How Long Does a Motorcycle Engine Last (Full Guide)


The motorcycle engine is its heart, pumping power into other parts of the bike. All other components of the motorcycle rely on the motorcycle engine functioning properly just as we rely on the heart muscle.

So, how long does a motorcycle engine last? As a general rule, 100 000 km is considered a maximum. But it also depends on the average lifespan of the bike, the environment, travelled distance and maintenance. 

How Many Km Does A Motorcycle Last

As a general rule, 100,000 km is a maximum for a motorcycle. It is a respectable distance, regardless of the bike. Some mechanics or professionals offer the following advice, and the truth is, after giving it a lot of analysis, is quite true.

We will be using the human being as a sample. We start learning to walk and run in the early years, and we go on to achieve our best performance in our youth, then we begin to lose capacity until we can no longer run.

Thousands of km Phase
0 – 1——————-Puberty
1 – 10 —————–Youth
10 – 50—————-Working age
50 – 100—————Retirement. (Health needs to be closely monitored.)

It all depends, and if you are looking for information, you will surely find both a case of someone who has had to change the engine at 10,000 km and someone who continues to use the motorcycle in perfect condition with 130,000 km. However, as a general rule, the table is quite approximate.

Mileage Of A Motorcycle Per Year

How many km is it normal to ride a motorcycle per year? This depends on the situation of each person. In my case, for example, I do more than 10,000 km annually. But I have friends who only use it in summer, others every day but live close to work, and others to do great routes.

Age                         Average annual km

0 to 4 years——–4,656 km / year
5 to 9 years——–3,243 km / year
10 to 14 years—–2,867 km / year
15 to 19 years—–2,462 km / year
20 and over——–1,698 km / year

Answer: About 2,903 km / year

Type Of Distance Travelled And Model

Here are only obvious things to keep in mind:

  • Repeated use in poor or unpaved areas can cause great wear on the motorcycle.
  • Continuous use in city centers, although light on the engine, can be a great strain on the brakes.
  • Very aggressive driving can prematurely wear out the engine.

They are just as obvious to reason, but difficult to figure out. When there is very obvious wear, it can even be seen by inspecting the motorcycle, but in many cases, we can only resort to our good faith that the motorcycle does not have more wear than normal.

Nor is it necessary to worry excessively, since, although these cases exist, at a statistical level they are the exceptions to note. Most people put it to reasonable use, and there are usually no surprises beyond normal aging. But as always, all precautions are little and must be kept in mind.

Exceptional Cases

In a personal experience gotten from handling second-hand motorcycles, I have seen two particular cases that have caught my attention: the delivery driver’s motorcycle and the motorcycle that accumulates dust in a garage.

Delivery Man Motorcycle

Served many km in a short time. This bike has been used professionally. At first, we can take the same idea of ​​the km that we have used before to analyze this type of motorcycle, but we must bear in mind that such a high level of use can reduce the km that a motorcycle lasts.

Motorcycle Accumulates Dust

In most cases, they are motorcycles with little mileage. But this case is not about how many km the bike has taken, but about how many years it has been without doing any.
Although no km are made, the motorcycle continues to deteriorate. An example that can be seen without being an expert is the condition of the tires. They dry out and crack, rendering them useless. The same happens with other parts like the engine that are not seen, and that can cause problems shortly after bringing the bike back to life.

What Factors Affect the Motorcycle Engine Life?

Most times we are in the dark when our engines begin to misbehave. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the engine is old. You might have gotten the motorcycle as a new one or a used one but confused why you suddenly start having engine problem.

Many factors affect the lifespan of motorcycle engines, and some of them are:

  • Overall Engine CC, performance and usage
  • Motorcycle maintenance
  • Sticking to scheduled engine maintenance
  • Harsh weather conditions (cold and hot)
  • Other basic motorcycle maintenance (chain, tires, exhaust etc.)

Harsh Weather Conditions

Riding your motorcycle in extremely hot weather or even starting your bike in damn freezing temperatures can cause your motorcycle engine to experience wear and tear.

Extreme temperatures do not only affect your motorcycle engine; it also affects its body. You’ll start to experience some visible damages on parts like the seat, the handgrips, or even the paint jobs peeling from the motorcycle body.

Some issues aren’t readily noticeable but should be looked out for, also scheduled maintenance can help you know some of these issues.
Leaving your bike idling on hot weather isn’t advisable especially when the bike features an air-cooled engine. It affects the bottom line on the motorcycles odometer negatively.

Engine CC, Performance and Usage

Just like mentioned above, maintenance helps reduce issues with your motorcycle in general and not only the engine. Also, you should know the rule about motorcycle engine CCs—meaning for higher CC engines you shouldn’t worry about running a few miles. However, the more you open your bike throttle and crank up its RPMs, the shorter the lifespan of your motorcycle engine.

