Oil Change and Chain Maintenance on a 2010 Kawasaki ZX-6R

Our 2010 Kawasaki ZX-6R

Our 2010 Kawasaki ZX-6R

Maintaining your bike not only prolongs the life of your motorcycle, but it saves you money on parts. Since we’re doing seminars for women riders, I figured I’d clue you in on what tips and tricks we will be sharing with the ladies. We rolled our ZX-6R on the lift as an example and I will talk about how we changed the oil first, then move onto upkeep on the chain.

Part 1: Oil Change

IMG_1152Tools and Supplies I used:


enclosed oil pan with mesh cover


contact cleaner

black sharpie marker

4mm T-Allen Wrench

10mm box end wrench

cutters (for the zip tie on the bottom of the fairing)

8mm T-handle

3/8’’ ratchet, extension

3/8’’ 17mm socket

3/8’’ inch-pound Craftsman torque wrench

small screw driver


In your owner’s manual, there are instructions on how to change the oil, as well as what type of oil and filter to use. You can find this for the ZX-6R on pages 100 to 105. It even includes torque specs! The owner’s manual calls for approximately 3.8 quarts of SAE 10W-40 oil.

The owner’s manual also states to get your first oil change at 600 miles, as well as each maintenance interval thereafter. You should have a happy and healthy engine as long as you change the oil every 2,500 to 3,000 miles.

2010 Kawasaki ZX-6R owner's manual pages

2010 Kawasaki ZX-6R owner’s manual pages

If you do purchase the factory service manual for your bike, the instructions and specifications regarding changing the oil can be located on pages 2-55 and 2-56.


Excerpt from the 2010 Kawasaki ZX-6R service manual.

Excerpt from the 2010 Kawasaki ZX-6R service manual.



For this oil change, we used roughly four quarts of Kawasaki Performance Oils SAE 10W-40 petroleum based oil, as well as a KN-303 K&N oil filter. I like using the K&N oil filter because there is a little knob in the center in the shape of a bolt head which is easily tightened and loosened with a ratchet and socket. This prevents the mess of having to wedge the filter loose with a screwdriver or a pipe-style wrench.

The first thing we did was remove the lower, left side cowling. This requires the removal of four bolts and two pop-clip rivets.


The larger pop-clip rivet is underneath the cowling, but since we lost ours, we used a pair of cutters to remove the zip tie.


The other smaller pop-clip rivet is located just inside the lower cowling, behind the front wheel. You can press this loose with the T-allen you used to remove the cowling bolts.


To pull the fairing out, lift the cowling up and out as there are two tabs (ours is missing one) at the top of the cowling and you might break them if you attempt to pull the cowling downward.


Be sure to clean any road grime off the bottom of the engine, as well as the area under the bike before you drain the oil. This will help you to better see any leaks when you put everything back together.


With the cowling off, you can now see the oil drain bolt. Use the ratchet and socket to remove it. Remember, lefty-loosy. Only loosen the drain bolt about one turn, then slip the oil pan underneath before removing it all the way. You may need to lift up the bike on a rear stand. We used a pit bull stand.




Here is an example of a drain bolt that was over tightened during the last oil change. The crush washer is frozen onto the bolt. If you can’t get it off, you’ll have to replace the drain bolt. If you put the drain bolt back on with the frozen crush washer, oil is more likely to leak from the bolt when it is re-torqued.


Another possible hazard of over tightening the drain bolt could result in stripping the threads in the oil pan. If this were to happen, once you got the drain bolt back out, you have to install a heli coil to repair the threads, which means the oil pan would have to be removed.


Here is the bolt with a new crush washer. Technically, the crush washer should be replaced with each oil change to be on the safe side, but if there is no visible damage to the washer, you can get away with re-using it.


Let the oil drain for about twenty minutes, then remove the oil filter.


Re-torque the drain bolt at 17 foot pounds with a torque wrench.


The oil filter is located in the center of the engine on the left side of the motorcycle. This is a pain, as it can be a mess to remove the filter. To avoid unnecessary oil dripping down the case, start by removing the shift linkage. Make a mark on the shift shaft so you can return the shift lever to it’s original position when you put the shift linkage back on.


Remove the 10mm bolt.


Remove the shift linkage. Screw the 10mm bolt back into the linkage to avoid losing it.

Remove the speed sensor with an 8mm T-Allen. Pull the sensor away and tuck someplace out of the way.

Remove four (4) 8mm bolts from the countershaft sprocket cover then remove the cover.



Turning the cover over, you can see there is plenty of road grime that has gathered inside, now would be a good time to clean it with some contact cleaner and a rag.


Place a funnel underneath the scoop just underneath the filter.


Make sure the funnel is positioned so the oil will drain into the pan.


Unscrew the filter and let it sit in the funnel. Chase out the remaining oil with contact cleaner.


Apply oil or grease to the O-ring of the new oil filter. You can use the old dirty oil or the new oil, as you’re simply applying the oil to improve the seal to the engine casing.


Remove the old oil filter and funnel and screw in the new filter. Tighten by hand until you can’t tighten it anymore, then tighten it with the ratchet and socket about 1/4 to 3/4 turns until it’s snug.


Re-install the countershaft sprocket cover. Make sure the two dowel pins are in the cover.


Press it in with the front side tucked behind the radiator hoses first so that it will clear the frame. Make sure the dowel pins sit flush against the case surface.


Install the longest bolt on the top, left-hand corner of the cover. Remember the smaller the bolt, the smaller the torque, so make sure not to over tighten them.


Re-install the shift linkage, being careful to line up the mark on the shift shaft with the opening in the linkage. Reinstall the 10mm bolt. Keep in mind the 10mm bolt must be removed to install the linkage onto the shift shaft.


