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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi all,

Sorry to bring up such a boring subject, but my first oil change on the 2015 Ninja 650 I bought this year is coming up and I wanted to get people's opinions.

My owner's manual says to change every 7,500 miles, but it doesn't specify whether that number is for conventional or synthetic oil. It recommends either, but it doesn't specify numbers for one or the other.

Synthetic oil lasts longer than conventional oil, so I wonder if that number is for synthetic oil. Doesn't 7,500 miles seem high for conventional oil to last?
 

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Congrats on the bike, I hope its been good. Take a look here for a detailed Ninja 650 oil change DIY. Regarding intervals and oil, thats a bit personal. But a safe recommendation for a newer bike is Synthetic oil changes once a year or every 7.5k miles.

As far as how long can synthetic last? Well, far more than anyone is willing to leave it in their engine. I spent about 3 years and over 42k miles on the same oil (if I recall the numbers right) with oil analysis sent to the lab every few months, and the oil was still good. I changed it just because it was starting to get pointless. If you really want to know if your oil needs changing, do an oil analysis. But the sad reality is that you're unlikely to learn anything because even if the oil is good, no one feels good changing their oil once every handful of years.

Youll find plenty of people willing to tell you to use much shorter intervals based on little more than "muh feels", so take it with a grain of salt. Thats why I say its a bit personal. Do what feels right for you, or ask for proof (oil analysis or at least objective proof) before taking what anyone else says at face value. Theres nothing intrinsically wrong with changing your oil too much (besides wasting money and oil), just dont trick yourself into thinking the bike will otherwise self destruct if you dont change the oil every three months.

By the way, this is for routine oil changes. If the bike only has 7500 miles in total, its way overdue for a change. I like change my oil at least 3 times before the first 1500 miles while the engine breaks in, which is when the oil is going to have the most amount of junk in it.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the reply, and for the link. I bought the bike with 2k miles on it and changed it as soon as I got it. I wasn't sure when it had been changed last--if ever. You never know.

This is now my first oil change from actually riding the bike. I bought the recommended Kawasaki oil from the dealership because it wasn't crazy expensive, but they only had conventional oil. That's what led me to my question. Is 7,500 miles on conventional oil unreasonable? That sounds high to me. I know you said it's somewhat personal, but if, as you say, a good rule of thumb is a synthetic change every 7,500, wouldn't a conventional change bring that number down a bit? Maybe to 5k or even lower?
 

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Is 7,500 miles on conventional oil unreasonable? That sounds high to me. I know you said it's somewhat personal, but if, as you say, a good rule of thumb is a synthetic change every 7,500, wouldn't a conventional change bring that number down a bit? Maybe to 5k or even lower?
Objectively, for a commuter bike it'll probably be impossible to establish causality between a 7.5k oil change and a mechanical defect, if the bike is in good condition. That said, it'll cost you less in time and money to do the oil change then to spend your time worrying about it. Synthetic oil changes can go for tens of thousands of miles and multiple years. With modern conventional oils you can easily go well beyond the manufacturer interval of 7.5k (under normal conditions). Personally, with conventional I'd do intervals of 1yr/6k miles - anything less makes me feel dumb for feeling superstitious. That said, waste that oil and get some synthetic next time.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the help and advice. If they don't have any synthetic next time, maybe I will go try a few other local bike shops and check out the Castrol you recommend in your post. Thanks again!
 

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I don't have a 650 Ninja (Ninja 1000 now) but I've been running Oil reports myself for a long time and am a bit surprised by MillennialNinja's comments. On my VFRs, oil life was about 6000 miles mostly using Rotella T6 5W40 full synthetic and about 7500 miles using Mobil 1 4T 10W40 Motorcycle full synthetic oil. It appears to be the same on my Ninja 1000. I've included an oil report below.

I change my oil every 5k miles, personal preference, easier to remember intervals, etc. That's up from 2k way back in the day. My surprise at MN's comment is that the cleaners and additives wear out and the viscosity goes down as the oil ages and I can't even imagine them lasting 42k miles since by 6k-8k miles my oil reports are indicating they're dipping below where they should be. This is for full synthetic oil. Then again, the 650 Ninja may be different technology/metallurgy. Even so, oil oxidizes even when the bike is just sitting so at least an annual change is warranted regardless of mileage.

I usually get oil reports every 25k miles (5th change). It's about $25 and buys me peace of mind. I also tend to keep bikes >100k miles so I want them to last. This is truly a case of YMMV.

