Side stand

Bike needs a side stand.  Well I could lean it against stuff, but that would be a pain. And for the MSVA test the stand needs to either be a spring loaded flip-up type, or have a switch to cut the power if you try to ride off with it down.  I don’t like flip up stands cos it’s just a matter of time till the bike ends up on it’s side. There’s loads of side stands with switches on ebay to choose from, in the end I had to buy two from different bikes and use the leg from one and the mount and switch from the other with a bit of modification to make them work together. I made a mount plate up and mounted the stand to the motor using some of the handy threaded holes Ducati engines have at the bottom/back of each side.


MSVA. Passed. Result.

Phew. My bike passed the MSVA test.

I was a bit worried about the front brake on the ride over to the test station. I was trying to bed it in, and it just didn’t seem that good, but I didn’t want to over-do the bedding in process in case I overheated it and glazed the pads. Then I noticed it was pissing petrol from the overflow of the horizontal cylinder’s carb, like a lot. I wasn’t sure I was even going to make it to the test centre without running out, and I hadn’t left much time to do any work on the bike before the test at 9. I noticed that the petrol stopped overflowing the very second I turned off the fuel tap, so I figured I’d ride with the tap off, and just switch it on every so often to replenish the carbs. This seemed to work quite well and I was considering doing that through the test when I realised it had just sorted itself out and wasn’t overflowing any more. I kept the fuel tap off for most of the test, but actually on the ride home after it was fine. Weird. The brake test was fine, so no worries there, hopefully it’ll just improve as I ride the bike and it beds in more. There were a few things that the tester had minor issues with but I managed to adjust things to his satisfaction – indicator and reflector positioning, some cable routing/securing. I’ve got to say I love the system that the DVSA (VOSA) use. It’s a wee bit of work, but look at a lot of other countrys, like Germany, where you can’t even modify an existing bike, only fit pre-approved ‘custom’ parts, let alone build a ground-up custom framed chopper.

Insurance on the other hand, is a freakin nightmare. Only a handful of companies will insure on the VIN number and when the bike isn’t something already on their database they’re totally thrown, even though they advertise as specialising in custom bikes. It seemed that none of the people I spoke to had dealt with this type of thing before, had heard of an MSVA, or even new that a bike could be insured on the VIN number (must in fact, to be registered), even though it’s something their company apparently specialises in.

Anyway, it’s done now. I’ve got all the paperwork done to apply for the reg number. I’m going to take the baffles out, and once I get the registration number take it to be dyno’d to see if the fueling is right, then ride the shit out of it. Here’s the proud man and his soon to be all legal and road registered Ducati chopper –

Ducati Chopper MSVA pass

Feeling chuffed.

MSVA test. Pre test prep.

My Ducati Chopper’s MSVA test is booked for 9AM tomorrow. If you’re not familiar with registering a home built motorbike, or you’re reading this from another country, the MSVA  (Motorcycle Single Vehicle Approval) test is an inspection carried out in the UK on unregistered vehicles that don’t have ‘type approval’ – the pre-accepted approval that mass produced vehicles get. On passing the test you are allowed to apply for a registration number. In the UK if your vehicle is almost entirely built of parts from a particular year you will be issued with a registration number related to that year, either current, if the parts are new, or historic, if the parts are from an earlier year. If your bike is built from a mixture of parts of different ages it will be issued with a ‘Q’ plate, that doesn’t relate to any particular year. We’re going for a Q-plate here.

INTERESTING MSVA FACT: If you get an age related (anything other than ‘Q’ prefix) you don’t have to get an MOT for three years, just like any newly registered vehicle, which saves you almost exactly the cost of MSVA test (about £80). If your bike (or car I guess too) is given a Q-plate you have to get an MOT the first year after being registered.

There’s been a lot of rumour and miss-information about what is involved with taking a custom built bike through the MSVA test – probably because not many have actually done it. Maybe because they were put off by the rumours, and went down the ‘cut the steering neck off a registered bike or just use the VIN number on a new frame’ method.  It’s not as bad as biker folk-law will tell you. The test isn’t particularly in depth, it’s really just a more stringent version of the MOT test the bike is going to have to pass every year after it’s registered. This will be the second bike I’ve put through the test, the first one sailed through. Everything covered in the test is in the MSVA test manual, available as a free download here:  The manual looks pretty big at first glance, but it covers several different categories of vehicle, from mopeds to car trikes, so the only a small amount will be applicable to you and yours. And if there’s anything you’re not sure about you can just email DVSA (last year they were called VOSA, I wonder how much that change cost?) and they will clarify it for you.

If you want to build something ‘radical’ and ‘extreme’ you’re going to have a hard time getting your bike with two foot spikes on the front through the test, but if you’ve built something which looks and works like a motorbike it shouldn’t be to much effort to pass the test. Likewise if you’re happy with your headlight consisting of a single 10 watt bulb you’re going to have to fit another one for the test. If you’ve read the manual and know what is expected from the beginning you’re in a better position to get your bike through the test without having to change too much (I’m assuming you don’t like regulation size indicators, very quiet exhausts etc)

UPDATE!: So it turns out I was wrong about indicator lens size – there is no minimum size, so there was no need to change the indicators for the test. Just goes to show – Know the manual!

Here’s what I’ve done as test prep:

MSVA test prep

So we’ve got bare wiring covered, ‘Immobilisation device’ (D-lock) fitted, dorky standard size indicators fitted, and TWO (count them) mirrors. Check.

MSVA test prep cam beltsMSVA test prep cam belt cover

I thought the tester might have a problem with the open cam belts, in case a child gets their fingers involved in the  pulleys or something, so I knocked up a belt guard to cover the idler pulleys. Safe Bruv! The exhausts have restrictors in them and everything works. Good to go.