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Triumph Motorcycles Engine Oil Selector

triumph recommended motorcycle engine oil - Triumph Motorcycles Engine Oil Selector

If you’re carrying out an oil change on your Triumph, this chart will help you select the best oil for your engine and your wallet.

We’ve listed the recommended engine oil grades and where possible, the quantity you’ll need.

Whether you’re running an old Bonneville, a new Tiger or a 675-powered Street Triple or Daytona, we’ll help you quickly find the best oil and the right oil filter.

We have researched the right oil to the best of our ability but it goes without saying: always consult your owner’s manual where you will find the manufacturer’s recommended engine oil.

Table of Contents

Triumph Engine Oil Chart

MakeModelEngine oilOil Capacity
TRIUMPHADVENTURER 90010W403.8 – 4.0 L
TRIUMPHAMERICA10W40 or 15W503.5 L MIND. API SH
TRIUMPHAMERICA/LT10W40 or 10W503.3 – 3.8 L API SH
TRIUMPHBONNEVILLE10W40 or 15W503.8 L API SH
TRIUMPHBONNEVILLE10W40 or 15W503.8 L API SH
TRIUMPHBONNEVILLE / SE10W40 or 15W503.8 L API SH
TRIUMPHBONNEVILLE 65040W or 50W 2.8 L
TRIUMPHBONNEVILLE 750 (T140)/TIGER 750 (TR7V)20W502.3 L
TRIUMPHBONNEVILLE BOBBER (EURO 4)10W40 or 50 FS3.4 L API SH
TRIUMPHBONNEVILLE BOBBER BLACK10W40 or 50 FS3.4 L API SH
TRIUMPHBONNEVILLE SPEEDMASTER10W40 or 50 FS3.4 L API SH
TRIUMPHBONNEVILLE T10010W40 or 15W503.8 L MIN API SH
TRIUMPHBONNEVILLE T10010W40 or 15W503.8 L MIND.API SH
TRIUMPHBONNEVILLE T100 / BLACK10W40 or -503.2 – 3.4 L API SH
TRIUMPHBONNEVILLE T100/T21410W40 or 10W503.8 L MIN API SH
TRIUMPHBONNEVILLE T120 (EURO 4)10W40 or 10W503.2 – 3.4 L API SH
TRIUMPHDAYTONA 100010W403.5 L API SG
TRIUMPHDAYTONA 12005W30 or 10W303.5 L S
TRIUMPHDAYTONA 60010W40 or 15W503.8 L API SH
TRIUMPHDAYTONA 65010W40 or 15W503.8 L API SH
TRIUMPHDAYTONA 67510W40 or 10W502.9 – 3.1 L API SH
TRIUMPHDAYTONA 67510W40 or 10W502.9 – 3.1 L API SH
TRIUMPHDAYTONA 67510W40 or 10W503.0 – 3.2L API SH
TRIUMPHDAYTONA 675 R10W40 or 10W502.9 – 3.1L API SH
TRIUMPHDAYTONA 675 R10W40 or 10W503.0 – 3.2L API SH
TRIUMPHDAYTONA 75010W403.75 L API SG
TRIUMPHDAYTONA 9005W30 or 10W303.75L API SG Semi S
TRIUMPHDAYTONA 955I15W-40 FS3.4 L
TRIUMPHDAYTONA 955I10W40 or 15W503.2 L API SH
TRIUMPHDAYTONA 955I T59510W40 FS4.0 L
TRIUMPHDAYTONA SUPER III5W30 or 10W303.5 – 3.75 L FS
TRIUMPHLEGEND TT10W403.75 L API SG
TRIUMPHROCKET 310W40 or 10W505.4 L API SH
