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How to Change the Oil on a Honda CL360

The directions for changing the oil on my CL360 aren't very clear, so I decided to take a step-by-step photo guide to help you!

Oil Change on a CL360

My bike (I call her Georgia) is from 1975. It sat around for years, and the previous owner never rode her. So, needless to say, Georgia needed some work. To pass inspection, the tires and fork seals were replaced, carburetors and fuel lines cleaned, and she got a new horn. What didn't happen at the shop was an oil change.

For some bikes, changing the oil properly is time intensive. Georgia is a CL360 with a 4 stroke engine, 2 cylinders, 2 carburetors, and 6 gears. It's hard to tell from the dipstick of this bike how dirty the oil is. Since we know the bike sat around for years, I decided to give her a proper oil change. My buddy, Jason, and I downloaded the manual and got to work.

What we didn't know before we started was what exactly was involved in properly maintaining the engine oil. On cars and newer bikes, changing the oil is pretty simple: drain the oil, change the filter, and fill the oil pan with fresh oil. Not so with this and similar old bikes.

It's very easy to overburn oil and destroy the cylinders in an engine. Proper lubrication is essential for an engine's long life, fuel efficiency, and smooth running condition. A couple of days ago, I thought I could smell burning oil from Georgia's engine. Plus, she seemed to be running a bit rough. Hence the urgent decision to change the oil.

I looked all over the internet to make sure we did it correctly but couldn't find anything aside from the manual, which doesn't give too many images to help. So, I decided to write it down here and add some pictures.

The crankcase is where oil is stored.

The crankcase is where oil is stored.

Step 1: Locate the Crankcase

On a Honda CL360 (and CB360), the oil is contained within the crankcase, which is where all the gears are. To filter the oil, it runs through a centrifugal oil filter, which spins forcing sediment to stick to the sides of a rotor assembly. The filtered oil then spits out of the rotor to recirculate into the engine.

Larger particles sink to the bottom of the crankcase and are filtered by a metal screen. When the oil is changed on this kind of bike, both the rotary filter (centrifugal filter) and the metal screen should be clean. Otherwise, dirt in the crankcase will be recirculated and will bog down the engine.

Step 2: Drain Oil

  • First, warm up the engine. This warms the oil and loosens it so it drains easier. Be careful that the engine doesn't get too hot that the drain plug cannot be handled.
  • Then, remove the oil drain plug with a 17mm socket wrench with a pan underneath to catch the old oil. Make sure you have the metal gasket (looks like a washer) with the plug. If the drain plug is too tight, try putting an iron pipe around the socket wrench handle or use a long-handled wrench for more leverage.
Underneath the bike

Underneath the bike

Step 3: Remove Parts

While the oil is draining, you can remove the parts that need to come off in order to get to the oil filter and screen.

  • Since these parts are inside the crankcase, the crankcase cover must come off.
  • To get the cover off, the rear brake lever, foot peg, and kick start lever must also be removed.
  • On a CB360, the exhaust pipe must be removed. Now are you starting to understand why motorcycle oil changes can get expensive at a shop?

Tip: While removing these parts, it can help to take pictures of what you are removing to make sure you replace all the parts properly. Particularly, remember how the brake pedal is angled, since it can go on at a number of different angles. Also be careful that the brake light spring is not overstretched when you disconnect it.

Step 4: Remove Crankcase Cover

After the oil is drained, the crankcase cover can come off. Make sure your oil pan is underneath it as you remove the cover because leftover oil will spill out.

  • When you remove the cover, you might have to loosen it by carefully striking the cover with a mallet (we used a hammer and bunch of newspaper folded up to keep the case from getting scratched or dented).
  • Also, make sure that you take the cover off at an angle, starting at the left edge. The gasket, which might be stuck to the cover can pull off the gear below the centrifugal filter. Make sure the gasket is in good shape. If it's torn or shredded, replace it.
  • If the gear becomes loose, make sure when you put the cover back on to realign it with the filter gear.

Step 5: Remove the Screen Filter

The screen filter at the bottom is held by a metal assembly with 3 bolts. To clean the screen, the entire assembly must be removed. Then the rubber housing framing the screen can be removed.

The filter screen assembly is located at the bottom of the crankcase.

The filter screen assembly is located at the bottom of the crankcase.

Step 6: Clean the Filter

Since there was sludge and metal shards from the engine in the screen, it needed to be cleaned off. We used turpentine to loosen the sludge, then rinsed it with water and let it dry.

