You already know that engines need oil, but do you know the special needs of motorcycles? This year about 2 million motorcycles will get sold in the United States. Each one will come equipped with the latest technology for performance and efficiency. You need to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for using the best motorcycle oil.
Ignore this advice, and you set yourself up for a damaged engine. The smartest thing you can do is understand what oil does, what it is, and what to look for.
10 Best Motorcycle Oil Picks 2018
Here are our top picks for the best motorcycle oil. The best one for you is going to depend on your specific bike and needs.
Best Motorcycle Oil 5W-40
This synthetic oil has multifunctional dispersant additives. This gives you 1.5% enhanced fuel capacity without sacrificing engine protection. If you are looking for an affordable oil that other riders endorse this is your oil. There is also a low ash version that fights exhaust poisoning.
Best Motorcycle Oil 10W-40
This product has a strong fan following thanks to its viscosity and stability. Those that use this oil report hearing their engine run smoother and sound better. While this oil formulation is for Honda engines, you can use it in other motorcycles. You can also use it in your ATVs.
Best 20W-50 Synthetic Motorcycle Oil
This synthetic oil is popular for its longer life and high-temperature resistance. Fans of those oil report that their engines make less noise and experience fewer leaks. Since it is a synthetic oil, it will give you less engine wear and improved lubrication. It has a viscosity rating of 20w-50.
Best Synthetic Blend Motorcycle Oil
Actevo oil clings to your engine’s components to provide superior protection. It creates a barrier against carbon that gets created from high temperatures.
This increased protection allows for greater performance over longer periods of time. Both fuel-injected and carburetor motors can use this oil. The increased protection continues to your clutch and gearbox. Be aware that this oil is a partly synthetic oil.
Best Racing Motorcycle Oil
This oil is a favorite of those who have a passion for hands-on performance of their motorcycle. Users report increased stability and lubrication for max power.
Mobil guarantees you’ll have optimal wet clutch engagement. If that isn’t enough, your engine will also have protection from oxidation. This also helps prevent degradation from high temperatures. These benefits make it one of the best synthetic motorcycle oil options.
Best Motorcycle Oil for Harley Davidson
This oil is for motorcycle engines such as the Twin Cam and Evolution from Harley Davidson. The thinning you experience at high temperatures gets reduced with this oil.
Higher amounts of phosphorus and zinc make this oil effective at anti-wear. There are also friction modifiers in the oil. This is for improved wet-clutch performance making for smooth and quiet shifting.
Best Motorcycle Engine Oil for Acceleration
For superior acceleration, this is the best motorcycle engine oil. Your motorcycle’s engine will experience less engine friction. This full-synthetic oil works well in both fuel injected and carburetor engines. Those who use this oil have nothing but praise for delivering on its promise.
Best Motorcycle Oil for Cold Weather
For those who live in cold weather areas, this Polaris oil will keep your engine starting. Your engine will also have protection against rust and corrosion.
This full-synthetic oil works best in variable exhaust systems. This would include all Polaris 2 cycle engines. While users are happy with the oil’s performance, some think the cost is a bit much. The price may be worth it if it fits your needs, though.
Best Motorcycle Oil Filter Kit
This product is more than oil as buyers get a kit including an oil filter to remove contaminants. It’s perfect for new owners who may not have experience with motorcycle oil changes. You get an oil filter, two washers, and semi-synthetic oil. To make things easier, you also get detailed, step by step directions.
Best 4T Motorcycle Oil
The second kit on our list, this one gives you some of the best motorcycle oil plus a filter and crush washer. This kit is perfect for those who have 4 stroke engines. This kit comes recommended by experienced bike owners. You will find that the value for the cost is great.
As with the Honda and Polaris oils, this one’s original design is for Suzuki motorcycles. That doesn’t stop you from using it in other engines though.
What Does the Oil Do?
You want to use a high-quality oil to keep your engine running cool and smooth. You want an oil that can coat the moving metal parts to reduce friction.
A natural product of friction is heat generation. Oil helps reduce heat and carries away any heat created. This helps your engine run at the right temperature, ensuring you get the most efficiency while also preventing damage.
Metal Bits and Gunk
You want an oil that can trap the by-products of your engine’s combustion. This prevents them from going through the rest of the system and causing mayhem and damage.
The Necessary Evil of Oxygen
You need air to create combustion, but air contains oxygen. Just as oxygen causes iron to rust, it causes corrosion in your engine. There’s no magic filter to screen oxygen out during the air intake. What you can do is reduce the effects by protecting your engine metal with oil.
Types of Motor Oil
There are three types of motor oil you will see on the shelf. There is mineral oil, semi-synthetic, and full synthetic
Mineral oil is refined from crude oil. The only time you should look at this oil is if you ride a really old or vintage motorcycle. It’s less stable and breaks down quicker with use. This doesn’t make it ideal for engines that operate at higher heats.
This is a mix of synthetic compounds and crude oil. It’s a good middle ground kind of oil between mineral or full synthetic. You will have the performance benefits of the synthetic and your wallet will appreciate a price closer to the crude oil.
This oil is a man-made substance created by blending together different compounds. A chemical process changes the molecular structure of the oil. You will find that synthetics are more expensive but it’s worth the performance you’ll get out of them.
Things to Consider
The most important thing to consider with oil is what your motorcycle manufacturer recommends. This oil will have the right viscosity and additives that your specific engine needs.
If you don’t have any idea of what you want in your motorcycle motor oil the best place to start is online reviews. Read through the opinions of others looking for people with bikes the same as yours.
Don’t put the wrong type of oil in your motorcycle. If your engine uses mineral and you use synthetic, your engine could start leaking oil.
Viscosity is how fast or slow the oil flows. Low viscosity oil lows freely and fast. High viscosity will not flow well at all, like molasses. Oil will get a number rating like this: 10W-30. The 10w is the SAE viscosity grade when the engine is cold and the 30 is when the engine is hot. The wrong viscosity in your engine will cause metal on metal grinding.
You should check the additives in the oil as they work in your engine to remove debris and acid. They also work to lubricate and cool your engine. Using the wrong oil can cause increased friction and a shorter engine life.
Best Motorcycle Oil Brands
Look for these brands as quality oil producers. Don’t trust a company that you’re not sure of their quality as this can ruin your engine.
- Castrol and Mobile 1 are companies that have prestigious reputations with most manufacturers. Both of these brands have positive reputations with automotive oil.
- Shell produces product lines of both mineral and synthetic oils for both car and bikes. They also have a partnership with Ducati Corse.
- Honda and Polaris are two companies that produce both the machine and the oil that goes in them. Their oils can work in other machines besides their own.
Do Not Use Automotive Oil
Motorcycle oil and the automotive oil are not the same things. The oil you put in your car can harm your bike engine. Automotive oil has friction modifiers to help your car idle smoother. This has to do with the emissions regulations put on cars. Motorcycle engines do not need these modifiers. Auto oil in your motorcycle results in a slipping clutch and damaged transmission.
Do Not Use Old Oil
The oil sitting on your shelf in the garage has a shelf life of a few years. For cars, this may not be a big issue as you change your oil on a regular basis. Depending on how often and how far you ride, you will go longer between oil changes. A good rule to follow is, the more complicated the oil formulation, the shorter the shelf life.
You should also consider the engine technology of your bike. An older oil may not have the right formulation to work in a newer engine.