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How Often to Change Motorcycle Oil: A Complete Guide


  • The general rule of thumb is change motorcycle oil at least once a year
  • Change mineral-based oil at least every 2,000 to 3,000 miles
  • The lifespan of semi-synthetic oil is around 5,000 to 6,000 miles
  • Fully synthetic oil lasts approximately 7,000 to 10,000 miles
  • Replace the oil filter every 2,000 to 3,000 miles

The oil in your motorcycle is an essential part of ensuring the longevity and performance of your bike and protecting your engine. It runs the engine and works as a lubricant for the engine’s moving parts to minimize their friction.

But like any mechanical system, replacing the motorcycle oil is necessary for the bike’s better functioning.

How often to change your motorcycle oil depends on several factors, including the type of motorcycle you’re using, how often you ride it, and the oil quality.

Why Does Motorcycle Oil Matter?

The oil burns inside the combustion chamber to keep your bike running smoothly. It does lubrication of the engine components and protects the parts from wear and tear.

Motorcycle oil is made up of two main components: base oil and additives. The base oil is typically a petroleum product, while the additives include detergents, anti-wear agents, and friction modifiers. The type of oil you choose will depend on your bike and how you ride it.

For example, if you have a high-performance bike that you ride hard, you’ll need oil that can withstand high temperatures and heavy loads. On the other hand, a touring bike for long trips will need oil that can protect your engine from wear and tear.

how often should motorcycle oil be changed
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When choosing an oil, check the viscosity rating. This measures the oil’s ability to flow at different temperatures.

For example, 10W-30 oil will flow easily at low temperatures but thicken at higher temperatures. A 20W-50 oil, on the other hand, will flow better at high temperatures but may be too thick at lower temperatures.

The oil also needs to have the proper additives for your bike. For example, if you ride in dusty conditions, you’ll want an oil that contains detergents to help keep your engine clean. For wet conditions, anti-wear agents in the oil will help protect your engine from wear.

Sadly the oil is not everlasting. It gets worn out by heat and combustion deposits. The frequency of oil change may vary depending on the oil you use.

How Long Does Motorcycle Oil Last?

Motorcycle oil typically lasts for about 3,000 miles before it needs to be changed. However, it can vary depending on the oil type and the riding conditions. For example, if you ride in dusty or dirty conditions, the oil may need to be changed more frequently.

You can check the motorcycle’s oil condition by dipping a dipstick. If the oil is black, dirty, or otherwise contaminated, you must change it as soon as possible.

Look into the oil filter to check if it’s clean and not clogged. A clogged filter will cause your engine to work harder and may cause damage if not changed regularly.

If you notice any leaks coming from your engine, make sure to have them fixed as soon as possible. Leaks can cause your engine to run dry and may cause damage if left unchecked.

There are a few symptoms of bad motorcycle oil, and they are as follows:

  • The motorcycle will run less smoothly and stall or sputter.
  • There could be strange noises from the engine.
  • The oil will appear darker and dirtier than usual and may smell burnt.
  • You may spot oil leaking or a noticeable oil level drop between changes.
  • The engine may run hotter than usual, and there may be an increase in exhaust smoke.

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How Often to Change the Oil in a Motorcycle?

The oil change in your motorcycle vastly depends on specific facts. Such as:

  • How frequently do you use your bike?
  • Always riding at extreme speed.
  • Make, model, and year of the motorcycle.
  • The type of oil used.

The general rule of thumb is that the oil needs to be changed at least once a year. Even if you don’t ride often, tiny particles of dirt and debris will get into your oil while riding. Not replacing the oil on time will create a dirt buildup, leading to corrosion in the engine.

The less you use the bike, the more the possibility of corrosion. The engine has to get heated up, cleaned, lubricated, and cool down for proper functioning.

To get the best performance, you must keep it at “operating temperature” at least twice each month for 30 minutes or more. If you ride shorter distances, change the oil three times a year or every four months.

The oil deteriorates faster if you always ride your bike at extreme speed. Riding short distances more often can also require you to change your oil more frequently, regardless of the oil type.

Generally, three types of oil are used in motorcycles: mineral, semi-synthetic, and fully synthetic. Check the owner’s manual to find out which one is suitable for your bike.

how long does motorcycle oil last

When you use mineral-based motor oil and don’t ride the bike often, change the oil at least every 2,000 to 3,000 miles or twice a year.

Using semi-synthetic motor oil will give you some breathing room as you can skip an oil change for a long time. It should be changed every 5,000 to 6,000 miles or at least once a year.

Fully synthetic motor oil should be changed every 7,000 to 10,000 miles or once a year.

You also need to replace the oil filter every 2,000 to 3,000 miles. If you change your oil filter as frequently as you change the engine oil, it will ensure the longevity of your bike.

As an occasional rider, change the filter at least once or twice a year. But if you are a regular rider and travel at extreme speed over great distances, regardless of the oil you use, changing the filter every time you change the engine oil is a good idea. 