TRIUMPHROCKET 3 CLASSIC10W40 or 10W505.4 L API SH
TRIUMPHROCKET 3 GT (EURO 5)15W504.6 L
TRIUMPHROCKET 3 R (EURO 5)15W504.6 L
TRIUMPHROCKET 3 ROADSTER10W40 or 10W505.4 L API SH
TRIUMPHROCKET 3 TFC  
TRIUMPHROCKET 3 TOURING10W40 or 10W505.4 L API SH
TRIUMPHSCRAMBLER10W40 or 10W503.8 L API SH
TRIUMPHSCRAMBLER10W40 or 10W503.8 L API SH
TRIUMPHSCRAMBLER 1200 XC10W40 or 503.2 – 3.4 L API SH
TRIUMPHSCRAMBLER 1200 XE10W40 or 503.2 – 3.4 L API SH
TRIUMPHSPEED FOUR15W50 or 10W403.8 L API SH
TRIUMPHSPEED TRIPLE10W40 FS4.0 L
TRIUMPHSPEED TRIPLE10W403.5 – 3.75 L API SG
TRIUMPHSPEED TRIPLE10W403.2 L
TRIUMPHSPEED TRIPLE10W40 or 15W503.2 L API SH
TRIUMPHSPEED TRIPLE10W50 or 10W403.2 L API SH
TRIUMPHSPEED TRIPLE 105010W40 or 10W503.2 L API SH
TRIUMPHSPEED TRIPLE R10W40 or 15W503.0 – 3.2 L API SH
TRIUMPHSPEED TRIPLE R10W50 or 10W403.2 L API SH
TRIUMPHSPEED TRIPLE RS10W40 or 10W503.0 – 3.2 L API SH
TRIUMPHSPEED TRIPLE S10W40 or 10W503.0 – 3.2 L API SH
TRIUMPHSPEED TRIPLE S10W40 or 10W503.0 – 3.2 L API SH
TRIUMPHSPEED TRIPLE T50910W40 FS.4.0 L
TRIUMPHSPEED TWIN10W40 or 10W503.2 – 3.4 L API SH
TRIUMPHSPEEDMASTER10W40 or 10W503.3 – 3.8 L API SH
TRIUMPHSPEEDMASTER10W40 or 15W503.2 – 3.8 L API SH
TRIUMPHSPEEDMASTER10W40 or 15W503.8 L API SH
TRIUMPHSPEEDMASTER10W40 or 15W503.75 L API SH
TRIUMPHSPRINT 90010W403.5 – 3.8 L API SG
TRIUMPHSPRINT 90010W404.0 L API SG
TRIUMPHSPRINT GT10W40 or 10W503.2 L API SH
TRIUMPHSPRINT RS10W40 or 15W50 4.0 L
TRIUMPHSPRINT RS10W40 or 15W503.2 L API SH
TRIUMPHSPRINT ST10W40 or 15W503.2 L API SH
TRIUMPHSPRINT ST 105010W40 or 10W503.2 L API SH
TRIUMPHSTREET CUP (EURO 4)10W40 or 50 FS3.4 L MIN API SH
TRIUMPHSTREET SCRAMBLER10W40 or 50 FS3.4 L MIN API SH
TRIUMPHSTREET SCRAMBLER (EURO 4)10W40 or 50 FS3.4 L MIN API SH
TRIUMPHSTREET TRIPLE10W40 or 10W502.9 – 3.1L API SH
TRIUMPHSTREET TRIPLE10W40 or 10W502.9 – 3.1L API SH
TRIUMPHSTREET TRIPLE10W40 or 10W503.0 – 3.2 L API SH
TRIUMPHSTREET TRIPLE R10W40 or 10W502.9 – 3.1L API SH
TRIUMPHSTREET TRIPLE R10W40 or 15W502.9 – 3.1L API SH
TRIUMPHSTREET TRIPLE R10W40 or 15W503.0 – 3.2 L API SH
TRIUMPHSTREET TRIPLE R (EURO 4)10W40 or 502.88 – 3.08 L MIN API SH
TRIUMPHSTREET TRIPLE RS (EURO 4)10W40 or 502.88 – 3.08 L MIN API SH
TRIUMPHSTREET TRIPLE RS (EURO 5)  
TRIUMPHSTREET TRIPLE RX10W503.0 – 3.2 L API SH
TRIUMPHSTREET TRIPLE S (EURO 4)10W40 or 502.88 – 3.08 L MIN API SH
TRIUMPHSTREET TRIPLE S A2 (EURO 4)10W40 or 502.88 – 3.08 L MIN API SH
