MOT checks for steering & suspension on motorcycles are divided into five sections. Please click on a link below to skip to the section of interest.

steering controls :: steering system :: front suspension and wheel bearings :: rear suspension and wheel bearings :: wheel alignment

Steering Controls

  • The bikes handlebars, grips,clamps and yokes must be completely secure
  • Forks, handlebars and yokes cannot be deformed, fractured, cracked or excessively corroded
  • Flexible handlebar mountings cannot be excessively deteriorated
  • One switch must operate both lights
  • Steering dampers must be correctly fitted and not impede control of your motorbike
  • Any fairing or leg shield fitted should not impede the steering
  • Steering lock stops must be fitted, correctly adjusted and effective

With front wheel clear of the ground turn the steering from lock to lock. There should be:

  • no fouling between any moving and fixed part of your motorcycle
  • sufficient clearance for the handlebar grips to be properly grasped and controls operated
  • no restrictions to movement of the bars caused by cables becoming taught, trapped or caught
  • no significant change in engine speed

Steering System

There should be no tightness or roughness when your motorcycles handlebars are turned lock to lock. Also, there shouldn’t be excessive free play or movement in the steering head bearings or steering linkage. You can check this by applying the front brake and gently pushing the handlebars forward then backward or ideally by applying pressure to the front wheel whilst it is raised in the air as someone else holds the brake on for you. This way you can visually tell if any movement you may feel is actually as a result of movement in the forks.

note: excessively stiff steering can be caused by a defective or badly adjusted steering damper in which case it is down to the motorcycle MOT test technician’s discretion to test ride your bike to establish whether stability or control is adversely affected. They may also adjust the damper within tolerance if adjustment is possible. You will be informed of this when you receive your test results.

Front Suspension and Wheel Bearings

  • The front suspension components must all be securely fitted and in a good state of repair
  • There shouldn’t be excessive wear or free play in any component
  • Suspension springs cannot be loose, cracked, fractured or so badly corroded that their structure is seriously weakened
  • Suspension springs cannot be repaired by welding
  • All wheel spindles, locking nuts and other locking devices must be secure
  • Shock absorbers must not leak
  • There should be no tightness or roughness when the wheels are turned
  • Mudguards must be securely fitted especially if they form part of the fork bracing assembly
  • Load bearing components cannot be loose, excessively corroded, distorted or poorly repaired

note: light misting or some pitting on a fork stanchion are not reasons enough on their own for a motorbike to fail unless this has caused damage to the damper seals. The motorcycle MOT test technician may pull back any rubber gaitors etc to conduct the examination if it’s possible without dismantling but they *must* correctly refit them afterwards.

The MOT requires that the damping be checked which can easily be done by applying the front brake and depressing the suspension as far as you are able several times. The forks should not be stiff and nor should they bounce up and down, just react to the pressure you are applying. Any fouling between fixed and moving parts which affects the movement of the suspension would fail the bike’s MOT.

Modifications

The VOSA handbook says that an MOT certificate should be refused if any ‘deliberate modification’ has significantly reduced the original strength of a load bearing member or it’s supporting structure.

Rear Suspension and Wheel Bearings

  • The rear suspension components must all be securely fitted and in a good state of repair
  • There shouldn’t be excessive wear or free play in any component
  • Suspension springs cannot be loose, cracked, fractured or so badly corroded that their structure is seriously weakened
  • Suspension springs cannot be repaired by welding
  • All wheel spindles, locking nuts and other locking devices must be secure
  • Shock absorbers must not leak
  • There should be no tightness or roughness when the wheels are turned
  • Load bearing components cannot be loose, excessively corroded, distorted or poorly repaired
  • Pivots cannot be seized, excessively worn or insecure

note: if you have twin shocks on your motorbike they should be equally adjusted at either side. If they are not the motorcycle MOT test technician will issue an advisory to this effect.

The MOT requires that the damping be checked which can easily be done by sitting on your bike and depressing the suspension as far as you are able several times. The shocks should not be stiff and nor should they bounce up and down, just react to the pressure you are applying. Any fouling between fixed and moving parts which affects the movement of the suspension would fail the bike’s MOT.

Wheel Alignment

With the front wheel held upright and inline with your motorcycle’s frame – using either a wheel clamp or another person – place a straight edge or cord against the rear tyre, parallel to it and as high off the ground as the bike’s permanent fixtures will allow. By sighting along this edge you will be able to see if both wheels are inline with each other and your motorcycle’s frame and also check if they are centrally aligned and not offset in any way. (An example of ‘offset’ would be if you put both spacers on one side of the rear wheel instead of one on either side.)

21 Responses to Motorcycle MOT Checks : Steering & Suspension

  • nathan says:

    Wow…thanks very much Dave, a very informative and fantastic looking website…thanks fasttrack motorcycles …

  • cavedog says:

    I have a virago 125 made into a bobber my modifications are replaced rear mudguard its strong but has a little movement side to side nothing major? and i had to mount the reg plate to the side of the bike still at the rear though like most bobbers. had also had a wiring problem with rear light so had to put a rocker switch on side panel that turns it on, brake lights work fine though. all lights work fine its just the switch? would it pass she handles great

    • fasttrack says:

      Hi there, providing the mudguard is secure, a little movement is fine. Having the light on a switch is fine too just make sure you mention this to the tester so that they don’t fail it for having no light!
      The numberplate is a little bit of a “grey” area. As with many items on the M.O.T it can vary between testers opinions so to start with i will quote the manual for you to interpret and give you my interpretation!

