Motorbike MOTs: How to make big savings

The Ministry of Transport test, or the MOT, is a safety and legal requirement for all motorised vehicles, including motorbikes.

You’ll need to get your bike tested at an approved centre once the machine is three years old, and then annually thereafter. Centres displaying a blue sign featuring three white triangles are authorised to do these tests.

Test information is kept on a central database and on paper. It’s your responsibility to ensure a valid certificate – don’t expect the authorities to chase you.

Fees are set by the government, but with the maximum motorbike charge currently at under £40 for a machine with an engine size over 200cm³ and a sidecar, the most expensive cost of the test is likely to be the payment of any repairs carried out.

To save money on your bike’s MOT, timing is crucial. Get it tested over a month before the current certificate expires and you’ll lose out. Remind yourself to start thinking about taking your car to a garage six weeks before your test is due. You can also use a comparison website to find the best deal available for your insurance.

Remember that you can ride your bike to the test centre even if you’ve let your MOT expire – as long as you’ve booked your machine in for a test.

Where you take your bike for its test will also affect the price.

If your machine is in an almost perfect state, research and find the cheapest offers. If only minor repairs are required, local council-run centres can be ideal. Authorities run MOT testing stations for their own vehicles and these centres are also open to the public.

If your bike is likely to have a lot wrong with it, going to a garage that carries out repairs is very convenient, and there’s usually no retest fee.

You can also save money if you check your motorbike thoroughly yourself before you take it in for testing.

You should carry out the following pre-test checks:

  • Make sure all your lights, brake lights and indicators are properly functioning, and that you have a working horn and red rear reflector.
  • Steering and suspension – all the moving parts should rotate smoothly and handle bars should steer easily. Look for poorly routed cables, worn head stock or wheel bearings, as well as leaky or loose forks or rear shocks.
  • Brakes – poorly working brakes without enough brake material clear of the backing plate, will fail, as will worn or grooved disks or drums. You can check all these things visually, and have your brakes serviced if necessary.
  • Tyres – both tyres need a tread which can be clearly seen. Side wall bulges or cracks will mean an immediate fail, as will any cuts deeper than 25mm.
  • Exhaust systems – shouldn’t be leaky or faulty as that will mean an instant failure.
  • Body and structure – corrosion is another no-no, so check swing arms, suspension mounting points and swing arms.

If you fail an MOT, it’s nearly always because your bike is unsafe for the rider or others on the road if taken out on public carriageways, so it’s something you should take seriously.

To minimise the impact of any hefty repair bills, save money on your bike insurance. Leading specialist provider Bennetts has some exclusive deals on motorbike insurance.