How Often to Change Motorcycle Oil

The oil of the motorcycle engine is one that is quite useful in the functioning of the motorcycle. It is imperative that anyone who cares about their motorcycle should know how often to change motorcycle oil.

how often to change motorcycle oil
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The motorcycle oil is a type of engine lubricant that is made up of many substances. It is viscous and possesses anti-wear and tear properties. It is used for lubricating combustion engines. One main duty of the oil is to make sure that the rotating parts of the engine do not wear or tear due to friction.

Video: How Often To Change Motorcycle Oil

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Furthermore, it has substances that could stop the progression of oxidation and corrosion. This means that the parts where it is applied will have an awfully hard time rusting. One of the enemies of metals is rust. Since the engine is made of metal, keeping it free from rust is a necessity.

The majority of oils which we use today are made of hydrocarbons with a petroleum base. They also contain polyalphaolefins and esters which help to make sure the oil components are properly dissolved. The basis for making all types of motor oils are basically the same.

John Ellis was the one who invented the oil. He was actually studying to see if there was a medicinal effect of crude oil. His research did not go well but he did find out that the oils had great lubricating properties. This caused him to dump his medicinal research and focus on oil.

It was he who also found out that some oils can be efficient in lubricating engines that are extremely hot. This was a huge breakthrough in the world of automotive.

The oil is not just used for motorcycles, it has a wide range of applications. It can be used in engines of cars, generators, lawnmowers, and several machines which make use of combustible engine.

These engines have something in common. They have parts that move against the other. This leads to friction which is an enemy to the conservation of energy. A lot of energy is lost during friction. This is because friction will change the kinetic energy which is generated by the moving engine parts to heat.

Consequently, those parts will begin to wear off. This degrades the efficiency of the combustible engine. This also causes fuel to be used more than necessary, decreases output, and can even cause the engine to fail.

When the oil is added to the motorcycle engine, a film forms, separating the surfaces of the two moving parts which usually touch each other. This film prevents both surfaces from directly touching each other as well.

The resultant effect is that the production of heat which is due to friction is reduced. The wear of the engine is also reduced, and the motorcycle engine is protected.

The motorcycle oil will also coat the surface of the metals so that oxygen will not affect the metal parts. This is to prevent oxidation. Oxidation is what leads to corrosion or rust.

Again, the motorcycle oil has the ability to trap dirt that is generated when the engine is burning fuel. This why the motorcycle oil turns dark after some time. And this is one of the reasons why we wrote this article.

How often to change motorcycle oil?

You have to change mineral based motorcycle oils every two thousand miles that the motorbike travels. Semi-snythetic oils have to be changed after every seven thousand miles. Motorcycles with fully synthetic oils have to get their oils changed every ten thousand miles.

Maintaining Motorcycle Engine With Motorcycle Oil

The responsibility of maintaining your motorbike lies solely on you. In fact, the way your motorbike looks like tells us a whole lot about you as a person. This is because proper maintenance would require you to pay attention to details.

Properly maintaining the motorcycle will undoubtedly make your bike last longer. More so, it helps to make sure that you do not fall into any complicated issue later on. One of your responsibilities as a motorcycle owner is changing the oil in your motorcycle.

The number of times one should change the motorcycle oil is not static. There is no specific number of times one should change the oil. There is no specific interval for doing so either. When the oil should be changed is dependent on some factors that we would discuss in this article.

The first is the model, make and year of production of your motorcycle. The second is how often you make use of the motorbike and the last is the kind of motorcycle oil you usually use.

On a general note, the unwritten rule is that you should change the oil in your motorcycle once every year. Even for a motorbike that is not used very often, some small bits of byproducts of combustion can find their way into the oil.

The more these substances get into the oil, the faster rusting and damage of the engine would happen. But like we said earlier, there are myriads of factors that would influence this. So, the proper way when and how to change motorcycle oil would not be the same for two persons and two different situations.

The next thing we would say may be strange, but we have found it to be absolutely true. The less time your motorbike stays on the field, the bigger chance of your engine rusting.

