The MoT (Ministry of Transport) test is required for all motorcycles between three and 40 years old. It is an annual check carried out by testing stations to ensure that your motorbike is roadworthy.
The test inspects 15 key elements of the bike: lights, steering and suspension, wheels and tyres, frame, brake, exhaust, fuel system, seat, wheel alignment, footrests, levers, horn, chain and sprockets, throttle and identification plates. It also covers checks to sidecars where they are fitted too.
The standard cost of a motorcycle MoT is currently £29.65 and it makes sense to make some checks yourself before spending time and money on the annual test. Just under one in five bikes fail the MoT at the first attempt and in most cases these are cheap and simple fixes that could have been picked up prior to the test.
So to make your next MoT experience as hassle-free as possible, and to keep you legal on the road, we’ve come up with these five top tips on how to get your bike tested.
Make an appointment
While you can occasionally turn up at a station and they will accommodate you, it is always best to book well in advance, and before the current MoT runs out. In spring, when riders are getting their bikes out after being laid up, it’s not unheard of for testing stations to have waiting lists of several weeks and you won’t lose anything by going for a test up to one month before the current MoT certificate expires, as the anniversary of the expiry date is preserved. This effectively means that you can have an MoT certificate for 13 months by getting the test done a month before the expiry date.
Check your insurance documents
If your MoT has run out, you must not ride the bike on the road – except for riding it to a pre-booked test. This is the only situation in which you can ride your bike on the road without a valid MoT certificate or road tax, however you MUST have valid insurance, so make sure that you arrange this before going on the road. In this circumstance, you must also ensure that you ride directly to the station. Going via the shops, or riding into the office when your MoT appointment is later in the day, is leaving you open to prosecution.
Make sure it’s roadworthy
Regardless of whether your bike has a valid MoT certificate or not, it should always be roadworthy. If your bike is less than three years old (or older than 40) then you still have an obligation to check your bike’s roadworthiness before riding, and you risk prosecution by riding a bike that is dangerous on the road.
Any time you ride a bike that’s not roadworthy you risk prosecution (and potentially invalidating your insurance). This remains true if you are riding to a prebooked MoT test.
Check your bike over
Most of the MoT test is about common sense and you can check a bike over yourself to look for defects.
The most common failures relate to lighting, so look for any blown bulbs and replace them if need be. Headlamp alignment is a little more difficult, but can usually still be tackled by the DIY mechanic.
Inspecting the condition of tyres, brakes and chain should be part of every pre-ride check anyway, so make sure you give these a good look over in advance of your MoT appointment.
Ditch the illegal modifications
Many riders like to fit loud exhausts and small numberplates. It’s not uncommon to pick up a second hand bike with these modifications made and to not realise that they are illegal. Some MoT testers may turn a blind eye, especially on borderline cases, but anything that could get you pulled by the police could get you an MoT failure, so it’s best to replace these items before heading to the test centre.
You can find the full list of items checked in the MoT test at the gov.uk website: