How long can your engine oil last in a motorcycle?

By Julia Freeman

Too many riders neglect their oil and damage their bikes, but part of the problem is the confusing messages they hear about the lifespan of motorcycle oil. Let’s begin with two clear pieces of advice, check your bike manual for oil advice and take advantage of our free oil inspections.

Motorcycle Engine Oil

Of course, nothing in motoring is ever really simple. There is no exact way to calculate how long oil will last because it depends on the particular oil, the particular bike, the particular way you ride and even the weather. Your manual will probably define the oil change interval as “after each 4500 miles or 12 months”. The reason they suggest a distance and a time span is because both affect oil degradation.

The oil

Your manual will recommend a particular grade of oil and may even specify a brand. With a few exceptions, you can usually ignore the brand providing you match the oil specification. This looks something like “10W40” where the first number describes the viscosity at low temperature and the second the viscosity at 100°C. Never use oil with less range than that recommended in the manual.
 
Oil quality also varies. Mineral oil is cheaper than synthetic oil but not as effective. In between are “semi-synthetic” mixtures. Most bikes can use all three, but mineral oils need changing after as little as 2000 miles while synthetics may stay good for 7000. Avoid mixing different types of oil.

Shelf life

Mobil claim their oil can be left on the shelf for up to 5 years while Total say 2 years. This doesn’t mean Total oil is useless after 2 years, the point is that it would be adding those years onto the time it spends in your engine. Oil is more likely to separate in a still container than a moving bike and may be subjected to temperature extremes on a garage shelf.

Riding habits

Even more seriously, oil “ages” while sitting in your tank and can cause further problems if you don’t ride frequently. Sludge is more likely to settle and oil drains away from the surfaces it is supposed to lubricate. This means timing an oil change by mileage is not a perfect art, riders who do low mileage could need an oil change after fewer miles. However, at the other end of the scale, frequent long-distance journeys can overheat the oil more often and degrade it sooner. So logically if an oil lasts the average rider 7000 miles, it will last non-average riders fewer miles.
 
Numerous other factors affect oil degradation, including high speeds, regular short journeys, heavy loads, off-roading and hot weather. Even tyres will make a difference, fuel efficient tyres are also more oil efficient.

Let Protyre check your oil

It is good sense to combine an oil change with routine motorcycle servicing. At the very least, your oil filter should be replaced when changing the oil. Motorcycle servicing every 6-12 months is more convenient than visiting garages for urgent repairs. Use our online contact form to book your service today.
 
Our tyre professionals are always on hand to provide free tyre checks, with great value tyres from Bridgestone, Pirelli and other leading brands.

Book Your Motorcycle Mot and Service Now

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About the author

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By Julia Freeman
Julia is Head of Retail Marketing for Protyre and loves engaging with customers and the business as a whole to make sure Protyre is more than just a local garage.
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