How to Change the Oil in a Harley-Davidson Sportster


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How To Change The Oil In A Harley Davidson Sportster

Learning how to change the oil in your Harley-Davidson Sportster is a great way to save money while keeping your bike in top condition. If you’re like many Sportster owners, you may not know where to start. In this article, we’ll take you through the steps of changing the oil in your Sportster safely and quickly. With the right tools and a few simple steps, you’ll be able to keep your bike running strong for years to come. So, if you’re ready to take your maintenance routine to the next level, read on to learn how to change the oil in your Harley-Davidson Sportster. 

To change the oil in your Harley-Davidson Sportster, start by gathering the necessary tools, such as a new oil filter, oil drain pan, and the appropriate oil for your bike. Then, follow the step-by-step instructions provided in this article to ensure a successful oil change. Be sure to dispose of the old oil and filter properly.

Overview of the Harley-Davidson Sportster

The Harley-Davidson Sportster is a lineup of powerful and classy motorcycles produced since 1957 by Harley-Davidson. The Harley-Davidson Sportster models are designated by product codes beginning with “XL”. 1952 saw the predecessors to the Harley-Davidson Sportster officially getting introduced. The first Harley-Davidson Sportster came out in 1957, and it had many details as the Model KH. It featured a similar frame, front suspension, fenders, and large gas tank.

The Sportster came out in 1957 as a smaller and larger alternative to the larger Harley models. At the time, it was known as the XL Sportster and came powered by an 883cc overhead-valve V-Twin engine. The Sportster quickly gained popularity among bikers who were looking for a more affordable and manageable option.

This line is known for having a classic design, which includes a sleek fuel tank, a low seat height, and a narrow frame. The Harley-Davidson Sportster features a minimalist design that emphasizes function over form, which makes it an ideal bike for bikers who prefer a simple, clean look. It also features a comfortable suspension system, which is designed to provide a smooth ride even on bumpy roads.

Some of the other features of the Harley-Davidson Sportster include a reliable braking system as well as a user-friendly control system. The bike also has a variety of customization options, which allows the riders to personalize their bike to their liking.

This bike is known for delivering excellent handling and maneuverability. The narrow frame and low seat height will make it effortless to handle for beginners. The bike is also designed to offer premium comfort, even on long rides. The suspension system will offer a smooth ride and the seating position is upright, which allows the riders to sit comfortably for extended periods. The bike is known for its signature sound, which is produced by the powerful V-twin engine and the exhaust system. The unique sound of the bike is one of the reasons why it has such a large and loyal following among bikers.

Benefits of Regular Oil Changes on a Harley-Davidson Sportster

Many bikers wonder if changing engine oil at proper intervals is important. In fact, you should keep in mind that changing the oil regularly is an important routine for your Harley-Davidson maintenance. Properly scheduled oil changes are important in keeping your Harley running properly and smoothly. An oil change service will be the ideal opportunity to have other areas of your bike checked out too. Here are some of the benefits of changing the oil in your Harley-Davidson Sportster –

1. Regular oil changes will keep the engine clean

Changing Oil On Harley-Davidson Motorcycle

When oil flows into the Harley engine from other areas, dirt, and other particles can start accumulating within it. If you aren’t changing the oil at proper intervals, sludge can start to build up in your bike’s engine. People who reside in a drier, dustier area will get even more particles to make their way through their bike’s engine. Changing the engine oil and replacing your filters regularly will get the harmful dirt, debris, and other objects out of the engine before you end up doing any major damage.

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2. Get better gas mileage

Changing the oil on time will help you get better gas mileage. Finding a Sportster that is good on gas will be important to every biker. Overall, the miles per gallon will be affected by various factors such as vehicle maintenance, terrain on which you’re driving, and the rider’s personal driving habits. Without proper maintenance and regular oil change, the dirt and grit will gradually build up inside the bike’s engine and cause friction. You should remember that friction is no friend of the Sportster’s engine.

Friction is the enemy of optimum fuel economy and engine performance. You should ensure that the Sportster’s engine has clean oil in it all the time, as it will help in reducing friction. This will allow the engine to run more effectively with the best possible gas mileage.

