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How to pass your motorbike MOT


If you ride a motorcycle then it is your duty to ensure that it is always kept in a roadworthy condition.

Motorbike engine

The main way that this is checked externally is by the annual MOT, which is carried out at a certified testing centre. An up-to-date MOT is just as vital a legal requirement as a helmet and valid motorcycle insurance.

Every bike must have this test, which thoroughly examines everything from the horn to the exhaust system, once it is three years old.

If it passes then the centre will issue an MOT certificate confirming it met the minimum standards at that time. Taking a bike – particularly an older one that has seen its fair share of iles – to be tested is never an enjoyable experience but with a bit of foresight and preparation you can help increase your chances of it being given the all-clear.

So what will the examiner look for – and what do you need to do?

Basic checks

Let’s start off with the lights. Basically they will be looking at their condition, whether they work and if they are fitted with the correct colour headlamps – all of which you can look at in advance. They will also check the aim of the headlamps.

Next is the steering and suspension. Once again, the condition, security and operation of all these parts will be examined with particular attention focused on 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 grasp the forks at the bottom and attempt to push and pull on them as any movement could suggest play in the head bearing.

How does your bike handle?

Moving to the rear and the bike should be bounced to make sure the suspension is working as expected. Also, grasp 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 have noticed any difference in the handling of your bike it’d be worth getting any problems ironed out beforehand instead of being potentially being forced off the road due to failing the test.

Linked to this will be taking a look at the condition of the wheels and tyres, including whether the right size/type has been fitted to the bike, and the tread depth.

There must also be the correct alignment between the front and rear wheels. Again, these are all checks that you can do before presenting it for examination.

Checking the frame

The frame itself will also come under scrutiny to ensure 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. You can see for yourself by applying the brakes and making sure the wheels can rotate freely when the brake is released – and that the brake pads are not worn.

Meanwhile the exhaust system will need to be complete, secure and as quiet as possible, while the fuel system must not have any leaks.

Other points to be covered include whether the horn and throttle works, that there are legible registration plates, and that the clutch lever is not damaged.

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

So while it may seem 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.

Even spending a few minutes carrying out a few basic checks, such as keeping an eye on oil and tyre pressures, testing the lights and monitoring how the brakes feel is enough to ensure you sail through the test every year.


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