1973 BMW R90S

The UK's Department for Transport is exempting bikes over 40 years old from MOT tests from May next year.

Currently it is only pre-1960 vehicles that are exempt. This new policy would see anything made before 1978, which includes bikes like the 1976 Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans, the iconic 1977 Kawasaki KZ1000 and the ever popular 1973-76 BMW R90S won’t need to go through the annual safety inspection.

Despite a consoltation in which the majority (56%) of respondents were against the idea, the DfT have gone ahead under their own reasoning.

The 40-year-old exemption will be on a rolling basis, which means pre-1978 vehicles will be the first to be effected, but in 2020 the exemption will extend to pre-1980 ones, and so on.

DfT's reasoning follows that most 40-year-old classics aren't being used on a day-to-day basis, and the majority are owned by enthusiasts who meticulously care for them regardless of annual testing.

The exemption from MOT testing will also coincide with the exemption from Vehicle Excise Duty (VED).

According to the DfT's research, vehicles over 40 years old have a lower MOT failure rate than newer ones, as well as having a lower rate of deaths and injuries (on an injuries-per-vehicle basis).

Of course, it will still be a legal requirement for all vehicles used on the road to comply with the law – you can't be riding around on bald tyres with dodgy lights, and owners can still submit their vehicles to a voluntary MOT test, although under the current rules only 6% of pre-1960, MOT-exempt vehicle owners bother.

Officially the new policy comes into force on May 20th, 2018. OIt is worth baring in mind for the custom crowd that 40-year-old vehicles that have been subject to ‘substantial change’, may not be exempt.

What  ‘substantial change’ actually means will be published later this year, but it's more than likely if you've got substantial modern pieces - say a new engine and suspension making it into more useable or prettier, you’re likely not going to be eligible.