Just as you watch what is going into your own body, you need to take care what you are pumping into your motorbike. And this means choosing the right oil for your bike. As well as improving the performance of your motorcycle, you can also make a difference to the lifespan of the individual parts. Regular oil changes are a central part of being a motorcycle owner.
But with so many different options out there, you may be wondering how you make the right choice. Well, in the following post, we will take an overview of 15 different motorcycle engine oils which we have handpicked for you to consider in closer detail.
The Best Motorcycle Oil
A best-seller in the world of motorcycle oil, this is a product which has been tried and tested by hundreds of bike owners – and most of them have come away satisfied. Compared to SAE 15W-40 oils, it provides 1.5% better fuel economy, so you won’t have to go to the filling station quite so often.
The formula it uses is known as Triple Protection Plus. Essentially, the base oils are fully synthetic and extra additives are included for better equipment protection and a longer engine life. Bike engines can get contaminated by substances like soot and dirt, but the formula of this oil is designed to protect against the harmful effects of these.
Exclusive Triple Protection Plus formula
Fully synthetic base oils
- BrandShell Rotella T
- Weight7.55 pounds
Improved low temperature flow and fuel economy
Better deposit control
Enhanced heat resistance
Poor packaging which can lead to leakages
This fully synthetic diesel oil is specially designed for 4-stroke motorcycles. If you like to get up some serious speed on your bike, this is the oil for you. It has been specially tested to provide a high level of acceleration, while still minimizing the engine friction.
The credentials of this brand are why many people buy Castrol oil. Indeed, they have been around for 120 years and continued to go from strength to strength. Both carburetor and fuel injected bikes are supported, but you should make sure to check your manufacturer guidelines before making a purchase.
Power Release formula
- Weight2 pounds
Tested for superior acceleration
Protects engine, gearbox, and clutch
Reduces internal engine friction
Can increase the noise of certain engines
Motorcycle engines which don’t use high-quality oil are much more likely to get dirty and contaminated. For engine cleanliness, this 20w50 oil from Mobil is ranked very highly indeed. It also provides a high level of peak engine transmission performance.
Another one of its exceptional qualities is its resistance to thermal breakdown. And it also lubricates engines very well, which helps your bike to reach its maximum horsepower. High-revving bikes can produce a lot of heat, but this oil is designed to withstand hot conditions, so you don’t have to worry about rough and tough riding.
Recommended for four-cycle motorcycles that specify the use of a 20W-50 engine oil
Designed to deal with tough riding conditions
- BrandMobil 1
- Weight12.2 pounds
Excellent high-temperature durability
High-level resistance to thermal breakdown#
Encourages bikes to run quieter
Sold in cases of six
Choosing a trusted brand like Honda is a wise choice which many motorbike owners choose to make when it comes to the best oil for their bike. Using top-quality base stocks, additives have been put into the mix to meet the unique needs of motorcycles, which are different than other vehicles.
Modern motorbike owners tend to want to push and challenge their bikes, and it is important to choose an oil which keeps your vehicles in tip-top condition. This oil ranks highly when it comes to shear resistance, viscosity stability and cleanliness.
Made through continual testing and development
High-quality base stock and carefully chosen additives
First developed in 1975
- Weight7.5 pounds
Designed for modern engines
Optimum shear resistance
Oil packaging can lead to leaks, spill, and mess
If you like to race motorbikes or simply ride your bike hard, you are going to need the kind of bike engine oil which helps to deal with the strain. This high-performance synthetic Lucas motorcycle oil exceeds many manufacturer specifications and has been developed after many years of blending motor oils and gear oils.
There are many advantages that your bikes will receive from a high-quality bike oil such as this one. A few of these include a longer component life, less noise, fewer leaks, and a longer oil life, which means you won’t have to keep buying new bottles so often.
Fully synthetic oil
Lower oil temperature
Meets true racing oil standards
Years of technological excellence
- BrandLucas Oil
- Weight12.6 pounds
Greatly outlasts other oils
Increases gas mileage
Improves engine performance
Hotter running temperature than other oils
One of the main advantages of using good-quality motorbike oil is that it extends the life of your bike. That is certainly the case with this oil from Royal Purple. As well as this, it is designed to protect against both rust and corrosion.
Some engines and transmissions are bound to get more stressed than others, and this oil has been formulated to deal with these problems. It is suitable for both air-cooled and liquid-cooled 4-cycle engines.
