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Motorcycle MOT checklist

MOT checklist: How your motorcycle will be assessed

published: 15 July 2020
Read time: 5 minutes

Motorcycles, like cars, need by law to pass regular MOT tests – here’s how you can prepare for yours

Your MOT and coronavirus

Because of coronavirus, the government has granted an extension to MOTs. This means that if the MOT for your bike is due between 30 March and 31 July, you can defer it for six months.

However, MOTs due after 1 August should be carried out as normal.

Note that all vehicles under deferred MOTs must be kept in roadworthy condition, while garages are open to undertake essential repairs.

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What is an MOT?

An MOT test is given to every vehicle in Britain that’s more than three years old, to make sure they’re fit for use on our roads. You’ll need to take your vehicle to an approved MOT centre, which will test the major functions of your bike and award you an MOT certificate if it passes.

Does my motorcycle need an MOT?

As with every car and light goods vehicle in the country, any motorcycle  over three years old must have a valid MOT certificate. Driving on UK roads without a valid certificate is illegal unless you’re headed to a scheduled MOT inspection, and you could get a fine of up to £1,000 if you’re caught.

Without a valid MOT:

  • Your insurance might not be valid, or it may only extend to third-party cover

  • You won’t be able to tax your motorbike

  • You won’t be able to legally park it on the road

How does an MOT test work?

When you take your motorcycle to an MOT testing centre, they’ll examine it for any defects or issues to make sure it’s safe for UK roads. Each part of the test is graded in the following manner:

  • Dangerous: The motorcycle carries either a direct risk to drivers or damages the environment – meaning it isn’t road legal

  • Major: Could affect other drivers or the environment and must be repaired immediately

  • Minor: An issue that isn’t a significant risk, but which still needs to be repaired as soon as possible

  • Advisory: If an issue could develop in the future – it’ll need to be monitored and acted upon when required

  • Pass: If your motorcycle reaches the minimum legally required standard of road safety

The five grades of MOT testing and what they mean

What is tested on a motorcycle MOT?

During an MOT test for your motorcycle, the approved MOT centre will examine the following:

1.       Lights

Almost two in five defects found during motorbike MOTs are related to lamps and reflectors – including almost half of all ‘major’ defects.* Your MOT tester will check your lights are:

  • Working properly

  • In good condition

  • Securely fitted

  • The correct colour

They’ll look at your rear lights, indicators and reflectors, and will ensure your headlamps are aimed correctly.

2.       Steering and suspension

Issues with motorcycle suspension account for almost one in ten of all defects, while steering problems make up just under 6%.* In the MOT test they’ll evaluate the condition of your motorbike’s steering and suspension, as well as checking:

  • Forks

  • Handlebars

  • Grips mountings

  • Head bearings

  • Swinging arm

  • Shock absorbers

  • Damping effect

3.       Wheels and tyres

Over 37% of all tyre-related defects are classed as ‘dangerous’ – the highest level of defect possible on an MOT test – and tyre defects in general make up almost a tenth of all defects found. Issues with wheels are rarer, at only 1% of all defects.*

Your MOT centre will look at the condition of your tyres and wheels, including:

  • Security of fitting

  • Size and type, to ensure they’re compatible with your bike and suitable for the road

  • Tread depth, which must be above 1mm for motorbikes over 50cc

  • The condition of the valves

  • Wheel bearings, to make sure they aren’t worn down

4.       Frame

Your motorcycle’s frame will be inspected to ensure it isn’t damaged, distorted or corroded in a way that could affect your ability to steer or brake when driving.

5.       Braking

Just under one in five motorcycle MOT defects involve issues with brakes, and almost 30% of all these defects are classed as ‘dangerous’.* During the MOT the tester will look at the condition of your motorcycle brakes, ensuring their operation and performance are in order and the brake controls are functioning correctly. This includes looking at:

  • Brake hoses

  • Disc brakes

  • Brake pads and shoes

  • ABS warning lights, if applicable

6.       Exhaust system

Your motorcycle’s exhaust system will be checked to make sure it’s securely fitted and not missing any parts, as well as not too noisy.

7.       Fuel system

Your fuel system’s components and their security will be checked, while testers will also look for any leaks within the system.

8.       Seats

The MOT centre will confirm that your seat(s) are attached securely.

9.       Wheel alignment

They will also check that your front and rear wheels are aligned correctly.

10.   Sidecars (if fitted)

If you have a sidecar attached to your motorcycle, it’ll be examined to make sure:

  • It’s attached safely and securely

  • It’s aligned properly

  • The suspension is working

  • The wheel bearings and alignment are correct

  • The lights are functioning

  • The tyres are in good condition

11.   Horn

The horn is checked to see if it’s both working correctly and properly suited to your motorcycle –horn-related issues make up less than 3% of all motorcycle MOT defects.*

12.   Registration plates, vehicle identification and frame numbers

Vehicle identification issues account for less than 4% of all problems – they’re checked to make sure they’re valid and legible.*

13.   Drive chain and sprocket

The MOT centre will inspect your drive chain and sprocket to see if:

  • The chain isn’t worn, or too tight/loose

  • The chain guard is fitted securely

  • The sprockets aren’t worn

14.   Throttle

Testers will also ensure the throttle is functioning properly.

15.   Clutch Lever

The MOT test will also involve a clutch lever examination to confirm it’s still usable, meaning it isn’t:

  • Bent

  • Damaged

  • Shortened

16.   Footrests

Finally, they’ll confirm your footrests are fitted securely.

This is what your MOT centre will examine on your motorbike

*Data collected by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, accurate as of July 2019

What isn’t checked in a motorcycle MOT?

A motorcycle MOT doesn’t offer the same level of examination as a full service, and the general condition of the motorcycle’s mechanics won’t be looked at. This means the MOT skips over:

  • The engine

  • The clutch

  • The gearbox

*Data collected by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, accurate as of July 2019

How much does a motorcycle MOT cost?

MOT centres have a maximum amount they’re able to charge for a test:

  • Motorcycles of all engine sizes: £29.65

  • Motorcycles of all engine sizes with a sidecar: £37.80

Compare motorcycle insurance quotes

Completing an MOT test for your motorcycle could reveal some issues that need attention, and repairs aren’t always cheap. With the right motorbike insurance policy you’ll have peace of mind that any repair costs will be taken care of as long as no exclusions are triggered.

All you need to do is tell us a little about yourself, your driving history and the motorcycle you want to insure, and we’ll pull together a list of quotes tailored to your exact requirements. You’ll be able to compare deals by the overall monthly and annual cost, the excess payments you’ll need to make, and the level of cover you get for your money.

Once you’ve found the right deal, just click through to the provider to finalise your purchase. However keep in mind that the cheapest policy isn’t always the best suited to you – it’s advisable to look for a balance between cost and cover to ensure you have the right protection in place for the right price.

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