MoT exempt – hurrah! Or is it?

I don’t watch the news any more. It gives me a little more time in the workshop, and to my less-than-academic mind it seems the world is run by sociopaths trying to look after themselves or their mates, at the expense of the rest of us. Have you watched a session in Parliament recently? If my children acted like our supposed representatives do, they’d be sent to bed with no tea. At least I don’t have to worry about Brexit. It won’t affect Norfolk, no one with any power knows where we are…

One minor bit of news I couldn’t escape is the scrapping of MoT tests for bikes and cars over the age of 40 from later this year. How and why, when funding for the National Health Service and the nation’s schools is all many can talk about, this became a blip on the powers-that-be radar, heaven only knows. But it’s nice to have some good news.

“Cracked frame? Don’t worry, boy – it’s more than 40 years old, no one’ll see it and doesn’t need an MoT any more…”

Or is it? Of the three annual costs – insurance, tax and MoT – most of us now only have to worry about the former. But is saving £27.50 on an MoT really worth it?

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Firstly, no matter how good you are with the spanners, I’ve always found it comforting that someone totally independent is casting an eye over my bike. I used to train new riders and the pupil bikes were Mot’d every six months as I did the servicing and they got a lot of use and abuse – just in case. Some may say that MoT testers are ‘fishing for work’, but this is nonsense. The VOSA system is so automated it has to be by the book. A little known fact is that if an MoT tester is unsure about an element of a bike, if something is borderline, then they always have to pass it, with an advisory note to highlight the issue.

Secondly, and more serious, is that the majority of the MoT test is to check the machine is roadworthy. Yes, it’s only a test of the bike at that time, but this is also a legal requirement at all times. How often do you check your tyre tread and rear lights before heading off? I know we should do, but. Many times has a bike passed an MoT, only to have a bulb blow on the way home, and of course no one has ever used WD40 to swell a leaking fork seal just enough to pass the annual ministry test…

But in all seriousness there was recently a legal case where a classic bike had been hit, while stationary, at a T-junction. On the face of it, quite clear where to apportion the blame. But in court, the rider was asked if the bike was roadworthy. “Of course”, the owner said. “Where’s the proof?” the magistrate asked. And of course, without an MoT certificate there is no proof of roadworthiness, other than the owner’s word… which isn’t worth a bean. Compensation was halved because of this.

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£27.50 isn’t that much. It’s cheaper than an hourly rate of most bike shops, so personally I will still be getting my 40-year-old bikes MoT’d. It’s a fresh pair of eyes, it’s peace of mind, that piece of paper may one day be needed, I always get a nice cuppa and enjoy chatting nonsense about old bikes and the price of fish.

We’ve got some great bikes in this month, hope you enjoy. Let us know what you think of the new Kawasaki – yes it’s only classic in looks, but sometimes it’s nice to turn a key rather than finding TDC, tickling, setting timing and kicking…

Oh, and happy new year! May it be full of riding, fixing and fettling. Be good.

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Matt Hull

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