Motorcycle MOT Test
By law, any vehicles on the road must be kept in a roadworthy condition. This is monitored and regulated annually by an MOT test. And just like a car, a motorbike’s first MOT test is required once it’s 3 years old.
This guide explains the motorcycle MOT test and the checks that a motorbike must go through to meet road safety and environmental standards. This is for the safety of other bikers and road users. It is important to remember that a valid MOT certificate is not a guarantee that your motorbike is in good mechanical condition – you should have your motorbike serviced regularly, according to the manufacturer’s specifications, to guarantee this.
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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
What is tested on a motorcycle MOT?
During an MOT test for your motorcycle, the approved MOT centre will examine the following:
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:
- 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
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.
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.
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
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
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:
Finally, they’ll confirm your footrests are fitted securely.
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