The bike in these photos is a year 2000 ZX-6R.
I am not a mechanic or a representative of any motorcycle or tool manufacturer or anything else official. This page is only my notes on doing this procedure myself. Although I believe what I have documented here is correct, I make no promises and you do this at your own risk.
Changing the oil regularly is, according to mechanic friends of mine, the easiest and best thing you can do for an engine. We’ll change the oil and oil filter. (You don’t need to change the filter every time you change the oil — see the maintenance schedule in your owners manual. Mine says change the oil every 6000 Km, and change the filter every 12000 Km.).
- Rear stand (recommended)
- Phillips screwdrivers
- Hex wrenches (metric)
- Socket set (metric)
- Oil filter wrench or strap wrench
- Torque wrench (recommended)
- Pan to catch oil (capacity about 4 litres)
- Small extra pan for a second oil dribble. The bottom of a 2-litre soft drink bottle, or a plastic food jar of some kind, is fine.
- Container for storing used oil en route to disposal
- Motor oil of appropriate grade (my manual specifies SAE10W-40, 10W-50, 20W-40, or 20W-50).
- Oil filter of appropriate type
This procedure is about as simple as it gets. Some difficulties could be:
- Under-tightening (so it falls out) or over-tightening (stripping threads) the oil drain plug. That’s why a torque wrench is highly recommended.
- Under- or over- tightening the oil filter. Read the installation instructions to avoid this.
- Disposal of your used motor oil. Your city may have regulations on how to do this. Don’t pour it down the drain.
Putting the bike on a rear stand makes this job much easier, by creating some extra ground clearance underneath and by levelling the bike for reading the oil level in the filler window.
You need to remove the lower fairing to access the oil filter. If you’re changing only the oil — not the filter — you can skip this step.
Click here for diagrams on removing the lower fairing.
Lower fairing off, the oil drain pan is shown here, looking at the left side of the bike.
And, in this close-up, you can see the oil drain plug (right) and the oil filter (left).The drain plug is accessible without removing the fairing — the filter is not.
Drain the oil
Run the engine for a few minutes so the oil is warm and will flow more freely. Then:
Put a pan with a capacity of at least 4 litres1 gallon under the oil pan.
Remove the oil drain bolt.
And let the oil drain into the waste pan.
After the oil stops flowing, move the drain pan under the oil filter and loosen the filter with an oil filter wrench (shown here) or a strap wrench (shown below).
Oil will come out as you unscrew the filter, . . .
So you will need two pans, one for each dripping oil location, while everything is draining. Since we already caught the majority of the oil, any small container will do for the last few drips. Let the oil drain out of the old filter too, and dispose of the filter safely.
Replace the filter
Unwrap the new filter and put a few drops of oil on it.
With your finger, smear the oil around the rubber gasket so it is entirely coated.
Clean the surface of the filter mounting point on the bike.
And install the new filter. Follow the instructions on the box for tightness. Usually it says something like “1/4 turn after the filter contacts the mounting surface”. A rubber strap wrench, shown here, is less likely to damage and deform the filter than the old-style filter wrench shown above.
Add new oil
If there is any chance you may want to do a track day with your bike, now is the perfect time to drill a 1/16″ hole through the head of your oil drain bolt so it can be safety wired. It’s no fun trying to do it while it’s mounted to the bike.
Clean the oil drain plug bolt and washer, and smear some clean oil on them.
Install the oil drain plug, and use a torque wrench to bring it to the tightness specified in the manual. My manual specifies 29 N-m21 ft-lb for this bolt — but please check yours.
The oil filler point is under your right knee as you sit on the bike. Remove the plastic screw cap by hand.
(The oil level window is also shown here.)
I usually buy oil in 4-litre jugs, but pour it into a small 1-litre jug as a measuring device. To make the oil flow without backing up in the funnel, put something in the mouth of the jug, . . .
so there’s an air gap around the neck of the funnel to allow air to escape as the oil goes in.
Put a little less than the specified amount (3.6 litres) of oil into the bike, until the level in the sight glass is in the middle. Then run the engine for a half a minute. The oil pump will fill the oil filter and some other nooks & crannies, and the level in the glass will drop. Then top up the oil back to where it belongs.
Note that the correct oil level is between the lines on the sight glass, not full beyond the boundary of the glass. The bike must be level when you check this — if it’s leaning on its side stand, you’ll put in too much oil.
Optional: Safety wire
If you plan to take your bike to the track, or just want the bike to look like it goes to the track, or want the extra security of knowing your oil plug can’t come out, and if you drilled the bolt head while you had it out, you can safety wire it.
You need stainless steel safety wire and special pliers.
Run a length of wire through the hole in the bolt,
and around some nearby support such as this exhaust pipe clamp.
Use the safety wire pliers to twist it tight, so the bolt cannot rotate.
To be really complete, you can drill a small hole in the handle of the filler cap and wire it shut too.
Congratulations, you’re done. Don’t forget to dispose of your old engine oil in whatever safe manner your region prefers. One easy way to solve this problem is to see if a local garage or mechanic will take it from you, and add it to their disposal bin.