Shear stability and oxygen resistance
No flushing needed prior to use
Formulated for highly stressed engines and transmissions
- BrandRoyal Purple
- Weight2 pounds
Improved engine performance and extends life
Lengthens equipment life
Better wear protection on start up
Sold in cases of six
If you live in a colder environment, this fully synthetic oil has been formulated for easy starting in these conditions. When you put it in your bike, you can rest assured that it offers a high level of rust and corrosion inhibition.
Synthetic oils have become so popular due to their ability to help resist engine wear and tear, and this oil has been celebrated for how well it protects engines. It is both clean burning and low odor. Plus, its smokeless formulation improved valve performance.
Made for variable exhaust systems
Fully synthetic oil
- Weight1 pounds
Easy starting in extreme cold
High level of rust and corrosion inhibition
Protects engine and resists wear
Varied packaging and oil appearances
This fully synthetic oil has been highly ranked amongst previous customers, and it can be used in all high-performance 4-stroke engines. It is suitable for road racing bikes, motocross, or those motorcycles which don’t have a catalytic converter.
If you are looking to maximize your engine RPM and improve the general engine response, this is a good choice of motorcycle oil.
High-performance racing oil
Double ester technologies
Passes wet clutch compatibility test
- Weight8.2 pounds
Provides high level of lubricity
Better engine response
Maximizes engine RPM
Only for road racing bikes and similar
Another Castrol motorcycle oil, this one is a part-synthetic option which protects your bike engine against wear and high temperature deposits. High temperature combustion deposits can prove to be a problem for many engines, and this oil is designed to minimize their formation.
When your motorcycle is running at high temperatures, all sorts of problems can occur without the right oil flowing around the bike. Both the oil consumption and oxidation control have been highly ranked in this product.
Part-synthetic motorcycle oil
Created with heat protection molecules
- Weight8 pounds
Protects engine well
Protects against high temperature deposit and wear
Provides thermal stability
Poor packaging can lead to spills
This advanced, fully synthetic oil has been made to offer three-way protection in some important areas of your bike including the engine, transmission, and wet clutch primary. It has been ranked as a great, all-round synthetic oil. Some of the advantages which it offers amongst bikes include faster revving, smoother running, and quieter operation.
Fully synthetic oil
- BrandMobil 1
- Weight1.85 pounds
Smooth shifting and engine breaking
Good wet clutch engagement
Quieter engine operation
Chemicals can be carcinogenic
Specially designed for high-revving four-stroke motocross bikes and sport bikes, you should make sure that yours is compatible before you go for this one. The specially formulated friction modifiers are designed to improve the wet clutch operation. Compared to other brands, this one offers extended drain intervals, which is important in some bikes.
Made for more powerful motors
Uses special friction modifiers
- BrandRed Line
- Weight1.7 pounds
Superior film strength
Longer drain intervals compared to other brands
Reduced thinning effect from high temperatures
Can cause increased noise during start up
If you are looking for a complete oil change kit and not just new oil on its own, this is a highly rated possible option for you. Included in the set is Indian oil, a correct oil filter, and an oil change stick. For many customers, this provides a good value alternative to buying all the products individually. So, if you have a compatible bike, this may well prove to be a good choice for you.
Complete oil change kit
5.5 qts of Indian oil
Correct oil filter and stick also in the box
- BrandIndian Motorcycle
- Weight11.5 pounds
Made for fuel injection motors
Gives you all you need to change your own oil
Only sold in a kit
Another oil change kit, this one includes 3 Quarts of Suzuki 4-Cycle Motorcycle Engine Oil, and OEM oil filter, a crush wander, and a funnel. The oil has been formulated to offer high levels of both lubrication and protection to your 4-stroke motorbike engine. As always, you should make sure that you own a compatible bike. But if you do, you can protect your bike well against both rust and corrosion.
Full oil change kit
Lubricates and protects
Convenient funnel included
Only sold as a complete oil change kit
Oil change kits are popular for having everything needed for you to change your bike oil. When you do the job yourself, you save a lot of money compared to needing a professional to do it for you. It is a fully synthetic oil which is suitable for compatible 4-cycle bikes. As always, check your manufacturer guidelines before making a purchase.
