All motoring organisations have terms and conditions and so, for example, if your bike doesn’t show up on the tax or MoT register, you aren’t getting picked up. This can be a real problem if you have recently taxed your bike online but the database has not yet picked up on it.

If your bike’s damaged in a collision, it is excluded from recovery as it is not a mechanical breakdown. Same if it’s unrideable as a result of acts of vandalism or attempted theft.

You have to remember vehicle recovery is a form of insurance and you are insured against specific risks, and if you’re not insured against those risks, then your recovery company does not have to pick you or your bike up.

Recovery companies can be strict on the legal status of a motorcycle, which I think is an over exaggerated startle response to being involved with an ‘illegal’ bike. I also suspect when they are busy, they use these clauses to thin out stranded drivers, because the exclusion clauses do not seem to be applied consistently.

Reliable mates & vans

So is recovery worth having? It depends how you use your bike, and do you have a reliable mate with a van? If you ride close-ish to home, and you have a means of recovering your bike, probably not. My son rides to work, his dad (me) has a van. If he does a big trip he will buy temporary cover. He does not have recovery cover and I think that sensible.

My needs are different: I ride the length and breadth of the country for work so recovery is worth it for me. But my bike has a basic tool roll, a multimeter, a tyre plugging kit and a battery jumper. I don’t think I’ve been recovered with my motorbike in over 20 years.

Vandalism and collision

As far as my dirt bikes go, they have been pulled out of ditches and thrown into the van often. But dirt bikes are simple and more often than not I can fix the fault.

However, if you injure yourself and cannot ride the bike don’t expect a pick up because this is not something that triggers any requirement for recovery. Also be aware of exclusions for collision damage, theft damage or vandalism.

When asking why your bike needs recovery, mention the mechanical problems. If they stop asking questions, cool. Your bike gets transported. A minor point to remember is your insurer will not pay for mechanical defects or the consequences of mechanical defects.

For example, if your chain snaps and chaws up your swingarm and engine casings, that is mechanical. Depending on your policy, the cosmetic damage might be fixed, the actual chain, no.

However, if you then slide down the road, that is collision damage and recoverable. In recovery terms, the snapped chain gets you on the truck of shame, but if your bike is unrideable because the slide has snapped your handlebars or your brake lever is reduced to a broken stump, then that is crash damage and you are not entitled to recovery.

Andrew Dalton

Bike Magazine May 2023