As the warm weather motorcycle riding season progresses and you have embarked on a few long distance trips, it’s time to make sure your motorcycle remains in tip top condition. Cleaning the exterior of your motorcycle is an important job to make sure the surface paint isn’t experiencing damage and bugs don’t become a permanent addition to your bike. However, there is something more important to check.
Your motorcycle’s oil.
Just like your surface cleaning prevents future damage from showing up, regularly checking and changing your oil will make sure your motorcycle will not only run smoothly in the coming months, but also for years to come.
Many riders know how important changing oil is for the overall health of their bike, but many forget how often to perform this maintenance. And should they change their filter at the same time, or is it ok to leave it? Let’s clarify a few of these maintenance tips.
What Exactly Does Motorcycle Oil Do?
Whether you own a car, motorcycle or both, you know how important it is to regularly perform oil changes, but why is it necessary?
Motor oil is a necessary component for engines to run smoothly and last because they act as a lubricant for the moving parts of the engine. If your motorcycle is running low or runs out of oil, this could lead to a very expensive repair job, or you may need an entirely new engine because of the damage done to the previous oil-lacking engine.
To ensure your engine runs smoothly, cooler and lasts longer, motor oil is absolutely necessary.
How Often Should I Change My Oil?
This question is something new riders and semi-experienced riders still have a difficult time figuring out. Many times, performing regular maintenance gets overshadowed by simply wanting to hop on their motorcycles and cruise around. When they finally think about changing the oil, it’s usually 1,000+ miles past due.
With that being said, changing your motorcycle’s oil will differ depending on a few different factors. These factors include:
Each motorcycle company usually has their own engines they use and these could determine what kind of oil is used. Even if you have two of the same brand of motorcycle, but they were produced 40 years apart from each other, this could also lead to needing different kinds of oil.
2. How Often You Ride
A large factor in when you should change your oil is how often you ride. If you’re a casual motorcyclist only riding 1,000 miles or less during the summer months, you will be changing your oil less than someone who regularly takes long-distance motorcycle trips.
3. Type Of Oil Used
Different types of oil also dictate when an oil change is needed. Depending on the make/model/year of the motorcycle, there can be three different options for the types of oil to add. Though there may be general guidelines for changing your motorcycle’s oil, make sure to check your bike’s service manual for specific directions.
For motorcycles needing mineral-based motor oil, these engines can typically run 2,000-3,200 miles before needing to change the oil. Motorcycles needing semi-synthetic motor oil can usually last between 5,000-8,000 miles before needing to change the oil. Finally, motorcycle engines running off fully synthetic motor oil will be able to last between 7,000-10,000 miles before needing to change the oil.
4. Status Of Current Oil
Another way to tell if you’re needing to change your oil is by viewing the quality of the oil. This can be done by removing the oil dipstick or looking through the oil sight window. With these two methods, you will be able to tell if the oil is dirty or if the level is low.
Should I Change My Oil Filter Too?
Many people wonder if changing their oil filters is really worth it every time they change their oil. As a basic rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to perform this maintenance service. While it may seem like a small and needless task, the oil filter is an important aspect of making sure the motorcycle runs properly.
These small components ensure your motorcycle oil remains clean by trapping debris, sludge and other particles from entering the various mechanisms of your bike. If these items weren’t caught by the filter, multiple areas of your engine would become dirty more often and potentially harm your motorcycle.
Other Motorcycle Maintenance To Perform
While you’re in the middle of the summer riding season, it’s best to do a “once-over” on your entire bike to make sure it’s in good shape to complete the remainder of the season. A few important places to inspect include:
1. Battery Health
To check on your motorcycle battery’s health, test it with a multimeter to make sure it’s performing as it should. While you’re inspecting it, it’s also a great opportunity to clean your terminals and apply dielectric grease in order to create a proper connection and prevent corrosion.
Experiencing faulty or soft brakes during a trip is a nightmare of a situation. To ensure your brakes quality, check your rotors for damage or warping along with the pads to make sure they aren’t worn down.
Running your motorcycle during the hot days of summer, it’s important to have the proper amount of coolant to prevent overheating. Other fluids to check include brake fluid, transmission oil and fork oil.
4. Safety Controls
Finally, check to make sure your safety controls are working properly to ensure your safety along with those around you on the roads. This includes your front headlights, brake lights, turn signals, side mirrors and horn.
While checking these areas of your bike may take up a couple evenings during your week, it’s much better than the alternative of having your motorcycle be out of service for a few weeks while it's undergoing major repair work.
If you’re needing assistance looking over these areas of your motorcycle, contact Zylstra Harley-Davidson today to schedule your service appointment!
Maybe you’re looking for a new motorcycle to enjoy the rest of the riding season with. In that case, stop by our showroom in Elk River to view all the latest models Harley-Davidson has to offer!