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Motorcycle engine oil needs to be changed regularly, even if your bike uses a full synthetic. We explain how to safely perform this simple motorcycle maintenance task.

How to change motorcycle engine oil

How to change motorcycle engine oil

When it comes to motorcycle maintenance, absolutely the best thing you can do for your bike is to make regular oil changes. Naturally, drain intervals are going to be further apart if you are on a sports bike filled with a full synthetic oil like Castrol® Power 1® 4T, as opposed to a classic bike filled with Castrol Go! But the principle remains the same: motorcycle engines love oil changes.


It's also worth noting that while most motorcycles have a 'unit construction', meaning that a single oil system takes care of the engine and transmission, some motorcycles do need separate oil changes for their transmissions.


If you've got a trusted mechanic or workshop close by and don't mind paying for someone else to carry out oil changes, that's fine. However, the fact is that an engine oil change is one job that requires very few tools or experience in order to get it right.


First and foremost you need to make sure you're using the right oil for the job, which you can find using our quick and easy Oil Selector tool and Where to Buy tool.


You should also buy a new oil filter while you're picking up the oil, together with a tray for the oil to drain into, a long-necked funnel and disposable latex gloves, to avoid skin irritation from contact with the oil.


Once you have all of these items in hand, together with a socket wrench, park your motorcycle on level ground using the centerstand. If your bike only has a kickstand, it may be worth investing in a paddock stand to help you carry out essential bike maintenance like this, as oil may not drain properly if your bike is at an angle on its kickstand.


Next, run the engine for a minute or two, because warm oil will drain more easily. Wait a few minutes, then unscrew and remove the oil filler cap near the top of the engine, and set it aside.


Now we're ready to remove the old oil, by placing a drain tray underneath the sump and carefully undoing and removing the drain bolt using a socket wrench. Again, put the drain bolt somewhere safe.


While the oil is draining out of the sump, remove the oil filter by unscrewing it counter-clockwise. You can do this by hand, though some motorcycles do have filters bolted into place, in which case you will need to use your socket wrench again. Once the filter is removed, you can drain the used oil inside into the drain tray, and wrap or bag the filter to avoid oil spillage.


Once the flow of oil into the drain tray has stopped completely, it's time to refit the oil filter. First, smear a little clean oil onto the rubber gasket, then carefully screw the filter back into place, being careful not to over-tighten it. Then replace the filter bolt, if applicable.


You should then refit the drain bolt, again smearing a little fresh oil onto the seal before replacing.


Now for the best part: refilling your engine with brand new oil. First, check exactly how much oil the manufacturer recommends, then, after placing the funnel into the fill hole, pour the new oil slowly and carefully until you've added about 90% of the recommended amount. Allow this a few minutes to drain into the sump, then check the level using the inspection window or dipstick. You should then add the rest of the oil in small increments, checking the level again after each fill, to make sure you don't ever overfill your engine.


When that's done, replace the filler cap, wipe any oil splashes off your bike with a rag or paper towel, and you're ready to go ride again.


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