When searching for a ‘new’ second-hand bike to buy, I, like most people, would always favour the bike with a current MOT certificate. As well as suggesting a level of mechanical soundness, it means you don’t have to mess around taking the bike to an MOT station to get a test put on it.
But don’t let a recent MOT certificate lull you into a false sense of security. Because really, all an MOT tester looks at is the bare minimum to ensure the vehicle is, by the standards set out by the Ministry of Transport, roadworthy. And it really is the bare minimum.
There are plenty of things that don’t get a moments consideration during your bikes MOT. Things that definitely have an impact on the safety of your bike. Tyre pressures, for example, don’t get checked, the engine internals or the operation of the clutch, to name but a few things. Basically, anything that you can’t see without taking the bike to bits, is effectively ignored.
Whilst having the correct size numberplate fitted and headlights that are pointing in precisely the right direction is crucially important to the safety of any bike, if you ask me, on most bikes there are far more important thing that ought to be checked at least once a year. It probably wouldn’t be feasible to add them to the MOT, because every bike is different and they all need slightly different things checking regularly… the point I’m trying to make is that an MOT test pass doesn’t necessarily mean a bike is fully road worthy.
Because as well as the fact that not every component is checked for safety in the MOT, you have to remember that MOTs are only conducted by people. And people can get it wrong. Or miss things. Or not look at the vehicle at all. There’s nothing stopping an MOT tester passing a vehicle that he’s never actually seen; and it does happen.
I found this out the hard way when I bought my little Nippi three wheeler BBB5 bike. I picked it up a week after it had ‘passed’ it’s MOT test, and it wasn’t even in a fit state to ride home on. The floor had completely and utterly disintegrated and whole thing was probably one speed bump away from total destruction. The brakes didn’t work, the back door was not even nearly secure and the horn only really honked when it fancied it.
It seemed far from safe. I’m not sure if I think it should have had an MOT certificate in the first place. But it did.
So let that be a lesson to everyone out there who’s in the market for a second hand motorbike. By all means prioritise the bikes that have got a current MOT certificate. But don’t think an MOT guarantees it’ll be a safe, well looked after and crucially, road worthy motorbike. You might end up buying the bike that’s got an MOT, getting it home and realising it’s a massive pile of shit. Just like I did.