registering three wheelers

Are LTO Registering Three Wheelers Correctly? Understanding the Classification of Bajaj RE, Piaggio Ape, and TVS King

Are LTO Registering Three Wheelers Correctly?

The Vienna Road Convention which the Philippines is a signatory to states:

“Motorcycle” means any two-wheeled vehicle, with or without a side-car, which is
equipped with a propelling engine. Contracting Parties may also treat as motorcycles in their
domestic legislation three-wheeled vehicles whose unladen mass does not exceed 400 kg. The term
“motorcycle” does not include mopeds, although Contracting Parties may, provided they make a
declaration to this effect in conformity with Article 54, paragraph 2, of this Convention, treat
mopeds as motorcycles for the purposes of the Convention;

That means that three-wheelers such as the Bajaj RE, Piaggio Ape and TVS King should be regarded as motorbikes.

So why have LTO started registering Three Wheelers as Motorcycle with sidecar?

The problem has come about because of 2 reasons.

Problems with the owners getting franchises to use them as public utility vehicles.

Incorrect use of the word tricycle in the Philippines.

The problem with owners getting franchises should have been fixed by Local Government Unites (LGU) setting up franchises for three-wheeled vehicles. Not by LTO changing the class to something they clearly are not.

The word tricycle has been incorrectly used instead of Motorcycle and Sidecar for many years in the Philippines and it is causing problems.

A tricycle is a three-wheeled bicycle.

Cambridge English Dictionary

Tricycle – a small vehicle like a bicycle with two wheels at the back and one at the front, used especially by young children.

Tricycle classification

Under the Vienna Road Convention there is no class of vehicle called tricycle.

What does the senate regard as a tricycle?

Because of the incorrect use of the word tricycle in 2009 the Senate had to declare what was meant by tricycle and they made it very clear.


A. TRICYCLE – means a motor vehicle composed of a motorcycle with not more
than two (2) cylinders of five hundred cubic centimetres (500cc) engine capacity
fitted with single-wheel side car designed to accommodate four (4) passengers only
including the driver.

Since then it has been pointed out in many documents of law that a tricycle is a motorcycle and sidecar.

The reason tricycles as they are known in the Philippines are not registered as a tricycle is simple. It is because they are not tricycles. They are in fact registered as Motorcycle with Sidecar the reason being that is the correct term and classification for them.

Are Bajaj RE and Piaggio Ape Motorcycles with Sidecars?

Again we will refer to the Cambridge English Dictionary

Sidecar – a small, one-wheeled vehicle attached to the side of a motorcycle to hold a passenger.

Neither the Bajaj RE or the Piaggio Ape have a small, one-wheeled vehicle attached to their side. So they are not with sidecar.

It cannot be correct to register them with sidecar for a simple reason, they do not have a sidecar.

The problem with registering the Bajaj RE and Piaggio Ape with sidecar

The first problem is safety. While both of them are very safe vehicles they could easily be turned into something that is not safe by adding a sidecar.

We are all very aware that some PUV drivers think it is a great idea to find ways to get as many people as possible in their vehicle. It is very possible that some of them might think it is a good idea to add a sidecar to their three wheeler.

You might think LTO and enforcers would not allow a sidecar being attached to a three wheeler. The truth is without passing new laws which takes time, there is nothing they could do to stop them.

The driver could just show his registration documents and say look LTO registered it with sidecar and that is what it has.

Please Please Please for your safety and the safety of others do not try adding a sidecar to a three-wheeler. I can promise you it will handle badly and would not be safe.

We have searched on Google and can’t find anything about a Bajaj RE having a sidecar fitted, probably because it would be illegal in every other country. However, registering them with sidecar has given the green light to anyone stupid enough to try it.

This is debatable and without ploughing through loads of laws we think it is probably not legal to drive. The reason being it is registered as a Motorcycle with Sidecar but there is no sidecar.

I have seen videos where MMDA have ticketed motorbikes because they were registered as Motorcycle with Sidecar but they had detached the sidecar and were using them just as motorbikes.

