In Britain, motorcycles, both solo and in combination with sidecars have been subject to MOT Test since the MOT was first required in 1960/61. What may surprise many, however, is that even now in the 21st Century, it is not a requirement for the whole of the European Union.
In future, however, that is set to change as the European Commission have proposed that all EU countries be compelled to 'MOT Test' motorcycles in the future. In some EU countries, and especially in France, this has resulted in wide protest from the biking community. Nevertheless, there will still be no need to MOT mopeds with engines with a capacity of less than 50cc.
Unlike the MOT examination for cars and light commercial vehicles, the current motor cycle MOT check is little different from the simple, brakes/steering/lights and tyres which were checked in the early 1960s. All these are still examined by the Tester, but he or she now also has to check a number of other mechanical components as well, relating mainly to the suspension and drive train.
By and large riders of motorcycles are enthusiasts, understand their machines to a much greater extent than car drivers, and more often than not, are involved in their own maintenance and repair. This is reflected in the low initial MOT failure rate for motorcycles of 20.8% compared to over 40% for cars and light commercial vehicles – more than double if the larger Class 7 failure rate of 50% is included.
Whereas motorcycle MOT Testing will become mandatory throughout Europe by about 2017, if the EU Commission have their way, there will also be more 'testable items' added to Britain's list of the items checked on bikes for an MOT – although the whole issue is still currently in the 'melting pot' of inter-state discussions in the EU.
Whilst the Commission have claimed that 8% of motorcycle accidents are caused by vehicle defects, the biker community dispute that figure, claiming it is more like 1% when issues relating to tyre wear and incorrect tyre pressure are taken out of the statistics. Nevertheless there is little pressure on the Government in Britain to drop motor cycle testing, and even if there were, if the EU press ahead as planned it would become a requirement in any event within five years – so the British annual motorcycle MOT is here to stay!