Even though a motorcycle is a relatively simple machine compared to your average automobile, it’s important to remember that the engine tends to be more stressed than a car’s. With typically higher compression ratios and engine speeds than a car engine, a motorcycle engine needs to be kept in tip-top shape to ensure that it will last you many years.
Quality engine oil ensures that the valves, camshafts, pistons and other moving parts inside the engine can freely move as they are designed to, minimizing friction and wear, as well as stabilizing the operating temperature.
Which one for your engine?
Engine oil comes in various formulations, so it’s best to go with what your bike manufacturer recommends. Using the recommended lubricant ensures that it will have the desired viscosity. If your bike requires “10W-40”, don’t settle for anything else!
Late model bikes can use semi-synthetic or synthetic oils, but vintage bikes may need mineral oil as their engines need thicker lubricant.
How often should you change your oil?
Brand new bikes typically have a running-in period with a recommended oil change between 500 to 1,000 kilometers. This is to clear out any metal shavings that may occur as the engine is “broken in’. After the first service, and depending on the manufacturer’s recommendation, the next interval may either be at 5,000 or 10,000km. However, you may need to change your oil sooner if you run your bike in extremely dirty conditions.
If you’re buying a secondhand bike, it’s highly recommended to change out the engine oil, especially if the bike has been sitting unused for a long period of time.
How do I know if my oil is dirty?
Clean engine oil is a light brown to gold color and slightly translucent. Dirty engine oil is dark brown to black. Regardless of the odometer reading, change out dirty engine oil to save yourself an expensive repair bill for your engine!
Do I need to change the oil filter, too?
The oil filter traps dirt, metal shavings, grit, and sludge from collecting inside the motor, so it’s a good idea to change the oil filter when you also replace your oil.
Always check your oil level before a ride.
Make it a habit to check your oil level before every ride to ensure you won’t suddenly have a roadside breakdown. You should also check the underside of your bike for any oil leaks. If you see a dark puddle under the bike, find the source of this problem and have it fixed immediately.
Photo: Andy Leuterio