Having your motorcycle’s engine oil replaced is integral to motorcycle maintenance. Just like changing the oil of a car, it holds significant importance as there are a lot of different consequences of not changing it regularly.
This means that it is in your best interest to keep changing the motorcycle’s oil to avoid issues and maintain the performance of your motorcycle.
If you are wondering how often to change the oil in a motorcycle then I must say responsible motorcycle owners will make it a habit to ensure their motorcycle is changed regularly.
Most motorcycle oil changes should be done every 4,000 to 8,000 miles or at least once a year. If you are looking for even more specifics, then don’t worry as I will be explaining the most opportune time for you to change your motorcycle oil so that you can avoid any issues and maintain the performance of your motorcycle.
I will also explain why the oil matters and everything related to it, so make sure to read the article in its entirety.
What Is Motorcycle Oil?
Oil in motorcycles is a very important part of the motorcycle in general because it not only helps you maintain a lot of performance of your motorcycle but also helps to prevent a lot of different issues and damage to your motorcycle, along with overheating, which is a major issue when driving your motorcycle for extended periods of times.
The oil you use and the time you will need to change it will depend on many different factors. The first of these is how much you ride your motorcycle. Obviously, the more you ride your motorcycle, the more regular you need an oil change.
It also depends on the model and specifications of your motorcycle, along with the engine it is using. To top it off, you must also be well aware of the type of oil you are using as they too have different periods of usage.
Why Oil Matters In Motorcycles?
Motorcycle oil has the function of lubricating the moving parts of the motorcycle while making sure the engine is protected from moisture, contaminants, and combustion by-products that would normally cause corrosion or damage to these moving parts.
In some cases, similar to cars, if your motorcycle is liquid-cooled, the oil can also be used as a coolant that keeps the transmission cool and lubricated. This is quite similar to the transmission fluid in cars.
Due to the nature of the oil, both its protective qualities and the ability for lubrication can diminish over time, all while the number of contaminants and moisture can easily build-up, which is why it is so important to maintain the integrity of the oil in a motorcycle and making sure that it is changed at regular intervals.
You must also decide to use the right type of oil as well.
3 Different Types Of Oil
There are three different types of oil when it comes to motorcycles:
Mineral oils are your normal and conventional petroleum oil refined and created from crude oil, which is a form of fossil fuel. This source of fuel is generated from the decomposition of dead organisms.
It is the cheapest type of oil to buy and is generally very effective in lubricating; however, it contains various amounts of different impurities with which it comes in its base form. This results in it breaking down quicker and requiring frequent changes.
Synthetic oils are chemically modified petrochemicals that undergo a very complex process of production which involves getting the exact composition for the best amount of engine lubrication and the least amount of impurities.
They offer more engine protection and do not break down as quickly as mineral oil but are more expensive.
Semi-Synthetic oils are a mixture of mineral and synthetic oils, with the synthetic oil being 5 to 30%. This type of oil creates a good middle ground between the two above, promising a good amount of affordability and longevity.
Choosing The Best Oil For Your Motorcycle
Unlike the oil in cars, motorcycle oil serves a few additional purposes to car engine oil which is why there are various things you need to keep in mind before changing the oil in your motorcycle.
- Before changing it, you must make sure that you read the user manual for your motorcycle so that you can figure out which type of oil is best suited for your motorcycle.
- This manual should tell you all of the features of your motorcycle oil that are required by your motorcycle.
- Apart from telling you about the oil’s viscosity, you should get a clear idea of whether your motorcycle requires mineral or synthetic oil.
- The American Petroleum Institute has created a series of codes for fuel that tells you the lubrication and addictive properties of the oil itself.
- Most motorcycle manufacturers recommend oils marked SG. A similar model was made by the Japanese, which indicates the friction of the oil, which changes the clutch performance.
- These codes are made by the Japanese Automotive Standards Organization and recommend MA-rated oils for manual transmissions and MB-rated oils for automatic transmissions.
- Make sure to read the motorcycle manual to see which type of oil is best for your motorcycle and which code it should follow so that you can change your oil according to the recommended preference of your motorcycle manufacturer.
Changing The Oil In The Motorcycle
Before you can figure out when it is best to change the oil in a motorcycle, you must know how to do it yourself, unless you plan to go to a mechanic every time.
Changing the oil in a motorcycle is a fairly straightforward process that almost anyone can do, just make sure that you have the right tools and replacement fuel for the job.
To start changing the oil, make sure your engine is slightly warm as it helps to ease the entire process. Then you need to tidy up the engine area and start draining the old oil inside the motorcycle.
While not necessary, you might as well remove the old oil filter and install a new one as it will help your new oil last longer.
Make sure you inspect the sealing washer as well and make sure it isn’t damaged. If it is, I recommend getting a new one.
Finally, install a drain plug into place and add your new oil. Once finished, make sure to leave the engine on idle and look out for any leaks. Also, make sure to check the oil level.
When To Change The Oil In Motorcycles
People may perceive that keeping your motorcycle at home will prevent the oil from being used.