TRIUMPHSTREET TWIN10W40 or 10W503.2 – 3.4 L MIN API SH
TRIUMPHSTREET TWIN10W40 or 50 FS3.4 L MIN API SH
TRIUMPHTHRUXTON10W40 or 10W503.3 – 3.8 L MIND.API SH
TRIUMPHTHRUXTON10W40 or 10W503.3 – 3.8 L MIND.API SH
TRIUMPHTHRUXTON 1200 (EURO 4)10W40 or 10W503.2 – 3.4 L API SH
TRIUMPHTHRUXTON R 1200 (EURO 4)10W40 or 10W503.2 – 3.4 L API SH
TRIUMPHTHRUXTON RS (EURO 5)10W40 or 10W503.2 – 3.4 L API SH
TRIUMPHTHUNDERBIRD10W40 or 15W503.4 L API SH
TRIUMPHTHUNDERBIRD 160010W40 or 10W504.2 L API SH
TRIUMPHTHUNDERBIRD 160010W40 or 10W504.2 L API SH
TRIUMPHTHUNDERBIRD SPORT10W40 or 15W503.4 L API SH
TRIUMPHTHUNDERBIRD STORM/COMMANDER/LT10W40 or 10W504.2 L API SH
TRIUMPHTIGER 1050 SPORT10W40 or 10W503.1 – 3.3 L API SH
TRIUMPHTIGER 1050 SPORT (EURO 4)10W40 or 10W503.1 – 3.3 L MIN API SH
TRIUMPHTIGER 1050/SE10W40 or 10W503.2 L API SH
TRIUMPHTIGER 1200 EXPLORER10W40 or 10W504.0 L API SH
TRIUMPHTIGER 1200 EXPLORER XC10W40 or 10W504.0 L MIN API SH
TRIUMPHTIGER 1200 XC. XCX/LOW. XCA (EURO 4)10W40 or -503.85 – 4.0 L API SH
TRIUMPHTIGER 1200 XCX/LOW. XCA10W40 or -503.85 – 4.0 L API SH
TRIUMPHTIGER 1200 XR. XRX/LOW. XRT10W40 or -503.85 – 4.0 L API SH
TRIUMPHTIGER 1200 XR. XRX/LOW. XRT (EURO 4)10W40 or -503.85 – 4.0 L API SH
TRIUMPHTIGER 80010W40 or 10W503.6 L API SH
TRIUMPHTIGER 800 XC (CROSS COUNTRY)10W40 or 10W503.6 L API SH
TRIUMPHTIGER 800 XC. XCX/LOW. XCA (EURO 4)10W40 or 503.6 L API SH
TRIUMPHTIGER 800 XC/XCX/XCA10W40 or 10W503.4 – 3.6 L API SH
TRIUMPHTIGER 800 XCX. XCA10W40 or 10W503.4 – 3.6 L API SH
TRIUMPHTIGER 800 XR. XRX. XRX LOW. XRT10W40 or 10W503.4 – 3.6 L API SH
TRIUMPHTIGER 800 XR. XRX/LOW. XRT (EURO 4)10W40 or 503.6 L API SH
TRIUMPHTIGER 800 XR/XRX/XRT10W40 or 10W503.4 – 3.6 L API SH
TRIUMPHTIGER 90015W-40 FS4.0 L API SH
TRIUMPHTIGER 90010W403.5 – 3.75 L API SG
TRIUMPHTIGER 900 (EURO 5)  
TRIUMPHTIGER 900 GT /LOW (EURO 5)  
TRIUMPHTIGER 900 GT PRO (EURO 5)  
TRIUMPHTIGER 900 RALLY (EURO 5)  
TRIUMPHTIGER 900 RALLY PRO (EURO 5)  
TRIUMPHTIGER 955I10W40 FS3.4 L API SH
TRIUMPHTIGER 955I10W40 or 15W503.4 L API SH
TRIUMPHTIGER 955I10W40 or 15W503.4 L API SH
TRIUMPHTRIDENT 75010W403.75 L API SG
TRIUMPHTRIDENT 90010W403.5 – 3.75 L API SG
TRIUMPHTROPHY / SE10W403.85 – 4.0 L API SH
TRIUMPHTROPHY 120010W403.3 – 3.5 L
TRIUMPHTROPHY 120010W403.5 L API SG
TRIUMPHTROPHY 90010W403.5 – 3.8 L
TRIUMPHTROPHY/THUNDERBIRD/TIGER40W or 50W 2.8 L
TRIUMPHTT 60010W40 or 15W503.8 L API SH

