In this article, we will answer the age-old question on how often to change the motorcycle engine oil, including a couple of tips on how to inspect the oil level.
When it comes to how often to change the oil, the answer will depend on three things:
- The make and model of your bike.
- How often you use your bike.
- The type of engine oil that you’re using.
Read more: How To Change Oil In Your Motorcycle
Different bikes require different kinds of engine oil. If you bought a used bike, the first thing that you should do is to change the engine oil immediately, regardless if the oil is still fresh or not.
If you’re the owner of a brand new or relatively new bike, it is very important to change the oil at specified intervals. These intervals are clearly specified in the service manual of your bike.
The engine oil is the lifeblood of your engine. Using the right kind of engine oil will not only prolong the life of your engine, but it will make your bike run smoother as well. In fact, using the wrong engine oil might actually do more harm than good.
What does engine oil do?
Motor oil is not only a lubricant for moving engine parts. It also cleans vital internal components to prevent accelerated wear and tear inside your engine.
Every time you start your motorcycle and rev the engine, the motor oil is there to clean, lubricate, and protect your engine from cold starts and ultra-high temperatures. It’s as simple as that.
Many people don’t know that motor oil is also used to keep your engine cool, similar to engine coolant.
Remember that extreme heat is the ultimate nemesis of high-performance motors. An engine that runs cooler is smoother, quieter, and more
But if you’re not sure when to change the oil, or if you can’t find the service manual for your bike, we will tell you how often to change the oil and how to inspect the oil level on your bike.
How Often Do I Need to Change the Motorcycle Engine Oil?
The answer will depend on the type of oil used during the last oil change.
If the engine is using mineral-based motor oil (which is the cheapest and simplest form of engine oil available in the market), the engine oil should be changed at least every 2,000 miles. If you don’t use your bike regularly, it is best to change the oil at least twice a year.
If your motorcycle engine is using semi-synthetic motor oil, it is a good idea to change the oil after 5,000 or 6,000 miles.
For those who use fully-synthetic motor oil, the general rule of thumb is to change the oil after 7,000 to 10,000 miles. Synthetic motor oil is more expensive than mineral-based oils. But on the plus side, semi-synthetic and
However, if you use your bike every day, or if you travel great distances on a daily basis, you will need to change your oil more frequently, regardless if you’re using mineral, semi-synthetic, or fully synthetic oil.
If you feel that your oil is dirty, or if you feel that your engine is not performing well, you should proceed to change the oil regardless of the mileage.
How will I know if the oil is dirty?
For this, you will need to visually inspect the condition of the engine oil, including the oil level inside the crankcase.
Depending on the make and model of your bike, there are 3 ways to inspect the oil:
- Use the oil level dipstick. Simply pull out the dipstick to determine the condition of the motor oil. If the motor oil looks watery or extremely dirty (if the color is blackish) then it is probably time to change the oil.
The dipstick will also tell you the amount of oil inside the crankcase. There is a HIGH and LOW marker in the dipstick. The correct oil level should be between the HIGH and LOW marker of the dipstick.
- Remove the oil level plug. The oil level plug is a threaded hole located
inthe side of the crankcase. Simply remove the plug or bolt using a wrench to check the condition and the level of the oil. Again, if the oil is extremely dirty, you should go ahead and change the oil.
- Use the oil sight window. Did you see a clear plastic window with HIGH and LOW marks on the side of the crankcase? This will tell you if the engine oil is dirty, or if the oil level is low.
However, using the oil sight window is not the best way to check if the oil is dirty, but it will at least give you an idea on the general condition of the motor oil.
Keep in mind that the normal color of used oil should be brownish to slightly black. This means that the oil is doing a good job of cleaning and protecting your engine.
What engine oil should I use on my motorcycle?
For older bikes, it is best to use mineral-based motor oil. The engines on older bikes were designed to run using mineral-based motor oil.
There were reports of motorcycle owners using synthetic oil on their old bikes, and a lot of them reported oil leaks due to the viscosity of modern engine oils. Mineral-based oils are thicker than synthetic oils, hence the leaking problem.
For modern bikes, street bikes, or racing motorcycles, you can use semi-synthetic or
When in doubt, it is always best to check the service manual to determine the right kind of engine oil that is best suited for your ride.
What engine oil can I use on two-stroke motorcycles?
Motorcycles with two-stroke engines should only use motor oils designed for two-stroke applications. Don’t make the mistake of putting four-stroke oil on your two-stroke bike.
Two-stroke engines will burn the oil and the fuel together inside the combustion chamber, hence the need for a specialized kind of engine oil.
You can use either mineral-based or synthetic two-cycle oil, but this will also depend on the make and model of your bike.
High-performance two-stroke engines need synthetic motor oil to effectively lubricate and cool the engine. This especially holds true for air-cooled motorcycle engines.
Before purchasing engine oil for your two-stroke motorcycle, always read the label to make sure that you are buying the right kind of engine oil for your two-stroke ride. You don’t want to deal with the hassles and the cost of an engine rebuild, right?
- Clean burning "Smokeless"
- Mixes well with gasoline at all temperatures
- Meets requirements for "low smoke" oils
- Low ash
- Suitable for use in air-cooled engines
Should I change the oil filter every time I change the oil?
On most bikes, it is highly recommended to change the oil filter every 2,000 to 3,000 miles. If you are using synthetic motor oil, it is a good idea to change the oil filter every time you change the oil.
The oil filter will help keep your oil clean. It traps dirt, debris, metallic particles, and sludge inside the crankcase. Changing the oil filter regularly will increase the life of your engine oil.
It all depends on how much you love your bike. If you’re an occasional rider, you can replace the oil filter at least once or twice a year.
But if you ride your bike most of the time, or if you travel at speed over great distances (or if you love racing on the track), it is a good idea to change the oil filter every time you change the oil, regardless if you’re using mineral-based oil or synthetic motor oil.
The answer to how often to change the motorcycle oil will depend on a variety of factors. If you’re a hardcore rider and you use mineral-based oil, you should change the oil after 2,000 to 3,000 miles.
Synthetic motor oils will last longer than mineral-based oils, and they only need replacing every 5,000 to 6,000 miles. If you use your bike as a daily driver, it is best to use synthetic motor oils since they are more economical in the long run.
If you only use your bike on weekend jaunts, you should replace the oil at least twice a year.
Make sure to always check the oil level of your bike. Having clean motor oil is good, but maintain the correct amount of oil inside the crankcase is better.
Last update on 2017-04-27 PST - Details