Still, in actuality, the less you drive your motorcycle, the greater the risk of corrosion becomes, which is why it is recommended to change the oil every four months if you do not plan to ride it. Riding it for 30 minutes twice a month should prevent this from happening.
The main factor for people who ride their motorcycle daily will be which oil you use. Mineral oil should be changed every 2000 to 3000 miles or at least twice a year. Synthetic oil must be changed every 7000 to 10,000 miles or once a year at the minimum.
Semi-synthetic takes a good middle ground by being replaced every 5,000 to 6,000 miles or once a year. Following these statistics and driving habits, you should now know how often you should change the oil in your motorcycle.
Factors Affecting Oil Change Frequency
Starting with the most obvious, the oil type. I have established that synthetic oil is the most long-lasting and mineral oil is the least, with semi-synthetic standing fairly close in the middle.
Closely linked to the type of oil are the model and specifications of your motorcycle. Depending on your manufacturer’s recommendation on the type of oil that is best for your motorcycle, you will no doubt be inclined to choose it.
While it does circle back to the type of fuel being used, it is different because many bikes have preferred oil. If you do not use it, you could be actively harming the performance and components of your motorcycle, which is why it is a good recommendation to follow.
Finally, the biggest factor when it comes to changing oil is the driver’s behavior. People who use their motorcycles more often will be consuming more oil as the engine and transmission will be working much more.
This means that the frequency of oil changes will depend on your daily commutes, with more traveling resulting in more frequent oil changes. Even if you do not use your bike, you will have to change the oil every 3 to 4 months to keep it maintained.
Changing Oil Filter Along With Oil Change?
As I mentioned above, the oil also carries a decent amount of contaminants and impurities, especially if you are using synthetic oil. These impurities can cause a lot of damage to the transmission and engine of your motorcycle. Luckily, they are filtered out by the oil filter.
When changing your oil, it only makes sense to change the oil filter as well, as eventually, it will be subjected to wear and tear and have impurities lodged inside of it. Changing the oil filter will help prevent impurities from destroying your engine and help to increase the life of the oil itself.
Otherwise, you will be changing it even more frequently. Hence, it is recommended to change the oil filter if and when you are changing the oil itself.
How To Know If The Oil Needs A Change
I will now go over some signs and signals which should help you figure out if you are due for an oil change. If your motorcycle is exhibiting these signs, then it is recommended you have your oil changed as soon as possible to avoid any damage to the components and issues in your motorcycle.
1. Decrease In Engine Oil Volume
Fairly obvious the more you use your motorcycle, the more oil will be consumed. Eventually, the oil level in your motorcycle will diminish, and you will have to top it up and change it. You can figure out if your motorcycle has lower oil by checking the dipstick and seeing what level the oil comes at.
The dipstick comes with grooves which once you enter inside the dipstick hole, should indicate the level of oil inside the chamber.
Depending on the reading on the dipstick, if it is on the lower side, you will have to change your oil. If it is on the higher side, then you shouldn’t have to worry about changing your oil for a while. If you lose oil frequently, check for leaks as well.
2. High Engine Temperature
As mentioned above, the motorcycle oil is responsible for making sure that the engine and transmission of the motorcycle are cooled. This means that overheating is an obvious sign that the oil inside your motorcycle has diminished or deteriorated in its quality.
If you feel that your motorcycle is hotter than usual or feel hot air on your feet while riding the motorcycle, it means that the motorcycle is overheating and that you are due for an oil change. If you feel your motorcycle is not heating up, then it means that your oil is good and adequate in amount.
3. Thin And Dark Oil
The viscosity of the oil plays an important factor in the lubrication and cooling of the motorcycle, which is why there needs to be a fine balance when it comes to the oil’s viscosity.
Repeated exposure to engine combustion can not only cause your oil to turn black but reduce the overall viscosity of your motorcycle oil, which is not ideal.
Since you start with blue or brown colored oil, it should be easily evident if your oil needs a change or not. Make sure to change it as soon as possible if you notice this issue, as it can cause a large amount of engine wear if left unresolved.
4. Harsh Engine Sounds
Apart from making sure that the engine is cooled and does not overheat, the motorcycle oil’s main purpose is to provide lubrication and prevent wear and tear. This means that a well-oiled engine is pleasing to listen to and does not sound loud or clunky.
Suppose you start to hear harsh sounds when changing the gears of your motorcycle. In that case, this means that your engine and transmission are not well lubricated, which means that you should get an oil change as soon as possible so that you can avoid any damage and wear and tear to the motorcycle’s transmission.
The oil of your motorcycle makes sure that all of the components are in working order, preventing wear and tear by lubricating them and keeping your engine and transmission cooled so that you do not overheat and damage them on long motorcycle trips.
The type of oil you use has the greatest effect on the frequency of oil changes. Regardless of the type of oil you have, you should make it a habit to change your motorcycle’s oil and filter once a year or so.
If you still want to cut it close, you can look for the signs mentioned above so that you can change the oil when you have to, but this is a very risky endeavor and may damage your motorcycle.
Now that you know how often to change the oil in a motorcycle, it should be easier for you to figure out the most opportune times to change the oil without causing damage to the motorcycle and replacing it too early.