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  #1  
Old 14 Nov 2012
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Synthetic oil

Apologies. As a survivor of the Royal Enfield Owners Club great 13 year oil thread (1994-2007) I am glad that nothing sharper than the participants wits were involved, but I'm afraid I have a question the collective may be able to answer.

I am reading that fully synthetic oil can make the manufacturers oil change intervals less of an issue. The Wee has a rather annoying 3500 interval (but only a filter every other time) but Suzuki specify semi-synthetic. The internet is giving examples of bikes reaching a good mileage without any hassle using 6000 mile changes and synthetic oil.

While the RTW riders will I'm sure be getting out the spanners once a week and using whatever tractor oil you can buy in the bazaar, my riding is limited to Western Europe so this appeals. 6000 miles is effectively no limit while 3500 needs more planning and might mean service day too close to departure day for a test run.

So, are other touring riders actually doing this, or is it just an internet myth that the chatroom warriors have never actually tried?

Andy
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Old 14 Nov 2012
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Semi, or fully synth.... I think it's more important to go with quality.

3500 is a manufactures 'arse saving'. I think I changed the oil on my Strom every 5000 miles and it still looked and smelled pretty good.

You will do faaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrr more damage to the long term health of your bike by riding it before warming it up and riding in the wrong gear or high revs than you will by going over your 'RECOMMENDED' oil service interval.

If you're a conservative rider and use your machine with respect, then stick in a high quality Semi Synth (I use Motul 10/40 in the UK - Best quality:value) and just get on with it.

MILES are a recommendation. You can ride 300 miles at your red line and your oil will be worse than a 2000 miles down the motorway... If you get my drift.
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  #3  
Old 14 Nov 2012
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Alternatively.....

Suzuki designed and built the bloody thing; what is in it for them to have a lower than reasonable oil change interval? Of course they want their bikes to last....

Personally, I follow the service schedule for all my vehicles, conservative though they may be.
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  #4  
Old 14 Nov 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Docsherlock View Post
Suzuki designed and built the bloody thing; what is in it for them to have a lower than reasonable oil change interval? Of course they want their bikes to last....

Personally, I follow the service schedule for all my vehicles, conservative though they may be.
Because, if you want to keep your warranty in order and keep your service book stamped up, you will most likely go to a Suzuki franchised workshop and have them do it for you..

And that makes them £££££££££££££££££££££££££ £££££££££
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  #5  
Old 14 Nov 2012
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Semi synth is a . . . myth

Well, not a myth but there's no "standard".

Is it 10% synth, 20%, 50%, 5% - it's not required to say and . . . doesn't.

Motorcycles need to run the oil specified by the manufacturer in terms of a STANDARD. An international standard. KTM's often call for a JASO MA standard.

Then there's the weight, based upon ambient air temps.

Diesel oil makes a great substitute in the middle of nowhere due to it's high shear resistance and obvious heat breakdown resistance.

Putting synth in an older air-cooled engine is largely a waste of time due to manufacturer tolerances (ahem, Enfield, old technology when it was 'new').

But for folks riding a water-cooled "modern" motorcycle . . . full synth.
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Old 14 Nov 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by *Touring Ted* View Post
Because, if you want to keep your warranty in order and keep your service book stamped up, you will most likely go to a Suzuki franchised workshop and have them do it for you..

And that makes them £££££££££££££££££££££££££ £££££££££
Ah, Ted, not so in the New World; vehicles just have to be serviced in accordance with the schedule and warranty cannot be denied. You can do it yourself as long as you can prove it was done - receipts, a log and a couple of judicious photos will do it. But the warranty for Suzukis is only a year anyway....

And as many of us know from bitter experience, franchised dealer service departments sometimes do a very poor job of servicing.....
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Old 14 Nov 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Docsherlock View Post
Ah, Ted, not so in the New World; vehicles just have to be serviced in accordance with the schedule and warranty cannot be denied. You can do it yourself as long as you can prove it was done - receipts, a log and a couple of judicious photos will do it. But the warranty for Suzukis is only a year anyway....

And as many of us know from bitter experience, franchised dealer service departments sometimes do a very poor job of servicing.....
Yup.. You're right. But try proving that. You might as well try pushing treacle up hill. You have to prove the mechanic was qualified and that the oils, components were genuine etc.

