The MOT testing regime covers motorcycles as well as cars and vans. Any of these three vehicle types which is over three years old (apart from some particular exceptions) must have a valid, current MOT certificate in order to use the UK’s roads legally. After the first MOT at 3 years, the test is done annually. If you’re pulled over by the police, without a valid MOT you’ll be eligible for an instant £1,000 fine; not only that, you can’t even park your bike on the street, and you won’t be able to tax your bike.
Main bike MOT fail reasons
Motorcycles have many features which set them apart from cars, vans and any other type of four wheeled transport. For this reason, the motorbike MOT is tailor made to test the safety and roadworthiness of bikes in slightly different ways to those other transport types. First time MOT fails for bikes are also slightly different statistically to four wheelers.
Firstly, most motorcycles fail their MOT first time due to their lights and reflectors. Problems with these are behind 40% of fails; and, more significantly, 50% of “major” fails. As bikes have less lights than cars and vans, this statistic is somewhat unfortunate. However, their fewer numbers means that each one is relatively more important. Lights and reflectors have to be aimed and work properly, be in good condition, securely fitted and the correct colour.
The next main reason bikes fail their MOT is for braking issues. These account for 20% of first time failures; and 30% of these fails are classed as “dangerous”. Nobody wants to ride a motorbike with dangerous brakes, as you only have control of two wheels, the front one of which is the most important in terms of control. Testers will include hoses as well as discs, pads, and shoes; plus any ABS warning lights if your bike has them.
Other common fail reasons
Controlling a bike comes with very specific challenges, for riders and machines alike. With this in mind, wheels and tyres come under a lot of stress, and must be able to perform to the highest of standards every time. Strict testing at the MOT means that 10% of all first time bike fails are for wheel and tyre problems; and a big 37% of these failures are for “dangerous” issues.
Wheels are usually OK (only 1% of failures), but tyres make up 99% of these failures. Tyres must be securely and correctly fitted, of the right size and specification, and tread must be at least 1mm for any bike above 50cc, and 1.6mm on some bigger bikes. The condition of your valves will also be checked, as will your wheel bearings.
There is a very long list of motorbike specific parts which the MOT will cover. Any one of these could lead to an automatic fail, although most are very easily fixable.
Book your motorbike MOT
If you’re not sure when your bike’s MOT expires, use this handy checker to find out. Demand for MOTs on all vehicle types is set to soar this autumn, so book a test slot as soon as you can.