motorcycle MOT

MOT checks for motorcycle fuel and exhaust systems are divided into just two sections. Please click one of the links below to skip to the section of interest.

exhaust system :: fuel system

Exhaust System

  • Your bikes exhaust system must be complete and in a good state of repair
  • All mounts must be present, unbroken and fully support the system

Reasons for your motorcycle exhaust system failing it’s motorcycle MOT

  • The silencer is marked ‘NOT FOR ROAD USE’
  • The silencer is marked ‘TRACK USE ONLY’
  • The exhaust is, in the motorcycle MOT test technicians’s opinion, significantly louder than the standard

Fuel System

  • Your bike’s entire fuel system must be secure and free from leaks
  • All mounts must be present, unbroken and fully support the system
  • The fuel tank cap must be present and fasten securely
  • Other reasons for your motorcycle’s fuel system failing it’s motorcycle MOT

    • Deteriorated or missing sealing washer on the fuel tank cap
    • A leaking fuel tank cap
    • Any fuel leak which occurs under normal operating conditions of the motorcycle

MOT checks for body and structure on motorcycles are divided into just three sections. Please click one of the links below to skip to the section of interest.

condition of structure :: seats, footrests and transmission :: registration plates and vehicle identification number

Condition of Structure

Straightforward enough. There should be no damage, distortion or corrosion on your motorbike’s frame which is going to affect the way it rides or stops. Fractures and cracks etc will certainly fail the motorcycle MOT and so will any modifications which adversely affect the original frames strength.

Seats, Footrests and Transmission

  • Rider’s seat and footrests must be present and securely attached
  • Pillion footrests must be fitted and secure if there is a pillion seat*
  • Drive chain or belt must be adjusted correctly
  • The throttle must open and shut as intended
  • All locking devices, pins and circlips must be present and correctly fitted

Other reasons your motorcycle may fail its MOT test

  • Excessively worn drive chain, sprocket or sprocket carrier
  • A damaged or broken clutch lever which prevents normal, and easy, operation

*except in a few rare exceptions which were manufactured for passenger use but don’t appear to have pillion footrests.

Registration Plate and Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)

  • A registration plate must be fitted vertically to the rear of your motorbike
  • It must be secure, clean, complete, in good repair and legible
  • It must be standard yellow with black writing**
  • A VIN number must be present on your motorcycle

Reasons for which your registration plate may fail the bike MOT

  • Badly positioned retaining bolts which may lead to misreading of letters
  • Non-standard letter forms and widths
  • Any feature which affects the appearance or legibility of letters
  • Too small a margin around the letters
  • All the characters are arranged in a single line

note: this section does not apply to unregistered, foreign, diplomatic or military vehicles and is only applicable to registration plates fitted to the rear of the bike.

**Unless your bike was manufactured before 1973

MOT checks for motorcycle sidecars are divided into five sections. Please click one of the links below to skip to the section of interest.

security :: suspension and wheel bearings :: wheel alignment :: lights and reflectors :: brakes

Security of Attachment of Motorcycle Sidecars

Reasons for a sidecar’s attachment failing the motorcycle MOT

  • The sidecar isn’t securely fitted to the motorcycle
  • Tight, worn or deteriorated pivots or bushes
  • Missing, damaged or loose securing devices, bolts, split pins etc

Motorcycle Sidecar Suspension and Wheel Bearings

Reasons for a sidecar’s suspension or wheel bearings failing the motorcycle MOT

  • Excessively stiff, partially seized suspension
  • Leaking suspension units
  • Fouling between fixed and moving parts which affect the movement of the supsension
  • Insecure suspension units
  • Loose or missing securing nuts, locking devices or spindle
  • Excessively rough or tight wheel bearings

Wheel Alignment

Reasons for a sidecar’s wheel alignment failing the motorcycle MOT

  • Toe-out of the sidecar wheel relative to your motorbike
  • Excessive toe-in of the sidecar wheel relative to your motorbike
  • Excessive vertical misalignment which adversely affects the handling of the combination

Motorcycle Sidecar Lights and Reflectors

  • Sidecars must have a white front position light fitted
  • Sidecars must have a red reflector fitted to the rear nearside pointing squarely to the rear

Motorcycle Sidecar Lights and Reflectors

If fitted, sidecar brakes must reach the standard required in section three of this MOT checklist.

MOT checks for tyres and wheels on motorcycles are divided into just two sections. Please click one of the links below to skip to the section of interest.

tyres :: wheels


  • Tyres must be of suitable type and in good repair
  • Tyres must be seated correctly in their rims
  • Tyres must be fitted in accordance with direction indicators on the sidewall
  • All tyres must be either cross ply or radial, not a mixture
  • Tread must be clearly visible over the whole tread area
  • Tread must be at least 1mm deep throughout the circumference and 75% of the width of the tyre*

Other reasons for your tyres failing the motorcycle MOT test

  • It shows a cut longer than 25mm or 10% of the section width of the tyre that reaches the ply or cord
  • It shows a bulge, lump or tear caused by partial failure of its structure
  • It fouls another component of the motorcycle
  • Ply or cord is exposed
  • The valve is seriously damaged or misaligned
  • The tread has been recut

note: the VOSA manual states that the depth of tread is measured “…throughout a continuous circumferential band measuring at least three quarters of the breadth of the tread.” This excludes tie-bars, tread wear indicators and other features designed to “wear out substantially before the rest of the pattern and other minor features.”