Tip: Remove the screen from the metal assembly before using solvents to clean the screen. When replacing the screen, make sure that the rubber housing wraps around the metal frame all the way. I used a flathead screwdriver to ease the edges around the frame.

Step 7: Getting to the Oil Filter

The CL360 has a centrifugal oil filter.

The CL360 has a centrifugal oil filter.

Cleaning the oil filter requires dealing with several parts: the rotor cylinder, the rotor cap, a rubber gasket, and a metal clip holding in the cover.

  • First, the metal cover clip must be removed by pinching together the two ends with needlenose pliers and pulling it out.
Metal clip which holds the rotor cover in place.

Metal clip which holds the rotor cover in place.

  • Then, the cap must come off. Some say to use pliers to remove the cap, but this did not work for us. Instead, we got it off by inserting a flathead screwdriver into the holes in the center of the cap, gently leveraging it off by rocking the screwdriver little by little around the circumference. [Update from Bike Doctor who commented below: "The centrifugal filter is removed using a 6 x 40 mm bolt tightened into the center of the cap. Using a screwdriver to 'leverage it out' can damage the bearing surface." Thanks, Bike Doctor! Apparently, it's the same bolt that's used on the crankcase cover.]
  • Be careful not to shred the gasket, which is just behind the cap.
Inside the rotor.

Inside the rotor.

Step 8: Clean the Oil Filter

This is where the oil change can get time consuming. Sediment from used oil collects onto the inside surface of the rotor, which should still be attached to the bike. This must be cleaned out, or else the sediment can continue to build up and cause the rotor to stick.

  • I used a thin flathead screwdriver to scrape out the sludge, then used a rag with some oil on it to wipe it clean.

Tip: Don't use WD40 inside the crankcase. Use clean motor oil.

Scraping off the sludge from inside the rotor.

Scraping off the sludge from inside the rotor.

  • After the sludge is removed from the rotor, put some clean oil in it so that when the engine is started, it will lubricate immediately.
  • Also, wipe down the rest of the crankcase, removing any sludge.
  • Replace the rotor cap with a good gasket pushing it in until you can see the ridge where the metal clip goes. Make sure the tab on the cap lines up with the line on the outside edge of the rotor. Then pinch the metal clip ends together to fit it against the cap to hold the cap in place.
Putting it back together

Putting it back together

Step 9: The Oil Change

Once the sludge is wiped off and the filter and screen are replaced, the crankcase is ready for fresh oil.

  • Carefully attach the crankcase cover. Be careful not to dislocate that gear beneath the rotor assembly, as mentioned above. If the cover doesn't seem to go back on, that gear might be out of place.
  • Once all the screws are back in the crankcase; the oil drain plug is replaced with its metal gasket; and the kickstart lever, foot peg, and brake lever are replaced; fill her up!
  • We used 2 quarts of oil for "older engines." The manual says to use an oil with detergent, and another vintage Honda owner recommended synthetic oil. I use synthetic oil in my CRX, so it makes sense to use it in these old classic bikes. [New note: Synthetics do not work in all old motorcycles. If you have an old Honda CX500, do NOT use synthetic oil. Only use old-fashioned 10W40 in those bikes or else the gears will slip and oil will leak.]
  • Be environmentally kind and put the old oil in the empty oil containers and take them to a service station where it can be safely disposed or recycled (we hope).

After the oil change, Georgia seems to run smoother. No more burning oil smell. Yay.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2009 Wing Girl Kim


Bill on April 13, 2016:

Replacement O-ring Part number for the filter cap: O Ring 41 X 2- 91309-286-000.

Brian Balzer on March 17, 2014:

Hope things keep looking up for you.

Wing Girl Kim (author) on March 16, 2014:

Thanks, guys, for all the comments! quiterandom, I lost my joy of motorcycle repair and not long after learned I had been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder from 9-11. I wrote about it on my blog, motorcyclebaby.com. But recently, thanks to help from some amazing people in the new town where I moved to, I'm healing and starting to get that joy back.

About gaskets, unfortunately, it gets harder and harder to find replacement gaskets for these old bikes. But check this out: http://youtu.be/6rx5hGKt1PY

Brian Balzer on March 16, 2014:

I know this is an old post but I'll comment anyway. I was searching for information on the 76 CL360 my son just got because I was trying to find out if the side plates from a 75 would work it. The guy who is selling them said his cross reference guide doesn't show that they made a CL360 in 76.