Servicing your own bike does not keep your warranty.

I worked in a Suzuki franchise. I've seen the grim underworld of it all.
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Old 14 Nov 2012
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Originally Posted by *Touring Ted* View Post
Yup.. You're right. But try proving that. You might as well try pushing treacle up hill. You have to prove the mechanic was qualified and that the oils, components were genuine etc.

Servicing your own bike does not keep your warranty.

I worked in a Suzuki franchise. I've seen the grim underworld of it all.
No, you're wrong - home servicing your bike DOES keep your warranty in the US; you just gotta prove, reasonably, you did it. Receipts and a log will do it. It's the law - in the US.

In the UK, I believe it is harder to prove and standard appears to be serviced by a VAT registered workshop, oddly enough.
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Old 14 Nov 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Docsherlock View Post
No, you're wrong - home servicing your bike DOES keep your warranty in the US; you just gotta prove, reasonably, you did it. Receipts and a log will do it. It's the law - in the US.

In the UK, I believe it is harder to prove and standard appears to be serviced by a VAT registered workshop, oddly enough.
I don't live in the US !!


And I know the manufactures will do almost anything to avoid a warranty payout.

Sure, you could take them to court and it is possible that you will win with a good lawyer.

It's also possible to build a spaceship out of stale bread rolls and fly to the moon but I don't think it's really worth the effort or cost involved.


Anyway, this is way off topic....... So, Oil !!! Good isn't it.
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  #10  
Old 14 Nov 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Threewheelbonnie View Post
I am reading that fully synthetic oil can make the manufacturers oil change intervals less of an issue. The Wee has a rather annoying 3500 interval (but only a filter every other time) but Suzuki specify semi-synthetic. The internet is giving examples of bikes reaching a good mileage without any hassle using 6000 mile changes and synthetic oil.

While the RTW riders will I'm sure be getting out the spanners once a week and using whatever tractor oil you can buy in the bazaar, my riding is limited to Western Europe so this appeals. 6000 miles is effectively no limit while 3500 needs more planning and might mean service day too close to departure day for a test run.
If you search hard enough, "the internet" probably also has recommendations to dry your cat in a microwave oven!

Personally I fail to see, what's the problem to change oil once in the middle of a 7000 mile trip in Western Europe? It's not like there's any shortage of oil, or service shops. (just my 0.02 of course).
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Old 14 Nov 2012
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Originally Posted by pecha72 View Post
If you search hard enough, "the internet" probably also has recommendations to dry your cat in a microwave oven!

Personally I fail to see, what's the problem to change oil once in the middle of a 7000 mile trip in Western Europe? It's not like there's any shortage of oil, or service shops. (just my 0.02 of course).
Which of course, is probably the best thing to do....

My DRZ needed an oil change every 2000 miles and even that wasn't a problem in Africa.

Oil changes are easy..... Especially on a strom.
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  #12  
Old 14 Nov 2012
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I have a 2008 wee-Strom that has now done 118,000 km and still goes like new. Here in Australia I do long distances, often 1,000 km per day, the highest being 1,666 km in one day. I change the oil and filters in my bikes and my cars at twice the frequency specified by the manufacturer, which means that my Strom gets new oil every 3,000 km and a filter at 6,000. I might stretch the oil out to 4,000 if I am in a remote area nowhere near a town.

My thinking is the opposite to some of the other posters. These days long service intervals are a selling point, so it is in their interests to make them as long as possible, particularly as more and more countries have legislation that allows warranty servicing to be done by any experienced mechanic. Also, manufacturers are not interested in bikes having an inordinately long lifespan. They are only interested in their product lasting long enough for the first owner to have a trouble free experience, so they'll replace it with another onother one of the same brand.

At 75,000 my local Suzuki dealership did a compression check on my bike. They know that I change the oil and filter myself (including during the warranty period) and that I always use aftermarket filters. They found the compression to be with the specification for a new bike and they attributed it to my oil changing regime. They asked me to bring it back at 150,000 km and they'd check it again. That will be sometime next year. I use semi or full synthetic when I can find it (which is sometimes not possible in remote areas).

