Like cars and vans, all motorcycles over three years old have to pass the yearly MOT test. Failure to do so, or at least have an MOT slot booked in, will result in a £1,000 fine if you’re pulled over by the police. Also, without a valid MOT, you won’t be able to park your bike on the road legally, and neither can you renew your road tax. Although there was a temporary exemption for the Covid 19 lockdown, that ended on 1 August. Motorbike MOTs cover the same safety and roadworthiness checks as those for cars and vans, plus some extras.
Main failure reasons
The wheels and tyres on motorcycles account for ten per cent of all first MOT failures. Not only that, but 37% of these failures are classed as dangerous; i.e. you won’t be able to ride your bike away from the testing centre until the problem is fixed. Wheels themselves only account for 1% of these faults, leaving 99% failing due to tyre defects. Tyres must be fitted securely, be the right size and type, tread depth must be over 1mm for any bike above 50cc, and valves and wheel bearings must be in decent condition.
Lights and reflector problems account for 40% of bike MOT failures; and for 50% of all major fails. All lights and reflectors must be working properly, in decent condition, fitted securely and of the right colour. Testers will check that your headlamp is aimed properly, and look at your rear lamps, indicators and reflectors.
Braking problems account for about 20% of MOT failures for motorbikes, and 30% of these fails are deemed dangerous. Testers will check that the brakes work as they are designed to, and examine the condition of hoses, discs, pads, shoes and ABS warning lights if you have any.
Other motorcycle checks
It should be remembered that MOT checks do not cover major machinery performance, as would be looked at during a full service. So, you won’t get a run down on your engine, clutch or gearbox. Rather, all those items which only apply to motorcycles, rather than covered, four wheel vehicles, will be checked for compliance.
Steering and suspension issues come quite high on the failure register. Testers will check your forks, handlebars, grip mountings, head bearings, swinging arm, shocks, and damping effectiveness. They will also check your frame, to see that it isn’t compromised in any way which could affect steering or braking.
Other checks are for the exhaust, fuel system, seats, wheel alignment, horn, reg. plates, VIN and frame number visibility, drive and chain sprocket, throttle, clutch lever, and footrests. If you have a sidecar fitted, this will entail another six checks; for safe attachment, correct alignment, working suspension, wheel bearing alignment, lights and tyres.
Book your motorbike MOT soon
As you can see, the motorcycle MOT covers a lot of ground. To check your status, use the online tool here; and don’t delay, as the lockdown exemption has led to a surge in demand for MOTs in the last quarter of 2020