How Long Do Motorcycle Engines Last? (Life Expectancy)

Engine life expectancy - thumbnail

An engine is the heart of a motorcycle.

No engine, no motorcycle running.

For a motorcycle to run smoothly for years, we need the engine to last long. The higher the engine life, the better it is for the motorcycle.

So, how long will a motorcycle engine last?

Typically, a motorcycle engine lasts around 100,000 miles.

The life expectancy of a motorcycle engine is highly subjective and depends on a lot of factors.

A motorcycle engine should last somewhere between 50,000 miles to 250,000 miles depending on the make and type of the engine, and the maintenance and usage by the rider.

Motorcycle engine and carburetor

We did a survey on average motorcycle engine life.

So, let’s deep dive into what our survey says, what manufacturers say about engine life, factors affecting engine life expectancy, and tips to improve engine shelf life.

How long do motorcycle engines last?

Typically, a motorcycle engine should last somewhere between 50,000 miles to 250,000 miles depending on the make and type of the engine, and the maintenance and usage by the rider.

Engine Life Expectancy

We do not have concrete data or the exact figure on the life expectancy of a motorcycle engine.

Any figure you come across here or elsewhere for that matter, is at most a sensible approximation based on the motorcyclist’s experience.

To get a ballpark figure, we conducted a small survey asking our friends who are avid motorcycle riders.

All the riders have seen their engines damaged at least once.

The survey with 27 responses showed that the average life expectancy of a motorcycle engine was 127,000 miles. And the median life expectancy was 100,000 miles.

Engine Life Expectancy - Median

This figure is far higher than the engine warranty period. Which is usually around 40,000 miles.

Again warranty period does not measure how long the engine lasts. It’s more like a minimum life guarantee.


Please keep in mind that this survey though sheds some light on how long a motorcycle engine lasts, is still a subjective answer given by people based on their experiences.

What manufacturers say about engine’s life

While the engine manufacturers do not specify any life expectancy on the bike engine, they do however provide a warranty period.

This warranty period varies from motorcycle to motorcycle and engine to engine.

Motorcycle warranty period example
An example of a warranty period provided by the motorcycle manufacturers. In this case – BMW Motorrad.

The usual warranty period is around 2 to 5 years.

My motorcycle had a warranty period of 5 years or 70,000 kilometers (~43,500 miles), whichever is earlier.

The same warranty period can be extended to the engine as well.

So, the usual warranty provided for a motorcycle engine is around 45,000 to 60,000 miles.

However, this warranty does not equate to the life expectancy of the engine. If anything, it refers to the minimum life expectancy of a motorcycle engine.

Motorcycle engine

Manufacturers certainly won’t like quoting a warranty if the component does not even survive throughout the warranty quoted time.

How dumb would that be if they did it the other way right?

So. We can definitely say that the engine will last more than the warranty period.

That is, a motorcycle engine will definitely last more than 40,000 miles.

Factors affecting the motorcycle engine life

The life of a motorcycle engine heavily depends upon various parameters that influence not just the life, but also the performance, mileage, and power of the engine.

These factors affecting the motorcycle engine life are:

  1. Type of the Engine
  2. Coolant type
  3. Maintenance
  4. Usage

Type of the engine

The type of the engine is a dependent factor for the engine life expectancy. The capacity of the engine may not have a huge impact, but the functionality still affects how long the engine lasts.

A guy handling a motorcycle engine which is taken apart from the bike

Simply put, lower cc engines are typically built for fuel economy while the higher cc engines are built for performance.

This difference in functionality creates a difference in the life expectancy of an engine.

With other factors remaining the same, lower cc engines should last longer with more distance to be traveled.

A motorcycle engine of 100cc to 250cc can last more than 100,00 miles.

Whereas a motorcycle engine with 500cc usually lasts around 80,000 miles.

Motorcycle v-twin engine

Similarly, the engine configuration (single cylinder, parallel twin, V-twin, etc,.) also has an impact on the engine shelf life.

Coolant type

The coolant type is also a factor that affects the engine life.

Many believe that liquid-cooled engines usually last longer when compared to air-cooled engines.

Radiator in a motorcycle

The reason is that liquid-cooled systems cool down the engine much faster and prevent engine overheating far better than an air-cooled system.

However, there is no backing evidence that substantiates this belief.

An air-cooled engine can run for an equal, if not longer duration as that of a liquid-cooled engine.