Changing it on the road is not a problem. Every town or remote community in Australia has at least a dirt bike and ATV dealer. I buy the oil from them, borrow a drain pan and use their oil disposal facility. Usually there is no charge other than for the oil and I often score a free cup of coffee. I carry my own spare oil filter. It takes 10 minutes max to change the oil and 20 minutes to drink the coffee; what's so hard about that? It's part of the trip and I meet some great people in the process.

When touring in the UK and Western and Eastern Europe I have found that bike shops will either let me do the job in their workshop or, more often, they have dropped what they have been doing and changed the oil on my bike immediately because of the novelty of helping an itinerrant biker.
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Old 15 Nov 2012
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OEM filters are hard to beat, but easy to do worse

I used to change my oil at half the recommended intervals. There was a great database in the US showing that owners who did so, using oil with standards spec'd by the manufacturer had a high correlation to longevity (mileage/km). Consumers Union used to publish the summary each year.

But then the maintainers of that database, and Consumers Union, started to recommend NOT doing so even though for some owners this would mean a quadrupling between changes. In fact, they stated doing so was needlessly wasteful and expensive.

Why ?

Lots more data (much of it from Texaco/Exxon & BMW), much better oils (additives).

Just save yourself the expense of semi-synth which has NO indication of the amount of "synth" in it but charges a hefty premium or go full synth.
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Old 15 Nov 2012
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I hardly dare enter a topic like this - talk about generating strong and diverse opinions - generally very few facts. But anyway here is my two pennyworth:

I work in the marine industry where our engines use 100's of gallons of oil, so guess what we don't like to do unnecessary oil changes. We actually monitor the condition of the oil (measure its viscosity, level of contaminants etc) both at a simple level directly on the ships and at a more sophisticated level sending it off to labs. And we find there is no standard change interval across the fleet - there is a range and its values are set by how the engines are used. Use the engine flat out all the time - low change interval, use it at a reasonable load - longer change interval.

As far as I see it is the same for bikes. The manufacturer gives a safe (ie slightly conservative) change level based on normal use. I use this as a guide. However if I'm riding it hard , or simply are suddenly doing lots of low gear, high load dirt road riding - I'd change it early. Conversley lots of gentle cruising I might stretch it out.

For me the bottom line is that if manufacturer recommends changes every 3500 miles I don't get worried if one of changes gets delayed to 5000 miles - the bike will not self destruct. I just don't thrash it and the oil will be fine for the extra distance.

Also irrespective of when you change it, or what type of oil you use it - just make sure you use some. I reckon more engines are wrecked by low oil level than by the more emotionally argued variables of oil type and interval. (And even then engines can be remarkably tough; I'm currently riding a KLR 650 I bought a year ago for nix since the previous owner ran it out of oil with the result the cam seized in the head and then smashed its way out of its bearings - messy! However with a secondhand cylinder head and no work to the bottom end the bike has just passed 25,000 more kilometres with no problems).

Happy debating
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  #15  
Old 15 Nov 2012
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My opinion is that I think oil and filter changes are important and I have always taken care to ensure that the oil I use meets the specification (API and viscosity) recommended by the manufacturer; including when I am away travelling.

I have used a motorcycle virtually as my sole form of transport for 42 years and I have done many miles in that time. My current bike is a 1993 BMW R100GS PD which I bought in 1995 with 14700 miles on the clock. It has now just passed 343000 miles. With the exception of valves, guides and cam chains, it has never worn out any other engine internals. This is exceptionally good I know and I would be giving a distorted view were I not to say that the bottom end had never been apart. It has, for reasons I won't go into here and at that time I replaced the bi-end and main bearing shells. But the crank measured up as new. I use appropriate mineral oil, which is what the engine designer/developer had in mind originally.

The many motorcycles I have owned in the last 40 odd years have always been treated the same. They all lasted well on the manufacturer's recommended service intervals. I do all the maintenance and repairs except where I do not have access to special tools or machinery.

My recommendations?
Do your own work if you can; then you only have yourself to blame.
Use good quality spares and materials appropriate for the machine.
Stick to an appropriate maintenance regime.
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