Will my headlamp fail an MoT?

Published: 15 June 2010

Q. I took my 1997 Honda RC45 RS down for its annual MoT and the tester said that I had a “problem” with the headlamps, that the dip beam was “flat” with no “break off” to light the pavement etc.

He was quite a nice person and said that he would not fail it but it was detrimental to me at night.

I have phoned around and spoken to various people and some say that some Hondas do have a flat dip beam, others say that I have the British/American type headlamp. If this is true how can you tell?

This is a UK bike that as far as I know has never had replacement headlamps fitted.
Gary Wise, email

A. The flat top dipped beam pattern is not uncommon on motorcycles as it saves manufacturers money by allowing them to homologate and supply the same headlamp design in the Eurozone’s left and right-hand drive markets.

It shouldn't cause any difficulties at test, according to the MoT Inspection Manual flat-top dip beams are “acceptable providing all of the beam upper edge, including any ‘peak’ is contained within the appropriate tolerance band."

The British/American type headlamp was fitted to older bikes, and these generally had a circular lens marked with a figure two and possibly an arrow indicating the direction of dip.

The other common design being an E-beam pattern which has a 15-degree kick-up on the nearside to provide give you some kerbside illumination.

On this the tester will also check that the kick-up isn’t too far off to the right when it would dazzle oncoming traffic, or too far left to light the kerbside properly.