*examples of unsuitable tyres: car tyres, motocross tyres, racing tyres, or any tyre stamped with ‘NHS’ or ‘not for highway use’. You must also fit tyres of the correct load and speed rating for the bike and rear tyres must not be used on the front wheel or vice versa.


Bikes with an engine capacity of 50cc or less only need to have clearly visible tread in a continuous band around the whole circumference of the tyre which covers at least 75% of the width without a break.

Metzeler ME22 tyres and the Aprilia AF 50

There’s an exception listed in the VOSA manual which states that a Metzeler 100/80 – 17 52s ME22 may be fitted to the rear wheel of an Aprilia AF 50 if it is put on the opposite way round to the direction indicators.


Reasons for your wheels failing the motorcycle MOT test

  • Inadequate repairs, corrosion, damage or fractures resulting in significant reduction of the wheels strength*
  • Missing, cracked, loose, bent or severely corroded spokes
  • Loose or missing bolts or rivets in built-up wheels
  • An excessively distorted or eccentric bead rim
  • Loose or missing wheel nuts, studs or bolts
  • Insecure wheels

note: the maximum allowable lateral run out or buckling is 4mm for steel rims and just 2mm for alloy. The maximum allowable eccentricity of any wheel is 3mm.

*wheel strength: the decision to fail a wheel due to a reduction in strength is at the motorcycle MOT test technician’s discretion as to whether they feel it is rendered unsafe or not.

MOT checks for motorcycle brakes are divided into three sections. Please click on a link below to skip to the section of interest.

brake controls :: brake systems :: brake performance

Brake Controls

  • Motorbike breaking systems must have two methods of operation fitted and functioning
  • All controls, mountings and fastenings must be secure and in good repair
  • All pivots must be within reasonable levels of wear tolerance
  • All controls must be easy to apply and have adequate reserve travel on application
  • Hydraulic systems must not creep* under load or feel spongy when applied

*creep: Fully depress you break lever and hold it firm. If, over time, its resistance grows less and it slowly allows you to add more and more pressure, this is called creep. It most likely means you have a leak somewhere in the hydraulic system of that brake.


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.

Pre-1927 Motorcycles

Motorcycles which were first registered before 1st January 1927 only need to have a braking system which works on one wheel, not both.

Brake Systems

  • All security or locking devices such as split pins, lock nuts etc must be present and secure
  • Standard brake pads or linings must be at least 1.5mm proud of their backing plates
  • Sintered brake pads or linings must be at least 1mm proud of their backing plates
  • Hydraulic reservoirs must be securely mounted, capped and sealed
  • Hydraulic reservoirs must have sufficient fluid in them

Other reasons for brake systems failing the motorcycle MOT

  • Excessively worn, corroded, cracked or in any other way damaged cables, levers, rods and linkages
  • Insecure or cracked drums or discs and missing securing bolts
  • Too much free play on levers through wear or poor adjustment
  • Contamination of brake pads by oil or grease
  • Insecure backing plates, reaction brackets or calipers
  • Leaking master cylinders or brake pipes/hoses
  • Brake pipes which can be easily fouled or trapped by other moving parts of the motorcycle
  • Inadequately supported rigid pipes/hoses
  • Excessively chafed, twisted or kinked brake pipes/hoses
  • Disc scoring, pitting or wear
  • Excessive brake disc run out* or distortion

*run out: whilst the bike is moving very lightly apply each of the brakes in turn and slowly increase pressure. If you can feel a slight pulsing whilst doing this, that is run out. It is caused by warped or uneven wear in your motorbike’s discs.

note on brake hoses: damage to the protective sleeves of brake hoses will not necessarily fail the bike MOT provided the pipe or hose to which it is attached is not damaged. Cracking or chafing must be severe enough to expose the hose reinforcement to be considered a fail.

note on movement of discs: many discs fitted to modern sports motorcycles are ‘fully floating’ which means they are designed to have a certain degree of movement. If in doubt consult a qualified motorcycle MOT test technician, do not assume that some movement in your disk is an MOT fail. The tester may, at his discretion, take your bike for a brief road test.

Brake Performance

Reasons for your motorbike’s brake performance failing the MOT

  • Sticking or binding brakes
  • Severe grab or judder
  • Braking effort which is inconsistent with the amount or pressure applied at the lever
  • Excessive fluctuation of brake effort when steady pressure us applied
  • At least one brake must achieve 30% efficiency* with the other at least 25%

*efficiency is calculated by the motorcycle MOT computer system using this formula:

Efficiency (%) = (Retarding Force ÷ Weight) x 100

The total retarding force is measured using either a VOSA approved brake tester and Weight is the combined weight of the motorbike plus motorcycle MOT test technician. In the case of linked or dual braking systems the retarding force is the total from both wheels when operated by the dual control only.