Changing your oil and filter

James Whitham’s step-by-step guide to keeping your bike in trim...

Posted: 21 November 2010
by James Whitham

Changing your oil and filter is one of the cheapest forms of maintenance. For the sake of spending just a few quid, you can’t beat having good, clean oil.

Even if your bike hasn’t done that many miles, if it’s been stood over winter or if it’s been sat in a shed, then there’s a fair chance there will be condensation in those crankcases, rendering your oil pretty much useless.

Sorting it out isn’t a problem though – it’s cheap as chips and best of all, it’s easy-peasy to do!


Step 1

Before you do anything, get the engine up to temperature. There’s no need to rev it, just let it tick over until the temperature gauge is showing 80˚c then switch it off. The reason we want to change the oil when it’s warm is that the viscosity of oil changes as it gets hotter, essentially making it thinner. Draining it hot helps to get every last drop of manky old engine oil out.


Step 2

Many bikes have the drain bung on the left so that the oil drains well with the bike on its side stand. This isn’t always the case, so have a good look and decide whether you need to use paddock stands or not. The golden rule is to keep the bike level from front to rear. Once you’re happy the bike is safely supported, work out which panels need to be removed to gain access. Take your time, rushing this can be disastrous!


Step 3

Once the fairing is off, you should be able to get at the sump bung and the oil filter fairly easily, though some bikes are easier  than others. The sump bung on our R6 is very easy to get at, but to get at the oil filter we needed to remove the gear linkage from the output shaft. This isn’t difficult; just remember to mark it so that it goes back on exactly how it came off. Indeed, with any parts that could be confusing to reassemble, it’s well worth getting the camera-phone out and taking a few snaps.


Step 4

With the filler cap removed and a drain pan under the sump undo the sump bung. It’s best to use a single-hex socket as it’s less likely to round off the soft metal.

Once it’s loosened, unscrew carefully until you can feel it ‘wobble’ on the last thread. Apply light pressure to the bung with a finger and quickly get the bung out of the way.

Next, clean around the filter as dirt and debris can build up then remove it using, ideally, a filter tool, which costs around a fiver.


Step 5

Once you’ve drained as much of the old oil out as possible, it’s time to fit the new filter and sump bung. Many oil filters are pre-lubed these days, but if the rubber sealing-ring is dry, be sure to lube it with some fresh engine oil to prevent it from pinching. Tighten to the recommended torque setting, fit a new sealing washer to the sump bung and tighten to the correct setting.


Step 6

Before you refit the panels, get the new oil in. Use a measuring jug and pour in 200ml less than the recommended figure - this is often stamped on the engine cases. Run the engine for a few seconds then allow the oil to settle before checking the level. Top up as necessary, but remember – it’s a lot easier to add oil than it is to drain it out.

You want the level in the middle between minimum and maximum. Run the engine and check for leaks with a torch. Once you’re happy, refit the panels. Now it’s time for a cuppa!



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