Best Motorcycle Oil – 2021 Ultimate Review

Troy
| Last Updated: February 6, 2021

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Oil is arguably the most important fluid in your motorcycle. Modern engines are very complex and run at higher temperatures.

This same oil lubricates the wet clutch in modern motorcycles, so regular oils are not good enough.

Investment in oil is a sensitive decision, and you will need accurate information on which to base your choice. We shall try to provide these in this article.

Our Top Picks for Motorcycle Oils

  • Good lubrication
  • Versatile oil
  • Improves performance
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  • Friction reduced
  • 100% synthetic
  • Better start-up
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  • Best for the Money
  • Improves performance
  • Good lubrication
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Comparison of the Best Motorcycle Oil

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Better engine response with excellent lubrication capability
  • Can be used on all 4-stroke engines
  • Overall performance will be improved with use
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  • Will help to reduce internal friction of engine
  • Made from 100 percent synthetic materials
  • Much better start-up and clutch performance
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  • Best for the Money
  • Overall performance will be improved with use
  • Better engine response with excellent lubrication capability
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  • Best Synthetic Motorcycle Oil
  • Will protect from extreme engine wear
  • Clutch will not slip even when wet
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  • Best 10W-40 Motorcycle Oil
  • Made to improve engine power output
  • Optimized durability ate even very high temperatures
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  • Best 20W50 Motorcycle Oil
  • Great for big-twin motorcycle engine design
  • Clutch will not slip even when wet
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How Often Should I Change My Motorcycle Oil?

An oil change is crucial since oil degrades due to heat breakdown and contamination by dirt, engine debris, and combustion deposits.

Start with the service manual since your manufacturer recommends frequency based on knowledge of the engine combustion process and its protective measures.

Consider how often you use the bike, the distances covered, and the terrain and speed you travel. The more times you travel, the longer the distances covered, the heavier the load, and the faster you go, the shorter the period should be between oil changes.  

These conditions translate to higher engine temperatures and exposure to more dirt, especially in extreme weather conditions and dusty environments.

Mineral-based oils should be changed at approximately 2,000 miles or twice per year, semi-synthetic oils at 5,000 miles, and synthetic at 7,000 to 10,000 miles. Synthetic oils take longer to degrade.

You should also change your oil whenever you suspect your motorcycle is struggling because of it. You can confirm first by checking manually using a dipstick or the oil sight window, usually on the side of the crankcase, to confirm oil levels and whether it is dirty or watery.

How Do I Choose a Reliable Motorcycle Oil?

Manufacturer’s Recommendations

They give specifications based on an intimate knowledge of the engine, its needs, strengths, and limitations. The ideal viscosity, whether wet or dry clutch, type of oil, and refinement level. This is the primary guideline.

Viscosity

Very thick oil doesn’t flow freely through the engine, and very thin oil cannot cushion it against wearing out. While viscous oils protect the engine components as it is running, the thickness may drag the engine performance. Your preference should refer to the manufacturer's recommendations.

Refinement Level

There are Conventional, semi-synthetic, and synthetic oils. Your ideal choice is recommended by your motorcycle manufacturer.

Given a choice, synthetic oils are more refined and are the best under extreme conditions. They promote high performance and have longer service intervals.

Conventional oils are less refined and pure and are more likely to break down under extreme conditions. They still protect your engine and are Ideal for casual riders who don’t push too hard. They are more pocket friendly than synthetic oils.

Semi-synthetic oils are an improvement to conventional oils and are priced in between. They offer a good compromise if you need performance on a tight budget.

Standards

Many certifications will confirm that the oil you are buying has been tested and is efficient. Each represents qualities that a good motorcycle oil should possess. Look out for SAE, API, ACEA, and JASO ratings, among others.

Quick Take - Best Motorcycle Oil

Hoping to cut to the chase? Below are the three best motorcycle oil:

  1. Motul 300V Synthetic Engine Oil
  2. Motul 7100 4T Synthetic Engine Oil
  3. Motul 5100 Synthetic Blend Engine Oil

Review of the Best Motorcycle Oil

As people, we need to make sure that we consume enough nutrient-rich foods and drinks to keep up our health and energy. Well, the same applies to our motorcycle. Oil is essential to keep the motorcycle running smoothly. It helps clean the pipes and makes sure that the bike doesn't overheat. Here are the top recommendations for the best motorcycle oil.

