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According to the DVSA, around 15% of motorbikes fail their MOT test (2022-2023). While this is better than other types of vehicle, failing your motorbike MOT could leave you £30 worse off.

Our checklist is here to help you do some routine maintenance on your ride so you can pass the motorcycle MOT first time.

A motorbike is being inspected during its MOT

A motorcycle MOT is a test that's carried out once a year to check that your motorbike meets legal riding standards. You need to take your motorbike to an approved MOT test centre. You can look for approved test centres near you

The motorcycle MOT different to a service check, which looks at how your motorbike is running by checking the condition of parts including the:

  • Engine
  • Clutch
  • Gearbox

Yes, you need a valid MOT for your motorbike. Just as with cars, most motorbike types over 3 years old need to have a valid MOT certificate. This means you need to get it tested once a year to ensure the motorbike 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.

Without an MOT certificate, your motorbike insurance is likely to be invalid.

Compare motorbike insurance quotes

It costs £29.65 for a motorcycle MOT and £37.80 if your motorbike has a sidecar. 

There are 2 different classes of motorbike for the MOT. Class 1 motorbikes have an engine up to 200cc, and class 2 motorbikes are over 200cc. The class your motorbike is in doesn't affect the price you pay for the motorcycle MOT.

Class Vehicle Type Maximum MOT fee
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)

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

These requirements check for any damage, excessive wear and tear, and that it meets government standards.

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

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

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

Motorcycle MOT checklist:

1. Headlamps and lights

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

The tester should look at:

  • Whether the lights actually work
  • Their condition
  • If they're fitted with the correct colour headlamps
  • All headlamps are aimed correctly

You can check all of this yourself, potentially saving yourself from failing your MOT straight away. 

2. Steering and suspension

The condition, security, and operation of these parts are examined.

The tester should pay particular attention to the:

  • Forks
  • Handlebars
  • Head bearings
  • Swinging arm
  • Shock absorbers

You can check these before the MOT by raising the front wheel off the ground and moving 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 looseness in the head bearing.

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

Then, grab each swingarm end and try to move it around. If you can, this could be a sign that your swingarm bearings need replacing

If you've noticed any difference in the handling of your motorbike you should consider getting these problems fixed before the MOT. 

3. 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 motorbike, and the tread depth.

For motorbikes over 50cc, you 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.

4. Frame and seat

The motorbike’s frame should come under scrutiny to ensure that it’s free from cracks, damage, distortion or corrosion. This is to make sure that it isn’t suffering from any conditions that could affect either the steering or braking.

The tester should also check that your seat is attached securely.

5. Brakes

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 the:

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

6. Exhaust and fuel system

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

The fuel system must also be secure and not have any leaks. 

7. Other basic motorbike MOT checks

Other points include:

  • Whether the horn and throttle work
  • If there are legible registration plates
  • Checking that the clutch lever isn’t damaged
  • Checking that the drive chain isn't too worn and should have a guard for security
  • Whether the motorbike should have footrests that should be securely fitted

8. Sidecar (if fitted)

If your motorcycle has a sidecar fitted, the 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

Not everything is checked in an MOT. It’s about seeing if the motorbike is roadworthy and passes certain legal checks. It’s not a full service of your ride. 

The following usually isnt looked at during a motorbike MOT:

  • The engine
  • The clutch
  • The gearbox

Any defects or issues identified by the tester is given a grade.

The motorbike MOT grades are:

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

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

But there are some differences when it comes to the MOT inspection for your moped:

  • It's not mandatory for your moped to be fitted with indicator lights
  • There’s no minimum tread depth for the tyres
  • A registration plate is only needed on the rear of your moped

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 need to tell your insurer, too.

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

According to the DVSA (October - December 2022), the most common motorcycle MOT failure was lamps and reflectors, making up 39% of all faults found.

The full list of failures are:

  • Lights and reflectors - 39%
  • Brakes - 20%
  • Structure and attachments - 11%
  • Suspension - 10%
  • Tyres - 9%
  • Steering - 5%
  • Identification of the vehicle - 4%
  • Wheels - 1%
  • Horn - <1%

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