3. Routine oil changes will lead to a longer engine life

Oil is essentially the lifeblood of your Harley-Davidson Sportster. Engine oil will lubricate and protect the engine and many of its critical parts from potential wear and damage. The problem is, oil tends to get dirty. By making sure that you regularly get the oil and filter changed as per the owner’s manual specifications, you’ll essentially be keeping the engine clean and protective. Further, it will also save you time, money, and stress. A regularly scheduled oil change will be an investment that will help you make sure that you’ll be driving around in your Harley-Davidson Sportster for years to come.

4. Changing the oil will protect other engine parts

What does oil actually do in a Harley-Davidson Sportster? Inside your Sportster’s engine, there are various key parts that make the engine run, such as the crankshaft and connecting rods. These connecting rods are responsible for controlling the pistons inside the engine’s cylinders. There’s also an important piece known as the camshaft, which helps in opening and closing your Sportster’s exhaust valves. You should ensure that you’re cleaning oil in your Sportster’s engine, as it’ll be important in keeping those components moving and running smoothly.

5. Pass the vehicle emissions test and protect the environment

When talking about passing the emissions test, you need to consider how many hydrocarbon particles are spraying out into the atmosphere. If you aren’t changing the oil on your Harley-Davidson Sportster regularly, you should remember that dirty oil can eventually result in an accumulation of hydrocarbons inside your engine’s crankcase. They get burned up, which causes more of them to be released into the air via the vehicle’s exhaust. Not only does changing the engine oil regularly help you pass the vehicle emissions test, but it’ll also mean that you are polluting the environment less.

6. Routine oil changes will provide better engine performance

Over time, old oil tends to break down because of exposure to heat. This causes the oil to lose its viscosity and its ability to lubricate the engine cylinder walls. Basically, the dirtier the oil is, the harder it’ll be to go where it needs to. The sludge will start building up in areas that are blocking the flow to parts that require lubrication. Another function of oil would be to draw heat from the parts of the engine. If they are covered with sludge, these parts will stay hot for much longer. Ultimately, your Sportster’s engine will run less efficiently and the performance will be robbed of both gas mileage and HP.

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How to Change the Oil in a Harley-Davidson Sportster

Regularly scheduling the oil changes on your Sportster. Changing the oil during the regular maintenance check is not something that you can ignore. Old dirty oil can ultimately decrease gas mileage, lowers horsepower, and ultimately reduces the lifespan of your bike’s engine. You must read the owner’s manual for your Harley-Davidson Sportster and make sure that you’re getting it done at the proper intervals as per the recommendations by your manufacturer. Here are the important steps to consider when changing the oil in your Harley-Davidson Sportster – 

Step 1: Prepare by gathering the necessary supplies

Before starting out, you’ll need to ensure that you have all the necessary supplies for changing the oil in your Harley-Davidson Sportster. Harley-Davidson Sportsters are known for their simplicity. The entire oil change process is easy, and it can be done with a few basic tools. Here are the materials that you’ll need to gather – a new oil filter, an oil drain pan, a funnel, a socket wrench, a small flathead screwdriver, and more.

Further, you should also arrange for an oil filter wrench or if you want a kit that’ll cover every oil filter size. Gather a K&N KN-170 oil filter or any compatible oil filter. Also, arrange a 20W50 Semi-Synthetic Motorcycle Oil. You might look to use 20W50 Full-Synthetic Motorcycle Oil if ride your bike aggressively or if you reside in regions with hotter climates. The quantity will be 2.9 quarts (2.7 liters). Remember to keep the leftovers in case your bike leaks or burns some oil in between oil changes. Moreover, You should ensure that you’re wearing protective gear including gloves, goggles, safety chaps, and more.

Step 2: Lift your Sportster

Secure your Sportster in an upright position, as it’ll allow for easier access to the drain tube. Further, you should also ensure that your work area is clean, and you’ve got a lot of room to work safely. Avoid starting or running your bike indoors. Further, you must also prepare the drain pan, as this is where you’ll be pouring the old after removing it.