Fully synthetic oil
- Weight5.5 pounds
Includes everything you need to change your oil yourself
Detailed directions included
Only sold as a kit and not separately
Our last choice is this fully synthetic motorcycle engine oil from Maxima. There are plenty of benefits which it promises to offer to your bike. A few of them include improved fuel economy, smooth transmission shifting, and easy starting. Protection is offered to your critical engine components, as well as the elements surrounding your transmission and clutch.
Fully synthetic motorcycle oil
- Weight7 pounds
Designed to prolong engine and wet clutch life
Smooth transmission shifting and easy starts
Minimized engine deposits
Possible packaging problems cause leakages
Best Motorcycle Oil Buying Guide
The following section gets into our buying guide and frequently asked questions. You may still be feeling a little overwhelmed when it comes to choosing a motorcycle oil, but this section is written to provide the further support that you need and answer some of the queries that you may still have. By the end, you will hopefully have a clearer picture of which is the right product for you and your bike.
What to Consider When Buying Best Motorcycle Oil
Before you settle on the motorcycle oil best for your vehicle, you should think more about a few important considerations so you can end up making the right choice. Here are some of the main things to take into account.
- Type of Motorcycle Oil
There are three main types of motorcycle oil to choose from: mineral oil, semi-synthetic, and full synthetic. Before you choose which one is right, you need to know a bit more about all three. Mineral oil is refined from crude oil. It is highly unlikely that you will need to fill your bike with this variety unless you own an especially old vehicle or vintage bike of some description. Since it is less stable and more likely to break down, it is not great for engines which run at higher heats.
Next, we have the semi-synthetic variety. This is the middle ground variety which mixes synthetic compounds with the crude oil. As well as getting performance benefits, the price will not break the bank.
As for full synthetic motorcycle oils, they are mad made through blending together various compounds. While these are at the most expensive end of the scale, many motorbike owners decide it is worthwhile paying more for the improved performance you can expect to receive.
Choose the type of oil based on your manufacturers’ recommendation, whether you are looking for Harley Davidson oil or another brand.
The last thing that you want to do is put the wrong type of oil in your bike. For example, if your engine is designed to take mineral and you put in synthetic, this could lead to your engine leaking oil, which is never going to be a good thing.
Viscosity refers to the speed with which the oil flows. If it has a lower viscosity level, it will flow faster and freer. As you would expect, higher viscosity oil has the opposite effect. Be careful of using the wrong viscosity oil as this can cause metal to grind on metal. Again, it all depends on the specific type of bike you own to determine which is suitable.
- Additives and Cleaning Capabilities
Another point to consider is the additives in the oil. These work to remove debris and acid, both cooling and lubricating your engine. A lot of gunk and debris can accumulate in your engine on a daily basis. You can’t manually clean all this out without taking the engine apart, which as you can imagine, is a task which takes a great deal of time, energy, and know-how. The cleaner your engine, the better it will run for extended periods of time. The wrong type of oil can increase friction in the engine, leading to a shorter engine life.
Since motorcycle oil is the kind of product which you will want to use multiple times, you may as well invest in a product which has a decent shelf life. The better-quality products tend to offer an increased shelf life, so this is a point which is worth bearing in mind before making a purchase.
If you have no idea about the type of engine oil for you, the online reviews can be a useful place to look. This gives you a chance to read what more experienced people have said about the oil, and you can potentially find people who have the same bike as you to get more information.
While price isn’t the only thing that you should base your decision on, it is bound to be a factor which comes into your mind. An oil with a high price point needs to justify itself by improving the performance of your bike. You should also remember that some of the products above are sold in multi-packs, so you may be able to make additional savings here. Also, there are others which are sold as complete oil change kits, so you will get the other components that you need to change your oil, as well as the fluid itself.
Benefits of Replacing the Oil on Your Bike
You may be wondering about the reasons why replacing the oil in your bike is so important in the first place. The oil keeps all the important elements of the machine working as they should. This ensures that your bike will enjoy a long lifespan, and the performance will remain strong throughout its life. There are those who wait until every single drop of oil has entirely evaporated off by the motorcycle engine, but you are better off getting in there ahead of time and replacing the oil promptly. Otherwise, the engine will have to work much harder, and it is much more prone to overheating as well. Different bikes need different oil, and it is like the lifeblood of the vehicle.
Types of Motorcycle Engine Oil
We have discussed this point in some detail earlier, but we can’t stress enough just how important it is that you choose the right type of oil for your bike. So, let’s go over the three main types of oil once again to help you in your quest to choose the right variety.
