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Discussion Starter #1
Has anyone ever had any problems stemming from a lack of a title on a dedicated track bike? I'm thinking about buying a slightly damaged and currently untitled 996. I've run the plates via the California DMV so I'm certain the bike isn't stolen. I also called the Oregon DMV to see if it would be possible to get a title and register this bike. They told me that w/o a CA title they wouldn't touch it. I'd like to be able to register the bike, but it's not a big problem since I intend to take it to the track. However, the person I spoke to was very adamant that I had to have a title no matter what. Was this person being unreasonable or are there real (legal issues mainly) problems that could arise from the lack of a title?

FWIW, I'm intend to try and track down the registered owner before I buy, but I think my chances of success are slim since the CA DMV won't give me the name. :(

TIA.
 

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Old Wizard
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Per most (if not all) state laws, the definition of a stolen motorcycle is a bike being held by a person who is not in current possession of the title, or any motorcycle without a VIN.
 

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Old Wizard
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My understanding is that European countries consider the U.S. Vehicle Registration as proof of ownership. This makes sense when you consider that you can't register a vehicle in the U.S. without the accepted proof of ownership (Title.)

Conversely, obtaining a foriegn country's Vehicle Registration would also require proof of ownership under the local laws, so that a U.S. import would have to carry either a Registration or a Certificate of Origin (new bikes.)
 

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If your buying from a legit business, like a salvage company or insurance company. Keep your bill of sale and get a written statement saying the bike was researched and is not stolen. If buying from a private individual and it doesn't have a title, I would walk.

If you buy from a company and it later turns up stolen you will lose the bike and your money until you can sue the company to get your money back. Hopefully the paperwork you receive from the company you purchased at will keep you from being arrested. If you buy from an individual and get nothing in writing and it turns out to be stolen, possession is 9/10ths and the police don't have a sense of humor.
 

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Chilehead
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My understanding is that European countries consider the U.S. Vehicle Registration as proof of ownership. This makes sense when you consider that you can't register a vehicle in the U.S. without the accepted proof of ownership (Title.)
I meant the other way, i.e. European countries don't have titles, so what happens if you buy an un-registered European bike and import it as a track bike?

Tom
 

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Discussion Starter #8
If I bought it I'd get a bill of sale from the current 'owner'. He has a bill of sale from the party he purchased it from. The trouble is I know he's not the officially registered owner and he doesn't know who is...

Thanks for the advice. I think I'll walk away from this one.
 

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Per most (if not all) state laws, the definition of a stolen motorcycle is a bike being held by a person who is not in current possession of the title, or any motorcycle without a VIN.
If this is true then almost every vehicle on the road is technically stolen due to the fact that banks hold the titles to them... Not to mention all the people who buy used vehicles and never make it to the registation office to get the title put in thier name.:confused:

Maybe its different in other states but in Texas the title only comes into play when trying to register a bike. Ownership is determind by who last paid for the item (in this case a bike) A motorcycle is not considered stolen until some one reports it as such.
Get a bill of sale for sure... in most cases a legal bill of sale is better than a title.
I have had atleast 4 track only bikes now and only one of them had a title... never had a problem. Do your homework make sure then bike is clean and the sale is legal and I dont think you would have a problem
 

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also looking at doing something similar,check into a title bond or surety bond.
This is basicaly titlt insurance that is held in place for 3 yrs (may vary by state,and cost varyies widely) so that the state will issue a bonded title for the 3 yr period and then a reg title can then be issued if nobody reports it lost or stolen.
 

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I wish I had more specific info, but I recall from days years ago when I used to buy vintage cars that some folks would obtain titles by going to one of the "bill of sale only" states to get a title. Then they would take the title from that state and register the car in CA with it.

I can't for my life remember which states would let you do that and I don't know if that window has shut but you might do some investigation if you really need to get a title...
 