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How to Check Oil on Motorcycle

There are some easy steps to inspect the oil’s level and condition:

how to check oil on motorcycle
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  1. Use a dipstick to determine the condition of the motor oil. Pull out the dipstick; if the oil looks extremely dirty/blackish or watery, it’s time to replace it.
  2. The dipstick has low and high markers to determine the oil level inside your motorcycle engine. The accurate oil level should be between the dipstick’s low and high levels.
  3. Remove the plug and bolt easily with a wrench to check the oil level and condition. The location of the oil level plug is on the side of the crankcase, and it looks like a threaded hole. You should change the oil upon determining that it’s extremely dirty. 
  4. If your crankcase has a clear plastic window with low and high marks on the side, use it to check if the engine oil is dirty or not.
  5. Clean oil should have a brownish or slightly black color, and unsuitable crude should have a milky color. 

How to Change Your Motorcycle Oil

Changing your motor oil by yourself is pretty easy with the right tools and also saves you some good bucks.

Things you’ll need

The items and tools you will need for the process are:

  • Motorcycle engine oil
  • Drain pan or an oil tray
  • New oil filter
  • Removal tool for the oil filter
  • Funnel
  • Socket and wrench
  • Torque wrench
  • Gloves
  • Some rags for the clean-up afterward
  • User manual
motorcycle oil change tools
Necessary tools and supplies for oil change.

Steps for changing motorcycle oil

After you have gathered all the necessary tools, follow the steps below to change your oil:

Step 1: Balance your motorcycle on a stand and put the oil tray underneath the bolt. Keep the mess to a minimum when the old oil drains into the tray. Run your engine for five to ten minutes as warm oil is easy and less viscous while draining.

Step 2: Use the socket and wrench and turn it anti-clockwise to open the engine drain plug. Also, remove the washer and put the plug somewhere traceable. 

Step 3: Now you can sit back and let the old oil drain entirely out of your bike engine, or you can tilt your bike to remove any undrained oil bits.

Step 4: For the next step, plant a wrench to the filter and turn it in an anti-clockwise direction to unscrew it. More oil will come out of it after you have removed the filter. Let the oil drain properly.

Step 5: Finally, you can install the new filter. Some manufacturers may recommend putting it straight on or filling the filter with oil first; you should consult your user manual for this step. You can screw the new filter by hand and use a wrench to attach the adapter.

Step 6: Now, it’s time to put back the drain plug. Make sure to refit a new washer to your engine drain plug and use your hands to screw it into the sump. Use a torque wrench recommended by the manufacturer to tighten up fully.

Step 7: To fill your engine with fresh oil, remove the plug on the engine oil input, install a funnel, and you can start pouring the oil in. To avoid overfilling engine oil capacity, consult your user manual. 

Watch the video to see how to change motorcycle oil and oil filter:

Completing all these steps means you have finally changed your motorcycle engine oil. Leave the engine on for approximately five minutes after filling the oil to the maximum level. Check the oil level after turning off the engine and balance accordingly.

How Much Does Motorcycle Oil Change Cost?

You may already know that motorcycle oil is more expensive than car oil. At times motorcycle maintenance does get costly, especially with a recession looming around the corner. 

Whether you are taking your motorcycle to the mechanic or the dealership, the oil change may cost you 80$ to 120$. 

You can minimize the cost by changing the oil yourself, which is incredibly easy to do. In that case, the total cost would be around $40 to 60$ for the oil, filter, and drain bolt crush washer.


Final Words

From gaining longevity for your bike to keeping the moving parts of your motorcycle engine lubricated while preventing them from strain and combustion, engine oil plays an undeniably crucial role. PERIOD. If you think replacing motorcycle oil is expensive, then you have the option to do it yourself. It benefits both you and your motorcycle all the same. 

FAQs about How Often to Change Motorcycle Oil

How many miles before motorcycle oil change?

Most motorcycles require an oil change every 5,000 to 6,000 miles for semi-synthetic oil. Synthetic oil can stretch the interval to 7,000 to 10,000 miles and it’s 2,000 – 3,000 miles for mineral oil. Check your owner’s manual for the recommended maintenance schedule.

What motorcycle oil viscosity do I need?

The oil viscosity you need depends on your bike’s engine type, age, and manufacturer recommendations. Generally, a 10W-40 viscosity oil works for most motorcycles. But choose 10W-30 viscosity for synthetic oil.

Can you ride a motorcycle with dirty oil?

While you can technically ride with dirty oil, it’s not recommended. Over time, contaminants build up in the oil, which can damage parts and reduce engine efficiency. Changing oil regularly helps ensure optimal engine performance.

When do motorcycle engines burn oil?

Motorcycle engines can burn oil due to excessive wear, failed seals, or other internal problems. If your bike starts using noticeable amounts of oil between changes, it’s a sign of an issue that should be diagnosed and repaired.

Can motorcycle oil go bad sitting?

Yes, unused motorcycle oil can become compromised over time. The useful life of unopened oil is around 3 to 5 years. Once opened, it should be used within 1 to 2 years. Signs old oil has gone bad include discoloration, sludge buildup, and thickening of the oil.

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