What You Need To Know

If you better understand the differences between different engine oils, you’ll always pick the best one for your needs and budget.

What’s the difference between different engine oils?

Mineral oils are refined from petroleum, but even mineral oils contain some synthetic compounds or additives to improve them. Semi-synthetic oils are a blend of mineral and synthetic oils. They have definite improvements over pure mineral oils. Semi-synthetics can contain “hydrocracked” bases.

Hydrocracked oils are mineral oils that have been subjected to intense pressure and temperature to change the structure of the molecules, making the resultant oil more stable and resistant to evaporation at higher temperatures. Semi-synthetic oils don’t cost much more than mineral oils do, but offer advantages over the latter.

Full-synthetic oils, however, are far more expensive than mineral or semi-synthetic oils.  Full-synthetics are man-made oils that have been tailored to give them certain advantages like the fact that they perform better in extreme temperatures, are less likely to evaporate or thin excessively in heat, etc. Full-synthetics contain poly-alpha-olefins (PAO) and esters. PAOs don’t gel at low temperatures, making them necessary for any true 0W oil.

Esters are similar to PAOs but also help protect metal surfaces and offer good lubrication. Full-synthetic oils are expensive and, unless you are racing, not necessarily recommended for motorcycles. For the everyday rider, a semi-synthetic shear-stable 10W-40 oil with some ester content would be a great choice.

What’s the best type of oil to use for road riding?

Your ideal choice of oil would be an ester semi-synthetic 10W-40 or a 10W-30 that is also shear-stable. The fact that the oil is shear-stable is more important than the fact that it is semi-synthetic.

You are still better off choosing shear-stable mineral-based oil than a low-quality semi-synthetic one that isn’t shear-stable. Only for frequent long-distance riders would the cost of a full-synthetic oil be worth it, as it can help save on oil changes and fuel costs. 

Does a high-performance oil produce more power?

There will always be loss of engine output due to things like thermodynamics, which can’t be changed that much. However, some of that loss, about 6%, is due to oil drag. By using quality but low viscosity oil, this loss can be minimised and engine power increased. For a typical 100bhp motorcycle, a lighter engine oil might show a 2bhp peak improvement.

Choosing the right oil filter

If you’re changing your engine oil, it makes sense to change the oil filter too. An oil filter removes tiny particles from the oil, helping to keep the oil fresher and work to its best ability for longer. A new filter costs a few quid and it only takes a couple of minutes to change. 

We’ve put together this Triumph motorcycles oil filter chart to help you pick the best oil filter for your motorcycle.

How To Change Your Motorcycle’s Oil

how to change motorcycle engine oil - Triumph Motorcycles Engine Oil Selector

If you’ve never changed your motorcycle’s oil before, you might be apprehensive but you needn’t be. With the right tools, anyone can change their engine oil in under an hour. We’ve put together this simple guide to help you through your first motorcycle oil change.

