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Equipping the Bike - what's the best gear? Anything to do with the bikes equipment, saddlebags, etc. Questions on repairs and maintenance of the bike itself belong in the Brand Specific Tech Forums.
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  #1  
Old 14 Jun 2003
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Oil-confusion: advice needed

Hi there,

Due to an oil problem with my africa Twin I broke down in South Africa. The parts had to come from Holland, and now I'm on the road agian.

Right now I'm really confused which oil to use and which not. What do all the different grades say about the oil? When do you use what grade? How bad is it to mix oil of different grades/brands/semi-sinthetic, synthetic or mineral? Can you just buy the oil at a service station along the road in africa?

Thanx!
Corne

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  #2  
Old 15 Jun 2003
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When stuck, any oil is better than no oil.

Don't worry about the SE SF SG grades, they'll all work fine - UNLESS it is a Diesel engine specific oil - you don't want that, and it should say clearly on the can if it's a diesel oil. Ideally the rating on the oil should be SF or higher, e.g. SG etc.

Basically, try and stick to plain old mineral oil, and definitely use the weight - e.g. 20w-50, 10w-40 etc - that Honda recommends for the temperature range you're riding in. That's the most important.

Full synthetic oils will allow you to extend your oil change interval - I recommend no more than 50% over recommended by the Manufacturer.


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  #3  
Old 15 Jun 2003
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I believe one of the qualifications of the S ratings is they have to be able to be inter mixed. ie no separation

The reason you would use different weights would be due to tempurature. When the ambient temp is higher you run "heavier" weight to compensate for higher engine temps.

The real beauty of multi weights comes in winter. When its real cold and the oil wants to get really thick. The multi weight allows the oil to be thin at start up to allow quicker starter rotation and easier oil flow through the engine. And then become "heavier/thicker" for normal engine operation once warmed up.

But, that gets to the point where it may be a little to chilly to ride.

PS Also I would use motorcycle specfic oil whenever possible. Its formulated for use in a wet clutch and gear type transmissions. This is what manufacturers are trying to tell you when they recommend their own oil in the manual.

Thanks,
Todd Bellew
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  #4  
Old 16 Jun 2003
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Todd's point about motorcycle specific oils is good - but forget it in Africa (outside of SA and possibly Cairo). Any oil is better than no oil.

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  #5  
Old 17 Jun 2003
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Thanx guys,

If I understand correctly, that means basically that:
1. I can use any oil I find (except diesel-engine oil);
2. It's safe to mix different grades;
3. It's safe to mix synthetics and mineral;

I still don't understand what the numbers are for (10W-40 and 20W-50). What does 10W or 20W mean? That is for the Weight? And what does 40 or 50 stand for?

Cheers,
corne


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  #6  
Old 18 Jun 2003
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Mostly correctly!

1. I can use any oil I find (except diesel-engine oil);

yes. people have used olive oil briefly when desperate. better than no oil.

2. It's safe to mix different grades;

absolutely.

3. It's safe to mix synthetics and mineral;

lots of controversy here, but best to change the oil completely. That's why I use non-synthetic oils when travelling.

"weight" is the term used to specify different "pour viscosities". In simple terms, 20W is thinner and pours more easily than 50W.

In simple terms again, you use 20W when it's very cold weather, and 50W when it's very hot weather. This means that the engine gets oil at about the same "thickness" no matter what the temperature.

20W-50 (and all other combination weights or pretty much all modern oils) is a special blend designed to act like a 20W when the engine is cold, and a 50W when the engine is hot. All manufacturers I know of specify multi-grade oils today. Some (BMW and Harley I believe) recommend straight 50W when it's extremely hot.

hth...

