Carole Nash
Content Writer
Published: 17th January 2020

In May last year, the MOT test for vehicles that were over 40 years of age was abolished. This means that vehicles, including motorcycles, are MOT and VED-exempt when they reach 40 years of age. 

Last Spring when the rules were changed, pre-1978 cars and motorcycles essentially became free to own, apart from fuel and insurance expenses of course. Thankfully, motorcycles from the later 1970s can still be fine to ride in today’s modern traffic, in terms of performance, handling and brakes. Making them a viable option for daily transport, or even for commuting. 

The rules today apply to all ‘Vehicles of Historic Interest’, and the new rules will mean that the number of MOT-exempt will rise each year as they reach the 40-year limit. 

Still need to be road legal

Although 40 year old motorbikes will be MOT-exempt, they will still of course be legally obliged to be road legal. Essentially, they will be required to still be in a condition where they would pass on MOT. However, some riders may end up taking out older motorcycles that aren’t in a roadworthy state, unintentionally or not. 

Safe to say, not every rider is an expert when it comes to keeping their bikes in full working order for the roads. The current rules mean that there’s nothing forcing riders with 40 year old bikes to undergo an MOT test. However, the Government recommends other options, such as testing them in a garage to insure that they are still safe to ride on modern roads.

The MOT system has proven to help make vehicles licenced in the UK among the safest and best-maintained in the world. Those looking to voluntarily undergo an MOT on their 40 year old motorcycles are likely to already have the best-cared for bikes. There is still the danger that with the loophole, older motorcycles that are worn out and potentially dangerous could find themselves on the roads. 

The Government argued that older vehicles in general, which have been kept for so long are usually well maintained and cared for by the owners. They are also not used as much, and are likely only brought out for shorter journeys. There’s also the argument that a modern MOT simply isn’t suitable for some, much older vehicles. Given the increase in electronic systems and emission-related tests, this makes sense. Of course any motorcycle that reached the 40-year exemption will also be VED-exempt too. 

What if the older bikes are modified? 

Older motorcycles that have been modified in some way may not be exempt. As the rules state that vehicles that have been subjected to ‘substantial change’ will not be MOT-exempt. However, the meaning of ‘substantial change’ isn’t quite clear. 

The criteria for ‘substantial’ change has been laid out by the Government, but doesn’t apply specifically to motorcycles as of yet. 

If you’re looking for motorbike insurance to cover your classic or vintage motorbike, you can get a free, no-obligation quote with us by filling out our online form or by calling us today on 0333 055 3355. Our staff will help you every step of the way with finding an ideal, affordable policy.

If your bike happens to be over 30 years old, then you could be eligible for our vintage motorbike insurance.