Monday, February 15, 2016

The engine oil topic

The most talked and controversial topic in the biking world. Mineral, synthetic blend or fully synthetic and the choice of ratings is the major point of discussion not leaving out the brand.


This type is mostly and more suitable for older motorcycle as they are thicker and will not easily leak due to the ageing engine though when this bikes where made the synthetic oil was not relevant or invented. Well in this part of the world we have them very much available.

However, your motorcycle manual will specify a particular oil and it is prudent to adhere strictly to that. But usually the manual only provides specifications of viscosity/weight and service classifications, not the origin or the manufacturer.                                                                                                                                                                                      Picture from thelubricantcompany

The main advantage of mineral oils is that they are cheaper, sometimes about a quarter of the price of synthetics. Many new motorcycles are delivered with mineral oil in them. That’s not necessarily a cost-saving measure. Mineral oil actually helps the rings and pistons bed in properly during the crucial run-in stage. Synthetic oils can create a film around the bore so it doesn’t seal properly, leading to slippage and higher oil use later in the engine’s lifespan.

There are many advantages of synthetic oils, including the fact that they are better able to properly lubricate and tolerate the extremes the oils are subjected to in modern high-performance, high-revving engines. especially when operating in hot climates.

Note: Motorcycle manufacturers also put into consideration the African continent and the heat.


Synthetic oils also last longer which you will see for yourself when you drain the sump at your scheduled next service. Synthetic oil usually doesn’t form such a thick, black sludge caused by oxidation.

But don’t be alarmed if the drained oil is dirty. That’s just the oil doing its job. If it comes out looking the same as it went in, you might have a problem as it’s not doing its job.

The lower viscosity (resistance to breaking down) of synthetic oils reduces internal friction which means better efficiency, more performance and slightly higher fuel economy.

It may cost a lot more than mineral oil, but it may yield some economic returns in fuel economy, a longer-lasting engine and longer periods between oil changes. However, extending your scheduled oil change would be a false economy in the long run.

RACQ technical officer Steve Spalding advises that owners should use quality branded oil and keep to the schedule for oil and filter changes as motorcycle engines place high demands on engine oils. Air-cooled engines, in particular, place a lot of stress on the oil in hot weather and stop-start traffic conditions.

“In my experience, a good quality synthetic oil is a small price to pay for engine protection.

I learnt from experience when I first started riding in the late ’70s that the wrong oil can be costly. After pulling into a service station one night I filled my 250 Yamaha with auto transmission fluid instead of two stroke oil because I wasn’t paying attention, even though the oil was the typical dark red colour. Within a day of further riding the engine seized and it cost me barrels, pistons, secondhand crank and rods plus a few very late nights rebuilding the engine.”

So with the explanation done in, my little advice is to look into your motorcycle user manual.

Are car oils suitable for a motorcycle?

As the old ad slogan used to say, Oils ain’t oils, and that’s very true for motorcycle lubrication which has different requirements from cars.

French oil company Motul says oils in your car are mainly to lubricate moving parts in the engine, while oils in your motorcycle not only lubricate the engine but also cool the clutch and lubricate and protect the gearbox.

Motul has supplied the following information for riders so they can choose the correct oil for their bike:

1 Protection for gearbox:

Because a motorcycle uses the same oil for both engine and gearbox the oil needs to offer protection for engine components and the gears. This requires motorcycle oil to be uniquely formulated with dedicated technology.

2 Excellent shear stability

Shear stability is the measure of the amount of viscosity that an oil may lose during operation Since a motorcycle engine oil serves two functions – to lubricate the engine and gearbox – it needs to be able to maintain its intended viscosity for the entire service life. With service intervals increasing to 10,000km+, such shear stability has become extremely important.

3 Balanced lubricated friction characteristics

A car engine oil aims to reduce friction between moving parts in order to provide good fuel economy and efficiency. A motorcycle engine oil requires balanced friction characteristics as it needs to lubricate the wet clutch, which in turn transfers engine power to the drivetrain. If the friction level is too low, the clutch will not be able to engage and will cause slippage.

So what this means is you should choose a special motorcycle oil designed for your bike.

Check your owner’s manual for the correct oil weight.


