Oil is your bike’s lifeblood, so it’s important to make sure you change it out regularly. Oil keeps all the metal engine internals from smashing themselves to bits by lubricating them and helping keep them within an acceptable temperature range when they’re revolving thousands of times per minute. Changing your oil is easy, and you should refer to your owner’s manual to figure out at what intervals your oil needs to be changed, what kind of oil filter you need, how much oil you need, and what type of oil is recommended for whichever model you own. If you’re trying to decide what oil you should use or want to know more about all the different types of oil, check out our article on demystifying oil over on our Resource Center. If you're not sure what you need in order to change your bike's oil, we've got you covered with our complete Oil Change Kits, which you can find on our store.
The tools you need:
- Flat head screwdriver
- Torque wrench (optional, but recommended)
- Crescent wrench or oil filter removal tool
- Socket wrenches
- Oil drain pan
- New oil filter
- New aluminum crusher washer
- Nitrile gloves (optional, but recommended)
How long it takes: 30 minutes
Step 1: Warm up the engine
First, let the bike warm up for about 5 minutes to get the oil warm and flowing. This will help stir up any metal shavings that were sitting in the bottom of your sump and get them into the oil so that you can get those out of there when you drain your oil. The oil and the engine case can get hot enough to hurt you, so make sure to let the bike cool down so that it’s warm to the touch, but won’t burn you. If you have a rear stand, use it to elevate the rear of the bike so that the oil will run towards the lowest point of the sump: the oil drain hole. Place your oil pan underneath you bike and a little bit in front of the oil drain plug so that it will catch the oil when it comes arcing out of the oil drain hole.
Step 2: Remove the oil drain plug and let the oil drain
Use a socket wrench to remove the oil drain plug. Throw away the old crusher washer on the oil drain plug, clean the oil drain plug, put a new crusher washer on the oil drain plug, and then set it aside for later.
Let the oil drain. This might take a while, so feel free to crack open a cold one and give your bike a thorough inspection while you’re waiting. Check your tires for punctures, tread life, and pressure, and take a look at your chain tension, brake fluid levels, wiring, hoses, and torque down any loose bolts. Keep a journal to keep track of when things were last serviced so you know when you need to do something. Take some time to figure out what you want to do next on your bike too, while you’re at it.
Step 3: Replace the oil filter
Once the flow of oil starts slowing down, take a look at your current oil filter. If it installs vertically, take your new oil filter, set it on the ground, and fill the hole in the center with oil. Let the oil soak into the filter for a few minutes. Dip the tip of your finger into the oil and run it along the edge of the filter’s o-ring so that your filter will seal properly when you install it. While it’s soaking, use a crescent wrench or an oil filter removal tool to remove your old oil filter. If it’s giving you a hard time, do not use the screwdriver method to remove your filter: just keep at it and it will come off. Once the oil filter is cracked, put on some nitrile gloves and use a rag to finish removing the oil filter. As you pull the old filter off, be warned that some warm oil will spill out. Set the old filter aside. Check your owner’s manual for the torque specifications for your oil filter, and then install your new oil filter at those specifications. Do not overtighten your oil filter, otherwise you will have a really hard time getting it off next time you need to change your oil. Triumph recommends that the oil filters on modern classics oil filters be tightened to 8-12 Nm, which doesn’t feel much tighter than hand-tightened. If you don’t have a torque wrench, tighten the oil filter ½ to ¾ of a turn past snug.
Step 4: Reinstall your oil drain plug
Once the new filter has been installed, sit on your bike and rock it left and right to get any remaining oil out of the sump that may be pooled in a low spot.
After the oil flow has been reduced to the size of a thread of cloth, reinstall your oil drain plug. Refer to your manual’s torque specifications for how tight the plug should be, though the Triumph Bonneville T100’s recommendations are 20 Nm. Do not overtighten the oil drain plug, otherwise you will strip the sump the next time you try to remove the plug and everything will be terrible.
Step 5: Put the new oil in your bike
Use a flathead screwdriver to remove the oil filler cap, though be careful not to strip it since the stock cap is made of a fairly soft metal.
Place a funnel in the oil filler hole and start pouring. Pour a little at a time and watch the sight glass on the side of the engine. The two marks to the right of the sight glass indicate the low and full points for the oil level. Once the oil reaches the full point, turn the bike on for one minute to let the oil circulate through the engine. After a minute, switch the bike off and let it sit for another minute. Level the bike, check the sight glass for the new oil level, and then top it off close to the full mark. Do not overfill your oil, as doing so will do severe damage to your engine.
Step 6: Dispose of your oil properly
Regardless of where you stand on the climate change issue, used engine oil is really bad for the environment and also dangerous if not disposed of properly. Take your oil pan to the nearest auto parts store or mechanic and have them dispose of it for you instead of pouring it on your neighbor’s lawn or tossing it in the trash can. It only costs a couple dollars, and all you have to do is hand it off.
Step 7: Ride your motorcycle and have fun
Now that your oil has been changed, your bike is ready to ride again. Be sure to write down in a journal or somewhere else what your mileage was when you changed the oil so you know when you need to do it again, because one of the easiest ways to prolong the life of your engine is to simply change your oil at the recommended intervals.
Have any other questions about oil or how to do something on your bike? Check out our Resource Center for a growing list of how to guides, tech tips, and more. Want to get everything you need to change your oil in one convenient package? Check out our complete Oil Change Kits on our store to find one that's right for your bike.