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Two in five motorcycle MOT defects linked to faulty electrical equipment

New research has revealed the most common reasons for motorcycle MOT failure, with faulty electrical equipment topping the list.

The study, conducted by Vertu Motorcycles, analysed motorcycle MOT testing data for Great Britain over the last 12 months, shedding light on the prevalent issues for these vehicles.

Lamps, reflectors, and electrical equipment were the most common issues in motorcycles, accounting for a significant 41% of MOT defects in the last year.

The data also revealed that MOT tests frequently found fault with motorcycle brakes (19%), structure and attachments (11%) and suspension (10%).

To help motorcyclists avoid costly repairs, and crucially stay safe on the road, an expert from Vertu Motorcycles has shared their essential checks and fixes for the five most common MOT failures.

1. Check the lights

Before your MOT, take a moment to check your vehicle’s lights, including its brake and reverse lights. Fortunately, this check can be as simple as switching them on and off.

If the bulb appears dim or flickers, it might be nearing the end of its life or there could be an issue with the electrical connections. In either case, replace the bulb with a new one, ensuring you select the correct type and wattage specified by your motorcycle’s manufacturer.

You should also check your headlamp’s alignment. To do this, park your motorcycle on a level surface facing a wall and switch on the headlamp. The beam should be centred on the wall. If it’s misaligned, you will need to adjust the screws on the back of the assembly to correct the orientation.

2. Examine the brakes

Brakes are a key safety feature of any vehicle, which is why you should check them regularly, regardless of whether you have an upcoming MOT or not. To do so thoroughly, you should follow the brake lines leading from the master cylinder, checking for kinks, wear, or improper routing as you do so.

Then, when you get to the brake pads, check its thickness. If the pad is less than a quarter of an inch thick, it’s likely time for a replacement. Many brake pads have a wear indicator groove, and if this groove is no longer visible, it means the pad is worn out.

3. Test the suspension

While testing the suspension of your motorbike is slightly more involved than other tests, such as checking your lights, it’s an important one to include pre-MOT.

Start by looking for any signs of oil or grease on the fork tubes or shock absorbers, as this can indicate a leak. Making sure the fork tubes and shock absorbers are clean and lightly lubricated will keep your bike running longer. To do this, drip some lubricant onto the damper body, wait for the lubricant to soak up the dirt, and then gently wipe it away with a cloth. Repeat this process until the lubricant comes up clean. Doing this regularly will prevent dirt buildup and rust.

Also, look for any obvious wear or damage to the seals, bushings, and mounting bolts, as you should seek replacements for any parts that look worn out.

4. Set your chain tension correctly

Inspecting the structure and attachments of your motorcycle is essential for maintaining its performance and safety. Fortunately, you can perform several simple checks at home.

Ensure the chain tension is correctly set according to your user manual. The chain should move smoothly, be well-lubricated, and free of rust. If you have replaced the chain using a split link, make sure the open end of the link faces backward when it is on top of the rear sprocket. This backward facing position minimises the risk of the link catching on objects while riding.

5. Maintain tyre safety to avoid fines

If you are caught using faulty or worn tyres, you could be fined up to £2,500, disqualified from riding, or get points on your licence for each faulty tyre. To avoid this, and help stay safe on the road, there are a few quick tyre checks you can do.

Firstly, review your current tyre pressure against your vehicle handbook. If you need to adjust accordingly, then head to your local petrol station to either inflate or deflate the tyres yourself.

You should also take the opportunity to check your tyre tread depth. All you need to do for this is place a 20p coin in the main tread channels of your tyre – if you can see any part of the coin’s outer band, your tread is too shallow and the entire tyre needs replacing.

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