How Do You Know When Your Dirt Bike Needs Oil? - Risk Racing

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How Do You Know When Your Dirt Bike Needs Oil?

December 03, 2021

How Do You Know When Your Dirt Bike Needs Oil?

A regular oil change is part of the minimum maintenance requirement you need to carry out to preserve your dirt bike’s performance. But how would you know if it’s time to change your engine oil?

There are simple ways to determine if your dirt bike is due for an oil change. 

The easiest way is to do a visual check of the engine’s oil for its color and cleanliness. Other indicators of potential oil issues are overheating and loud noises coming from the engine. 

If you don’t stay on top of your dirt bike’s oil changes, you might be opening yourself to the possibility of more complicated repairs/maintenance, not to mention more expensive, maintenance work and repairs.

So, if you want to know more about when, how, and why you should change your dirt bike’s engine oil, stick around and read on.

Motocross Riding

Does a Dirt Bike Need Oil?

Yes, much like any other vehicle, your dirt bike cannot function without engine oil.

Engine oil, sometimes referred to as motor oil, lubricates the parts of the engine which are constantly subjected to friction. The standard mixture of engine oil includes base oil and some additives.

The requirements for dirt bike engine oil vary for 4 strokes and 2 stroke dirt bikes. After all, these two dirt bike classifications are distinguished by their types of engines. Thus, it is quite expected that they should have different weight ratios when it comes to engine oil.

Nonetheless, whatever type of dirt bike you have, it needs regular oil changes for the following reasons:

Allows the Engine Parts to Move Smoothly

Proper lubrication is the primary reason why you should stay on top of oil changes as soon as the dirt bike needs it. 

Clean and sufficient oil will ensure that all the engine parts are lubricated and safe from friction. Otherwise, the movable parts will tend to rub on each other, increasing the likelihood of wear and damages, which can deteriorate your engine entirely.

Dirt bike Oil

Keeps the Engine Free From Contaminants

Your engine can accumulate different sorts of contaminants that will degrade its internal parts. With dirt bikes, the biggest contaminants are dust, dirt, and deteriorating particles inside like aluminum.

Nonetheless, you are subjecting your engine to abrasives or hard contaminants that don’t only reduce performance but induce cracks, spalling, and fatigue wear in your engine’s system.

Keep the Dirt Bike Safe From Over Heating

You may have heard of dirt bikes that experienced overheating in the middle of the track. 

While overheating should be a thing of the past considering the level of powersports technology we have today, if you’re not making it a habit to change your engine oil, this still could happen. 

Lubricants protect your engine from friction which, in turn, induce excessive heat production.

Dirt bike riding

How Do You Know if Your Dirt Bike Needs Oil?

There are telltale signs that your dirt bike needs an oil change. And these include the following:

Oil Color Changes from Brown to Black

A clean functioning oil is similar to the color of honey. It’s brown with a bit of a subtle red shade. When it turns dark or black, there’s no doubt you will need to change the oil immediately. 

Most bikes have a sight glass you can check oil levels and oil color. But it's wise  to change your oil early when you first get it to figure out how long it takes for your oil to begin changing colors. And then when you figure out how many hours of riding that takes, you want to change it right as the coloration begins to change to best protect you engine internals. 

What bad dirt bike oil looks like.

Low Oil Levels

Engine oil can diminish fast, which is actually more than reason enough to always check your oil levels.

If you don’t have a dipstick, you can check if your dirt bike has a sight glass that shows the oil level. 

Motorcycle sight glass

Loud Engine Noise

Perhaps the reason why your engine is making unusually loud and generally unconventional noises is lack of lubrication. As mentioned before, without clean and sufficient oil, the engine parts will rub on one another, creating friction that produces noise.


Declining Performance

You may observe some decline in the usual performance of your engine. It could affect your speed and the overall operation of the dirt bike. So naturally, when oil is not enough, your engine will have a hard time processing the fuel and supplying the necessary power for your dirt bike.

How Often Should You Put Oil in a Dirt Bike?

The recommended frequency of changing your dirt bike’s engine oil is every 15 hours of use. However, you have to keep in mind that other factors need to be considered as well.

For example, if you regularly practice on the tracks or trails, you may want to change your engine oil after 3 to 4 hours.

Remember that dust and dirt can ruin your oil and, by extension, damage your engine if you don’t have a frequent oil change.

Adding dirt bike oil

What Happens When You Run a Dirt Bike Without Oil?

The most dangerous part of riding a dirt bike without oil is engine overheating. It will cause the engine to seize up. When this happens, it’s a major cause of alarm as your engine parts may be close or almost at the point of non-repairable damage.

Without proper lubrication, the pistons will fuse to the cylinder walls as a result of the friction between them. This leads to your engine valves, crankshaft, and piston connecting rods failing.

With that, you won’t only fail to finish your ride. Your dirt bike might meet its end as well.


Engine oil is often said to be like your dirt bike’s blood. It is not just an optional fluid but a necessary one to make sure your bike stays on top of its performance and overall health.

Neglecting to refill or change your engine oil is a huge mistake, not just in dirt biking but in maintaining any vehicle.

So if you want to ensure that your dirt bike reaches the longest lifespan, don’t take for granted the low engine oil level and the signs that come with it.

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