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Motorcycle MOT Checklist

A motorcycle MOT needs to be carried out every year to make sure your bike is mechanically sound and safe to ride. Here’s a list of what’s inspected in an MOT test, so you can get any obvious issues fixed before you get to the testing centre.

A motorcycle MOT needs to be carried out every year to make sure your bike is mechanically sound and safe to ride. Here’s a list of what’s inspected in an MOT test, so you can get any obvious issues fixed before you get to the testing centre.

Written by
Julie Daniels
Motor insurance comparison expert
Last Updated
23 FEBRUARY 2022
4 min read
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When does my motorcycle need an MOT?

If your motorcycle is over three years old, you need to take it to an approved MOT centre to get its MOT. 

You can be fined up to £1,000 for driving a bike without a valid MOT. The only exceptions are if you drive it: 

  • to or from somewhere to be repaired
  • to a pre-arranged MOT test

What is tested on a motorcycle MOT?

A motorcycle MOT will test your bike to make sure it’s safe to use on the road. What's tested will include: 

  • Tyres
  • Lights
  • Brakes
  • Exhaust
  • Frame and fuel system

Around 16% of motorbikes fail their MOT first time, so knowing what’s going to be checked and getting any issues dealt with before the test could save you time and money. 

Read more below for a detailed list on what a mechanic could be looking for.

Sitting on the motorbike

  • handlebar alignment and steering
  • brake, throttle and clutch controls working properly
  • all other switches and controls including the horn

On the front of the motorbike

  • headlight and indicators are positioned correctly and working
  • headlamp correctly aimed
  • front mudguard in good order
  • steering wheel bearings
  • suspension
  • front brake
  • front tyre

On the rear of the motorbike

  • lights
  • suspension
  • bearings
  • rear brake
  • rear tyre
  • number plate correctly displayed

From the sides

  • frame and seat are structurally sound
  • foot rests in order
  • exhaust free of holes, leaks or problems with mountings and brackets
  • decibel level acceptable
  • fuel system free of leaks

Other motorbike MOT checks

  • Suspension and wheel alignment will be thoroughly checked on both wheels.
  • Your brakes will be separately tested to make sure they’re working efficiently. This includes looking at hoses, making sure there are no fluid leaks and that your discs are secure and free from cracks. Finally, your pads and shoes must not be worn below the acceptable level.
  • If you have one fitted, yoursidecarwill be checked to make sure it is, among other things, fitted securely.

How do MOT grades work?

During the MOT test, your motorcycle will be tested for any defects or issues to make sure it’s safe to ride on UK roads. Any defects or issues identified by a tester will be given a grade. 

These grades are: 

  • Dangerous – this means the defect or issue is a direct and immediate risk to road safety or has a serious impact on the environment. You can’t drive the bike until it’s been repaired.
  • Major – the defect or issue may affect the bike’s safety, put other road users at risk or have an impact on the environment. You must repair it immediately.
  • Minor – the defect has no significant effect on the bike’s safety or impact on the environment, but you must repair it as soon as possible.
  • Advisory – issues could become more serious in the future, so monitor and repair if necessary.
  • Pass – the motorcycle meets the minimum legal standard.

Why do bikes fail their MOT?

One of the most common reasons for motorbikes failing their MOT is defective lights. If bulbs aren’t working properly, your rear reflector is broken or missing, or if your signalling light isn’t flashing as it should, the bike could fail.

Brakes can be another cause of MOT failure – in 2019-2020, brake defects accounted for failures in over 4% of motorcycle MOT tests . Before taking your bike for an MOT inspection, check your brake pads and discs for wear and get any defects fixed if necessary.

Did you know?
In the past, your motorbike would’ve failed its MOT if you’d converted your halogen headlamp units to be used with HID or LED bulbs. This rule was changed in March 2021, although your lights must still meet all the other MOT requirements.

How much does an MOT cost? 

For a standard motorcycle (of all engine sizes), the maximum amount MOT test stations can charge is £29.65. 

If you have a sidecar fitted to your motorcycle, the maximum MOT fee will be £37.80.

Give your bike the best chance of success

You can help improve your chances of getting through the motorbike MOT without issues by keeping on top of maintenance.

You can either do this yourself or get a local garage or dealer to service the bike for you.

Take a look at our guide to motorcycle maintenance.

Even if your bike is 100% roadworthy, you can’t take it anywhere without the right insurance. If you’re looking for the right cover for you at the right price, it’s well worth comparing before you buy.

Compare motorbike insurance deals to see if you could save

Frequently asked questions

What isn’t checked in a motorcycle MOT?

During the MOT test, the engine, clutch, and gearbox aren’t checked. This will be done when you get your motorcycle serviced.

How long does an MOT take?

It usually takes around 45-60 minutes , but it may take longer if your motorbike fails the MOT and repairs are needed. Be sure to take your motorbike to the garage on time, but don’t expect to have it back by a certain time as you don’t know how long repairs could take (if they need to be made).

Do classic bikes need to have an MOT?

If you’re lucky enough to have a classic motorcycle – that is, one built or first registered over 40 years ago – it doesn’t need an MOT. That’s provided no ‘substantial changes’ have been made to the bike in the last 30 years, for example replacing the engine.

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