Oil plays an essential role in the operation of your motorcycle engine – cleaning, cooling and lubricating it. Over time oil becomes thin and dirty, which ultimately influences performance. That’s why checking and replacing your oil regularly is a must for any rider. Get the best motorcycle oil for your ride and read our basic introduction.
Note: Information presented on this page is for educational purposes only. Always rely on your motorcycle owner’s manual and the oil manufacturer’s information for full user handling, care, instructions, etc.
Motorcycle Oil Introduction
Make sure you get the right oil for your motorcycle. Motor oils come in different grades / weights. Each grade is rated for ignition compression (for diesel engines), spark ignition (for gasoline engines) or for both types of engines. Additionally, oils can be synthetic or natural, include detergents, be a multigrade (20W-50) or single grade (50), and made for motorcycles or cars.
Understanding biker oils is essential to getting the best mc oil. The thickness of the fluid is measure in SAE rating. The lower the number the lighter and easier it flows. Also, when oil gets hot it flows easier. To compensate, hot oil viscosity mix are available called 20W-50. Which means a cold oil flows like a 20 grade, but at high temperature it flows like a thicker 50 grade.
What oil do you need to buy? I would suggest a synthetic oil for modern bikes (not for older models) since synthetic holds its properties much better than a natural oil. A specific oil isn’t always the best motorcycle oil and may not be worth the extra investment, such as if you hardly ever change the oil or ride under extreme situations. A wide multi-grade range is smarter for the engine.
Four stroke engines store the oil in a reservoir while two stroke engines work in a different way. In two stroke engines the oil gets pumped around the moving parts and gets burnt during the combustion process. That’s why you don’t need to drain two stroke engines for maintenance. Just keep them topped up with quality oil.
Maintenance on four strokes is simple. Carefully drain the oil while it is still hot, remove the filter, and replace with an appropriate new one. Watch very carefully that the filter is sealed well. Check your owner manual for more tips.
Motorcycle Oil Buying
Motorcycle oil becomes dirty after it’s been run through an engine for many miles. It must be changed regularly to keep the engine running properly.
Check your user’s manual to find the recommended type of oil for your bike. All new motorcycles come with user’s manuals. If you don’t have one for your bike, you should be able to find a copy on the internet.
It’s best to always use the same type, brand, and grade of motorcycle oil in your engine. The only reason to change would be if you move to a different climate. A heavier grade of oil is recommended for use in a colder climate to improve cold starting ability, while a lighter grade should be fine for a more temperate climate.
Synthetic motorcycle oil benefits include: better fuel economy, more power, less friction, improved temperature control, longer engine life, reduced part failures and more.
A racing motor oil is recommended, along with more frequent oil changes, if you will be racing your motorcycle at high speeds. You would need the cooling ability to control the high temperatures created in the engine when racing. For normal recreational riding or commuting, increased performance oil is not necessary.
Motorcycle Oil Tips
- Try to keep your oil changes as regular as possible. Sticking to an oil change regime is simple, and is one of the easiest ways to ensure your bike keeps running smoothly.
- Keep your radiator as clean as possible. Make sure grit and flies are out of the fins as smooth airflow ensures the best cooling of the engine.
- Use detergent motorcycle oil – the detergent added to the oil helps gather dirt particles in the oil until it gets to the filter. Without it your engine starts to run less smoothly over a longer period of time.
- Part of the oil function is to help with heat reduction from the internal friction and combustion process. The hot oil ends in the oil sump, which for that reason also has cooling fins.
- Dry sump systems have the oil stored outside the engine (e.g., Harley Davidson), whereas a wet sump system has the oil in the bottom of the engine.
- Drain oil when it’s hot as it flows and holds the dirt particles better.
- Use synthetic oil for these conditions (always check your owner manual):
- the bike is performing under a lot of stress
- you are not good at following a maintenance schedule
- you ride short distances
- Don’t use synthetic oil in an older engine.
- Under most circumstances it is wise to run a multi-grade oil in your motorcycle engine.
- Oil gets used in a combustion process with two stroke engines. This is normal, so check the oil very often.
- There is no need to change the oil filter with every oil change. Tthe ratio is two changes to one filter. If in doubt, change both.
- Don’t use car oil filter on motorcycles as the bypass filter is set to a much higher pressure.
- Overfilling with oil can cause just as much damage as running with too little oil in your engine.
- Realize that oil filters come in two different types: canister filters (when replacing watch the loose springs and bolts) and spinon filters.
- Drain plugs are often a little magnetic so they are able to catch little metal parts in the oil. Remember to wipe clean when servicing.