If the only thing you do with the bike is some periodic twenty to thirty minutes ride, then your engine is not active. This way, it becomes prone to rust. Twenty to thirty minutes is not enough time for the engine to heat up properly, be lubricated, cleaned, and then cooled.

The unwritten rule is that your engine should run at an optimal temperature for at least forty minutes twice a month. For cyclists who are at this minimum point, it is necessary that the motorcycle oil is changed once every four months or thrice per year.

Generally, you would find three kinds of oil in the market. The fully synthetic oil, the semi-synthetic oil, and the mineral oil. The kind of oil you use is dependent on the kind of motorbike that you have.

If you bought a bike that has already been used, it is necessary that you change the oil immediately. It does not matter if the motorcycle oil in it is fresh or not.

Furthermore, making use of the right oil is as important as changing the motorcycle oil at the right frequency. So, make sure you are using the correct oil for the motorcycle. You can find the best oil for your motorcycle by checking out the manual of the motorbike.

You can change mineral oils twice a year. Also keep in mind that the more frequently you use the motorbike for long distance rides, the more often you need to change the oil.

Motorbikes that make use of mineral oils should have oil change once every two thousand miles. This could also be changing the oil at least two times every year. A semi-synthetic kind of oil can be changed once every five or six thousand miles.

Oils that are fully synthetic would require that you change them once every seven to ten thousand miles. If the motorcycle is used regularly for going long distances, you would have to remove the oil and put in new ones more than one who uses their bikes less.

Another show of responsibility when using the motorbike is checking the oil level regularly. Sometimes, you do not need to wait for these set times. If you notice your oil is dirty or the level is low, please, do change the oil, for the good of the engine and motorcycle at large.

How Do You Know That The Motorcycle Oil Has Become Dirty?

This is not rocket science. You will have to physically check how the engine oil looks like to know. You can take a look at the level of oil in the engine and also the level of oil in the crankcase. Now, the way to check the oil is also dependent on the type of motorbike you are using. There are three ways to do that.

How do you check if motorcycle oil is dirty?

To check if the motorcycle oil is dirty, do the following:

1. Use the engine oil level dipstick to check oil level.

2. Level plug method.

3. Use of sight window.

Make Use Of The Engine Oil Level Dipstick

You would want to take out the dipstick and use it in checking how the oil looks like. There are two things that you would see, and you will know that the time to change the engine oil is nigh.

The first thing you will see is that engine oil is extremely dirty or very black in color. When you see this, hurry and change your oil. A lot of dirt has accumulated and become trapped in the oil. When you ignore this, the oil, due to the debris and dirt therein, would begin to do the opposite of what you want it to do.

The dirt could spread to the other parts of the engine and cause corrosion. And corrosion is one of the things we are actively trying to avoid when we are pouring in the engine oil.

Another thing you have to look out for is the thickness of the oil.  If the engine oil is no longer thick and now looks watery then it is time for a change. To use the proper technical term, the oil is no longer viscous. Lack of viscosity of the oil is a sign that it needs to be changed.

But why does the viscosity of the oil matter though? We would tell you why. Viscosity is one quality of fluids which affects the production of heat in engines. It also governs the effect of motorcycle oils and then the rate by which an engine consumes oil.

Shockingly, it also determines how fast your engine would respond when you are trying to turn it on. This is particularly important if you live in regions where the climate is very cold.

In more scientific terms, viscosity is the measurement of the tendency of the oil to resist uniform flow. As temperature rises, the viscosity of the oil decreases, and as the temperature lowers, viscosity increases. This is why oil flows easily at a higher temperature than a lower one.

Every oil has a different way it reacts to changes in temperature. Some oils have the tendency to resist changes in viscosity when the temperature changes. This is known as the viscosity index. The higher the viscosity index of the motorcycle oil, the less effect temperature has on its viscosity. There are benefits to this high viscosity index.

First, if the viscosity is stable or just changed a bit, the motorcycle oil would not be consumed much when the engine is running. This would also lead to the engine not wearing off quickly.

Second, this will be extremely helpful in cold regions. The engine can start quicker and also fuel consumption will not be high.

Another thing that the viscosity of the oil does is to resist shearing. Shearing is the tear that occurs between two parts that are touching each other in an engine.

