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Bike Trader

How to pass your MOT test first time

03 July 2009
News image All motorcycles and scooters more than three years old have to pass the Ministry of Transport (MoT) test if they are going to be used on the road. The test certificate is valid for one year, and you’ll need it to tax your wheels. If you don’t have a current MoT certificate you could invalidate your insurance.


The test costs £29.20, and you can have your machine tested up to one month before the old certificate expires. The date of expiry of the new certificate will be one year after the current one expires, so you could get a 13 month ticket.


The most common reasons for failing a motorcycle MoT test are having a licence plate that is the wrong size, and not having a rear reflector. Make sure you have both right before booking that test.


Now follow our guide on what else to check to make sure your bike passes first time:



1. Make sure the frame number matches that shown on the old certificate or your V5 log book. Excessive corrosion on frame is a fail.


2. Sit on the bike and hold the front brake on. Pump the forks up and down to make sure that they move smoothly without binding, and there is adequate binding. Check the rear suspension as well.


3. Handlebars and control levers, including the grips, must be securely mounted. If the engine speeds up when you turn the bars to full lock, the throttle cable is too short or snagged.


4. Test the horn is reasonably loud and the indicators work.


5. Make sure headlight dip and main beam both work, and that the full beam doesn’t dazzle other road users. Check tail light, and that brake light operates from pedal and hand brake if there are two switches.


6. The petrol tank cap must have a good seal. If petrol slops out of the tank it is a fail.


7. There must be no petrol leaks from pipes or carburettors.


8. Exhaust must not blow from any joint, including header pipes. End can must be securely fitted, and be either original fitment or have a BSAU 193 stamp. Bikes registered before 1 January 1985 are exempt from this rule.


9. Fork seals must not leak oil, and fork tubes should not be rust pitted.


10. Check for brake fluid leaks on front and back brake lines, and the master cylinders. Look for corrosion or bulges in brake lines. Brakes should not be binding – spin wheel, apply brake, release brake and check wheel now spins free.


11. Wheel rims should run true and not have any cracks or dents. Make sure the tyres have enough tread - the legal minimum tread depth for motorcycles over 50cc is 1mm across 3/4 of the width of the tread pattern and with visible tread on the remaining 1/4. For motorcycles up to 50cc all the grooves of the original tread pattern must be clearly visible.


12. If a tyre has a direction arrow showing which way it should rotate, it must point the right way.


13 Make sure the discs are not warped, or cracked. Brake pads must not be on their wear limit.


14. Wheel spindles must be secure and R-clips must be fitted to castellated nuts. If a nut is a Nylock type the thread must go all the way through the nylon insert.


15. Check the wheel bearings for wear by pulling the top of the wheel towards you and pushing the bottom away from you. Feel for roughness when you spin the wheel.


16. Check the swingarm bearing by pulling and pushing. Excessive play means no MoT certificate.


17. Headstock, or steering, bearings should not be too tight or too slack. With the front wheel off the ground, check that the handlebars move smoothly from lock to lock. Also feel for excess play in the steering bearings when you push and pull the wheel backwards and forwards.


18. Check the wheel alignment with two straight edges. Failure to move both chain adjuster bolts the same amount will put the wheels out of line.


19. The chain should be correctly tensioned, and if there is a split link it should be fitted so that the closed end faces the direction of rotation. Rear wheel sprocket must be securely mounted, and the teeth in good condition.


20. Footrests must be securely fixed. The tester will also check that the mudguards, chain guard, seat and petrol tank aren’t about to fall off as well...


21. The last thing that your MoT tester will check is the brakes. But you wouldn’t ride a bike with dodgy brakes, would you?

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