PROS

  • JASO T904 MA Certified fit for wet clutch use
  • Ester core technology gives superior lubricating qualities
  • Available in different packaging sizes from a 1L can to a 20L drum
  • Tolerance to extreme conditions that come with being 100% synthetic
  • ASTM D6278 tested and certified for no shea loss under intense conditions

CONS

  • Has a strong smell
  • Limited to 4 stroke engines, which excludes some classic motorcycles

What Recent Buyers Report

Users are impressed with the smooth gear shifting once they start using the oil; the engines seem to be sufficiently lubricated. They also observed the oil was still green after covering thousands of miles, meaning degradation was yet to commence. This made it a worthy investment.

Why it Stands Out to Us

It is made for four-stroke engines, which most modern street bikes have, and is both JASO T904 MA and ASTM D6278 certified. This means it has been approved for wet clutch use by experts, and its viscosity tested well under extreme conditions.

Being 100% synthetic, it has a high flashpoint and will last longer before it needs changing. It performs equally well in high and low temperatures.

It applies ester core technology, which has superior lubricating qualities and delivers a high friction performance, ideal for cold starts. Its chemical properties resist change when they come into contact with combustion deposits, meaning it will take longer for the oil to become toxic.

Bottom Line

This motorcycle oil can withstand extreme temperatures, cooling down the engine components, gears, and clutch. Its lubricating abilities are above average; it certainly goes a long way in protecting your engine by resisting that wear and tear.

PROS

  • Ability to conform to emission regulations
  • Applicable to many types of 4 stroke engines
  • JASO T904 MA2 approval assures high friction performance
  • Absorbs heat at high temperatures, reducing strain on the engine
  • API SN/SM/SL certification means it has tested and proven the ability to protect your engine

CONS

  • Restricted to 4-Stroke engines

What Recent Buyers Report

Users are enjoying the smooth gear shifts with less vibration, and it does a great job in cooling down the engine. They appreciate that it can be used in most four-stroke engines, whether the gear is integrated or not, wet or dry clutch, and after treatment systems.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This oil has API SN/SM/SL certification, meaning it can perform certain functions to prevailing standards set by the American Petroleum Institute (API) for engine oils. These include high-temperature deposit protection for pistons and sludge control. It also means it has a better seal and after treatment compatibility.

It has JASO T904 MA2 approval for wet clutch use, which indicates high friction performance, making it ideal for high-performance bikes, off-road bikes, and street bikes.

The 100% synthetic ester-based design makes it ideal for starting engines at low temperatures and effective in high temperatures. It is safe for engines with catalytic converters that conform to emission regulations.

Bottom Line

This engine oil reduces your engine temperature and internal friction, lengthening its life. A marked reduction in fuel consumption and service costs comes with this. It also enhances performance while allowing conformity to emission regulations, which is a great bargain.

PROS

  • Great value for your money
  • Packaged in various quantities to increase your options
  • Compatible with after treatments like catalytic converters
  • JASO T904 MA2 certification means it facilitates smooth gear shifting
  • Technosynthese technology produces the best of mineral and synthetic oils

CONS

  • Limited to 4-Stroke engines
  • Cannot boost efficiency in high-performance bikes

What Recent Buyers Report

They appreciate that it is readily available at a reasonable price. The feedback is that engines started running smoother with fewer vibrations. A few concerns were raised about struggling to attain top speeds for high-performance bikes.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Motul used proprietary extreme pressure Technosynthese technology to blend synthetic and mineral stock, enhancing performance at a competitive price.

The inclusion of ester technology boosts shear resistance, enabling it to fight friction in cold and hot conditions (JASO T904 MA2 certified). The engine responds smoothly with noiseless shifting.

Its API rating of SM/SL qualifies it to work with after treatments like catalytic converters.