Heavily loading the engine, shock loads, and extremely high engine temperatures can cause these moving parts to be burdened and prone to wear and tear. If the oil with a high viscosity index is not added, the surfaces may damage, and the engine will fail.

Quickly adding a motorcycle oil with high viscosity index would cause a protective film to form over the two surfaces that are touching. This should be done immediately the viscosity of the oil has been found to be low, when the oil looks watery. This is because engine failure could happen in just hours.

These factors should be in your mind when you want to just ride your motorcycle one more time before changing the oil. One reason why you should heed this warning is that the cost of changing motorcycle oil is nowhere compared to what you would spend if your engine damages.

If the engine is lacking oil, the moving parts would now have to start making contacts which each other. They will grind and then seize. Your motorcycle would not be able to move or even start. This will ruin the engine of the motorcycle.

A good repair of the engine of your motorcycle may cost up to seven thousand dollars. And this could include the cost of labor or not. So, what is it going to be? Acting quickly and changing the oil or grinding out seven grand?

The dipstick also tells us how much oil is remaining in the crankcase. The dipstick has a low or high. So, if you remove the dipstick, the oil level has to be between low and high if not, something should change.

The Level Plug Method

You have to pull out the level plug for oil. This is a hole that is threaded and can be found in a side of your crankcase. When you pull out the plug using your wrench, the oil will spill out. From the spillage, you can see how clean or how dirty your oil is. If the engine oil is dirty, do change it.

Use Of Sight Window

When you look at the crankcase, what do you see? Do you see low and high marks that are on one side of your crankcase? When you look at this, you can also tell if the level of oil is low or high or dirty.

It is advisable that you make use of other methods of checking if the engine oil is low, high, or dirty other than the sight window. The sight window of course will give you a perspective of course but other methods are way clearer on the subject matter.

Mind you, the color of the oil that has been used for some time is brown or maybe black. This color suggests that motorcycle oil has been doing well. It is protecting and as well as cleaning your engine.

What Kind Of Engine Oil Is Best for Your Motorcycle?

When your bike is old, it is very vital that you make use of mineral-based motorcycle oil. This is because the engines which are in old bikes were made so they can run using that specific kind of oil. Some people have reported using other types of oil on old motorbikes and it did not turn out well.

When they used other kinds that were not the mineral-based type, the oils began to leak out. This is because engine oil of the modern era is made to be less viscous than the engine oil of old. Mineral oils are usually thicker in comparison with synthetic and semi-synthetic oils. This is why the leaking occurs.

When you have motorbikes of the new generation, like racing bikes and street bikes, you can make use of synthetic or semi-synthetic motor oil. When you are not very sure of the kind of oil to make use of, it is better to consult the instructional manual. This will help to know what the manufacturer recommended.

As we would always advise, the manufacturer’s manual is always supreme to anything you can find on the internet.

Motorcycle Oil For Two-Stroke Motorbikes

It is necessary to note that motorbikes having two-stroke combustible engines should use oils that are specifically designed for the two-stroke designs. Do not freestyle when it comes to two-stroke designs. Do not even make that mistake of adding oil for four-stroke into the two-stroke design. It will end in tears.

Engines of two-stroke designs have the ability to burn both the fuel and the oil together in one combustion chamber. So, the oil that needs to go into that kind of complicated design is usually special.

When using the two-stroke design, you can add synthetic or mineral-based oil for a two-stroke. However, this will be dependent on the model and the make of your motorbike.

Two-stroke designs that are high performance would need synthetic motorcycle oil for optimum function. The synthetic oil will lubricate effectively and also cool down the engine of the motorcycle. This is particularly vital for engines that need to be air-cooled.

Before you buy a motorcycle oil for that two-stroke design of yours, you have to ensure you have read and understood the label. This is to ensure you are spending your cash in buying something that would actually help you instead of damage your bike.

Perhaps you do not know what happens when you put in the wrong oil in the two-stroke design. Well, the answer is pretty simple, you destroy your engine. Earlier on, we talked about what happens when your engine locks due to a lack of oil.

