Are we Bikers suckers?

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I find it funny how the big players always recommend us to only use a bike specific oil(+$$$)which they happen to make.And all the ones I have looked at are with an obsolete API rating. But here in New Zealand not all of them market a bike specific oil and in that case they happily recommend one of their car oils. Some that I have been recommended!! 1/ PENRITE, HPR Gas10, or Diesel 5 2/ VALVOLINE, Synpower, or Durablend 3/ MOBIL, Super 2000, because I told them I wanted a semi syn and they don't market a bike one here. If I have learned anything from studying a bit about oil, it's not to trust what the oil companies tell you. The minute my bike comes out of warranty, its getting an HDEO 15w-40 anything changed regularly. Just my little rant. Johnboy
 
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I seldom use bike specific oils in my bikes - so of course I have Silkolene Pro4 in the BMW,which doesn't need a bike oil at all.It was just a half used 5 litre pack that had been around a bit too long.
 
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From a purely mechanical point of view, what are the key differentials between a motorcycle engine and a car engine? I'm no mechanic, so these are just hunches on my part:
  • Some bikes are air cooled; all newer cars are water cooled
  • Some bikes have shared sumps; no newer car I'm aware of has that
  • Some bikes run at higher RPMs; some cars do, but most do not
  • Some motorcycles operate with aggressive acceleration profiles; some cars do, but most do not
So it seems to my eye we have two general classes of motorcycles out there:
  • Aggressively operated (i.e., race) motorcycles
  • Moderately operated (i.e., recreational) motorcycles
The questions in my mind then become:
  • Do moderately operated motorcycles have special lubrication needs, aside from reasonable change intervals?
  • Do aggressively operated motorcycles really have special lubrication needs?
My guess is moderately operated motorcycles do not. My guess is aggressively operated motorcycles have perhaps some, but not many. Is my thinking at least sensible? Or am I way off base?
 

Kestas

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What is it specifically that a bike demands from an oil, that it can't get from regular motor oils? My knowledge is sketchy. I don't ride or maintain bikes. All I can think of is that air-cooled engines are more prone to vaporize the oil. You need to move to heavier viscosities or synthetics to combat this condition. Also, I believe that some bikes require high levels of ZDDP for the clutches. Instead of buying expensive motorcycle oil, maybe just adding a ZDDP booster to motor oil is cheaper and just as good. A good starting oil should be the diesel-rated oils, such as Rotella T oils. Correct me if I'm wrong.
 
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I think it's important to separate three key things: 1 - Wet clutch requirements 2 - Higher wear factors because operational extremes 3 - Higher temperatures due to air cooling I think the key for #1 is simply that the oil have a friction coefficient that allows the clutch to operate. That's why "energy conserving" oils are generally bad for wet clutch operations -- they contain friction reducers that make clutch plates slip. I think the key for #2 is typically ZDDP. But based on my reading, it seems there's some controversy over what level of ZDDP is really needed. "More is better" is not necessarily true, from what I understand. For #3 I think the key is viscosity. A 0W-20 oil in a air cooled V-twin stuck in traffic would likely suffer considerably. A straight-weight 50 would not. The thing that goes through my head is that there's nothing in those three requirements that are really addressed by "motorcycle specific" oils that aren't also addressed by other oils.
 

PT1

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I look at one major factor: Heat in my air cooled Harley TC88. I will only use a 20w50 oil that can stand up to 250-300F temps and is very shear stable for 4-5000 miles in a 3 quart sump. That eliminates just about all of the automotive oils IMO.
 
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Many cycles are either water cooled or air/oil cooled. The higher stress of cycle operations is covered by the heavier weight oils specified; typically 10W-40, and shorter change intervals. Yes, we are anal about cycle oil.
 