Recommended Motorcycle Engine Oils 

The table below shows all the different engine oils available for four-stroke motorcycle engines. We’ve listed them by viscosity. Then we’ve listed the best motorcycle engine oil available in each viscosity, from Mineral-based engine oils to Semi-Synthetic, right up to Fully Synthetic and even top-quality ester-based oils.

The table has been compiled from owner reviews and ratings and manufacturer-specified oil, where applicable.

5W30

motul oil 4 stroke 300v 5w 30 factory line motorbike engine oil - Triumph Motorcycles Engine Oil Selector
5W30

Fully Synthetic. Ester-based oil to ensure maximum power output of the engine without compromising the reliability and the wear. Used by Factory race teams. Ideal for wet clutches. Quality doesn’t come cheap.

5W40

silkolene pro4 5w40 motorcycle engine oil fully synthetic - Triumph Motorcycles Engine Oil Selector
5W40

Fully Synthetic. For racing and performance motorcycles where excellence is the only option. Specially researched synthetic esters provide exceptional film strength and outstanding surface protection from start-up to maximum output..

10W30

silkolene pro4 10w30 fully synthetic motorcycle engine oil - Triumph Motorcycles Engine Oil Selector
10W30

Fully Synthetic. This ultra high performance 4-stroke motorcycle engine oil offers improved fuel economy and engine performance, rapid oil circulation on cold start, excellent lubrication under all conditions, and superior wet clutch performance.

silkolene comp4 10w30 ester motorcycle engine oil - Triumph Motorcycles Engine Oil Selector
10W30

Semi-Synthetic. Particularly suitable for tuned engines or those used in hot climates. Utilising an ester base. Ensures rapid oil circulation on a cold start, excellent lubrication under all conditions, and superior wet clutch performance. API SL, & JASO MA2.

10W40

motul oil 4 stroke 7100 10w 40 ester engine oil - Triumph Motorcycles Engine Oil Selector
10W40

Fully Synthetic. One of the best fully-synthetic motorcycle engine oils. Ester-based oil, which is of the highest quality. Very high film strength protects the engine and gearbox. Meets JASO MA. Ideal for oil immersed clutches. Compatible with catalytic converters.

castrol oil power 1 4 stroke 10w40 semi synthetic engine oil - Triumph Motorcycles Engine Oil Selector
10W40

Semi-Synthetic. A high-quality part-synthetic oil at a good price. Castrol’s 10W-40 is suitable for high-performance bikes including highly stressed multi-cylinder engines.

putoline s4 10w40  mineral motorbike engine oil - Triumph Motorcycles Engine Oil Selector
10W40

Mineral Based. A good quality mineral oil that provides protection under regular riding conditions. Especially suitable for small capacity engines and commuters.

10W50

castrol power 1 10w50 motorcycle engine oil fully synthetic - Triumph Motorcycles Engine Oil Selector
10W50

Fully Synthetic. Suitable for modern high-performance motorcycle engines where API or JASO specifications are recommended. Excellent shear stability.

10W60

elf moto4 race 10w60 motorcycle engine oil - Triumph Motorcycles Engine Oil Selector
10W60

Fully Synthetic. Elf’s Moto4 is designed for high-performance four-stroke engines. Its additives improve viscosity rating and thicken the oil at high temperatures, whilst maintaining its fluidity at low temperatures.

15W50

shell advance 4t 15w50 motorcycle engine oil - Triumph Motorcycles Engine Oil Selector
15W50

Fully Synthetic. Ultimate performance fully synthetic motorcycle oil for all high demanding 4 stroke engines including racing engines. Offers ultimate lubrication at peak performance levels. Outstanding shear stability and ageing resistance, low evaporation tendency.

castrol oils power 1 4stroke 15w50 motorcycle engine oil - Triumph Motorcycles Engine Oil Selector
15W50

Semi-Synthetic. Designed for the latest generation European and Japanese motorcycles. 15W-50 is well suited for large air-cooled single, twins and high mileage engines that require good high-temperature viscosity and oil consumption control.