Step 3: Drain the old oil by removing the old drain plug

Warm up your bike, once the engine is warmed up, you should turn off the engine and locate the oil drain plug on the underside of the engine.

Unlike most bikes, the Harley-Davidson Sportster features an oil drain tube but not a plug. This tube comes attached to a nipple welded to the frame by a hose clamp. Loosen up the hose clamp using a Flathead Screwdriver. Don’t remove the tube until you’ve positioned the drain pan properly. Place the oil drain pan under the plug and remove the plug using a socket wrench. Removing the cap/dipstick from the oil tank will help the oil drain faster. Once the oil slows to a drip, you must replace the hose. Don’t tighten the clamp yet.

Step 4: Replace the oil filter

The oil filter in a Harley-Davidson Sportster is located at the front of the engine, between the front cylinder and frame downtube. You need to move the oil pan to the front of your bike, directly under the oil filter. After that, you’ll have to remove the oil filter. This might require an oil filter wrench.

If you haven’t got an oil catcher, the oil will run down the frame and even get on some parts of your Sportster. There is no way of preventing this, so you should simply wipe it down when it is done dripping. Take one quart of engine oil and then pour it into the filter until it is around ½ full.

After that, you should apply a small amount of clean oil to the rubber gasket on your new oil filter. Wipe down the oil filter mounting area and the oil residue that has run down onto the bike. It’ll be important to lubricate the rubber gasket with fresh oil before you install the new filter.  Carefully thread the new oil filter into place by turning it in a clockwise direction. Remember not to over-tighten the filter. You should only turn the filter around ½ turn past the point where you begin feeling some resistance from the gasket contacting the engine.

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Step 5: Refill with new oil

You should replace the oil drain plug before tightening it with the socket wrench. Pull the oil cap/dipstick off of your bike’s oil tank. Some Sportsters will require the cap to be twisted before being pulled. If you aren’t sure what model you have, you must work carefully and gently to ensure that you don’t end up damaging anything.

Using a funnel, you should slowly pour around 3 quarts of oil into the oil tank. Although the Sportster’s engine holds up to 3.5 quarts after a rebuild or when filled now, only three should be replaced during the oil change.

You must use an oil cap or dipstick for checking the engine oil level. To achieve that, you must be holding the bike level if you’ve been working with the side stand. The oil level must be kept between the two dipstick marks. Once you have refilled with three quarts, it must be right to the top one.

Step 6: Start the engine and check for potential leaks

After that, you’ll need to start your Sportster and allow it to run for a few minutes. Check for potential leaks around the oil filter and drain plug. If you’re seeing any leaks, you’ll need to tighten the filter or plug as necessary. Check the oil level once more and if necessary, add some more oil.’

Step 7: Dispose of used oil and clean up

After you have changed the oil, you’ll need to dispose of the old oil and filter properly. There are local recycling centers, while service stations also accept used oil for recycling. You should remember that you don’t pour used oil on the ground or down the drain. Further, you must also clean up the area where you were working to keep everything clean.

Conclusion: The Final Verdict

Changing the oil on your Harley-Davidson Sportster is a simple yet important part of its regular maintenance. The process is easy, and you’ll be required to gather the necessary supplies, drain the old oil, replace the oil filter, refill with new oil, and start the engine. By regularly changing the oil, you’ll make sure your bike is protected, has better gas mileage, better engine performance, and more.


What type of oil should I use when changing the oil in a Harley-Davidson Sportster?

When changing the oil in a Harley-Davidson Sportster, it is recommended that you use a high-quality, certified SAE 20W-50 engine oil specifically designed for motorcycles. This type of oil is formulated to provide optimal lubrication and protection for your engine.

What other supplies do I need in order to change the oil in a Harley-Davidson Sportster?

In addition to the oil, you’ll also need an oil filter, a wrench to remove the filter, a funnel, a drain pan, and a rag or towel to clean up any spills. You may also need a pair of gloves to protect your hands from any dirt or grime.

How often should I change the oil in a Harley-Davidson Sportster?

It is recommended that you change the oil in a Harley-Davidson Sportster every 3,000 miles or every 6 months, whichever comes first. This will ensure that your engine stays in good condition and runs smoothly.

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