Let the old oil filter drain into the drain pan before disposing of it.


Tip: Dump your used oil into a container like an old milk or cat litter jug. This makes transport much easier when getting rid of the oil. You can take your used oil to any auto parts store and they will dispose of it for free.


Now you’re ready to start adding oil. Remove the oil fill plug. Make sure the O-ring is in good condition. The oil fill plug is located on the clutch cover on the right side of the engine.



The sight window for viewing the oil level is on the lower section of the clutch cover just in front of the rear set. Here is an expanded view.


Tip: Only add half a quart, then check for leaks. You may have forgotten to torque the drain bolt or oil filter. It’s better to only lose some oil instead of all of it. Also, don’t forget to remove the rear stand for a more accurate reading on the oil level. Poor oil down the funnel until the oil level reaches the top line or ‘F’ (full) mark in the sight window. Make sure not to poor too much in at once, as it might burp back at you.




Replace the oil fill plug and let the bike run for a few minutes to cycle the oil in the engine. Turn the engine off and let the bike sit for a minute. Most likely, the oil level will have dropped. Top off the oil as needed to reach the ‘F’ mark.



If you do in fact over fill on oil and no level is visible in the sight window, you can loosen the drain plug and drain the excess oil into the oil pan. Do this as soon as you’re aware of the possible mistake to avoid hurting the engine.

IMG_1264Part 2: Chain Adjustment, Cleaning and Lubing

Tools I used


Digital metric/standard caliper


Two 12mm box end wrenches


1/2’’ torque wrench

breaker bar

32mm socket


Motul Chain Lube

Tip: You can do your chain maintenance while waiting for the oil to drain to save time.

Place the bike on a rear stand.


Remove the cotter pin with a pair of cutters.


Loosen the axle nut. On the ZX-6R, use a 32mm socket and breaker bar to loosen the nut. You do not need to remove it. Remember to push the breaker bar down toward the floor to avoid lifting the bike off the rear stand.


Use a pair of 12mm wrenches to loosen the adjustment nuts. The nut toward the inside (up against the swingarm) is the lock nut and holds the adjuster in place. The bolt head against the spacer (where the axle rests) is the adjustment “knob” per say. Turn the bolt left and it will bring the axle forward, therefore making the chain looser. Turn the bolt right and it will push the axle backward, making the chain tighter.



When adjusting the chain, make sure the marks on both axle spacers line up with the same notch on the swingarm on both sides! For example, if the line on the spacer lines up with the third notch back on the swingarm on the left side, make sure it rests at the third notch on the right side. You will need to adjust both sides simultaneously.



Adjust the chain, so that you have one inch of slack or “one thumb’s worth” of movement in the chain when pushing on it. This ‘one inch’ is a safe amount of slack for general street riding.

chain adjust

Two inches of slack can be okay for track day use or racing, but only if you are a faster rider and only with a healthy or new chain. The extra inch compensates for the added suspension travel as the bike compresses and allows the swingarm to give under the strain, thus preventing possible damage to the seal behind the countershaft (front smaller) sprocket. If you see this amount of slack on a standard street bike, however, the chain needs to be tightened to one inch.


Once you’ve settled on an adjustment, tighten the lock nut on the adjuster while holding the adjuster bolt with the other wrench so that it doesn’t move while tightening. Otherwise, you will have to start over.


Place a screw driver between the chain and rear sprocket and rotate the rear tire so that the screwdriver absorbs all the tension. This helps to hold the chain in place while torque-ing the rear axle nut.


Torque the rear axle nut to approximately 93 foot pounds with a 1/2’’ torque wrench. Remove the screw driver and check the adjustment again. If it is tighter or looser than one inch, repeat the entire process. Keep in mind that the chain will get a tad tighter when torque-ing the axle nut, so when making your adjustment, loosen the adjuster about a quarter turn after your final adjustment to compensate for the added tension when tightening.


Line up the cotter pin hole with a breaker bar and replace the cotter pin. Warning: Never loosen a nut with a torque wrench. It can throw off the calibration, making it useless.


Replace the cotter pin when possible. Here is an example of a worn cotter pin versus a new one.


Insert the cotter pin with the longer leg out. You can pray it up with cutters and hit it in place with a mallet.



Ride the bike around the block to warm up the chain.

You can clean the chain with either contact cleaner, chain cleaner or WD-40. Spray the cleaner onto a rag and use the rag to clean the chain. Do not spray the chain directly, as the cleaner can dry out the O-rings between the links. You can also use a chain brush to clean the chain instead of a rag, but I did not have one.



Here is an example of a dirty chain versus a clean chain.


Lube the chain. Make sure to spray between the links (where the outside face meets the inside face) on both sides of the chain, as well as the rollers in the middle. Rotate the tire for roughly ten seconds, moving across the chain with the spraying nozzle. You can do this at the rear sprocket, or at the middle between the rear tire and cowling.



Wipe the excess lube with a rag so it doesn’t end up getting flung onto your rim.

Tip: Lube the chain every other tank of gas to get as many as 30,000 miles or more out of a chain. Check adjustment roughly every 500 miles. If you don’t have a rear stand, have a friend pull the bike over onto the kick stand while you rotate the tire for maintenance.

Tip: If the rollers rattle, the links are kinked, or you feel tight AND loose spots (when checking adjustment at different points along the chain), the chain is toast and it’s time for a new one. It is recommend you replace the chain and sprockets at the same time to prevent premature wear and to get the maximum amount of life out of your chain.

Here is a sample video of how to tell when the chain needs to be lubed. A loud chain is an unhappy chain. A quiet chain is a healthy, lubed chain.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!