Main Reasons to Change Oil

Here’s a brief (non-technical) review…

1. Oil and the additives in oil gradually break down during use through thermal and mechanical action. Degradation at the molecular level reduces lubricating effectiveness. Also, the significant shearing forces generated in a motorcycle with a “shared” engine / transmission oil sump along with a “wet” clutch accelerate this effect compared to modern cars.

2. Oil’s ability to maintain proper viscosity-to-temperature calibration diminishes as the oil gets “tired.”

3. Byproducts of combustion sneak past the piston rings and begin to dilute and contaminate the oil. Ditto for imperfectly sealed coolant passages which can allow coolant to infiltrate the crankcase.

4. Microscopic coke particles accumulate in the oil. This is the main explanation for why oil darkens with use.

5. In any running engine, moving parts shed metallic particles. These microscopic particles circulate in the oil and grind against moving part surfaces causing wear. The oil filter removes a high volume of these particles, but eventually the oil filter can become overwhelmed.

6. Neglected oil inevitably breaks down over time and begins to oxidize. That’s a bad development as the additives will separate, morph and solidify. This forms one of your engine’s worst enemies: sludge.

For these reasons, the oil and filter need to be changed on a regular, religious basis.

The purpose of this Tech Tip is to call your attention to a less well known reason the change your oil.

Effect on Stators

As oil ages past its useful service life, harmful acids and other “nasties” build in the oil. These acids have been implicated in stator failures in vintage motorcycles. 

Our motorcycles don’t have external auto-type alternators. Instead, vintage Honda's have fixed, internal stators that typically live in a “wet” environment…constantly splashed by engine oil. This is a good design in that the oil splash helps keep the stator windings cool, but worn out motor oil is thought by some to be a contributing factor in premature stator failure.

It is thought that the acids can deteriorate the thin, insulating coatings on the windings causing them to fail and produce open circuits, short circuits and inappropriate short circuits to ground. Any of these problems can take out one or more phases of your stator.

Stator replacement on an early ‘Wing requires engine removal and partial engine disassembly. It’s a very time-consuming task and very expensive if you’re paying for someone else’s labor.

Do yourself and your bike a favor: keep fresh oil in your bike!

Note: Car specific engine oil will not protect your stator and mineral oil which breaks down quickly will also not do same resulting to a failure which extends to you battery not been charged correctly then problems from fuel pump not getting the right voltage, and ECU getting a higher voltage and more fault can lead to the your motorcycle damage.




  1. Good start

    What oil do you use yourself and on what bike?

    Happy with it?

  2. On oil, my take is, use the correct weight as recommended by the manufacturer, CHANGE it when due. Change with time if you do not cover enough mileage to change at least every 6 months.
    Also bear in mind short journeys repeated cost the oil a lot in term of performance degradation and factor that in to you change cycle.

  3. Changing from 10w50 to 60.... Don't see much diff but learnt it makes the engine more quiet and runs better ( KTM forums)

  4. Current autos require cutting edge execution arrangements, a standout amongst the most widely recognized things being an oil catch can. This keeps your bay clean of the always expanding oil vapor reused in present day autos, which prompts decreased execution, economy and consequent moving parts disappointment. What the hell is an oil catch can then?

  5. Taking into account examination that had been directed by Mobil 1, 75% from the 1,000 UK drivers addressed didn't know the most ideal approach to check their motor oil, and one portion of all drivers have no clue why motor oil is required in any case. With the conceivable absence of cognizance, comes a general obliviousness of why engine oil must be changed routinely, which may clarify why a few proprietors don't comprehend why it's a significant part of an administration program.

  6. Over the span of your life, you've presumably heard numerous things about engine oil. Individuals discuss its significance, its capacity, and how to know when it is the ideal opportunity for an oil change. Yet, would you say you are certain that all that you think about this point is quite? View more

  7. In any case, would you say you are certain that all that you think about this point is entirely? There are numerous myths about engine oil that have been coursing for quite a long time. Look at this rundown of the absolute most prominent deceptions.

  8. You should choose synthetic oil 100% of the time. Don't be put off by the increased price; it pays for itself and then some in the form of less wear on your vehicle, lasting longer, etc.

    Fred |

  9. I also drive a high-mileage car. Somehow it ticked over 107,000 miles the other day… Good to know that I can swing through Walmart to get an oil change while I check my weekly errands off my list at the same time. Thanks for sharing! Find out how to change car oil..