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Maybe its different in other states but in Texas the title only comes into play when trying to register a bike. Ownership is determind by who last paid for the item (in this case a bike) A motorcycle is not considered stolen until some one reports it as such.
Get a bill of sale for sure... in most cases a legal bill of sale is better than a title.
I have had atleast 4 track only bikes now and only one of them had a title... never had a problem. Do your homework make sure then bike is clean and the sale is legal and I dont think you would have a problem
That's funny, as it was in the great state of Texas that the most infamous police raid targeted at racing motorcycles took place. In 1998, Dallas police decended on Oak Hill during a CMRA weekend, shut the place down, and demanded everyone produce a title for their motorcycle. Naturally, even those that had titles didn't bring them with them to the race. The cops spent hours sifting through the bikes, running VIN checks on the bikes, etc. If you had a 125 or 250 GP bike, something with a custom frame, a bike without a title, or a bike not titled in your name, you were SOL. Lots of bikes ended up impounded (and damaged in the process) with the owners spending hours getting them back, and paying $$ for towing fees, impound fees, etc.

To my knowledge, not one stolen bike was found.

Here's the bottom line: if the police run your VIN, and it doesn't come back as registered to you, you've got some 'splainin to do. I travel all over the country racing, and the last thing I want is to get stopped for speeding at 1 am returning from a race in Alabama , have the cop check my trailer, not be able to produce paperwork for the bikes, have him run the VIN and not have it show me as the current owner. How much time, effort, and $$ is it going to take to get out from underneath that mess? A whole lot more than the few bucks saved by buying an untitled bike, in my opinion.
 

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That's funny, as it was in the great state of Texas that the most infamous police raid targeted at racing motorcycles took place. In 1998, Dallas police decended on Oak Hill during a CMRA weekend, shut the place down, and demanded everyone produce a title for their motorcycle. Naturally, even those that had titles didn't bring them with them to the race. The cops spent hours sifting through the bikes, running VIN checks on the bikes, etc. If you had a 125 or 250 GP bike, something with a custom frame, a bike without a title, or a bike not titled in your name, you were SOL. Lots of bikes ended up impounded (and damaged in the process) with the owners spending hours getting them back, and paying $$ for towing fees, impound fees, etc.
Im originally from East TX not far from Oak Hill. I have heard stories about that raid.... in the end sounds like it proved to be an over zealous piece of police work. Sure it might have been a PITA for some people but obviously they were not doing anything wrong by not having titles to thier bike, and obviously the untitled/unregistered bikes were not considered stolen or the "owners" would have never got then back.
As I said before get a bill of sale! Make sure it is legal! Carry a copy with you, and you will not have any problems.
 

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I would contact CA's tax office and talk to someone about buying a vehicle that has a lost title and see what they tell you. They will tell you exactly what you need to know. The guy that has the bike right now might be able to apply for lost title, and then you can just go from there.
 

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comrade moderator
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Sure it might have been a PITA for some people but obviously they were not doing anything wrong by not having titles to thier bike, and obviously the untitled/unregistered bikes were not considered stolen or the "owners" would have never got then back.
Roadracing World did a follow up piece to that outlining one racers' plight to get his legally owned, but title-less race bike back after it had sat in an open impound yard for SIX MONTHS with open carbs...you can guess what condition that bike was like when he finally got it back. Not to mention the money and time spent wresteling through a maze of red tape and bearucratic foul-ups. After that I started carrying the title to my race bike every race weekend.

Doesn't matter whether he was right or wrong, he still got screwed. Moral of the story: Don't buy a bike with no title unless you can afford to lose it.
 

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So let me get this straight. There are no VIN numbers on the bike for you to have run to check to see who owns it or who it is registered to? This leaves you 2 choices 1. walk away or 2 . buy it and ride it like you stole it.
 

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hehe. Yes, the bank (as lein holder) keeps the title while you are paying off the note. In the meantime, you hold proof of ownership through the registration which shows your name and the lein holder's name.

If you try to sell it, you must first satisfy the lein (pay off the note). Then you get the title in the mail and can legally prove ownership and the right to sell it. If the bike in question was being financed, I doubt it would be so hard to come up with a title since banks don't play games with that stuff. Orrrr, maybe the "owner" hasn't paid off the bike and can't produce the title because it legally belongs to the bank. This would be awful. The new buyer could buy the bike and then have it repossessed by the lein holder with the current owner quit making payments on it.
 

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You aren't asking the right question. The question is: What is California's process for titling a bike with a missing title?

There may be a legitimate process whereby the VIN is compared against insurance and other DMV databases etc.
 

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Who's to say the bike was ever titled in CA? My hunch is that no state would just issue a new title. The original title probably *must* be found.

IMO, the "right" question is why the seller doesn't have the title. I'd guess that it's either stolen or some bank still has a lein on it.
 
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