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Modern motorcycles are incredibly reliable, but they still require you to check a few things in order to keep them running at full potential. The engine oil is one of those items you should never neglect. After all, you don’t want to run your high-revving, manufactured-to-aerospace-tolerances, and extremely-expensive-to-replace engine without the proper lubricant, do you? Additionally, an engine’s oil can reveal a good bit of information about the condition of its internals to even a novice mechanic armed with a little information.

To actually check an engine’s oil level, take a look at its owner’s manual. Seriously, it’ll outline the specifics that the manufacturer recommends – and they do vary slightly from bike-to-bike. Still, the steps do follow a rough pattern.

Make sure the engine is warmed to operating temperature. After turning it off, allow the oil to drain down from the top end by waiting a few minutes. Bikes with a sight glass require that you hold the bike level – either from the saddle or beside the bike – look at the window conveniently located on the bottom of the engine to make sure the oil level is between the two marks on the case. (Tip: If your bike has both a centerstand and a sight glass, measure it the above way and then compare it to the level shown while on the centerstand. This way you can use that level as reference so can check the oil level when it’s parked on the centerstand in your garage.)

For engines with a dipstick, check your owner’s manual to make certain how the stick is to be inserted for an accurate reading. Usually, you will wipe the stick and insert it into the case until it makes contact with the filler plug’s threads. Be sure the plug is straight and the bike is level or you may get an inaccurate reading.

If you ride your bike regularly, you should check its oil at least weekly. If you ride infrequently, consider checking before every ride. With regular checks, you are more likely to notice symptoms of little problems before they get bigger.
Read more about How Do You Check A Motorcycle’s Oil Level? at Motorcycle.com.
 

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Politicians' Nightmare
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Great pic! But if the oil level is that high with my VN900 oil will be drawn into the air filter box via the crankcase vent system. The best level for my 900 is midway between the two sets of level marks in the photo.
 

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I own a 2001 Kawasaki Vulcan 1500, how full should it show on the oil window?
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Thank you,
Steven
I owned a 2004 1500Classic. It liked it just above 1/2 but below 2/3 in the sight glass. It was a strange bird that one. If I put 2/3 or more it would blow it out into the air filter until it was between 1/2 and 2/3 so I just filled it to there and it was happy.

The other thing is the manual says to check the oil when the bike is level. A lot of folks tip their bike up while squatted down to look at the glass. I never felt comfortable doing that so I bought a telescopic inspection mirror from my local auto part place. That way I could sit on the bike and see in the sight glass.
 
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