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  #7  
Old 18 Dec 2009
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1. I can use any oil I find (except diesel-engine oil)

i wuld say no, depends on your brand bike!
I you have a ducati or a bmw, the cluch is a dry clucj so no poroblem you can use car oil also
but if you have a Honda or another japanese the cluch is a wet oil cluch so you can not use a car oil! The car oil have component which will cause porblem on your cluch because of the "anti friction" components that they include!
I am in cairo and looking for good oil ,,,if someone have an adress>>>
G
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  #8  
Old 19 Dec 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeromelits View Post
1. I can use any oil I find (except diesel-engine oil)

i wuld say no, depends on your brand bike!
I you have a ducati or a bmw, the cluch is a dry clucj so no poroblem you can use car oil also
but if you have a Honda or another japanese the cluch is a wet oil cluch so you can not use a car oil! The car oil have component which will cause porblem on your cluch because of the "anti friction" components that they include!
I am in cairo and looking for good oil ,,,if someone have an adress>>>
G
Au contraire Jerome, diesel oils are actually better than car oils in a bike. In the US most bike forums swear by Shell Rotella diesel oil as being the best lubricant for a motorcycle.

With respect to what the manufacturer says, NOWHERE is it mentioned in your bike's manual that you must use a motorcycle oil, what it will say is to use oil of SF/SG rating which ALL oils available today exceed.

Have you ever used car oil and found your clutch slipped in your Honda? It has certainly never happened to me on an Japanese bike and I doubt if anyone has proof of this myth.
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  #9  
Old 19 Dec 2009
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dry clutch, car intended, fully synth oil WILL make your clutch slip. It did when I tried it. I immediately went back to mineral/jaso spec semi synth.
Most standard bikes are quite happy on bog standard mineral oils. The cheaper it is, the more often you can afford to change it.
If you spend many hours thrashing a fine tolerance GSXRthou motor, you need to have a better oil than if plodding round on a 60bhp battle weary AT.
Diesel oils are often more alkaline to combat the acidic combustion byproducts. Sticking it in a bike whilst travelling wont cause any problems.

There is a huge amount of hype, often by the oil companies about fancy (read expensive) oils. If your manual says the engine is happy with SG rated oil, you dont need to spend huge amounts on the latest race spec fully synthetic.
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  #10  
Old 19 Dec 2009
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You will never convince some people that a) oil only needs to be good enough (read your manual) and no better (perception based on price alone!) and b) oil need not be changed more often than manufacturer's recommendation (the thinking being that if LESS is bad then more MUST be better, right?)

oh, and then you need to post on a forum that you've "always done that and you've never had any problems" so it must be way to do it and that unnecessary expenditure on fresh oil is fine because "changing oil is cheaper than rebuilding engines/you're not hurting anyone (only misleading them)/you ride your bike harder than anyone else/you'd rather not take the risk of not changing it" by which logic you should probably detune your engine and only rev it to half revs because you don't trust Yamaha/honda etc to build an engine that can put up with it.

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  #11  
Old 19 Dec 2009
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It's a case of "horses for courses", unless your bike manufacturer specifies full synthetic ,then for average conditions you don't need it .

Many bike manufacturers specify synthetic these days .

Extreme riding conditions and extremes of temperature call for synthetic types .The engine is better protected and the oil will last longer before it starts to break down .Starters and batteries have an easier time in cold weather because the oil does not wax up .
[Try kickstarting an XS650 with a sump full of 20/50 at -10c and you will see what I mean .]

The definition of "synthetic" has been stretched so far by the oil companies that the terms ,""mineral," and "semi synthetic" are ,to my mind , meaningless these days .
In my view Ester and PAO based synthetics are actually what they say they are , the rest are "semis" of varying qualities .

If you are going to use a cheap car oil in your bike ,consider a few things .
Bike oil has higher levels of zinc , bikes rev a lot higher than cars , on many bikes the oil and gearbox share the same oil [ oil will have to withstand high shear forces ] ,air cooled bikes will operate under more variable temperatures,
There are many other differences as well and I do not share the view that a "cheap" car oil is fine .A good quality one may be fine, as long as it's not one of those energy conserving types , but given the choice I will use a bike specific or diesel oil .None of my bikes specify synthetic so I would not be overly concerned about using non-synth , however ,by using synthetic I can save a bit of money [and the planet's resources] by only changing the oil once a season.