      Method of inspection

      1. Check that there is a registration plate fitted at the rear of the motor bicycle or side car and check it for security and condition.

      2. On machines first registered on or after 1 January 1973, check that the registration plate
      a. has black characters on a yellow background
      b. is mounted vertically, or as close to vertical as is reasonably practical

      The key words here are “reasonably practical”. Make sure that it is not too hidden were you mount it, not too far back nor pointing out too far, and as close to the centre line of the bike as you can “reasonably” get. Not having it in the centre isn’t a reason for failing providing that its position doesn’t cause another failure. I.E 1.d of the reason for rejection section states:

      Reason for rejection
      1. The registration plate
      d. faded, dirty, delaminated, deteriorated or obscured, so that it is likely to be misread or is not easily legible by a person standing approximately 15 metres to the rear of the machine.
      Hope this helps FTMC

      • cavedog says:

        great site most informative and probibly the best M.O.T help on the net, fan blinking tastic. thanks so much keep riding

        • fasttrack says:

          Thank you! Tell a friend and don’t hesitate to ask about any area of the M.O.T if your in doubt 🙂 FTMC

  • Mak says:

    Hi.. I just purchased a 125 GZ Marauder for my son and its first MOT is due on the 10th June.. I just noticed that the plate on the top of the left fork has been snapped off so it does not hit the stopper thing that stops the steering going fully to the left.. I hope this makes sense.. Is this an MOT failure?

  • Mak says:

    Thanx for the reply.. Is there a simple fix.. Got a friend with a mig welder but trying to find aN exact match as the other side will be difficult.. Do you have any suggestions?

    • fasttrack says:

      It depends really which part has snapped, if its the same as the GZ we have in our workshop then there are two stubs on the bottom steering yoke that deal with the left and right hand stops, these butt up against a plate on the frame. If one of the stubs has broken then you may be able to drill and tap say an 8mm bolt into it to replace the stop. a proper fix would be to remove the yoke and weld a new stub on. If the plate is completely gone then just welding a plate on is the fix however what sometimes happens is the plate on the frame gets bent upwards allowing the stop to work on one side but not the other. Getting a long drift and hitting it back is a fix, you will just need to be careful not to crack the weld. Regardless of which of these issues is the one you have, it is very risky welding it in place as welding creates A LOT of heat and the close proximity can cause damage to the steering head-bearings. Hope this helps FTMC

  • Mak says:

    Thanx, that was a great help.. it is one of the plates on the frame that is snapped off.. I wouldn’t have even thought about the bearings so will make my friend with the mig welder aware..

  • Martin King says:

    Hi
    I have a broken steering stop on a ZX9R.
    If I fixed a couple of rubber mountings to the frame so that the forks made contact with them leaving the same gap between the bars and tank that the original stop would, is that acceptable with regard to the MOT?
    I would appreciate any comments or advice that you can give me.
    Many thanks.
    Martin King

    • admin says:

      Hi Martin, the rubber mount will be OK as long as the gap between components, such as the handle bars and tank, is large enough to not trap your hand. The rubber needs to be reasonably tough as well because if the gap changes when the tester applies force to the steering and it becomes too small that would also be a fail.

  • Gary says:

    Hi there, great info! Perhaps you can advise. I have a BMW K1200RS 98 plate & 60k miles. I suspected the steering damper (I understand on this bike its just a “wobble stopper”) was not working, so I removed it to check and the oil had all gone. There is no difference in handling as it was just sliding back and forth before but will it now fail an MOT if it isnt present but was originally fitted? New ones are eye wateringly expensive and I have just done 1000 miles with no issues. I know it was put there for a reason but I want time to decide what to do and the MOT is coming up… Thanks

    • admin says:

      First off, I apologise I’m so far behind in answering your questions. Second, you should by now have passed your MOT ‘without’ the steering damper. It doesn’t form part of the MOT test.

  • Malc says:

    Hi I have A 125cc Yamaha Cygnus 2012 ,can you tell me why the front wheel is stiff when turning even by hand.
    Malc

  • alastair says:

    hey found the site very informative. I am currently building a hardtail chop using most parts of a gsx600f. I have had to machine a new longer rear wheel axle for my frame. I was wondering if it had to be like a bolt, eg with a head or can it be a spindle with two locking nuts on (one on each side).
    cheers

  • mate says:

    Hi i have a ybr 125 would it pass mot if the starter motor is not working ?so i have to kick it in starts 1st time by kick

    • mate says:

      Hi and also the steering lock is not working is that a fault ?

      • fasttrack says:

        Hello,
        The steering lot not working is fine unless it interferes with the handlebars moving, and only being able to kickstart the bike not starting ti electrically is also fine. Hope this helps.
        Thanks,
        FTMC

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


*