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07/02/2020 News

The ultimate guide to motorcycle oil

Keeping prides of joy up free from wear and corrosion and preserving engine performance to keep owners’ pulse rates high, motorcycle oil is a must-have. If you’re a rider wanting to better understand motorcycle oil so you can keep your bike in even better nick, check out our answers in this ultimate guide to motorcycle oil. 

What is the difference between motorcycle oil and car oil? 

There are a few key differences between motorcycle oil and car oil.  

First, the transmission – motorcycles use the engine oil to cool the transmission, whereas in cars this role is performed by ATF fluid. Car oils commonly contain friction modifiers to improve engine efficiency, but if these find their way into motorcycle transmissions, they can cause slippages and lock-ups. As such, bike oils lack friction modifiers.  

Second, motorcycle oils also lack many of the detergent additives found in car oils, since if these are used in motorcycle engines they can lead to a build-up of deposits on and damage to the valve train and piston crown.  

Finally, there are more occurrences of motorcycle manufactures developing model-specific oils than car manufacturers. As such, always check your owner’s manual to ensure you don’t need a specific type of oil. 

Can I use car oil in a motorcycle? 

It’s always a good idea to use a specialised motorcycle oil as opposed to a car engine oil. This is because motorcycle engines are placed under different pressures during operation.  

Bike engines rev a lot more than car engines, so need greater heat and wear protection from their lubricant. They also differ from a mechanical perspective, having wet clutches and higher-load gearboxes which require greater cooling capabilities, shear stability and additional additives in order to operate effectively. 

If you’re unsure which oil you should use in your motorcycle, check your owner’s manual. 

How to flush engine oil in a motorcycle  

It’s not recommended you flush a motorcycle’s engine, since you may cause otherwise stable debris and dirt to be dislodged and flow around the engine, or even harm seals and other engine components. What’s more, modern motorcycle oils are designed to clean engine components, making engine flushes redundant.  

Always try changing a motorcycle’s oil before you perform an engine flush. View our handy guide for more information. 

Only flush a motorcycle’s engine if it is particularly inundated with deposits and sludge formation and there is no other way to clean the system. When flushing, always be sure to follow the instructions that come with the engine flush kit. 

Motorcycle chain oil or wax? 

Motorcycle chain oil and wax can be useful in preventing chain wear, but which should you choose? Generally, both will do the same job, and in many cases, the terms will be used interchangeably, particularly if the products come in the same type of container. 

If choosing between wet lube (oil) and dry wax, lube is generally easier to apply given that it is a liquid and comes with an applicator, but may require reapplication sooner, due to being lighter than wax. Wax may require the chain to be removed, and can sometimes cause chains to stiffen over time, however this can usually be easily removed during cleaning.  

Whichever product you choose, always be careful you 

The benefits of synthetic oil in motorcycles 

Choosing between mineral and synthetic oil for your motorcycle? There are lots of reasons why synthetics can be better choice, offering a range of benefits you simply won’t experience when using mineral oils. 

  • Stall resistance 

  • Corrosion protection 

  • Reduced deposits  

  • Anti-friction 

  • Improved cooling 

  • Extended drain intervals 

  • Fewer emissions and smoke 

  • Improved fuel economy 

In most cases, synthetic oils are a better choice for newer motorcycles, but with older models, mineral oils are usually a must-have. This is because they have better sealing properties and are less likely to leak through sometimes-imprecise vintage engines. Older engines also don’t work as hard as those in new motorcycles, so simply don’t need the high-tech synthetic oil formulations that high-performance engines require.