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How to pass your motorcycle MOT

Here are a few tips to keep your motorbike in tip-top, roadworthy condition.

A motorbike is being inspected during its MOT

If you’re a biker, chances are you’re on the ball when it comes to maintaining your bike.

But even the keenest among us sometimes dread taking our ride to have its MOT. 

In 2018/19, around 17% of motorbikes failed their MOT.

Compared to the 34% of cars that failed, you can see how much more care is put into maintaining a motorbike.

That being said, it pays to stay clued up on what to look out for.


When does my motorbike need an MOT?

Just like with a car, most motorbike types over three years old need to have a valid MOT certificate.

This means you’ll need to get it tested every year to ensure that the bike is roadworthy and fit to ride.

You can see whether your motorbike needs an MOT by using our MOT status checker.

An MOT certificate is a legal requirement, and you could be fined £1,000 if caught without one.

And without an MOT certificate, your motorbike insurance might also be invalid.


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How much does the motorcycle MOT cost?

For MOT purposes, motorbikes come in two classes.

Class 1 bikes have an engine up to 200cc, and class 2 bikes are over 200cc.

This doesn’t impact the cost of the MOT, but having a sidecar does.

Motorcycle (engine size up to 200cc)
Motorcycle with sidecar (engine size up to 200cc)
Motorcycle (engine size over 200cc)
Motorcycle with sidecar (engine size over 200cc)


What should I check before I take my bike for an MOT?

The motorcycle MOT consists of 16 checks to ensure that your bike is safe and fit for purpose.

Each check will look for any damage, excessive wear and that it meets government standards.

You can see the full list of checks on GOV.UK.

Here’s a quick checklist of some of the most common motorbike MOT failures and what you can do to prepare.

Headlamps and lights

Lighting and signalling issues are the top reasons for motorcycles failing their MOT.

A tester should look at whether they work, check their condition and if they're fitted with the correct colour headlamps – all of which you can check in advance.

They'll also check to make sure the aim of the headlamps is correct.

Steering and suspension

The condition, security and operation of these parts will be examined.

A tester should pay particular attention to the forks, handlebars, head bearings, swinging arm and shock absorbers.

Raise the front wheel off the ground and move the handlebars from lock to lock to ensure they turn freely.

Then grab the forks at the bottom and attempt to push and pull on them - any movement could suggest play in the head bearing.

Move to the rear and bounce the bike to make sure the suspension is working as expected.

Also, grab each swingarm end and try to move it around. If you can, this could be a sign that your swingarm bearings are on the way out.

If you've noticed any difference in the handling of your bike it could be worth getting any problems ironed out before you take it for its MOT.


Wheels and tyres

The condition of the wheels and tyres should be looked at.

This includes whether the right size/type has been fitted to the bike, and the tread depth.

For motorbikes over 50cc, you’ll need at least 1mm of tread across three-quarters of the width of the tread pattern.

There must also be the correct alignment between the front and rear wheels.

The frame

The bike’s frame should also come under scrutiny to ensure that it’s free from cracks, damage, distortion or corrosion.

The purpose of this is to make sure that it isn’t suffering from any conditions that could affect either the steering or braking.


The brakes themselves must be operational and perform as expected.

Test them yourself by applying the brakes and making sure the wheels can rotate freely when the brake is released. Also check that the brake pads aren’t worn.

The tester should look at:

  • Disc brakes
  • Brake pads and shoes
  • Brake hoses
  • ABS warning lights, if applicable.


The motorbike’s exhaust system will need to be complete, secure and as quiet as possible.

The fuel system must not have any leaks.


Sidecars (if fitted)

If your motorcycle has a sidecar fitted, a tester should examine whether:

  • It’s attached and aligned securely and properly
  • The suspension is working
  • The lights are working
  • The tyres are in good working order
  • The wheel bearings and alignments are correct.

Other basic checks

Other points include whether the horn and throttle work, that there are legible registration plates, and that the clutch lever isn’t damaged.

In addition, the drive chain must not be too worn and should have a guard for security.

The tester should also check that your wheels are aligned properly and that your seats are attached securely.

While all this might seem a little daunting, there isn’t much on the examination itself that you can’t get double-checked before test day.

All it takes is a little bit of forward planning, as well as keeping on top of regular maintenance tasks, and you should sail through the test every year.


MOT grades

Any defects or issues identified by a tester will be given a grade.

The motorbike MOT grades are:

  • Dangerous: Direct risk to drivers or damages environment, meaning the motorbike isn’t road legal.
  • Major: Issue must be repaired immediately.
  • Minor: Defect isn’t a significant risk, but should be repaired as soon as possible.
  • Advisory: Issue will need to be monitored and acted upon when needed.
  • Pass: Reaches the legal standard of safety.

If you get a dangerous or major grade, it means your motorbike has failed its MOT.

Anything else and it has passed.


Does a moped need an MOT?

A moped, defined as a 50cc motorcycle that can’t exceed 30 mph, does need an MOT.

However, there are some differences when it comes to an MOT inspection for your moped.

It isn’t mandatory for your moped to be fitted with indicator lights and there’s no minimum tread depth either.

And a registration plate is only needed on the rear of your moped.


Does a classic motorbike need an MOT test?

If your motorbike is more than 40 years old and no substantial changes have been made in the last 30 years, it doesn’t need an MOT.

Substantial changes include replacing the chassis, body, axles or engine to change the way the vehicle works.

If you’ve made modifications to your motorbike, you’ll need to tell your insurer, too.

So if you’ve got a classic motorbike, chances are it won’t need an MOT.