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Motorcycle MOT checklist

MOT checklist: How your motorcycle will be assessed

Jake Edmonds
Written by  Jake Edmonds
6 min read
Updated: 27 Feb 2024

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

What is an MOT?

For many riders in Britain, the MOT test is a familiar annual checkpoint that ensures their motorcycle is safe and roadworthy. If your two-wheeled companion is over three years old, it's legally required to pass this test at an approved MOT centre.

Once passed, you'll receive an MOT certificate, which is your ticket to legally ride on UK roads. But what exactly goes into preparing for this critical test? Let's dive into a checklist that will help you navigate the MOT process with ease.

woman on a motorbike riding on a road

Does my motorcycle need an MOT?

If you're cruising the streets of the UK on a motorcycle that's celebrated more than three birthdays, it's time to mark your calendar for an MOT test.

Riding without a valid MOT certificate isn't just a minor oversight—it's illegal and can hit your wallet with a fine of up to £1,000.

The only exception to this rule is if you're en route to a pre-scheduled MOT test. So, make sure to book your appointment and keep that certificate up to date.

Without a valid MOT:

  • Your insurance might not be valid, or it may only extend to third-party cover, leaving you exposed to significant financial risks in the event of an accident

  • You'll be unable to legally tax your motorcycle, which is another requirement for riding on public roads

  • Parking your motorcycle on the road becomes an illegal act, potentially leading to more fines and headaches

How does an MOT test work?

When your motorcycle undergoes an MOT test, it's subjected to a grading system that classifies defects into five categories: Dangerous, Major, Minor, Advisory, or Pass.

The classification is based on how each defect impacts safety and the environment. It's a thorough process designed to ensure that every motorcycle on the road is not only safe for the rider but also for everyone else sharing the road.

What is tested on a motorcycle MOT?

The MOT test is a comprehensive examination of your motorcycle's health, scrutinising various components to ensure they meet the required safety standards. Here's what the test will cover:

Lights

A staggering 39.05% of defects found between October and December 2021 related to lights. The MOT test will check:

  • Proper function and condition

  • Secure fit

  • Correct colour of the lights

Steering and suspension

These are critical for your motorcycle's handling, and 6.51% of dangerous defects were related to this category. The test includes:

  • Forks

  • Handlebars

  • Grips mountings

  • Head bearings

  • Swinging arm

  • Shock absorbers

Wheels and Tyres

Given that motorcycles are three times more likely to encounter tyre-related issues, the MOT test pays special attention to:

  • Security of fitting

  • Size and type

  • Tread depth (must be above 1mm for over 50cc)

  • Valve condition

  • Wheel bearings

Frame

The frame is inspected for:

  • Damage

  • Distortion

  • Corrosion that could impact steering or braking

Braking

Braking is vital, and 27.46% of dangerous defects were related to this system. The test looks at:

  • Brake hoses

  • Disc brakes

  • Brake pads and shoes

  • ABS warning lights

Exhaust System

The exhaust system must be:

  • Securely fitted

  • Complete

  • Not overly noisy

Fuel System

The MOT tester will check for:

  • Component security

  • Leaks in the fuel system

Seats

Seats must be:

  • Securely attached

Wheel alignment

  • Both front and rear wheels must be aligned correctly

Sidecars (if fitted)

For motorcycles with sidecars, the test includes checks on:

  • Secure attachment

  • Proper alignment

  • Functioning suspension and lights

  • Wheel bearings and tyre condition

Horn

The horn must:

  • Work correctly

  • Be suitable for the motorcycle

Registration plates, vehicle identification, and frame numbers

These are all inspected to ensure they meet legal standards.

Drive chain and sprocket

The test checks for:

  • Chain wear and tension

  • Secure chain guard

  • Sprocket condition

Throttle

  • The throttle's functionality is tested

Clutch lever

  • The clutch lever is examined for usability and condition

Footrests

  • Footrests must be securely fitted

What isn’t checked in a motorcycle MOT?

It's important to note that the MOT test does not cover the engine, clutch, or gearbox. These components are typically examined during a full service, which is separate from the MOT.

How much does a motorcycle MOT cost?

The cost of an MOT test is regulated, with maximum charges set at £29.65 for motorcycles of all engine sizes and £37.80 for motorcycles with a sidecar. It's a small price to pay for peace of mind and legal compliance on the road.

Compare motorcycle insurance quotes

After your motorcycle passes its MOT test, it's a great time to review your insurance policy. Ensuring you have the right coverage can save you from unexpected repair costs down the line.

Take a moment to provide your personal and motorcycle details to receive tailored insurance quotes. Remember, it's not just about finding the cheapest option; it's about striking the right balance between cost and coverage to protect yourself and your motorcycle.

Ensuring your motorcycle is MOT-ready is not just about ticking a box for legal compliance; it's about taking responsibility for your safety and that of others on the road. With this guide, you're now equipped with the knowledge to prepare for your next MOT test confidently. Ride safe, and keep your wheels turning smoothly on the journey ahead.

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