Bottom Line

The combination of Technosynthese and ester technologies to improve mineral oils resulted in an efficient motorcycle oil that enhances clutch performance, protects the engine and meets the bike manufacturer's specifications. All this value addition at a negligible additional cost. It is a quick return on investment.

Best Synthetic Motorcycle Oil:
Motorex Power Synt 4T Engine Oil

PROS

  • High flashpoint gives it tolerance and longevity
  • Ability to prevent friction under extreme temperatures
  • Has endured numerous tests under extreme conditions
  • It has different viscosities to fit manufacturers recommendations
  • High API rating of SN meaning it offers enhanced protection to the engine

CONS

  • The price is a bit higher than other oils

What Recent Buyers Report

They love the transformation of their riding experience. The engines seem more powerful without increased noise, and the gears are smooth, so is the overall ride.

Why it Stands Out to Us

It is a 100% synthetic high-performance 4-Stroke engine oil for sportbikes that have been used by Yoshimura Suzuki Road Racing for close to 2 decades. It is packaged in various quantities ranging from 1L to 200L and comes in 3 different viscosities to meet various manufacturer specifications.

It is JASO MA2 approved; its performance with wet multi-disk clutches has been tested severally under extreme conditions. It does not slip but shifts smoothly as it is protected from friction and engine wear.

Its API rating is the most current SL/SM/SN, which means it has an excellent seal and after treatment compatibility. It has been established that it can protect the engine pistons from high-temperature deposits while controlling sludge.

Bottom Line

It enhances the power output from your bike while reducing the impact on your engine. It is continuously being tested on the track under extreme conditions and has passed all required standards with above-average points.

Best 10W-40 Motorcycle Oil:
Mobil 1 Racing Engine Oil

PROS

  • Packaged in different quantities
  • Enhanced friction reduction properties
  • Low-temperature lubrication for cold starts
  • Tolerance to extreme temperature conditions
  • Ability to protect the engine from wear and tear

CONS

  • Sometimes hard to find
  • It leans towards the pricey

What Recent Buyers Report

They love that the smell is nice, unlike other oils.  The buttery smooth gear shifting and the enhanced output from the engine also excited first-time users. There were concerns about its availability from regular users who had to order in advance before they were due for an oil change.

Why it Stands Out to Us

It is a fully synthetic 4-Stroke cycle engine oil designed with a high flashpoint to endure extreme temperatures and absorb it without degenerating, relieving the engine's strain.  Exceptional engine cleanliness.

It is also JASO MA2 certified for its lubrication capacity, which further reduces strain on the engine, maximizing efficiency and output.

It backs up engine seals to keep out debris and after combustion treatment agents like catalytic converters to dispose of sludge to keep the engine clean. This will mitigate corrosion and promote longevity.

Bottom Line

It is an all-weather motorcycle oil that will derive the most optimal performance from your engine, whether you are a hard rider or a regular biker. At the same time, it protects your motorcycle due to its synthetic qualities that have been engineered to bear the brunt of extreme conditions within the engine and lubricate the moving parts for efficiency.

Best 20W50 Motorcycle Oil:
Red Line Motorcycle Oil

PROS

  • Enables extension of drain intervals
  • Protects the engine from wear and tear
  • Superior cleansing power to keep the engine clean
  • Compatible with most conventional synthetic motor oils
  • Enhances engine performance regardless of prevailing conditions

CONS

  • Not recommended for use in cold climate

What Recent Buyers Report

Users attest to sensing an immediate impact on the transmission with swifter and smoother shifts. It also seems to be cooling the engines or distributing the heat during long rides, encouraging them to schedule even longer distances.

Why it Stands Out to Us

It is ideal for heavy-duty bikes whose engines are sometimes air-cooled, with the potential of becoming very hot. It mitigates wear and tear by reducing friction in all kinds of environments. It has a higher natural viscosity index, so it presents a thicker oil film between engine parts.

The Red Line oil enhances efficiency and fuel economy by boosting the sealing ring, generating more engine power. It has been blended with ester base blocks giving it stability under high temperature. It does not oxidize or evaporate as lesser oils would and will continue performing.