Well, this time the consequences are more severe; you could end up with an engine that may never work again. And that would amount to you rebuilding an engine or getting a mechanic to do so. Now, is that what you would want?

Is It Important That You Change Oil Filter As You Change The Motorcycle Oil?

On the majority of motorcycles, it is advised that you change the oil filter once every two thousand to three thousand miles. But if you’re making use of the synthetic oil, then it is best that you do the changing of oil filter any time you are changing the engine oil.

The work of the engine oil filter is to make sure that the oil is exceptionally clean. It helps in trapping debris and dirt and metallic particles. It also captures sludges that may be in the crankcase. When you change the engine oil filter as you change the engine oil itself, it will help the oil itself stay longer.

How often you change the oil filter is also dependent on the love you have for your bike and how often you use the motorbike. If you ride it less frequently, you can change the filter once or two times in one year.

However, if you live on your bike (sarcasm intended), you should change the filter when you are changing oil, for optimal performance.

How To Change Motorcycle Oil

To do this, you would need to have a few tools. The very first is a wrench of high quality which would fit in the drain plug without issues. You would also need a container that will be used to catch the engine oil that will drip from the plug.

You can buy a storage tank or drain pan. You can collect the oil with it and then take the oil to where it can be recycled. A benefit of this is that it can be reused another time you would want to get rid of the oil in your engine.

Disposing of the used oil would not be a problem. If you do not know where to drop the oil you can ask the store from where you bought the oil. They can tell you where you can find a drop-off or recycling location. In most cities, there are recycling systems that are set in place to take in old oil. Some stores also do this if you are a frequent customer.

You will also need to get some pairs of gloves in case you do not like to see your hands getting all oily and greasy. You will need some rags too for cleaning.

Again, for emphasis, for the volume of oil, you should add, the manufacturer’s information is supreme to anything you will find online. Do not use a particular product because you saw that it was what your friend used. You will only have yourself to blame if you ignore the manufacturer’s instructions.

Before you drain out the old oil, you might want to pay attention to this. Ideally, it is good to run your motorcycle engine for some time before you drain the oil. This is because warm oil will come out of the engine more easily than cold oil. Remember what we discussed earlier about viscosity?

Great! Warm oil tends to be less viscous than cold oil. Hence, they can flow out faster than cold oil. Again, when you warm the engine and the oil by extension, the particles and dirt all gather in the oil and are expelled at once. This would leave the engine neat and free.

On the other hand, cold oil will come out alone, leaving that debris behind. So, when you put in new oil and start the engine, the dirt will jump out and enter the new oil.

But here is the reality check. No one finds it easy draining oil from a hot engine. It is not very practical. There are obstacles that may be in the way. One of them is an exhaust pipe that is extremely hot. We do not know how well you can focus on getting the oil out if the hot smell of the exhaust is pummeling your nose.

Another thing is this, the hot oil is not exactly tender when poured out. It would simply pump out and can land anywhere, even where you do not want it to. Asides the fact that there is a tendency of it making a mess, you stand a chance of winning a mighty burn if the oil chooses to land on you.

So, our advice is this, let the oil cool, not the engine, the oil. Because the engine could be cool on the outside, yet hot oil is still inside.

Now, use the wrench to open up your drain plug. You will find this on the sump’s lowest portion. If the motorbike makes use of a dry-sump, your plug should be at your oil tank. If the bike uses some portion of the frame in storing oil, it will have a drain on the frame, then the other at the engine.

If this is the case, you can pull off the drain bolts. Allow the oil to drain till nothing else comes out. This would take just 5 mins if the engine is warm and just 10 if the engine is cold. When you get to your oil filter, follow the direction of the manufacturer.

Clean the plug seat and then add a new gasket. You can use grease or small oil to swipe the threads so that they do not gall. When tightening it back later, make sure you use the recommended torque.

Clean the cavity of the filter or its seating surface, then you can install your filter. There is a particular place where cartridge filters are placed. Place them there according to the directions of your manufacturer.

Should the filter be a spin on one, you have to swipe gasket with oil before you thread it on your filter. Some manuals may recommend that you prime your filter with the new oil before you install it. Tighten the filter as the manufacturer instructs and make sure it is tight enough.

