Get Ready To Ride - Our Five Minute MOT Safety Check
The weather’s improving, the days are getting longer... it’s time to get out on our bikes.
Some of our bikes, my NC750X included, have been at a standstill for the winter and a new motorcycle MOT is the first thing on my list. Even though the bike has been looked after, I do always get nervous before an MOT.
The government handily publish MOT data and we have scoured the latest 2023-2024 figures to find out the most common MOT failures.
On the positive side, 85% of bikes pass their MOT first time.
Of the 963,000 tests taken, 17% failed, with 6% of them passing after “rectification at the MOT test station” (which I take to mean: “not that hard to repair”).
The 6% that initially failed (60,000 of them) might well have failed on something trivial that you could have spotted beforehand.
To save yourself unwanted stress come MOT time, here is a mere five minutes' worth of simple checks that cover 90% of MOT defects.
Lights on but no one home?
A whopping 41% of the reported defects were “lamps and reflectors”. It’s easy to check and usually easy to fix.
- Do all your lights come on, including the licence plate lights?
- Do high and dipped beams work?
- Does the headlight point in the right direction?
- Do the indicators indicate at a reasonable rate, front and back?
Your owner manual will tell you what replacement bulbs you need and how to change them.
Stop in the name of the law
Brakes account for 18% of the MOT defects. It’s not something any of us want going wrong so you might want to check these more often than once a year.
- Are the brakes working? Check front, rear, and don’t forget the parking brake if you have a scooter or DCT.
- Check the pads - either get on the ground and have a look or you can use selfie video mode on your phone to inspect the pad’s wear indicator.
- Check the discs are not warped or rusty. It takes a lot of miles for them to get worn.
- Check the brake fluid level.
- Check the brake hoses to make sure they are attached (!) and neither cracked nor leaking.
The suspense is killing me
Steering and suspension come a close third in the list, with a combined 16% of defects.
Not necessarily easy to fix but two things you can check are your steering bearings and your fork seals.
- Turning your bars from full lock to full lock, they should be nice and smooth, if they seem to prefer pointing straight ahead, then it’s time for new bearings.
- Then put your front brake on (assuming it passed the checks above) and try and rock the bike forward and backwards. If there’s any clunking coming from the handlebar area, that means bearing issues. They could just be loose but it’s not usually a quick job to fix.
- Once you’ve tested the front suspension, have a look at your fork legs. If there are any signs of oil leaking, it might mean the seals have gone, and that’s an MOT failure.
Who’s gonna drive you home?
“Structure and attachments” faults make up 11% of MOT fails. This includes the frame, transmission, exhaust and fuel systems. Simple checks here include:
- Check your chain tension (your user manual will tell you how much up-and-down play there should be in the chain).
- Check the chain is not stiff anywhere and is oiled and rust-free.
- If you replaced your chain and used a split link, when the link is on the top of the rear sprocket, the open end of the link should be facing backwards.
- Finally, check rear sprocket teeth to make sure they are not worn.
If you have a shaft/belt drive, just check there are no leaks.
If your exhaust says ‘NOT FOR ROAD USE’ or ’TRACK USE ONLY’ that is a major fault.
Tyred and emotional
Wheels and tyres are next up with 10% of defects.
- Make sure they are properly inflated, if they are not, why not? That’s something to sort out.
- Check the tread depth. Either look for the wear markers or check that there is at least 1mm deep tread for at least 3/4 of the width of the tread, all the way around the tyre.
- Check for odd bulges, cuts, lumps or things sticking out (I once found a very ground-down hex bolt in my tyre, it hadn’t punctured it but an inopportune pothole could’ve done for me).
And that’s it. Five minutes of checks to do on a regular basis so you can get out there and enjoy yourself.
See you on the road.
If you have any concerns regarding your motorcycle, do not hesitate to get in touch. Trust that you're in the right hands, here at Vertu Motorcycles.