It has extensive cleaning power, which keeps the engine clean and allows you to extend draining intervals as it takes longer to degrade.

Bottom Line

This is a fully synthetic motorcycle oil designed with top of the range bikes in mind. It is tough enough to tolerate the extreme temperatures generated in these big engines with a high viscosity index. It can still be used for regular bikes if it fits the manufacturer's recommendations to boost performance.

What Type of Oil Do I Need?

To answer this question, you need to know the options that are out there and their application. We shall break down a few types of oil and their properties to shed some light.

Semi-Synthetic Oil

It is a combination of mineral and synthetic oils. This is usually done to improve the performance and protection ability of mineral oil using synthetic processes. The result is usually a cost-effective yet efficient oil.

4T Oil

This oil has been expressly formulated to be used in motorcycles with four-stroke cycle engines. These engines use one piston stroke for intake, another for compression, and power and exhaust to complete one operating cycle.

High temperatures and torque are often encountered in this process, and the oil can withstand this without breaking down to enhance the motorcycle’s performance.

10W-40 Oil

The numbers indicate the oil’s fluidity or thickness, while ‘W’ represents winter. 40 is the oil viscosity grade when the engine runs, and there is a high temperature, while 10 indicates the resting viscosity.

This oil’s viscosity grade at very low temperatures is 10, which will protect your device from a cold start, and it will rise to 40. The difference shows the effect of heat on its viscosity.

20W-50 Oil

This one has a viscosity grade of 20 in very cold temperatures and when the engine is off and 50 in high temperatures. This is a highly viscous oil in both scenarios and is therefore not ideal for cold starts; it will not flow freely enough to protect your engine.

What is 20W-50 Oil Used for?

It is ideal for vehicles subject to hot temperatures and those used for heavy-duty activities. It provides a thicker cushion against metal to metal contact, and the high viscosity makes it a great sealant.

It thrives in a warmer climate where the temperatures make it fluid. The manufacturer's recommendations will tell which motorcycles can take it. They are mostly large, air and liquid-cooled engines.

Comparison Overview

Synthetic vs Regular Motorcycle Oil

Synthetic oil goes through numerous chemical reactions in a factory, engineering it for high tolerance to extreme conditions and easy flow, even when cold. It has low breakdown rates as it can withstand high temperatures, making it last longer for better engine protection and performance.

Regular oil is made from refining crude oil. It is thicker and has lower oxidation stability, which raises the need to change it more frequently. It is not compatible with extreme temperatures, so it is used on regular engines. It is cheaper than synthetic oil.

Motorcycle vs Car Oil

The difference between the two is in purpose and formulation. Car oil’s main purpose is to lubricate the engine. Sometimes it has additives to reduce friction, which can be difficult for motorcycle clutches to handle (they run the engine’s oil supply).

Motorcycle oil is designed differently to work with the needs of a motorcycle engine, transmission, and clutch and has more demanding lubrication duties than car oil. It also cools the engine by transferring heat to the bike’s exterior. The car has a separate coolant for this function.

10W-30 vs 10W-40

These two oils have the same viscosity grade (10) when cold, but one gets higher than the other as the engine heats up. This means their efficiency and protective ability during cold starts are similar, but as the engine temperature rises, one becomes more viscous (40) than the other.

The more viscous one has better friction qualities while the engine is running but also has more drag.

10W-40 vs 20W-50

The 10W-40 gives a better cold start as the oil flows more freely in cold temperatures. The 20W-50 is suited for a warmer climate. The 20W-50 is ideal for heavy-duty work as it offers better protection when the engine is running and acts as a better sealant.

Red Line vs Mobil 1

Red Line oils were developed primarily for heavy-duty engines, so they have a niche they cater for. They are poor insulators for cold starts but great lubricators once the engine is running. Their high viscosity makes them suitable for warmer climates.

Mobil 1 oils are also designed for high performance and hold up well under extreme conditions. They have less drag than Red Line oils and will give slightly better cold starts.

The two are synthetic, and the differences are not very pronounced on the bike, although Red Line is slightly more expensive.