Motorcycle Engine Fins

While there is some research (1 & 2) showing coolant impact on engine performance, the impact on shelf life still needs more explicit evidence.

The effect a coolant has on the engine life expectancy needs to be substantiated more as of date.


This is, hands down, the single biggest factor that determines the life of the engine.

You can see the stark contrast between the engine life of a poorly maintained one and a well-maintained engine.

A man spraying maintenance spray on motorcycle

If you service your motorcycle regularly, change the oil frequently, do not overheat, and take care of other components of the motorcycle as well – your engine will definitely last for a long time.

A brief note on maintenance tips is provided in the next section below. For more detailed info, here is our maintenance guide.


Lastly, along with maintenance, motorcycle usage by the rider also affects the engine life.

If you constantly ride at high rpm, overheat the engine, stress out the engine through overloading, jammed brakes, etc. – your engine won’t last much longer.

Motorcycle rider with left foot on ground

So, along with bike servicing while off the road, you need to take care of your motorcycle on the road as well.

The usage of the bike will certainly enhance the performance as well as the life of the engine.

How to increase the engine life

Here are the major maintenance tips to increase the life of your motorcycle engine.

  1. Change the engine oil frequently
  2. Replace the oil filter regularly
  3. Engine flush
  4. Replace the Air filter

#1. Change the engine oil frequently

For better preventive maintenance of the engine, you need to change the engine oil as frequently as possible.

The thumb rule for the frequency of oil changing is:

Type of OilFrequency of Oil Change
Mineral Oil2000 miles
Semi-Synthetic Oil5000 miles
Synthetic Oil8000 miles

Make sure you are visiting the mechanic or bike service center regularly to change the oil.

Drained engine oil

Also, use good quality oil for your engine.

Poor quality and cheap oil will do more harm than good. If you are focusing on performance, try switching to a synthetic oil.

#2. Replace the oil filter regularly

As a thumb rule, change the oil filter for every 6000 miles (10,000 kilometers) of distance traveled.

Oil filters not only remove the dirt but also the magnetic and metallic particles contaminating the oil.

Oil holes on oil filter

The oil filter carries a magnet in it that attracts these materials before they go into the walls between the piston and cylinder.

If these particles go into the engine, they will start damaging the combustion chamber walls which will decrease the engine’s life.

So, replace the oil filters at least once every 2 times you are changing the oil.

Oil filter - new and old

Replacing the filter every time you are changing oil is a much better option as well.

Oil filters are not at all costly and you don’t have to think too much here.

#3 Engine flush

The motorcycle oil goes through cycles of heating and cooling. Sometimes, the engine even overheats and the oil absorbs that excess heat.

Due to these cycles of heat change, the engine oil breaks down into finer molecules.

Engin eoil - black in color

Add to it the carbon particles, hydrocarbon, and moisture if any in the engine – will all combine to form a sludge.

This sludge deposits in various nooks and corners of the engine. And if left unchecked, will also start depositing on every surface.

The sludge starts to form only after considerable motorcycle usage. An approximate of 8000 miles.

So, engine flush every 8000 to 10,000 miles traveled.

An engine flush is a chemical additive designed to clean the sludge deposited in the engine.

Engine flush additive

All you need to do is pour the additive into the oil port, idle for 10 minutes, then drain the oil.  

The additive mixes with the oil and dissolves the sludge to clean the engine.

#4 Replace the clogged air filter

If the air filter is clogged, the engine starts receiving a fuel-rich mixture.

That is, more fuel than required to the proportion of air present going into the engine. This will result in incomplete combustion, carbon deposits, and overheating of the engine.

Air filter with oil coating

The general thumb rule is to replace air filters every 12,000 miles traveled. If you live or ride your bike in a dusty area, change the filter much more often.

Replacing the air filter can make a huge difference in your engine performance.

A clean filter can enhance fuel economy, lower emissions, and of course, increase the engine life. So, change those air filters regularly.

Final words

While the life expectancy of an engine varies from motorcycle to motorcycle, our survey indicated that an average motorcycle engine lasts around 100,000 miles.

The mean life expectancy from the survey was 127,000 miles and the median was 100,000 miles.

Typically, a motorcycle engine should last somewhere between 50,000 miles to 250,000 miles depending on the make and type of the engine, and the maintenance and usage by the rider.

Before you go…

Here are a few more engine related posts for you: