Is it time to change the oil in your bike? We review 5 of the best motorcycle engine oils that will help protect your motor against cold starts and heat stress. You should change the oil at least every 2,000 miles. This will not only prolong the life of your motor, but it will help your bike run smoother and cleaner each and every time. Keep in mind that the oil inside your crankcase is the lifeblood of your motor. You’ve probably heard this many times before, but it’s true.
Periodically changing the oil will not only give your motorcycle better performance, but it will also help the environment by lowering the amount of pollutants from your tailpipe. But don’t use just any brand of motor oil. What other people will consider to be the best motor oil for Harley bikes might not necessarily be the best option for your Suzuki GSX-R. Different engines require different kinds of motor oil. Your owner’s manual or service manual will provide you with the right information regarding the type of oil you need to use on your bike.
Types of Motor Oil
You need to understand that there are 3 kinds of motor oil:
1. Mineral oil. This type of engine oil is refined from crude oil and is usually ideal for old or vintage bikes. Mineral oils are usually more affordable than synthetic-based oils.
2. Semi-synthetic. This type of engine oil is a quality blend of refined crude oil and a bit of synthetic compound added into the formula. Semi-synthetic is oil is engineered to perform better than plain mineral oils and they are considered the middle-ground that combines the best of both worlds: the performance of fully–synthetic oil for almost the same cost as mineral-based oils.
3. Full synthetic. This type of engine oil uses synthetic base stock oil. This means that fully synthetic oils are man-made by blending different chemicals to form the ideal compound. The oil’s properties are altered by chemical processing, which will change the molecular structure of the finished product.
This is the reason why fully-synthetic oils perform better than mineral oils, in both hot and cold weather. But the cost should be a concern because synthetics are the most expensive kind, although you get the added benefit of extended oil change intervals compared to mineral oils.
Despite all of this, it doesn’t mean that synthetics are better than mineral-based oils. It is best to consult the service manual for your bike because there are riders that experience oil leaks on their bikes after switching from mineral to fully–synthetic oil.
Why You Should NOT Use Automotive Oil on Your Motorcycle
Some riders use automotive oil on their bikes. While this may seem fine at first, the reality is that these people are probably doing more harm than good to their precious rides.
Modern cars require more friction modifiers in their engine oil. Since automobiles are required to be more fuel-efficient than they have ever been, the motor will need to run smoother, hence the need to dramatically reduce friction as the engine revs or idles incessantly in traffic.
But friction modifiers are actually bad for motorcycles. Keep in mind that motorcycles have shared sumps. This means that the engine oil is not only used to lubricate the engine, but they are used to lubricate the transmission as well.
If you use automotive oil with friction modifiers on your bike, this can cause clutch slip, which will eventually damage your transmission.
Since motorcycle engines spin faster, run hotter, and make more horsepower per liter than car engines, it is imperative that you only use motorcycle-specific motor oils on your bike.
The 5 Best Motorcycle Engine Oils
1. Honda Pro GN4
Did you know that Honda set the standards for motorcycle oils when it unleashed the original GN4 back in 1975? If you have a light-duty Honda bike, then this motor oil gives you the best bang for the buck.
The Pro Honda GN4 is a petroleum-based mineral oil for 4-stroke scooters, ATVs, and motorcycles for light duty usage. If you like to go racing in your Honda, this is not the right oil for you. For that, you need the Pro Honda HP4S.
The Pro Honda GN4 is the original motorcycle oil that was developed specifically for motorcycles. The formula is blended with a unique additive package that exceeds the requirements of bikes with a shared engine and tranny sump design.
Further development has enabled the GN4 to provide better shear resistance, more stable viscosity, and a cleaner burn.
If you previously used synthetic oil on your ride, and you decide to switch to the Pro Honda GN4, you will immediately notice that your motor will shift smoother. It’s going to be a lot quieter, too. This is true especially if your Honda specifically recommends the GN4 in the service manual.
Again, there are better oils for high-performance bikes. But if you’re a casual rider, and if your bike recommends a high-quality mineral-based oil, then it’s hard to go wrong with the Honda Pro GN4.
Not good for high performance engines or track use
It’s a bit expensive
2. Castrol Power1 Synthetic
Buy on Amazon | Check Specs | Read Reviews
The Castrol Power1 is a synthetic-blend motor oil formulated with Castrol’s Trizone technology to protect the 3 critical zones of your ride, namely the engine, clutch, and the gearbox.
