Performance Technic Tip: Your bike must change its fluids every year, regardless of the mileage


Performance Technic is the new technical facility in Kyalami, run by the same team behind the phenomenally successful Fire It Up and Bike Buyers. Every Tuesday they will be providing some technical know-how that could make your biking life a better and easier one. Today, we explain why your motorcycle’s fluids need to be changed every year, regardless of the mileage.

Motorcycle lubricants fluids change every year Performance Technic

Mechanics know this phenomenon well – someone has a bike, and whether it is down to injury, preferences or the spouse, doesn’t ride it for two years and the poor thing sits in the garage collected an impressive layer of dust. Two years after the initial park, healing, taste and rebellion occur and it is dusted down, the battery is charged and the motor is started. 

This, of course, is a massive mistake. The bike has done no mileage since it was parked, the fluids are all at the correct level, and yet there is massive damage unknowingly taking place.

That oil is now useless, even though it has seen no action. The shelf-life for a sealed bottle of oil is five years. Once the bottle is opened, it’s one year. The reason for this is the complex nature of motorcycle oil – unlike its lazy car brethren, motorcycle oil has to work as a lubricant, coolant and cleaner for the motor, the clutch and the gearbox, meaning the way it is refined or synthesised is unique, and it will start breaking down over time. 

More so, when sitting in a motor, it absorbs tiny bits of moisture from the humidity in the air and condensation on the cold, still metal parts. As an engineer from an oil firm once said: “after two years, you may as well lubricate your motor with water”.

The brake fluid is in a similarly knackered state. This substance is designed to withstand pressure over a range of temperatures, and it does this very well. The downside is that it is hygroscopic meaning it absorbs water, and this is not good, both because water is terrible at withstanding pressure especially at high temperatures, and it causes untold damage to the ABS pump.

Then we get to the coolant, a substance designed to easily absorb heat while lubricating the radiator pump and avoiding corrosion within the radiator. During its life, it experiences an array of heat cycles, and with each heat cycle, it loses a little bit if its ability to absorb heat. As this happens, the motorcycle will start running hotter and hotter, and with that, it loses power.

Most motorcycles run best when the temperature gauge is between 70 and 80 degrees, and yet we regularly see motorcycles running at above 100 degrees and spend much of their life with the fan on. The Performance Technic dyno has seen a markable improvement in power output solely by changing the coolant.

While motorcycles have a prescribed service schedule based on mileage, it is recommended that a motorcycle has at least a change in fluids every year, regardless of the mileage. If your bike has been standing for more than a year, before you start it, load it up and take it to a local workshop. It could save massive damage. 

Also, use the fluids that are recommended for your motorcycle by the manufacturer, and don’t be tempted to use the goods meant for racing. The manufacturers know what they are doing. They know what is best for the road and for the track.

Performance Technic Contacts:
Tel: 010 880 2849

Performance Technic