How to Change Your Motorcycle Oil

Feb 2, 2024


An easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide to learning how to do a motorcycle oil change.

Man getting ready to change the oil in his motorcycle DIY motorcycle oil change how to guide to change your motorcycle oil

Picture of a man getting ready to drain the oil in his motorcycle change your motorcycle oil yourself DIY motorcycle oil change motorcycle maintenance

When it comes to motorcycle maintenance, learning how to change your motorcycle’s oil is not just a job, but also an opportunity for you to get to understand your bike better. In this easy-to-follow guide, we'll walk you through the steps to change your motorcycle's oil, ensuring your ride stays smooth and your engine healthy. Whether you're a seasoned rider or new to the garage, this guide will equip you with the knowledge and confidence to perform a motorcycle oil change. 

What Supplies You’ll Need:

  • Oil that’s compatible with your motorcycle
  • 1 new oil filter
  • 1 drain pan to catch oil
  • Wrenches or sockets set to remove the drain plug and oil filter
  • 1 funnel to pour oil without spilling
  • Gloves 
  • Paper towels/rags

Additional Supplies to Make Your Life Easier:

  • Motorcycle stand or lift
  • Oil filter wrench
  • Torque wrench
  • Thread sealant
  • Container for used oil
  • Owner’s Manual for your bike

What type of motorcycle oil should I use?

Always consult your motorcycle's owner's manual for the recommended oil type and viscosity.

Change your oil and oil filter regularly. The frequency will vary depending on your motorcycle and riding habits, but most manufacturers recommend changing the oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. 

Don't mix different types of oil. If you're not sure what type of oil is in your motorcycle, it's best to drain it and put in fresh oil of the recommended type. 

  • For most motorcycles, a 10W-40 oil is a good all-around choice. It's thick enough to protect the engine in hot weather but thin enough to flow easily in cold weather.
  • If you live in a cold climate, you may want to use a 5W-30 oil. This oil is thinner than 10W-40 oil, so it will flow more easily in cold weather.
  • If you live in a hot climate, consider using a 20W-50 oil. This oil is thicker than 10W-40 oil so that it will provide better protection in hot weather.
  • If you ride your motorcycle hard, you may want to use a synthetic oil. Synthetic oil is more expensive than conventional oil, but it can provide better protection under extreme conditions.
  • For older or less demanding motorcycles and casual riding under moderate conditions, conventional oil might be sufficient.
  • If you ride in extreme temperatures, push your bike hard, or value longer oil change intervals, a synthetic blend offers a good balance of performance and affordability.
  • Full synthetic oil is the best choice for high-performance motorcycles, intense riding styles, or maximum engine protection.

How often should I change my motorcycle’s oil? 

For conventional oil, you should change your motorcycle’s oil every 3,000-5,000 miles. With synthetic oil, every 5,000-10,000 is typical, although the manufacturer may recommend lower intervals. Remember that regardless of mileage, your motorcycle oil should be changed at least 1x a year since oil does degrade over time. 

For aggressive or more frequent riding, you’ll likely need to change your oil more often since you’re putting more strain on the oil. 

If you rent your motorcycle, ensuring that you’re keeping up with oil changes can result in fewer tows, breakdowns, and loss of income. Check your oil regularly after each rental, and if the bike sees heavier usage during certain seasons, plan for more frequent changes during these periods.

1. Inspection Before Draining

Check Current Oil: Examine the oil level and quality. Low oil might indicate leaks or consumption issues. Milky or metallic-contaminated oil suggests internal engine problems.

Assess Engine Health: Identify any warning signs like unusual oil texture or debris, which could indicate bigger engine issues. Consider contacting a mechanic and consulting with your owner’s manual. 

close up picture of someone checking the oil levels in a motorcycle DIY how to instructions for motorcycle oil change

2. Warm Up You Bike

Run your motorcycle briefly. Warm oil flows and drains better, but be cautious as the engine and exhaust will be hot.

Set up your area. Position your bike on a level surface and place a drain pan under the engine.

3. Draining the Old Oil

Remove your drain plug. Use a socket wrench to remove the drain plug carefully. Consult your motorcycle's manual to ensure you're removing the correct plug.

Drain the oil. Allow all the oil to drain out. This might take some time to 100% drain.

picture of oil draining from a motorcycle drain plug do it yourself motorcycle oil change how to instructions

4. Replacing the Oil Filter

For removing spin-on filters, ensure the old O-ring comes off. 

For removing internal filters, note the assembly order.

Clean and prep the filter seating. Wipe the filter seating area and apply fresh oil to the new filter’s gasket.

Install the new filter. Carefully screw in the new filter. If it’s a spin-on type, fill it with new oil if its position allows.

close up of a hand changing the oil filter in a motorcycle do it yourself motorcycle oil change how to instructions

5. Reinstalling the Drain Plug

Check and replace the gaskets. Inspect and replace any worn O-rings or gaskets to prevent leaks.

Torque to Specification: Reinstall the drain plug, tightening it to the manufacturer’s recommended torque.

6. Adding New Oil

Ensure it’s the correct TYPE and AMOUNT. Use the specific type and quantity of motorcycle oil as stated in your manual. This maintains engine health and efficiency.

Refill Process: Unscrew the oil filler cap and add new oil. Use a funnel to prevent spills.

picture of a man putting new oil into his motorcycle after an at home oil change using a funnel DIY motorcycle oil change how to instructions

7. Check for Oil Level and Leaks

Run the Engine: Start the motorcycle to circulate the oil, then switch it off.

Check Level and Adjust: Follow your bike’s manual for checking oil levels. Adjust if necessary.

Inspect for Leaks: Ensure no drips or leaks from the drain plug or filter area.

8. Post-Change Checks and Clean-Up

Dispose of the old oil safely. Transfer old oil to a sealable container and take it to a recycling center.

Final Inspection: Give your bike one last look-over to ensure everything is in order.

Ready to Ride: With fresh oil, your motorcycle is prepared for more efficient and safer rides.

Turn Your Maintenance into Money with Riders Share

Learning how to complete basic maintenance on your motorcycle can help save money, and can especially help save on costs if you’re renting your motorcycle out. Here's a thought - why not put that well-maintained machine to work for you? List your motorcycle on Riders Share, the largest peer-to-peer motorcycle rental platform, and transform your regular maintenance into a steady income. 

By renting out your bike, you not only keep it in prime condition but also earn enough to cover its expenses. It's an ingenious way to ensure your motorcycle pays for itself, all while helping you connect with a community of riders who value a well-maintained ride as much as you do. 


Congratulations! You've just taken a significant step in motorcycle maintenance by changing your oil. This task not only ensures your bike runs smoothly but also extends the life of your engine. Regular oil changes are a key part of motorcycle care, and by doing it yourself, you've gained valuable skills and possibly saved money in the long run. 

Remember to always dispose of the old oil responsibly and consult your bike’s manual for the best practices. Now, it's time to hit the road and enjoy the ride, knowing your motorcycle is well-cared for. Keep riding, keep learning, and always stay safe on your two-wheeled adventures!