Person changing oil in motorcycle
July 17, 2023

There's nothing more frustrating than when your motorcycle breaks down, is there?

And when you find out that it all could have been avoided with a simple oil change, you may even feel slightly silly.

Changing your motorcycle's oil can seem like a daunting task. But with the right tools, knowledge, and patience, you can easily do it yourself.


  • Engine protection - As time goes on, motorcycle oil breaks down. Consequently, it starts losing its lubricating properties, resulting in increased friction and heat. Clean oil ensures that the engine's components move smoothly, reducing the risk of damage and prolonging its lifespan.

  • Improved performance - With the correct viscosity and additives, fresh motorcycle oil ensures optimal engine performance.

  • Extended engine life - Regularly changing your motorcycle's oil can reduce wear on the engine's components, such as the pistons, bearings, and crankshaft. By keeping these parts well-lubricated and protected, you can extend the life of your engine and avoid costly repairs or premature engine failure.

  • Increase fuel efficiency - Dirty or old oil can cause the engine to work harder and consume more fuel. Changing the oil ensures the engine operates efficiently, reducing friction and improving fuel combustion.

  • Heat dissipation - As oil circulates through the engine, it absorbs heat and carries it away, preventing overheating. Regularly changing the oil ensures the engine remains cool and operates within the optimal temperature range. Over time however, oil breaks down and loses its heat-dissipating properties.

  • Contaminant removal - Oil will start accumulating contaminants, such as dirt, metal particles, and sludge, after a period. These contaminants can harm the engine, causing increased friction and potential damage. Regular oil changes remove these contaminants and ensure the engine remains clean and free from harmful debris.


The Oil Is Thin And Dark Or Black

As oil ages and becomes contaminated, it loses viscosity and turns dark or black.

If you check your oil and notice that it appears thin, dark, or black, it's a clear sign that it's time for an oil change.

Decrease In Volume Of Engine Oil

A decrease in engine oil volume is a sign that it's being burned or lost, and an oil change may be necessary to maintain the proper oil level and ensure optimal engine performance.

High Engine Temperature

Insufficient or degraded oil can significantly increase friction and cause excessive heat buildup in the engine.

If your engine temperature is consistently higher than usual, it could indicate that the oil needs to be changed.

Overheating can cause damage to engine components, so addressing the issue promptly is crucial.

Harsh Engine Sound

You may notice a harsher, louder engine sound when oil becomes old and loses effectiveness.

This could result from increased friction and metal-to-metal contact within the engine.


Tool List

  1. Funnel

  2. Paper towels

  3. Oil catch pan or container

  4. Gloves (to protect your hands)

  5. Oil filter removal tool (if necessary)

  6. Oil filter strap wrench (if required)

  7. Safety glasses (to protect your eyes)

  8. Oil filter drain tray (optional but helpful)

  9. Oil filter torque tool (if specified by the manufacturer)

  10. Socket wrench or box wrench (appropriate size for your drain plug)

  11. Torque wrench (to tighten the drain plug to the manufacturer's specifications)

Parts List

  1. Engine oil (check your motorcycle's owner's manual for the recommended oil type and quantity)

  2. Motorcycle oil filter (ensure it is compatible with your motorcycle's make and model)

  3. Crush washer (if required for your drain plug)

Note: The specific tools and parts required for an oil change may vary depending on your motorcycle's make, model, and year. Always consult your motorcycle's factory service manual for your specific bike's recommended tools and parts.


To determine the type of motorcycle oil you need, consider the following factors:

Oil Grade (Viscosity)

The viscosity or thickness of the oil is indicated by a numerical value followed by the letter "W" (which stands for winter) on the oil bottle label.

Common viscosity grades for motorcycle oils include 10W-40, 15W-50, and 20W-50.

The recommended viscosity grade for your motorcycle can typically be found in the owner's manual or on the manufacturer's website.

Motorcycle Oil Type

Motorcycle oils come in different formulations, including conventional, semi-synthetic, and synthetic.

  • Conventional oils are basic mineral oils.

  • Semi-synthetic and synthetic oils contain varying amounts of synthetic additives.

Synthetic oils offer better performance, improved lubrication, and higher heat resistance than conventional oils.

Check your motorcycle's owner's manual or consult the manufacturer's recommendations to determine the appropriate oil for your bike type.

Common Industry Oil Standards

Motorcycle oils often adhere to industry standards set by organizations such as the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE).

The API standards are denoted by a two-letter code, such as:

  • API SN

  • API SL

  • API SM

These indicate the level of performance and protection the oil provides. The SAE standards represent the oil's viscosity grade, as discussed earlier.

Look for these industry standards on the oil bottle label to ensure you choose a suitable oil for your motorcycle.