20W40

putoline formula v twin 20w40 - Triumph Motorcycles Engine Oil Selector
20W40

Semi Synthetic. Four stroke engine oil exceeds the requirements of the leading manufacturers. Offering excellent high mileage engine protection.

20W50

motul 20w50 fully synthetic motorcycle engine oil - Triumph Motorcycles Engine Oil Selector
20W50

Fully Synthetic. 100% synthetic 4-Stroke lubricant with Ester technology. Engineered for 2 cylinder engines and meets Harley Davidson spec. Meets JASO MA2 specifications for optimal wet clutch performance and suitable for catalytic converters.

silkoline v twin 20w50 cruiser engine oil - Triumph Motorcycles Engine Oil Selector
20W50

Mineral based. Mineral oil based 4-stroke engine oil for all Harley Davidson & Metric V-Twin Cruisers. Provides protection over a wide range of operating conditions. Promotes a high level of engine cleanliness.

What does Engine Oil Do?

A good engine oil lubricates, protects, cleans, and cools the engine to keep it running smoothly.

Engine oil provides lubrication between the individual engine components, reducing friction. It does so by providing a slippery film between the moving parts in the running engine. This ensures that the engine can run efficiently, at optimal performance and with increased power. Lubrication is also vitally important at start-up. Here, the cold oil in the oil sump needs to be quickly pumped back into the engine so that it can provide lubrication. This allows for an ideal cranking speed to turn over the engine. In order to ensure that that oil can flow quickly at start-up, but also provide enough of a film to protect the engine when running, an engine needs an oil with different viscosity ranges.

Engine oil creates a film on moving parts in the engine, which acts as a protective layer. By preventing and minimising metal-to-metal contact, wear of these components is reduced. Engine oil has another way it protects the engine. Combustion by-products, oxidation and contamination from condensation all form acids. If left unchecked, these acids can cause corrosion in the engine, which can lead to components failing. Engine oil ensures that this does not happen and so protects the engine.

For an engine to run optimally, it needs to be clean. Deposits in the engine can gum it up and reduce its performance. Further, unnecessary wear and damage in an engine can be caused by microscopic contaminants.  For perspective, a single hair is 100 microns thick. Contaminants as small as 5 to 20 microns could easily cause damage to an engine. Engine oil keeps the engine clean by holding these contaminants in suspension until they can be removed via the oil filter. Engine oil also prevents damaging deposits from forming.

Finally, engine oil also helps to keep the engine cool. Heat is caused by the friction between the moving parts as well as by combustion. The radiator is responsible for cooling the top part of the engine. Cooling the rest of the engine, like the pistons, rod bearings, timing gears, crankshaft, camshaft etc., is up to engine oil. As oil passes over these heated surfaces, it absorbs the heat. This hot oil then travels to the oil sump, where it is cooled by the air surrounding it.

 

What is Multigrade Oil?

different motorcycle engine oils guide 488x305 - Triumph Motorcycles Engine Oil Selector

Oil is thick and viscous when it is cold and then thins as it warms up.  Cold thick oil struggles to circulate as the engine is started, but using a thinner oil here would mean that, once heated, the oil would be too thin to adequately protect the engine.

The answer is using a multigrade oil. This oil, due to the addition of polymer, has two different viscosity grades.  By adding a polymer to a thin oil base, it is possible to have an oil that performs well in both hot and cold conditions. The polymer ensures that as the oil is heated, the rate of thinning is slowed down. It also ensures that, as the oil cools, the rate of thickening is slowed too.

