Changing The Oil in a BMW 650 GS Motorcycle

Update: See the BMW 800GS oil change page for an updates version of this posting.

Changing the oil in the BMW 650 GS and the Dakar is very simple. The BMW shop in my neck of the woods wants $150 to do the job, which is why I took it upon my self to learn how to do this. While you don’t have to get the oil change kit from BMW, it’s probably best because they provide the copper ring for the sump plug, the o-ring for the oil filter, and the oil filter itself all of which costs about $15.

Some people make the job way more complicated than it needs to be, by removing the whole oil tank and getting every last drop out so as to remove all possible particles which may be suspended in the oil. I and many others don’t think this is necessary at all. After all, the oil filter is supposed to take care of that and if you have that much crude in your oil … you got other major problems.

So … let’s get on with it. Run the motorcycle to get it up to normal operating temperature, which means the radiator fan should should kick on. Turn the bike off.

Draining the Oil Tank

  • Leave the bike tilted on its side-stand. There’s enough of a lean for the oil to drain. If you have a center stand, that is fine.
  • Remove the seat by unlocking the rear compartment and pulling the cable release located inside. The seat will then lift up. The only reason we have to remove the seat is to gain access to one torx-head screw so we can remove the left side body panel (next step).
  • Remove the left side body panel by unscrewing the oil dip stick and the torque screw right next to it, removing the 4 torx screws which connect the left hand turn signal to the body, and remove the one torx screw which is normally covered by the seat. You can let the left hand turn signal dangle by its wires, although it is easily disconnected by squeezing the plug and pulling gently. NOTE: The bottom part of the left side panel has a male connector piece that snaps snuggly into a rubber grommet. It’s best to pull the bottom of the left side body panel out just a bit, then lift up.
  • Once the side body panel is removed, the black finned oil tank is now visible. Loosen and remove the oil drain screw located here. The oil will shoot out about 5 inches or so then slowly tapper off. I found it best to use a funnel to collect and direct the oil in a pan of some sort. If you have the bike on a center stand, just lean it over a bit to help the oil drain. Again, you don’t have to get every last drop.
  • Once the oil has finished draining, replace the drain screw. Don’t crank down on the drain screw too much, but it should be snug.
  • You can now replace the left side body panel by inserting the male connector into the rubber grommet (bottom of body panel), re-attaching the turn signal, replacing the torx screws, and attaching the seat. The top of the left side body panel snaps into the top body panel in three places.

Changing the Oil Filter

  • To remove the oil filter, you have to also remove the chain sprocket protector to gain access to one of the torx screws.
  • Reposition the black neutral wire so as not to get oil on it. You don’t need to disconnect it, just move it out of the way.
  • Now that the chain sprocket cover has been removed, you can remove the 3 torx screws on the oil filter cover (one of them looks different and sticks out a bit). Be prepared for a bit of oil as you start to loosen the torx screws. It’s not like a liter is going go gush out, but there will be a few ounces. There’s no perfect way to prevent a mess. Some people cut an aluminum can length-wise to catch the oil and direct it away from the bike. Remove the filter by pulling it straight out with your fingers (did you think you were going to stay clean?!).
  • If you want, you can clean out the oil filter housing, but it’s not necessary. If you do decide to do so, make sure you use a clean lint free cloth or something that won’t leave lint or threads behind.
  • Remove the old black o-ring from inside the filter cover you just removed. If you bought the oil change kit, you will find a new black o-ring. Lube the oil ring with fresh oil and insert it into the oil filter cover. Put some oil on the rubber ring inside the oil filter and insert the oil filter into the motorcycle. It should push in snuggly, but not hard.
  • Reattach the oil filter cover, re-route the black wire in its correct position (if you moved it), and reattach the chain sprocket cover. The specs on the torx screws for the oil filter cover are 10 nm. However, the one torx screw that looks different and sticks out a bit should not be tightened that hard. Snug, but not super tight (you may break it).

Sump Plug for the Crank Case

  • Under the bike is the sump plug for the crank case. To gain access to the plug you need to remove the bash/skid plate. This is held in place with 3 hex bolts.
  • I used a long-arm crescent wrench to remove the sump plug bolt because it has a lot of leverage. The sump plug is on there really tight (spec is 40 nm). If you have a 15/16″ sprocket that is small enough to fit in there, great! But you might need some additional leverage. Again, position an oil pan beneath the plug because quite a bit of oil will drain.
  • Once you remove the plug, clean it off. It’s actually a magnet so you might see some very fine metal shavings stuck to it. This is normal. Take off the old copper ring/washer.
  • In the oil change kit is a new copper ring/washer. Put the copper ring on the sump plug and re-insert the plug into the crank case housing after the oil has finished draining. You want to tighten the sump plug pretty good (spec is 40 nm of torque). Don’t go tighter than this though. The last thing you want to do is strip the threads on the crankcase.
  • Re-attach the bash plate to the bottom of the bike with the 3 hex bolts/washers.

Filling with Oil

  • Once everything it put back together, somewhat slowly fill the bike with just under 2 liters of oil. A full 2 liters won’t quite fit if the bike is tilted on the side-stand.
  • Start the bike and let it run for about 30 seconds. This will pump the oil through the filter and into the crank case. Turn off the bike and add another 0.25 liters or so.
  • Check for leaks near the oil filter and sump plug. If the oil level is still a bit low, add more oil. Don’t over fill the tank though, otherwise you may introduce oil in your air box.

That’s it! It took me awhile to change my oil for the first time. The second time went 10x faster.

Now … what oil should you use? That’s the source of HUGE debate. It will never hurt to use regular non-synthetic oil in your 650 GS or Dakar. I switch between SAE 15W50 in the summer and SAE 15W40 in the fall/winter. Finding SAE 15W50 non-synthetic oil is tough as all the auto parts stores only carry the synthetic version. Only a couple bike shops carry it, and of course the BMW dealership does as well, but it’s like twice as much. I can’t speak for synthetics because I have never used them. Just keep in mind, this bike has a wet clutch, which means synthetic oils that have friction modifiers or other additives can cause the clutch to slip.

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