How Often to Change Motorcycle Oil and Why?
Most motorcycles are really tough machines. Ride them to hell and back, they’ll still take it and be ready for more. If there’s one thing you should never do though, is to skip an oil change; that’s the real Kryptonite for your bike.
Your motorcycle’s engine oil plays a significant role in ensuring all the engine’s moving parts remain well lubricated. It also helps clean the engine’s vital internal components to keep them protected from tear and wear.
Unfortunately, this oil tends to degrade with time due to heat as well as combustion deposits.
This explains why you should regularly change it to ensure continued smooth running of your motorcycle engine and increased longevity.
How Often Should You Change Your Motorcycle Oil?
How often you should change your motorcycle oil depends on how often you ride it.
If you’re always riding your bike at extremely high speeds whenever you get on it, then the oil is likely to deteriorate faster than a rider who keeps to the speed limit. Or if you ride for short distances more often, regular oil change is recommended.
It’s advisable to start by checking your owner’s manual to see what the manufacturer states on how often to change the oil.
The type of oil you use can also play a role in determining how often you change the oil.
If you use mineral-based (cheapest option available), consider changing it at least every 2000 miles. Or at least twice every year if you don’t ride your bike regularly.
If you’re using semi-synthetic motor oil, consider changing it after covering around 5000-6000 miles.
And for fully synthetic engine oil, change it after around 7000-1000 miles. For starters, synthetic oil costs more than mineral-based oils and will last longer, saving you from the hassle of changing it frequently.
Sometimes you don’t have to wait to cover all these miles to change your oil. If you feel that the oil is dirty or your engine isn’t performing well, we suggest that you go ahead and change it regardless of the miles you’ve covered.
The weather you ride in can also take a toll on your engine oil. Bikes rider in harsh conditions such as extreme temperatures, dusty environments, or with heavy loads should have their oils changed more often.
All in all, the Rule of thumb is clear:
You should change your oil once every year or after covering around 3000-5000 miles with your bike. If you use your bike more regularly, you should conduct oil changes more frequently—regardless of the type of oil you use.
How To Check Your Oil Level and Condition
As we’ve just mentioned above, sometimes you don’t have to wait to cover the recommended miles to change your oil.
If you sense it’s affecting your bike’s performance or it’s dirty, that’s a good signal that you need to replace it with fresh oil.
BUT…how do you know the condition of your oil?
By visually inspecting it while still inside the crankcase…
Depending on the type of motorcycle model you own, you can inspect the oil level and condition using one of these methods:
- Using a dipstick: you just pull out the dipstick to determine the motor oil condition if the oil looks extremely dirty (extremely blackish) or watery, it’s time to replace it with fresh oil.
- The Low and High markers on the dipstick will help you determine the level of oil inside your motorcycle engine. The ideal level should lie somewhere between the Low and High marks.
- Remove the oil level plug: use a wrench to help you easily remove the plug or bolt to help you check the oil condition and level. If the oil looks extremely dirty, go ahead and change it.
- Using the sight window: Some crankcase comes with a clear plastic window with Low and High marks on the side. Use this to check if the engine oil is dirty or extremely low.
- Don’t forget that clean oil should show a brownish or slightly black color. Milky oil with metallic particles indicates dirty, unsuitable oil. A Low level also indicates a problem.
How and When to Change Your Motorcycle Oil
So you have checked your engine oil and seen it’s dirty or has low levels and needs to be changed.
What’s the next step?
Obviously, you should start thinking of getting the oil changed ASAP.
Good news; it’s easy!
Forget about taking your bike to a mechanic to do the oil change for you at a fee.
You can do the whole task on your own, with just a few basic tools. In the process, you’ll save some good cash while getting to learn more about your bike.
Let’s get into more details on how to do it…
Things You’ll Need:
- Engine oil (go with the bike manufacturer’s oil recommendation)
- Oil tray/drain pan
- Brand new oil filter
- Oil filter removal tool
- Torque wrench
- Socket and wrench
- A bundle of rags for cleanup
- User manual
Once you’ve armed yourself with all the necessary tools and you’re ready for the job, follow the outlined steps below to change your oil.
Steps to change oil:
Step 1. Ready your motorcycle for an oil change by balancing it on a stand (you can use a front, rear, or center stand). Then put an oil tray directly underneath the bolt where old oil will messy-freely drain into.
Pro TIP: Draining warm oil is much easier as it’s less viscous. So, consider letting your engine run for 5-10minutes to warm the oil.
Step 2. Grab the socket and wrench and use it to open the engine drain plug (by turning it in an anti-clockwise direction). Remember to remove the washer while at it and place the plug somewhere you can easily trace it.
Warning: Avoid coming into contact with your bike’s hot parts if you started by running the engine as recommended above.
Step 3. Now, let the old oil drain completely out of your bike engine. You can sit back and let it drain on its own, or you might consider tilting your bike to remove any undrained oil bits.
Step 4. Next, you’ll need to remove the old oil filter. Grab a wrench, plant it to the filter and unscrew it in an anti-clockwise direction. Once you remove the filter, you should expect more old oil to come out of it. Let it drain completely as well.
Step 5. Time to install a new filter. When you’re satisfied that the filter/plug housing is completely drained, take your new filter and smear some of your new oil engine onto its sealing ring with the help of your finger (some manufacturers recommend you to fill the filter with oil first or put it straight on; consult your user manual for more info).
Screw the new filter by hand and then attach the adapter with a wrench installed to tighten it.
Step 6. Time to put back the drain plug. Refit a new washer to your engine drain plug and then screw it into the sump by hand. Be sure to use the torque wrench (check the manufacturer recommended torque setting) to tighten it up fully.
Step 7. Fill your engine with fresh oil. Remove the plug on the engine oil input, insert a funnel, and start pouring in the oil. Again, you’ll need to consult your user manual on the manufacturer recommended engine oil capacity to avoid overfilling.
Congrats! You’ve successfully changed the engine oil in your motorcycle!
But one more thing…
After filling up the oil to the maximum level, leave the engine running for approx. 5 minutes, making sure to confirm that the oil pressure light goes out after starting your bike. Turn off the engine and check the oil level once more, and adjust accordingly.
After taking your bike for the first proper ride (after the oil change), we advise you to check the oil level and see if it’s at the maximum level.
The engine oil plays a critical role in keeping the engine’s moving parts lubricated while preventing them from tear and wear.
For the oil to continue doing its good job of protecting your engine, you’ll need to keep checking it and replacing it with fresh oil regularly.
How often to change the oil usually depends on the manufacturer’s recommendation. Experts also recommend you to change the oil every 3000-5000 miles or at least once every year.
Other factors like the conditions you ride your bike in, how often you ride it, and type of oil used can also affect the frequency at which you change the oil.