Home / How Often to Change the Motorcycle Oil in Your Harley?

Harley-Davidson owners often ask about how to improve their bike’s performance. They want to know if they should change their riding style, add a series of high-tech accessories, or only take their bike out when riding conditions are perfect. The answer is much more obvious than that.

The best way to get the most from your Harley is to perform regular oil changes according to Harley-Davidson’s schedule. It’s all very simple, but there are some things you need to know about how often to change motorcycle oil.

Do I Need to Change My Motorcycle Oil Every Year?

How often should you change your oil? Once a year? Twice a year? It’s one of the most frequently asked questions by Harley owners, and fortunately, the answers are fairly simple.

To some extent, the answer depends on what kind of motor oil you’re using. Semi-synthetic oil will usually last between 5,000 to 6,000 miles before you need to change it, although you might be able to stretch it to 8,000 miles. Fully synthetic oil can increase the mileage for your oil change interval a good deal to somewhere between 7,000 to 10,000 miles.

Does less frequent riding buy you any extra time? Not really. Fresh oil is the key to a long life for your Harley, so it’s wise to follow the general rule of thumb and change your oil twice a year.

Harley Davidson mechanic performing maintenance

How Do You Know When Your Motorcycle Needs an Oil Change?

The other question that comes up frequently is how to check the oil level in your motorcycle’s engine. The process differs slightly for some models, but usually, the procedure goes as follows:

  1. Put the bike on a jiffy stand on level ground while the engine is warm.
  2. Unscrew the dipstick counterclockwise and wipe it on a rag or paper towel.
  3. Reinsert the dipstick into the dipstick hole until it is resting on the thread.
  4. Carefully remove the dipstick again and check the level—there should be two marks on the dipstick, one low and one higher, with a cross-hatched pattern between them.
  5. The oil should be between these two marks. If the oil level is below the lower line, you will need to add more oil; if it’s above the upper line, drain some of the oil off.
  6. If everything looks good, screw the dipstick back on, taking care to ensure the threads are properly aligned. If your oil is black or dark brown or if there is any thick sludge or particles present, you will need to have an oil change as soon as possible.

What Is the Best Oil for Motorcycles?

Another related question pertains to using the right kind of oil. The standard answer for a Twin Cam engine is an SAE 20W50 synthetic oil, but that standard can change to some extent depending on where you live.

If you’re in an area where the temperatures regularly fall below 40° Fahrenheit, the weight you need is an oil that meets the SAE10W40 standard. If you’re doing a lot of riding in hot conditions where high temperatures rise above 80° Fahrenheit, you need SAE 60-HD.

What Maintenance Does a Motorcycle Need?

Other basic maintenance procedures go beyond regular oil changes, and most of them are very simple.

They include checking tires for wear and tear, checking the oil, fuel and brake system for leaks, and checking brake pads and discs for wear and tear and possible replacement.

This list automatically leads to another question—to DIY or not to DIY? Tire inspection is simple enough, although you might miss some things that a qualified Harley-Davidson mechanic would spot in a split second.

Close up pictures of a new Harley motorcycle

Should I Take My Motorcycle to a Mechanic?

If you’re wondering whether you should take your motorcycle to a regular mechanic or your Harley dealership, the answer will always be the dealership. It does cost a little more, and the Harley maintenance schedule tends to be more rigorous than that of other motorcycles, but it’s the surest, safest way to get the most from your bike and keep it running for as long as possible.

The Harley-Davidson maintenance schedule specifies five visits within the first 20,000 miles:

  • 1,000 miles
  • 5,000 miles
  • 10,000 miles
  • 15,000 miles
  • 20,000 miles

These maintenance visits are important for all Harley owners, but they’re crucial if you ride your bike hard and fast on the open road. The adage is true: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and when it comes to precision machines like Harley-Davidson motorcycles, preventing issues before they begin can save you hundreds of dollars in future repair costs. 

The choice is a no-brainer when it comes to getting the most from your ride: Trust the experts.

Find the latest Harley motorcycles at Kingwood Harley Davidson

Harley Maintenance Specialists—Harley-Davidson of The Woodlands

With this knowledge in mind, now is a great time to check the oil levels in your Harley and determine if it’s time to bring your bike in for routine maintenance. At Harley-Davidson of The Woodlands, our team of Harley maintenance specialists has the skills and expertise you need to rest assured that your bike is in good hands. 

Never worry about how often to change motorcycle oil again. Visit our team at Harley-Davidson of The Woodlands, and let us handle that for you.

Harley Davidson of The Woodlands

Harley-Davidson of The Woodlands has been serving Southeast Texas for more than 20 years. We provide the Greater Houston area with new and pre-owned motorcycles, riding apparel, parts, maintenance service, and more at our state-of-the-art dealership. Whether you’re a new rider or a seasoned Harley vet, our friendly team of Harley-Davidson experts is ready to help you find the perfect bike today. Stop by and visit the Harley-Davidson of The Woodlands Showroom off of I-45 North in The Woodlands, TX.