The normal way to do this is to use your hand to tighten until it can turn no further. You can then employ the services of the wrench. Remember not to exceed the torque that is recommended and does not go below it.

If the filter you are using is the cartridge type, coat O-ring with new oil before installation and then tighten with the cover. You can now add the new oil to the sump. The quantity of oil to add is also recommended. Do not exceed the recommended level and do not go below it.

After adding the oil let your engine be idle for some time till the oil indicator light goes off. The light may still be on after some seconds, even when you have added oil. But do not panic, it would go off. But if the light does not go off after one or two minutes, then there is a problem.

For other filter types other than the cartridge, you can pour in the new oil and then let your bike sit idle for 5 mins. If you do not see any leaks, you can add more oil to the right, and the recommended level is reached.

Place the filter and plug it back. And there you have it, an engine full of new oil.

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Video: How Often To Change Motorcycle Oil?

This video will teach when to change motorcycle oil


We have highlighted a lot of things in this article. To recap, the frequency of changing motorcycle oil depends on some factors. They include the type of oil you use, how frequently you ride your bike, and the type of motorbike that you have.

Remember, having a motorbike calls you to responsibility. Check the level of oil in your engine as often as possible. It is not just about having a clean oil inside; it is also about having the correct quantity.

How Often To Change Motorcycle? – Related Frequently Asked Questions

What Happens If You Don’t Change Your Motorcycle Oil?

If you don’t change your motorcycle oil, your engine will overheat. This overheating reduces the efficiency of your engine. Due to the fact that the motorcycle oil is a lubricant which attenuates friction, its absence would cause the effects of friction-wear and tear of the engine to be more pronounced.

This leads to the second and worst consequence. Your engine will knock and you will have to get a new one. Getting a new engine would cost you a lot so it is best you change your oil at a much lesser cost.

How Do You Know Your Motorcycle Needs An Oil Change?

You know your motorcycle needs an oil change if:

  1. You check your oil and it is black, gritty, and lacks viscosity.
  2. Your engine has suddenly become louder and makes a lot of noise. The lack of oil in the engine causes the metal bodies to rub together and when metal rubs against metal, a lot of noise is generated.
  3. The oil on your dipstick is below the lowest oil mark then you need to top up.
  4. Some motorcycles have indicators that show your oil level. If it says to change, please do.

Why Is My Oil Black After Oil Change?

The oil is black even after you newly changed the oil because the oil has experienced exposure to heat. Heat cycles are responsible for the black oil. This heat the oil is exposed to in turn causes oxidation to take place.

Also, there are some ingredients in the oil which causes the oil to darken when heat acts on them. Soot also, which is a result of defective combustion causes the oil to go black. Soot does not cause your engine to wear and tear.

What Are The Disadvantages Of Synthetic Motor Oil?

The disadvantages of synthetic motor oil are:

  1. Synthetic motor oil is more expensive than any other type of motor oil that is available on the market.
  2. Synthetic oil cannot be used for rotary engine types.
  3. The synthetic oil is unable to hold lead which is in the oil suspension. Older engines would have issues using synthetic oil because they need the lead to work.
  4. Synthetic motor oil is special and has a different way it is disposed.  

Is Full Synthetic Oil Worth It?

Synthetic oil is worth it because it provides better engine protection for your motorcycle. The strength of the synthetic oil lies in its ability to protect the engine from very high temperatures. It prevents sludges and deposits from forming and accumulating in the motorcycle engine.

Engines are usually stressed when they are carrying or towing heavy loads. Synthetic oil reduces the damage this stress causes the engine of your motorcycle. All these lead to better engine life for your motorcycle.

Can You Just Add Oil Instead Of Changing It?

You should not just add oil. You should regularly change the oil in your engine at intervals. You have to replace the oil filter. When you just add oil without changing, it does not cancel the fact that harmful sludges are still in the old oil.

You have to remove this sludge which is usually located at the oil’s bottom. The engine would still pump around the sludge and dirt which is located in your oil. You have to both change and add oil for the sake of your engine.