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Motorcycle MOT checklist – how to pass

For the best chance of passing your motorcycle MOT you should maintain your motorbike all year round.

Most bikers are pretty good when it comes to maintaining their motorbike. But even the keenest among us sometimes dread taking our ride to have its MOT.

Our motorbike MOT checklist can help.

A motorbike is being inspected during its MOT


What is a motorcycle MOT?

A motorcycle MOT is a test that's carried out once a year to check your motorbike meets legal driving standards. It’s different to a service check, that looks at how your motorbike is running by checking the condition of parts including the engine, clutch, and gearbox. 

Between 2021 and 2022, 9.1% of motorbikes failed their MOT, according to government data. That's compared to 23.1% of cars, suggesting that more care and attention is usually put into maintaining a motorbike. 


Do I need a motorbike MOT?

Just as with cars, most motorbike types over 3 years old need to have a valid MOT certificate.

This means you’ll need to get it tested every year to ensure 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.

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

Compare motorbike insurance quotes


How much does the motorcycle MOT cost?

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

There are 2 different classes, as shown below. Class 1 bikes have an engine up to 200cc, and class 2 bikes are over 200cc. The class your motorbike is in doesn't affect the price you pay for the bike 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)

Motorcycle MOT checklist

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

These motorcycle MOT 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.

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


1. 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 see 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.


2. Steering and suspension

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

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

You can do this 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 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 fixed before you take it for its 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 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.


4. Frame and seat

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 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:

  • 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, 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 motorbike should have footrests that should be securely fitted.


8. Sidecar (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

While all this might seem a little daunting, there isn’t much on the MOT 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. 


What isn’t checked in a motorcycle MOT?

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

The following usually won’t be looked at during a motorbike MOT:

  • The engine
  • The clutch
  • The gearbox

How is a motorbike MOT graded?

Any defects or issues identified by a 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.
  • Major: Issue must be repaired immediately.
  • Minor: Defect isn’t a significant risk, but should be repaired as soon as possible.
  • Advisory: Issue needs 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.

Any other motorcycle MOT grade, and it has passed. 


Do I need a moped 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.


What are some common motorcycle MOT fails?

There are lots of reasons why a motorbike MOT might fail but you can carry out most of the checks in advance to lower the risk of this happening.

The most common reason for a failure is faulty or broken lamps or reflector, followed by problems with brakes and then the structure and attachment of your bike.

Tyres, suspension, and steering come next followed by identification of the bike and then problems with the horn.