When Do You Need To Change Your Motorcycle’s Oil?

You’re probably wondering why it’s critical to change your motorcycle’s engine oil regularly and often. Well, the properties of petroleum lubricants under stress degrade over long periods. The oils used in engines should therefore be replaced regularly, to protect moving parts from frictional damage and mechanical seizures. Replacing old oil along with the filter is an uncomplicated procedure which works to remove impurities hindering lubricating efficiency.

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Following this routine will help to keep our bikes in good running order for many years, and it’s for this reason that I’ve put together this guide. For if you’re considering how often to change motorcycle oil, you’ll have this information to help you decide.

What About Motorcycle Oils?


Mechanical problems from poor lubrication are uncommon with today’s robust motors and oils, and you’d have to really mistreat a motorcycle to damage it this way. To be sure, you can avoid the possibility and the worry that goes with it through a simple routine of regular oil replacement every few thousand miles. This should be done more often if you’re frequently riding your bike in harsh conditions.

You’ll still need to consider a few technical factors, for it’s important to choose the correct oil type for a particular model. In most cases you should be following the manufacturer’s recommendation. If 15W50 synthetics and OEM filters are what’s specified for optimum operation then these are what you should use, unless you have strong technical reasons to choose otherwise.

How Often Should Engine Oil Be Replaced?

Your motorcycle’s service guide will normally indicate a schedule of every few thousand miles. A good rule of thumb for oil changes would be every 2,000 miles at least, and no less than twice a year for a bike in regular use. Depending on your situation, you may need to change oil more often.

It may be that you’re putting your bike through harsher use than usual, so your particular oil-change schedule would need to be modified according to your situation. If you’re constantly riding on bumpy roads or dusty trails, up and down hills, carrying heavy loads, and running and storing your bike in extreme temperatures, you should do more frequent changes than that advised by the manufacturer. As an example, for two persons riding an air-cooled twin up the mountains in the heat of summer and lugging all their trip’s gear along, it would be smart to change oils midway between the recommended intervals.


During quick rides, especially in cold-weather conditions, field temperatures may not be high enough to keep condensation burning off internally. The performances of combustion engines degrade when condensing fuels enter their chambers, and in this situation the high-frequency change rule applies.

Another consideration is that if you’re not riding your bike much and are storing it in extreme temperatures, the oil can still degrade depending on its type.

How About Synthetic Oils?


A good rule for these advanced motorcycle oils would be to replace them every 3,000 miles. Although with higher-endurance synthetics, you could stretch the interval to as high as 5,000 miles between changes.

How Often Should The Oil Filter Be Changed?


Most engine oil filters don’t need replacement each time the oil needs replacement. For a bike in regular use, it can be done every other oil change. To be sure, you should check the recommended filter replacement schedule in the service guide.

The Oil Job

Aside from the required replacement oil and shop supplies like gloves and paper towels for cleaning up any mess, you’ll be needing a few tools. Such as a good-quality socket wrench for removing the drain plug or bolt, and containers for collecting and disposing the drained oil. You may need special spanners and a replacement O-ring to handle certain types of oil filters.

Your model’s service guide will normally give step-by-step details on how to inspect oil levels and change the old oil, with types and procedures recommended by the factory.


For a regular motorcycle oil-change you’ll be usually doing the following things:

  • Warm-up the motorcycle to get the engine oil thinned and ready to drain
  • With the bike upright, unscrew both the oil-fill and drain plugs• Drain all the old oil in a container for later disposal
  • Unscrew the old filter if needed, then clean and reattach the drain plug
  • Prep the new filter’s seal with some oil, fill it slightly, and wipe clean the engine’s filter area
  • After the old oil has fully drained, install the new filter along with any new O-ring and/or washer
  • Pour the new oil into the reservoir to the level required, as measured with the level sight or stick
  • Clean and reattach the oil-fill plug prior to operation.

This video shows a similarly catchy sequence with useful explanations:

There You Go

Motorcycle engines require oil which not only keeps their internals from getting overly hot and eroded by frictions, it must keep all surfaces clean of damaging elements as well as corrosion-free. Keeping your bike’s engine properly supplied with oil is among the simpler things you can do to keep it running well. Doing it yourself isn’t hard and saves money you can use on other fixes.


Figuring out how often to change motorcycle oil is every owner’s responsibility. If you think about it, oil changes are inexpensive and relatively simple to do, while engine components and repairs are rarely so.

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Lucas Knight

Over the past 10 years, Lucas Knight has been a motorcycle rider. He has built up an incredible passion for travelling by motorbike and always wishes to contribute to motorcyclist community. This is the reason why he created MotorManner.com where his passion is turned into useful and interesting information to the motorcycle lover. Follow his facebook and twitter or subcribe to his website to receive more useful information in motorcycle world.

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