This motor oil is derived from racing, so it’s no surprise that this oil offers extreme high-temperature engine performance on both air-cooled and water-cooled motors. The Castrol Power1 Synthetic exceeds API SL and JASO MA-2 certifications for engine protection.
The Castrol Power1 Synthetic will make your engine run smoother and quieter even in the most demanding riding conditions, such as when taking your bike to a track day.
With this oil inside your crankcase, you don’t need to change the oil often.
In fact, because the Castrol Power1 is designed to provide longer engine protection, you only need to change the oil every 12,000 kilometers or 7,500 miles, which is at least once every 12 months.
Of course, it is still best to check your service manual to determine the correct drain interval of your bike.
Trizone technology protects the engine, clutch, and the gearbox
Longer oil change intervals
Smoother shifting and quieter motor
Affordable price compared to other brands
May not be perfect for the newest bikes
3. Mobil 1 Motorcycle Oil
Mobil 1 has long been known to provide one of the best fully-synthetic motor oils for both automotive and motorcycle applications. This particular Mobil 1 is specifically formulated to help keep your bike running in peak form, even in the most extreme riding conditions.
The specific formulation of Mobil 1 will help protect and prolong the life of all vital engine and transmission components. If you have a sports bike or a cruiser that demands a high performance synthetic motor oil, then Mobil 1 is one of the best in the market.
Mobil 1 Racing 4T Motorcycle Oil is highly recommended for both on-road and off-road competition motorcycles with 4-stroke engines. This motor oil will keep your engine clean while providing maximum durability even on long extended rides or track day racing.
If you demand superior engine, transmission, and clutch protection in the most demanding riding environments, then Mobil 1 is certainly one of the best.
Superior engine and transmission performance in extreme hot and cold environments
Reduces engine noise
Increased engine response
It’s a bit pricey
4. Lucas High Performance Motorcycle Oil
The Lucas High Performance Motorcycle Oil is a true racing oil that meets and exceeds all manufacturer specifications in terms of engine protection and performance.
The Lucas Oil can reputably outlast other motor oils up to 4 times, whether you ride on the street or on the track.
Built for maximum endurance, this motor oil will not increase engine performance, but it will also extend the operating life of critical engine components by lowering oil temperatures inside the crankcase.
This motor oil is also one of the best oils for Harley Davidson motorcycles as riders report smoother engine performance with less noise. Shifting gears is also easier and more responsive compared to conventional motor oils.
Lucas Oils offer advanced protection against cold starts, promoting longer component life and longer oil life.
You also get increased gas mileage and reduced engine wear even in extreme temperatures.
All Lucas Oils meets and exceeds JASO and SPI AG specifications.
Best of all, the Lucas High Performance Oil is more affordable than other synthetic oils.
Great for Harleys
Smoother engine with less noise
Superb protection from wear and tear
Still a bit pricey compared to other brands
5. Amsoil 20W-40 Motorcycle Oil
Much like Indian and Victory owners, AMSOIL values performance and individuality, setting itself apart from the competition by manufacturing the most advanced, highest performance lubricants on the market. New AMSOIL 20W-40 Synthetic V-Twin Motorcycle Oil (MVI) is formulated to provide premium protection for Victory and model-year 2013 and newer Indian motorcycles. It is the only full-synthetic 20W-40 motorcycle oil on the market, presenting riders a premium alternative to Indian- and Victory-branded semi-synthetic oils. Indian and Victory motorcycles incorporate a shared sump, and AMSOIL 20W-40 is formulated to provide outstanding protection for engines and transmissions. It is absolutely shear stable, keeping motorcycles well-protected even in extreme heat conditions.
AMSOIL 20W-40 Synthetic V-Twin Motorcycle Oil provides peace of mind, confidence and security by eliciting maximum performance out of bikes and delivering second-to-none protection in even the most severe riding conditions. It offers the following premium protection and performance benefits:
Delivers excellent wear protection
Reduces friction and heat, keeping bikes running cool
Helps prevent damaging sludge and carbon deposits
Provides extreme-pressure protection for gears and chains
Delivers excellent wet-clutch performance
Higher price compared to other synthetic—based oils
Amsoil Motorcycle Oil for V-Twins is also offered in a 20W-50 viscosity and for Metric Motorcycles there is a 10W-40 formulation.