Anyhow, that's how I found a link to your article and decided to click it. I'm sure glad I did. I'll bet this bike likely needs it as the guy we bought it from probably only drained it and filled it back up.

Pieman is/was missing part of the pleasure of having a bike if he let(s) his servants clean it for him. Not everyone is cut out for doing their own work though.

david ricci on January 05, 2014:

Great! I'm a picture guy and you did a beautiful job. Saved my '75 360 out of a backyard under a tarp for 15 yrs, runs great now.

Thanks again -David

quiterandom on October 13, 2013:

Nice article, shame you haven't been doing more.

Chase on June 11, 2012:

Thanks a lot for this. I just changed the oil and cleaned the filter on mine and this helped me a lot.

steve on March 25, 2012:

Thanks. I just purchased a 75 CL360 and would really like to thoroughly replace the oil and filter, since the bike has sat for over a year. It runs well enough but who knows if the oil was ever changed like this. One question; how hard is it to get replacement gaskets, if I tear it taking the cover off?

cafe360 on March 12, 2012:

Thanks for sharing your experience on maintaining georgia, very informative.

Wing Girl Kim (author) on March 05, 2012:

@grodrigop Fun project! I'm working on changing the look of mine right now! Got some drag bars, mini LED blinkers. About to buy a crimping tool from Vintage Connections. Post some pics of yours on a hub!

grodrigop@hotmail.com on March 05, 2012:

i habe a honda cl360, but im' tryng to bringin bac to live, was in an inundation in Chile, and habe de motor in restoration.. im going to try make work first, after haw they look.

wing girl kim on February 22, 2012:

Hmm. I don't remember where I got the gaskets. Bike Bandit maybe? The best resource for sourcing materials is through forums. Sometimes, individuals stock up on gaskets and sell them as sets specific for bike models for some profit, to the benefit of the buyer.

inkink on February 21, 2012:

Just was wondering where you buy your gaskets from. I have a '75 CB360T. Thanks. You can email me at yourcaptain@ymail.com Thanks again!

Maryanna on November 02, 2011:

Stumbled upon this because I'm about to winterize my 74 Honda CL100, and this will certainly come in handy. Thanks a lot, lady.

survivalsickness on July 01, 2011:

Thanks, great tips, I might add; A little high heat gasket material on the metal gasket (washer) for the oil plug helps immensely to keep it from leaking when back together. also a 50/50 oil and mineral spirit solution in a ketchup-style squirt bottle can be great for rinsing out excess sludge.

onesojourner on April 26, 2011:

thanks for the tip about getting using the crank case cover screw to get the cap off the filter. that worked like a charm.

Jasper on February 24, 2011:

+1 on using a screw from the crankcase cover to get the rotor cap out, figured it out after trying to pry it out with a screwdriver and scratching it like a fool. . . shoulda read the comments!

Scott on February 16, 2011:

use a bolt from the crankcase cover to push the rotor out, mine was a mess inside!

WingGirl Kim on June 11, 2010:


You obviously don't own one of these old bikes. Because if you did, and the oil needed changing, you'd know that a mechanic would charge for the amount of time it takes to take everything apart.

on June 10, 2010:

if your not man enough to wash and work on it your not man enough to ride it (or woman) sorry ladies

pieman on June 10, 2010:

Lame, that's what hired help is for, to change oil and wash/polish a bike.Why do it yourself?

WingGirl Kim on December 21, 2009:

awesome, Bike Doctor! Thanks!

Bike Doctor on December 19, 2009:

Thanks, though, for all of the information. It was helpful.

Bike Doctor on December 19, 2009:

The centrifugal filter is removed using a 6 x 40 mm bolt tightened into the center of the cap. Using a screw driver to "leverage it out" can damage the bearing surface.

poetlorraine on December 17, 2009:

so glad of this hub, if i ever buy a motor bike i will come back and read this, somehow i don't think so, but i used to go on motorbikes a lot

Raymond D Choiniere from USA on December 17, 2009:

Well presented Hub. Thank you so much for sharing. I never knew how to change oil on my own Bike. I always took it to someone else to do the work. :D Thank you for sharing. :)

Brian fisher on December 11, 2009:

Terrific explanation. I'm going to tackle this very soon on my 74 cl360. Do you have a favorite site for finding most gaskets and parts in general? Any info greatly appreciated. Thanx. Brian. I'm at seaskiff_2@yahoo.com

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