Step 1: Oil Cap

Remove the oil cap on the engine to allow air to flow into the engine and facilitate the oil-draining process.

Step 2: Warm Up Your Engine

Start your motorcycle. Allow it to run for a couple of minutes. Warm oil will flow more easily and helps flush out contaminants when draining.

Step 3: Clean Up

Prepare the work area by placing an oil catch pan or container underneath the drain plug to catch the old oil. Lay down a protective mat or absorbent material to catch any spills.

Step 4: Drain Bolt Removal

Locate the drain bolt on the bottom of the engine oil pan. Loosen and remove the drain bolt carefully using the appropriate socket or box wrench. Warning: the old oil will start flowing out.

Step 5: Drain Old Oil

Allow the old oil to completely drain from the engine by letting it flow into the catch pan. Ensure that all the old oil has been drained before proceeding.

Step 6: Remove The Old Filter

Locate the oil filter on your motorcycle, usually near the engine. Using an oil filter wrench or removal tool, carefully loosen and remove the old oil filter. Be cautious, as more oil may drain from the filter.

Step 7: Install New Filter

Apply a thin layer of new oil to the new motorcycle oil filter's rubber gasket. Install the new oil filter by hand, ensuring it is tightened according to the manufacturer's specifications. Avoid overtightening, as this can damage the filter or cause leaks.

Step 8: Replace The Sealing Washer

If your drain bolt has a crush washer, remove the old washer and replace it with a new one. This helps ensure a proper seal when reinstalling the drain bolt.

Step 9: Install The Drain Plug

Carefully reinstall the drain bolt and tighten it securely, but do not overtighten it. Use a torque wrench, following the manufacturer's recommended torque specifications.

Step 10: Add Oil

Remove the oil fill plug and use a funnel to add fresh oil to the engine through the oil fill port. Be careful to fill the right amount, which can lead to performance issues.

Step 11. Clean Any Residual Oil Off The Motor

Using a clean rag or paper towel, wipe away any residual oil that may have spilled or accumulated on the engine or other surfaces during the oil change process.

Step 12: Check Your Work

Double-check that the replacement oil filter and drain bolt are tightened securely. Inspect for any signs of oil leakage around the drain bolt and oil filter.

Once you're confident everything is in place, start the engine and let it idle for a few minutes to circulate the fresh oil throughout the engine.

Check the oil level using the dipstick or sight glass and add more oil if needed.


How To Check The Motorcycle Engine Oil?

To check the motorcycle engine oil, ensure the bike is on level ground, and the engine is cool.

Depending on your motorcycle model, locate the dipstick or sight glass on the engine. Remove the dipstick or check the oil level through the sight glass.

Wipe the dipstick clean, reinsert it, and then remove it to check the oil level.

The oil level should be between the minimum and maximum marks on the dipstick or within the designated range in the sight glass.

How Often Should I Change The Oil?

The frequency of oil changes varies depending on the motorcycle's make, model, and manufacturer's recommendations.

Generally, oil changes are recommended every 3,000 to 6,000 miles or every six months, whichever comes first. However, it's best to consult your motorcycle's owner's manual for the manufacturer's specific recommendations for your bike.

What Should I Do With The Used Oil?

Used oil should never be disposed of in regular household waste or poured down drains. It is harmful to the environment.

Instead, take the used oil to a recycling center or an automotive shop that accepts used oil. Many local recycling centers or auto parts stores have collection points for used oil that can be properly recycled.

Should I Use Synthetic Oil Or Mineral Oil?

Synthetic oil generally offers better performance, improved lubrication, and higher resistance to heat, making it suitable for high-performance or demanding applications.

Mineral oil is less expensive and can be suitable for normal riding conditions.

It's recommended to refer to your motorcycle's owner's manual for the manufacturer's recommended oil type.

How Do I Top Off Motorcycle Engine Oil?

To top off the motorcycle engine oil, locate the oil fill port, typically on top of the engine. Remove the oil cap, and slowly add small amounts of oil using a funnel.

Check the oil level using the dipstick or sight glass to ensure it reaches the recommended range.

What Happens If You Skip Oil Changes?

Skipping oil changes can lead to a variety of problems. Over time, the oil becomes dirty and loses its lubricating properties, resulting in more friction and wear on engine parts.

This can result in reduced engine performance, decreased fuel efficiency, overheating, and potentially severe engine damage.


Changing the oil in your motorcycle is a critical maintenance task that helps ensure optimal engine performance, longevity, and overall reliability.

Following the proper steps and guidelines for changing motorcycle oil, you can maintain a healthy engine and enjoy a smoother and more enjoyable riding experience.