8335-021315 oil report.jpg
 

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My surprise at MN's comment is that the cleaners and additives wear out and the viscosity goes down as the oil ages and I can't even imagine them lasting 42k miles since by 6k-8k miles my oil reports are indicating they're dipping below where they should be. This is for full synthetic oil. Then again, the 650 Ninja may be different technology/metallurgy. Even so, oil oxidizes even when the bike is just sitting so at least an annual change is warranted regardless of mileage.

I usually get oil reports every 25k miles (5th change). It's about $25 and buys me peace of mind. I also tend to keep bikes >100k miles so I want them to last. This is truly a case of YMMV.
It certainly is refreshing to talk about oil change intervals with oil analysis as proof instead of just speculation! I truly appreciate that, including the fact you attached your oil analysis. You seem to be going for Blackstone's basic analysis. Mine is from Wix. In any case, reading an oil analysis can be as esoteric as reading tarot cards, but hey, at least it isn't nearly as expensive and you get a pretty report ;) .

My long-term oil analysis test was with a 2011 Toyota Prius which was used for urban and bumper to bumper use in a hot climate. You can see it here. I did tests every 3-6 months during that time. No filter changes, either (the filter was fine at the end). Mainly I wanted to see when the test came back as "caution" but after three years on the same oil I just gave up on the test. It always came back "Normal" and the values stable and acceptable. I eventually just changed the oil because it was starting to feel stupid.

Like you said, oil does deteriorate, and past three years we aren't really talking about saving money or time. But things like the viscosity you mentioned are really easy to measure, and at least for me it was within acceptable parameters after years. There was nothing that stood out and the engine is still running great. As far as additives deteriorating, that's where its nice to have the TBN value. I go with Wix precisely because that's included, unlike with Blackstone. It's a good measure of the oil's ability to neutralize contaminants, and grossely speaking a good proxy for "the life left in oil".

Really, my issue isn't with people who want yearly oil changes, but people who still insist on 3 month/3000 mile oil changes on Synthetic oil - that kills me. I'm sure modern oils in normal running conditions could go for tens of thousands of miles. But the main issue is that if something was ever to go wrong, you'd be suspect of the 30k mile intervals even if nothing could be proven either way. In any case, personally I try to extend my intervals as long as I feel comfortable. I just haven't seen compelling evidence of it being worthwhile to do otherwise. Also, oil changes are only a small parts of a bike's maintenance, so it's important to not focus that at the detriment of everything else.
 

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I've been around enough to have witnessed (and not participated in) a lot of those oil "discussions." The only reason I chimed in on this one is that someone new to this might get the impression from you initial post that you never need to change the oil.

My comments were restricted to motorcycle engines where the engine oil also lubricates the transmissions. My understanding is the shearing in the gearing physically breaks down the oil over time. Cars are a whole different matter. I have a 2012 Honda Fit and wouldn't think of short changing the 8k mile intervals but as long as the dealer does free lifetime changes I'll still probably get them. :)

And I agree on reading the numbers on the oil report. They don't mean much to me except when comparing them to standard ranges and I depend on the summary analysis they supply.
 

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Congrats on the bike, I hope its been good. Take a look here for a detailed Ninja 650 oil change DIY. Regarding intervals and oil, thats a bit personal. But a safe recommendation for a newer bike is Synthetic oil changes once a year or every 7.5k miles.

As far as how long can synthetic last? Well, far more than anyone is willing to leave it in their engine. I spent about 3 years and over 42k miles on the same oil (if I recall the numbers right) with oil analysis sent to the lab every few months, and the oil was still good. I changed it just because it was starting to get pointless. If you really want to know if your oil needs changing, do an oil analysis. But the sad reality is that you're unlikely to learn anything because even if the oil is good, no one feels good changing their oil once every handful of years.

Youll find plenty of people willing to tell you to use much shorter intervals based on little more than "muh feels", so take it with a grain of salt. Thats why I say its a bit personal. Do what feels right for you, or ask for proof (oil analysis or at least objective proof) before taking what anyone else says at face value. Theres nothing intrinsically wrong with changing your oil too much (besides wasting money and oil), just dont trick yourself into thinking the bike will otherwise self destruct if you dont change the oil every three months.

By the way, this is for routine oil changes. If the bike only has 7500 miles in total, its way overdue for a change. I like change my oil at least 3 times before the first 1500 miles while the engine breaks in, which is when the oil is going to have the most amount of junk in it.

The link provided answered a lot of my questions. thank you :)
 
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