Before you can ride your motorcycle on the road it must be insured with you as a named rider, and must carry a valid tax disc. The rules for insuring vehicles in the UK are based around ‘continuous insurance,’ that is your motorcycle must be insured at all times, unless you declare it as being off the road (SORN).
A breach of these rules could result in a fixed penalty of £100, the bike being clamped, impounded or destroyed, and a court prosecution.
You can quickly check if your bike is insured on askMID
All motorcycles over 3 years old are required to undergo a yearly inspection (MOT) to check their roadworthiness. Many local motorycle dealerships, and independent mechanics offer an MOT serivce. The maximum price they can charge is set in law. Currently the maximum charge for motorcycles is £29.65, or £37.80 if fitted with a side car. You can find your nearest MOT test centre with this online tool.
Before taking your bike in for MOT it's worth giving a quick check over yourself. Some items can easily be checked at home without any mechanical knowledge. Checking simple things like whether the horn and lights work correctly could save you from MOT failuires. Faulty lights are responsible for 10% of motorcycle MOT failures, also check your headlight alignment. On many bikes this can be adjusted up or down and even left to right.
If you bike passes an MOT inspection you'll be given a certificate that will include details of the make and model of the bike, mileage, and any advisory notices. These are items that passed testing but will need to be addressed in the near future. They often include things such as noisey exhausts, and tyre wear. MOT records are stored online, but make sure you keep your cirtificate as any potential buyer will want to see it.
If your vehicle fails an MOT inspection you should not ride it on the road (other than to return home from the test centre). In a number of cases you may be eligible for partial retest at reduced fee or even for free. Check gov.uk for more information.
Your bike must be taxed if it’s used on public roads. If used for only off road or for track days, it must either be taxed or have a statutory off-road notification (SORN).
The rules around vehical tax are changing. For pricing and other information see Taxing your motorcycle.