OLDMANBJ

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I guess after reading my initial post on this, what I am trying to say is that I'm sure the oil engineers really try to formulate a product tailored to a set of circumstances given all the variables. Then they have no control over the marketing of said product. This is where the $ number crunchers take over, and play on the "General" lack of knowledge people have about whats required. I would like one of the major oil companies who make both bike and car oils, to post up the respective data sheets and show us what exact magic ingredient( or the lack of) the bike oil contains. Come on guys,humour us. There are some clever cookies on this site. I know it wont happen. As I said, some big companies recommend their car products, when faced with losing a sale.I see all the bike specific manufactures offer nothing past the API SJ rating so maybe something was put into oil after that to make it unsuitable. If so please let us know what this substance is, and why you charge more for leaving it out? As far as I can tell, you seem to have found a way around this as all the latest HDEO oils have all the good stuff in them and still rate API SM. I'm not asking for any proprietary info, just sound engineering explanation. At he end I suppose it doesn't matter as I know what I'll be using, but I don't subscribe to the Mushroom theory. ie, keep them in the dark and feed them [censored].
 
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 Originally Posted By: PT1
I look at one major factor: Heat in my air cooled Harley TC88. I will only use a 20w50 oil that can stand up to 250-300F temps and is very shear stable for 4-5000 miles in a 3 quart sump. That eliminates just about all of the automotive oils IMO.
That I would agree with ... an air cooled bike -- a V-twin in particular -- has particular needs. No automotive oil is likely to address that because no recent automobile is still air cooled. (I am curious about what Volkswagen owners run in their old Beetles.) But there are non-automotive oils -- i.e. Diesel oils -- that apply. Few, if any, are 20W-50, I'll grant that.
 
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There's a big difference between engineering and marketing. There is a place for both. If the marketing folks can create a market for "motorcycle specific" oils and sell a product, well then good for them. It's a free world, we don't have to buy it. For those who do, if it gives them comfort to run those oils in their bike, well ... then good for them.
 
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Texas
Petro Canada sells an HDEO oil that's CJ-4, SM, and JASO-MA certified...That should tell folks something right there...
 
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 Originally Posted By: TucsonDon
 Originally Posted By: PT1
I look at one major factor: Heat in my air cooled Harley TC88. I will only use a 20w50 oil that can stand up to 250-300F temps and is very shear stable for 4-5000 miles in a 3 quart sump. That eliminates just about all of the automotive oils IMO.
That I would agree with ... an air cooled bike -- a V-twin in particular -- has particular needs. No automotive oil is likely to address that because no recent automobile is still air cooled. (I am curious about what Volkswagen owners run in their old Beetles.) But there are non-automotive oils -- i.e. Diesel oils -- that apply. Few, if any, are 20W-50, I'll grant that.
I disagree. The HD engine is no more prone to any oil issues as an air-cooled inline 4. you wanna see and oil get hot, go rev up an air-cooled inline-4 through the twisties for a spell. And those engines specify lighter than 20w-50 oils. And I hope the HD owner is not one of those that think the Motor Companies Syn oils are the only thing good enough to run in that sump... As for VW's after owning Many of them, years ago 10w-30 or straight 30w was the norm, since the removal of alot of those "preecious minerals' on oils over the years, I use Delo or rotella 15w-40. the same oil I use in my air-cooled M/C engine.
 
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 Originally Posted By: Tim H.
I disagree.
Yeah? Well, you're wrong! ;\) Interesting stuff. I'd always heard that a V-Twin air cooled has particular problems because the rear cylinder can be blocked from adequate air flow. I'd also heard that one of the things H-D bikes do is shut down ignition in that rear cylinder to avoid overheating back there. But I suppose it's possible that air-cooled have inherent issues, V-Twin or inline 4 or whatever.
 
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Never wrong!! Never never never!!! Yes, that rear Cyl does have less airflow to it, however, the rear cyl cutout was put on there for rider/passenger comfort (those tough HD guys whining about the heat!!!) and yes, I agree, All bikes have certain 'oil issues', but none more than others I feel.
 

PT1

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Just take a look at some of the MC forum posts where someone has torn down a police HD TC88 or TC96 vtwin that was run on HD360 or HDEO 15w40 for extended periods and you will see the major heat damage done by insufficient lubrication.(especially in the rear jug). The new TC96 engines run so hot because of the lean EFI tuning to get them to pass EPA regs that they should all come with a high performance dino or synthetic oil from the factory. A HDEO 15w40 will work but I would never run it past 2500 miles. So if you figure the cost of 2 oil changes with HDEO versus 1 5000 OCI with a MC 20w50 syn oil...are you really saving anything?
 
