from the battery whilst riding. The handlebar grips are usually replaced by three units with simple wiring to the battery, incorporating a switch / thermostat.Comfort
Heel guard / plates / restACCESSORYUp to £250These protect the heel from going into the back wheel, the heel rests are usually designed for custom type motorcycles so you can rest your foot as opposed to foot peg.Comfort and Cosmetic
Horn / horn coverACCESSORYUp to £250Beeps to make other road user aware of your position.Cosmetic
Huggers or rear huggerACCESSORY£100 – £200This is a piece of plastic that goes at the back above the wheel (similar to a mud guard).Protection from damage/dirt & cosmetic
Lights / indicators / mirrorsACCESSORYUp to £75Some people may fit bar end mirrors to their bike or smaller indicators and different types of lights. Whilst cosmetic – changing the effectiveness of lighting, indication or rear view ability can be dangerous.Cosmetic
Nitrous oxideMODIFICATIONn/aThis is a power booster providing an additional FUEL / AIR MIX boost using NOS.Power increase – Material
Paint workMODIFICATION£100 to £1000 ValueSpecial paint work carried out to the motorcycle, this means respraying completely or race colours / murals.Cosmetic
PanniersACCESSORYUp to £1000These are like suitcases fitted to the side of the motorcycle (usually on tourers and adventure type motorcycles) to carry rider luggage, clothing or helmets.Cosmetic / Functional
Power commander stage 1MODIFICATIONUp to £250A power commander is a box used for tuning the fuel injection system on a bike. It’s mainly used when adding a full aftermarket exhaust or just a silencer. It’s also used when an aftermarket or performance can is put on.
When other than stock injectors are used, it also has a set-up for factory style or a reusable style air filter.
It remaps the fuel injection system to alter the smoothness of power and is also used to enrich or lean out your fuel supply.
Power increase – Minor
Power commander stage 2MODIFICATIONUp to £750Offers more power than power commander stage 1.Power increase
Power commander stage 3MODIFICATIONUp to £1200Offers even more power than power commander stage 2.Power increase – Material
Quick shifterMODIFICATIONUp to £600Enables faster changing of gears to achieve faster acceleration.Enhances performance
Radiator guard or grillACCESSORYUp to £250Protects the radiator from small rocks or other fragments whilst riding. Custom grill covers also makes the motorcycle look better.Protection from damage / Cosmetic
Rear set changeMODIFICATIONUp to £500Rear sets are aftermarket replacements for the original foot pegs, gear change and rear brake levers operated by riders’ feet. Changes to peg position alter the riding position to make more comfortable or take up a racing style.Comfort / Functional
Rear suspension: hard tailMODIFICATIONUp to £5000Hardtail is a term used to describe a motorcycle without a rear suspension. A modification including this would be to remove any suspension and / or any swing arm. This is an example of styling over comfort as without suspension, the ride is extremely hard and uncomfortable. Common with cruiser/custom machines.Handling & Cosmetic
Rear suspension: soft tailMODIFICATIONUp to £5000Soft tail describes motorcycles with a rear suspension in the form of a twin shock or swing arm. The term is mainly associated with Harley Davidson to differentiate their models, old and new.Handling & Cosmetic
Re-bore (engine reconditioning)MODIFICATIONn/aIncreases the cylinder capacity and is common on custom machines, especially Harley-Davidsons. Applied to other bikes it is rare and done for large increases in power.Power increase – Material
Rom chipsMODIFICATIONUp to £500The chips improve performance, smooths power band and removes ignition flat spots. It is applied predominantly to Sport bikes and BHP may also increase.Power increase – Material
Scott oilerACCESSORY£100 – £200This is a device that keeps the motorcycle chain lubricated, by dripping a very small amount of chain lube / oil from a small tank attached the swing arm or rear frame. It operates as the wheel is turning, meaning the chain is always lubricated and so less likely of developing faults and snapping.Protection from damage
Screen changes / bubble screen / fly screenACCESSORYUp to £100Screens or (double) bubble screens may come in different colours and replaces the small plastic window at the front of a motorcycle to protect from wind. Different shapes alter the air flow – making for a more comfortable ride.Comfort and Cosmetic
Seat cowl / single seat unitsACCESSORY£100 – £200The seat cowl covers the passenger seat with plastic, to make it look like a solid piece of bodywork, and a single seated bike. This is if you do not intend on carrying pillions.Comfort and Cosmetic
Seat replacement / changesACCESSORY£100 – £200Opting for a softer seat or changing the seat to make your bike look better.Comfort and Cosmetic
Shock absorbersMODIFICATIONUp to £900Changes to shocks may be to provide better stability. Twin shocks are predominantly for custom bikes & mono shocks for sports or performance type motorcycles.Comfort / Functional
Side panelACCESSORYUp to £250A piece of plastic (fairing) to replace broken ones or to make the bike look better.Protection from damage / Cosmetic
Sissy bars & back restsACCESSORY£100 – £200This provides comfort to pillion passengers as they can rest their back on the motorcycle or have a better and more comfortable grip.Comfort
Sprocket coverACCESSORYUp to £250The sprocket is the gear that holds each end of the chain. The front sprocket is attached to the countershaft of the transmission and the rear sprocket attaches to the rear. The sprocket cover protects this, although it is mainly changed to make the bike look better.Protection from damage / Cosmetic
Steering damperMODIFICATIONUp to £750A steering damper is a miniature shock absorber for steering. Steering dampers are used to stabilize the front of a motorcycle and prevent the steering rate from snapping.Handling/Cosmetic
Suspension changesMODIFICATIONUp to £5000A motorcycle’s suspension serves a dual purpose: contributing to the vehicle’s handling and braking, and providing safety and comfort by keeping the vehicle’s passengers comfortably isolated from road noise, bumps and vibrations.Handling/Cosmetic
Swing arm (rear suspension)MODIFICATIONUp to £5000A swing arm, or “swinging arm”(UK) (originally known as a swing fork or pivoted fork) is the main component of the rear suspension of most modern motorcycles. It is used to hold the rear axle while pivoting vertically to allow the spring suspension to absorb bumps in the road. The swing arm holds the back wheel of a motorcycle.Handling/Cosmetic
Tail tidyACCESSORYUp to £200This makes the back of the motorcycle (where the number plate goes) looks neater.Cosmetic
Tank padsACCESSORYUp to £50These are coverings that protect the tank from getting scratched. They can be vinyl, leather, plastic.Protection from damage & Cosmetic
Top boxesACCESSORYUp to £400These are fitted at the back of a motorcycle to carry a rider’s possessions.Storage and Cosmetic
Wheel changesMODIFICATIONUp to £1500Motorcycle wheels may be changed to a similar size with different styling.Handling/Cosmetic
Wheels: spoke changesMODIFICATIONUp to £900Spoke is basically the “Wheel” of a motorcycle without the tyre. These are often changed to change the appearance of the bike.Cosmetic
Yoke protectorsACCESSORYUp to £750The yoke on a motorcycle is the two plates (on the handle bar) of which the front-telescopes, as well as the steering-axle, gets through. The Yoke protector is a plate like a cap that fits into the Yoke hole to protect and to make the motorcycle look better.Handling