Mineral Oils (MO)
First up, you have the mineral oils, which are the most basic product available. This type of oil is only recommended for bikes which have a small engine capacity without much mechanical pressure when running. They are often used by new bike owners as they offer good protection for bikes in the first few kilometers. While they are an affordable option, they don’t tend to last very long, so you will need to keep replacing your oil frequently.
Semi-Synthetic Oils (SS)
We have chosen one or two semi-synthetic oils in the list above, and they have the advantage of providing a balance between mineral and fully synthetic oils. They are a good option for smaller capacity bikes which are not put under too much stress. Better for the daily commute to work than a serious race. Some people suggest making the switch after the bike has been started off using mineral oils. It comes at a higher price point than mineral oils, but not one which reaches the heights of fully synthetic oils.
Fully Synthetic Oils (FS)
Finally, you have the fully synthetic oils, which is the category that most of the above choices fit into. Unlike mineral oils, it is fully artificial and doesn’t use any natural products. If you have a high-performance bike that gets put under a lot of stress on a regular basis, it is a wise choice. Racing bikes and motocross bikes are two examples of vehicles that need this variety of oil. They are made to not degrade quickly, and they have a long-life cycle. An enhanced all-around performance is one of the claimed benefits of this type of oil.
Can I Use Car Oils for Motorcycles?
You should not use car oils for motorcycles as they are not the same thing. If you use the oil that is meant for your car, this can end up leading to damage to your bike engine. One of the main differences is that automotive oil contains friction modifiers to help cars idle smoother. This is specifically designed for emissions regulations; which motorcycle engines do not require. If you put in automotive oil into your motorbike engine, this can result in the clutch slipping and the transmission becoming damaged.
You should also avoid using old motorbike oil which has been on your shelf for a while. As a general rule of thumb, oil with a more complicated formation will have a shorter shelf life.
Engine Oil Changing Tips for Beginners
Regularly changing the oil in your motorcycle is one of the best ways of ensuring that it maintains a long life. And if you do the job yourself, you save the time and effort of having to go into a professional every single time. To show you that it isn’t all that challenging, we have broken the process down below so you can complete it step by step.
To start off with, you are going to need to assemble the right set of supplies. Obviously, you need to get the right bike oil, so choose the one for you from the list above. You will also need a new oil filter, a drain pan and funnel, some box or socket wrenches, and some clean clothes and gloves.
If you are a beginner, you should change the oil cold to avoid burning yourself, but if you have done it before, you may want to take the bike out for a few minutes to encourage it to drain faster when you get to work. Start by choosing a good spot to change the oil. Ideally, you need it to be free of any dust or contaminants. If there are any parts which are blocking your access to the drain plug and filter, you will need to shift these out of the way. Once you have cleared the access, you can place the drain pan underneath the plug to get the old oil. With the wrenches, you can now take off the oil plug, followed by the drain plug.
As the old oil drains out, you can take off the old filer. You may be able to take care of this by hand, or you might need an oil filter wrench depending on the design of your bike. If you are unsure, go back to your owner’s manual to get some more information on the subject. You will then need a clean cloth to wipe clean the oil filter gasket. If your bike has a spin-on filter, it is a good idea to do the job of installing the new filter by hand. It should be tight, but still removable by hand.
The outgoing oil should start to slow down as it exits the vehicle. Check how much oil is required. You can then start pouring it into the bike using a funnel. Don’t go too quickly. You should stop every now and again to check the oil level. Double check that the bike is on level ground so there is nothing distorting the figures. If you go over the ‘full’ marking on the dipstick, you will need to drain out some of the excess oil.
Once you are happy that the oil level is correct, you can put the oil fill plug back in place and clean up any spilt oil. If there any leaks, you can identify them by running the engine. You can then double check the oil levels to make sure that everything still lines up. It may take you a bit of time to start off with, but you will eventually get the hang of changing the oil in your motorcycle and it will become like second nature to you.
Our Top Pick
Returning to our number one pick of all the motorcycle oil discussed in this blog post, we have this one from Rotella T6. This is a heavy-duty diesel engine oil, which is designed to offer an improved fuel economy compared SAE 15W-40 oils. Its formula is known as Triple Protection Plus, which means that the bases are fully synthetic and advanced additives are used to protect the equipment in your bike and lengthen the overall engine life.
These are just some of the reasons why we have ranked it our best motorcycle oil.
- 5 Things Every Driver Should Know About Engine Oil - HowStuffWorks