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Most of the posts on MC forums that I've seen are glowing reviews for Rotella T 15W40. Granted, these are general ATV, dirt bike and performance street motorcycle forums, and not V-Twin specific forums.
 
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 Originally Posted By: PT1
Just take a look at some of the MC forum posts where someone has torn down a police HD TC88 or TC96 vtwin that was run on HD360 or HDEO 15w40 for extended periods and you will see the major heat damage done by insufficient lubrication.(especially in the rear jug). The new TC96 engines run so hot because of the lean EFI tuning to get them to pass EPA regs that they should all come with a high performance dino or synthetic oil from the factory. A HDEO 15w40 will work but I would never run it past 2500 miles. So if you figure the cost of 2 oil changes with HDEO versus 1 5000 OCI with a MC 20w50 syn oil...are you really saving anything?
I am sure that could be said of other makes of Motorcycles used in police service. There are too many variables in why those particular engines were torn down, and why they feel the oil or the engine was to blame. Was it used for slow speed parades? Lots of idling? were the oil change intervals extended beyond 'severe service'? While I will agree the reason for the '96 to run hotter is the lean map forced upon by the EPA, however, this EPA action of 'lean tune' is forced on all motorcycles, not just HD. HD obviously does not feel it is a problem, hence the use of standard Dino in factory fill (as you implied above), or the use of dino in recommended oil changes thereafter. But you also have to remember that just because you run a synthetic, you cannot automatically double the OCI. that in itself would negate the cost savings.
 
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fyi per JASO Though 4-cycle motorcycle/powersports engines may be considered more similar to automobile engines than 2-stroke motorcycle engines, they still have very different performance requirements. Historically, 4-stroke motorcycles have had problems with gear pitting wear in the transmissions and clutch slippage. In many cases, this can be directly attributed to the oil used. Most automotive engine oil is developed to minimize friction and maximize fuel economy. Since the oil for many 4-stroke motorcycles is circulated not only through the engine [as with an automobile], but also through the transmission and clutch, different characteristics are required of the oil. First, a certain amount of friction is necessary to prevent clutch slippage. Second, the oil needs to prevent wear and pitting in the gears of the transmission. These and other essential characteristics are addressed in the standards developed by JASO for 4-stroke engines. As with the 2-stroke classification, the JASO 4-stroke classification is also divided into grades, MA, MA2 and MB. MB is lower friction oil, while MA is relatively higher friction oil. Other than friction, the JASO 4-stroke classification tests for five other physicochemical properties: sulfated ash, evaporative loss, foaming tendency, shear stability, and high temperature high shear viscosity (HTHS). Sulfated ash can cause pre-ignition if the oil is present in the combustion chamber. It can also contribute to deposits above the piston rings and subsequent valve leakage. Evaporative loss and foaming reduce the amount of lubrication and protection in the transmission, engine, and clutch. With less shear stability, oil loses its capability of retaining original viscosity resulting in increased metal-to-metal contact and wear. High temperature high shear viscosity tests provide viscosity characteristics and data under severe temperature and shear environments.
 
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More FYI: http://www.bobistheoilguy.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=1125618
 Quote:
Here is the email from a Rotella engineer that I found on the Shell forums. "We recently ran the JASO MA friction test on Rotella T with Triple Protection 15W-40, Rotella T Synthetic 5W-40 (CI-4) and our soon to be introduced (within the next 2 months) Rotella T Synthetic 5W-40 CJ-4. All three oils passed the wet clutch friction test. Rotella T Synthetic 5W-40 (CI-4) has more than 1.2% ash (JASO MA spec limit) so it can not be classified as JASO MA. However, Rotella T with Triple Protection 15W-40 and our soon to be introduced Rotella T Synthetic 5W-40 CJ-4 do meet JASO MA." If you have any additional questions please call us at 800-231-6950. Thank you for your interest in Shell products." Richard Moore Staff Engineer Shell Global Solutions (US) Inc.
 
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