BTW ,all my synthetic oil is reused in my tractor, there is still lots of life left in it .You could put yours in your lawnmower etc.
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  #12  
Old 20 Dec 2009
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Yes - the terms "Synthetic" & "Mineral" do get people confused.

I run my 1978 roller bearing crank, wet clutch, Z1000 with Synthetic Mineral oil, specifically for bikes.

AMSOIL - SAE 10W-40 Synthetic Motorcycle Oil (MCF)

I sprint my Zed and this oil has one of the best "shear" ratings for oil. Bike oil has lots to put up with , high revs, high loads, gearbox "mashing", temp extremes on older air cooled motors...etc. As I run a roller bearing crank, oil has to be compatible, coz if the oil is too slippery the rollers skid rather than spin, which is not good!

Best to avoid "car specific" oils as they can/do contain stuff which can/will make a wet clutch slip - FACT.

Changing engine oil frequently is good practice. It may not be essential, as long as service recommendations are stuck to, but it is a cheap thing to do, and false economy to extend the limits

As long as you keep an eye on the oil (level/changes) and don't wait until its all black and like p*ss, you should be OK Common sense prevails
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  #13  
Old 20 Dec 2009
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The viscosity, as in 10W-50, tells you that the oil "flows" at a certain rate at 0 degrees Fahrenheit and 212 Farenheit (SAE is after all an American standard). Call that -18c and 100c.
So, for 10W-50, the 10W (weight) oil will behave like 50-W oil at 100c

As a rough guide for engines:

Cool/cold climates 5W-30
Temperate climates 10W-40
Hot climates 15W-50

But, as stated by Grant, owt is better than nowt... but do NOT go near 75W-90 type stuff

John
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  #14  
Old 20 Dec 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by farqhuar View Post
NOWHERE is it mentioned in your bike's manual that you must use a motorcycle oil, what it will say is to use oil of SF/SG rating which ALL oils available today exceed.
This is simply incorrect.
SG is the higest rated oil of ALL oils with 0.12% of zinc allowed. After this ALL grades of oil contain less in order not to affect the sensors for engine management systems.
Worse still is that any oil rating is the MAXIMUM that it WILL NOT reach. So an oil can have no zinc and fully comply with SG, SF SH SL and all the rest because it has LESS additives than the maximum allowed by the rating.
As an aside, an oil which has 50 in its weight is excempt the maximum figure for additive concentrations as these oils are designated for old engines without engine management systems. So a 20/50 oil MAY contain any amount either less or more than the 0.12% allowed by the SG specification. BMW oil (20/50 dino) used to contain over three times the 0.12% Harley Vtwin oil (20/50 dino) still contains more than twice the SG rating.

A good strategy for choosing a suitable oil is
1. Select the right weight for your engine at the expected operating temperatures. Too thin will cause low pressure when running low revs and hot. Too thick will cause oil starvation and bearing burnouts. Both conditions particularly apply to white metal big ends.
2. get the highest rated oil with which your engines electronics can operate safely (too high additives can destroy sensors) If you engine management system is entirely your right wrist ignore this as you can use as high a rating as you wish.
3. IF your engine and gearbox share the same oil, synthetic would be a good choice as gearboxes really chew up engine oil quickly.
4. If your engine and gearbox run separate oils use the grades recommend and you are unlikely to have any problems. Same applies to Primary transmission.
NOTE, IF your bike has separate oil for engine, gearbox and primary ( if it has one) then this type of construction is much kinder to oil and give you a much wider choice and longer oil life which is why dino oil is often used.
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  #15  
Old 21 Dec 2009
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Oils labeled "energy saving" are really really bad for wet clutches, they contain friction modifiers that adhere to the clutch plates and causes them to slip and deteriorate.

A good article on moto oils...
All About Motor Oil

I'm one of those crazy US people using Shell Rotella synthetic 5w40. Yamaha recommends 10w40 for the range of temperatures I encounter, and against anything labeled "energy saving" because of the wet clutch. I use it because its easily found at every walmart and most truck stops here in the states, its half the price of Yamalube for equal or better oil, and I figure the 5w low temperature rating makes for easier starts especially now that its winter.
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