It seems it may be regarded as illegal to drive a motorcycle that is registered as having a sidecar, without the sidecar attached.

The problem seems to be that a motorcycle with sidecar has a yellow plate and a Motorcycle without Sidecar has a white plate. This means if you detach the sidecar from a motorcycle and sidecar it then has the wrong plates so you are likely to get stopped.

If they register a three-wheeler as a motorcycle with sidecar we presume that when LTO finally gets around to issuing plates they will issue a yellow plate to match the registration.

Here is the problem it has no sidecar so you have the wrong plates. So as soon as you put plates on a three-wheeler that is registered as a three-wheeler an enforcer could stop you for having the wrong plates.

It is a mess

Yes, it sounds a mess, the reason being it is a mess. Allegedly shortcuts have been taken to solve a problem without a lot of thought going into what problems they might create.

What is very clear is Bajaj RE, Piaggio Ape and TVS King do not have sidecars and so surely it can not be correct to register them as Motorcycle with Sidecar.

We hate to think how you would stand if you have an accident in a three-wheeler registered as a Motorcycle with Sidecar. We are very aware how some insurance companies like to find ways not to pay out. In this case, it is very possible they will refuse to pay because you have removed the sidecar you never had.

All the above is just based on our thoughts and what terms mean in the English language. As the law are written in English we have presumed that the correct English meaning for words is the correct use of them.

How to tell the difference

It really is simple to tell the difference.

If you look at the photo below we have clearly labeled each one for people that get confused. They would not call a 4-wheeled car, a jeepney and a kids go-kart Quads just because they all have 4 wheels. So why do people in the Philippines presume everything with 3 wheels is a tricycle?

what is a tricycle
Are LTO Registering Three Wheelers Correctly? Understanding the Classification of Bajaj RE, Piaggio Ape, and TVS King 10

Registering Three Wheelers was done correctly when they first arrived in the Philippines so why have they changed it to something it is not.

FAQ – Registering Three Wheelers

Q: How are three-wheelers such as Bajaj RE and Piaggio Ape registered by the LTO?

A: Initially, the LTO registered these three-wheelers as Non-Conventional Motorcycles. However, it then changed to Motorcycle with Sidecar and is now Non-Conventional Vehicle. However, be careful what dealer you use as some still seem to be registering them incorrectly as Motorcycle with Sidecar which is not legal

Q: Are Bajaj RE and Piaggio Ape considered motorcycles with sidecars?

A: No, they are not. According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, a sidecar is a small, one-wheeled vehicle attached to the side of a motorcycle. Since these three wheelers do not have a sidecar, it is incorrect to register them as “Motorcycle with Sidecar.”

Q: Is it legal to drive a three-wheeler registered as a “Motorcycle with Sidecar” without the sidecar attached?

A: The legality of driving a three-wheeler without the attached sidecar, but registered as “Motorcycle with Sidecar,” is debatable. Some cases have been reported where authorities have issued tickets to such vehicles. The issue is mainly related to the difference in plate colour (yellow plate for “Motorcycle with Sidecar” and white plate for motorcycles without sidecars), which may lead to enforcement issues.

6 thoughts on “Are LTO Registering Three Wheelers Correctly? Understanding the Classification of Bajaj RE, Piaggio Ape, and TVS King”

  1. avatar of dean duggan

    i have a scooter ive got a bike kit that attaches two extra wheels at the back of my scooter as im in a wheelchair abd cant ballance with my leg due to injury i have a carrier for my chair at the back so it is very stable with shocks on each of the wheel s giving me excellent control and ballance can i use this in the philippines on my scooter

    1. avatar of allanr

      TVS sell such attachments for their XL100 here so I think you would be OK, however, LTO are funny about any changes to a vehicle they insist you register the changes with them.

  2. avatar of rolly m. tapungot
    Rolly M. Tapungot

    Good day Sir. I want to ask if the motorcycle with side car (no any covering even hood and is used for howling) are considered tricycle? Because the LTO personnel told it is considered tricycle and therefore it is exempted from violation of none wearing of helmet. Pls give us correction Sir. Tnx

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