Motorcycle Engine Maintenance

Performing regular maintenance on your motorcycle and its engine is a great way to enhance its lifespan. As we mentioned above, there is no definite lifespan for a motorcycle engine. How long your motorcycle engine last largely depends on how you use it and the maintenance you’ve set in place for it.

Below is how you can maintain your motorcycle engine:

Create Your Maintenance Plan

When you have acquired some experience in terms of maintenance, you can establish your control sequence for your motorcycle, more or less detailed according to the conditions of use and according to your region.

For example, if you are a frequent off-roader or if the environment is particularly dusty, you will need to clean or replace the air filter more frequently than is recommended for normal maintenance.

The value of regular maintenance is that it eliminates a lot of small, inexpensive, and easy-to-fix problems before they turn into costly breakdowns that can immobilize the motorcycle and the engine for long periods.
By inspecting your motorcycle regularly, you will be able to detect problem spots and plan for major interventions that may be required in the immediate future.

Preventive Maintenance

The basis of preventive maintenance is the protection of the fragile parts of your motorcycle. If it has to stay a long time without moving, you most likely need to put in place various preventive maintenance procedures to protect your bike’s engine. But if you ride all year round, take just as much (if not more) care.

Once or twice a year, after a good cleaning, the engine stopped and cold, remove the saddle and if possible the tank to access the usually hidden parts. Next, spray a protective product on all metal and electrical parts of the motorcycle:

  • Electrical harnesses
  • The connectors
  • The ignition coils
  • The threads
  • The screws for the exhausts
  • The joints

These protection products deposit an insulating, water-repellent and penetrating film. Some rims and exhausts oxidize easily due to the salt present on the roads in winter. Apply grease or oil with a cloth to protect them because if they’re faulty, they’re likely to cause engine damage.

Engine Oil Level

To be checked very regularly, especially if the engine of your motorcycle is not cooled by liquid, but by air (or air and oil) because this type of engine (especially flat-twins) tends to consume oil between two revisions.

Ideally, check the oil level every 1,000 km or weekly. Remember to wait a certain time after switching off the ignition to check the level, allowing the oil time to drop back into the sump.

On a two-stroke engine (2T), the oil is in a separate reservoir.
On a four-stroke engine (4T), the engine oil is contained in the dedicated crankcase or an auxiliary tank.

The oil level is checked by sight glass (window) or by dipstick (rod). In the case of a dipstick, the instructions in your motorcycle’s service manual will tell you whether the level is read with the dipstick cap fully screwed in or placed over its hole.

Once the tank or sump cap has been unscrewed, topping up does not require any tools, just a container containing a sufficient quantity of suitable engine oil. A funnel is sometimes useful to reach the filler opening or not to put oil next to it. A small plastic funnel or newspaper cone is sufficient.

If you see from the sight glass or the plunger that the oil is more of a whitish colour, it is because it is full of moisture due to the condensation which occurs inside the crankcase. It is said that the oil is emulsified. This is a common problem for motorcycles used on very short trips. Emulsified oil loses much of its lubricating power, causes internal corrosion risks and must be drained and replaced with fresh oil. The oil filter must also be changed on this occasion.

For the engine oil change, two elements must be changed: the fluid and the oil filter.

The oil filter can be in the form of an external cartridge (which is unscrewed with a special wrench but is often tightened by hand) or in the form (the most common) of a filter which requires the dismantling of the crankcase. After having removed the old one, the new filter must be put on, having checked that it is in the right direction (sometimes accompanied by a spring or a washer).

As for the oil, it goes into the sump, which is located in the majority of cases in the engine itself. But on some dry-sump models, the oil tank is separate, with a bleed screw. The procedure is then more special, educate yourself well beforehand; otherwise, you risk engine failure.

In the case of a two-stroke engine, most today have a separate lubricating oil injection system replacing the old process of mixing oil with gasoline. Normally, the oil tank is equipped with a level indicator which illuminates a warning light when it is necessary to top up with lubricant. However, it is not superfluous, once a week, to look at the tank, if only too see if the electrical control system is working well.

If the level of the oil of a two-stroke pump lubricated by a pump drops too low, the pipes will swallow air bubbles until the engine is no longer sufficiently lubricated with all the risk of breakage.

Checking the oil level should be accompanied by locating leaks throughout the engine.
Even though we can’t outrightly state the life span of a motorcycle engine, but we have discussed the factors that can decide your motorcycle engine.

We hope this content has enlightened you about the engine longevity and how to make yours last a bit longer as well.

Luka Barron

Motorcycle mechanic, writer and Heineken lover. A bit like Hank Moody on a Suzuki.

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