How to Change Oil on a Motorcycle

  1. Start by checking the existing oil, which helps diagnose the health of your bike. The oil levels should be sufficient; otherwise, you need to find out how you are losing oil, leakage, or otherwise. 

     Low oil levels can damage the motorcycle, so you will need to check it out if the levels were low. The state of the oil can also signal a problem. Too much debris indicates dirt is getting into your engine. Metal grinds can be a sign of engine parts wearing each other out. It is good to spot this upfront to mitigate the damage.

  1. Remove the drain plug and drain the old oil into a pan (it is toxic to the environment and can be recycled)

  2. Remove the oil filter as you wait for the oil to drain.

  3. Return the drain plug, ensuring it locks tightly but not too tight that it develops cracks.

  4. Pour in your oil

  5. Start the engine to allow the oil to circulate and fill out any air gap that may have been created.

  6. Check the oil again to ensure it reached the recommended levels. Always have your manual on standby for reference while performing this task.

Check out this video for a more comprehensive guide to these steps.

Conclusion

Quality oil lubricates moving engine parts to reduce friction, cleans and protects the components, and absorbs temperature to prevent the bike from overworking itself. The benefits are better fuel efficiency, smoother running, lower service costs, and prolonged engine life.

People Also Ask

If you still have questions on what the best motorcycle is to use or you want more general information, see the answers to some of the more commonly asked questions below.

What Oil to Use in a Harley Davidson?

These bikes have big bore engines, are loud, and rev at very high speeds, resulting in high temperatures. The ideal oil should be thick enough to quiet the noise down, but not so thick it struggles to start in low temperatures. Synthetic Oils are ideal for high temperatures. The recommended SAE rating is 20W-50.

Why is Motorcycle Oil So Expensive?

They perform multiple tasks on the bike. They have to be formulated to handle transmission using balanced friction, so they are fluid enough to lubricate and protect engine components and gears but not too fluid that the wet clutch becomes slippery. They also need to transmit the engine's heat to the outside without oxidizing in the process to cool it down.

What Happens if You Don’t Change Your Motorcycle Oil?

Your engine and transmission systems wear off because the oil becomes acidic and corrosive, plus the degraded oil is not a good lubricant, so the moving parts will wear each other off. The engine will overheat and develop drag due to friction, which reduces performance and fuel efficiency. These increase your service bill, and the bike might stall completely.

How Long Does Motorcycle Oil Last?

It depends on the usage and the type of oil in question. Regular oil oxidizes under extreme temperatures, while synthetics are designed to tolerate these temperatures, so they will last longer. Heavy-duty and high-performance motorcycles need more regular change because of extreme engine conditions. The distance covered and the terrain also impact oil life.                                                                                        

How Much Oil Does My Motorcycle Need?

This is different from one bike to another, and it is recommended to check your owner’s manual or service manual to get the exact amount for your particular bike.

Does Motorcycle Oil Go Bad?

It has been designed to be stable and should ideally not go bad if it is not exposed to extreme temperatures or external impurities. It can last considerably in its original container. It is the containers that degrade with time and may contaminate the oil, and so they should be replaced if not used within two years or as indicated by the manufacturer.

What Happens if You Have Too Much Oil in Your Motorcycle?

It increases pressure in the crankcase. The oil may escape through the air vent into the airbox, saturating the air filter resulting in loss of power. If it gets sucked into the combustion chamber, your bike will instantly become smoky. It may damage your plugs, forcing a replacement.

How Do You Remove Excess Oil From a Motorcycle?

Open the drain plug and let it pour out as you do during an oil change. This allows you to remove any debris that may have settled at the bottom of the tank in the process. Let the excess oil out slowly until you reach the required level. Alternatively, invest in an extraction pump or improvise one using a syringe or tube. You can then suction the excess from the top.

Troy

Hi, my name’s Troy. I started riding motorcycles with Clay mid-2020 and soaking up his vast knowledge of bikes. I have been writing for a few years and decided it was a good time to start writing about what I’m passionate about - motorcycles. No matter how bad your day is, a bike will always make you feel better, that’s my motto.