Multigrade oil is identifiable by its two numbers, say 10W-40. The first number 10W (W stands for Winter) refers to the viscosity of the oil at a low temperature. A lower number would mean a thinner oil, so a 5W would be thinner than a 10W. A 0W oil would be the thinnest at cold temperature.

The second number, 40, refers to the viscosity of the oil at a high temperature, which will always be measured at 100 °C. Again, a lower number means a thinner oil, so, at 100 °C, a 30 oil would be thinner than the 40 oil. It is, of course, important to follow the guidelines of the manufacturer in choosing the correct multigrade oil for your motorcycle.

Synthetic Engine Oils Common Questions

We’ve answered some of the most common questions when it comes to synthetic motorcycle engine oil.

Will my engine consume more synthetic oil?

Not likely.  In modern engines, most oil consumption happens due to evaporation at high temperatures. Synthetic oils, however, tend to be far more resistant to evaporation, especially if they contain ester and PAO, so oil consumption should be lower with a synthetic. Irrelevant of oil type, oil consumption will go up in engines with defective seals, and worn valve guides and piston rings. Here, one might as well use a cheaper oil instead of a synthetic one.

Is synthetic oil compatible with other engine oil?

Synthetic oil is fully compatible with any other engine oil. Provided the oil is for a 4- stroke engine, one can safely mix any type of oil irrelevant of what its base is or what it contains, be it mineral, semi-synthetic, hydrocracked synthetic, PAO, ester, etc. The exception here would be Castor-oil-based racing oils.

Will a synthetic oil void my warranty?

As long as you follow the instructions in your handbook in regards to the viscosity ranges and API of an oil, you can use whichever oil you choose, including synthetics, without affecting your warranty. The choice of brand is also up to you as OEMs, by law, cannot prescribe this.

Are synthetic oils worth the extra cost?

This depends. For a great bike in a great condition, the right synthetic oil will help keep maintenance costs down, lower fuel costs, and keep it running like new.  For an oil-guzzling older model, synthetic oils may just not be worth the price.

Motorcycle Engine Oil FAQ

Can I use car engine oil in my motorcycle?
This can be risky. Even though you can and will find car oil with the same viscosity ratings (i.e. 10w40) as for motorcycle engines, the additives in the oil will be different. Most cars use a separate gearbox oil and most cars have a dry clutch. So a car oil could make your clutch slip or knacker your gearbox. If you're buying a bike that's been run on car oil, beware!

Does engine oil have an expiry date?
Engine oils have an expiry date which means the performance levels can no longer be guaranteed. However if your oil hasn't been opened, it'll take years and years for it to degrade. If your oil has been opened and is a couple of years out of date, it'll most likely be absolutely fine. However, if you've already opened it and it's 5 years out of date you'll be better off buying fresh oil as the additives in the oil may have oxidised and lost their qualities.

What are the most critical areas where the oil flows?
For a motorcycle engine, the critical engine areas are the piston assembly, bearings and valve train. The engine oill also lubricates the clutch (but not if your motorcycle has a dry clutch) and your motorcycle's gearbox.

What does my oil filter do and do I need to replace it?
The oil filter traps foreign particles and debris that are introduced into the oil by normal riding. These particles can be anything from carbon deposits to small metal particles from your motorcycle's engine. These particles can lead to engine damage, while a blocked filter may lead to oil starvation and ultimately engine failure. An oil filter costs just a few pounds, so it makes sense to change this every time you do an oil change.

What is the difference between a mineral, semi-synthetic, and full-synthetic engine oil?
Mineral oils are refined from petroleum, but even mineral oils contain some synthetic compounds or additives to improve them. Semi-synthetic oils are a blend of mineral and synthetic oils. They have definite improvements over pure mineral oils. Semi-synthetics can contain “hydrocracked” bases. Hydrocracked oils are mineral oils that have been subjected to intense pressure and temperature to change the structure of the molecules, making the resultant oil more stable and resistant to evaporation at higher temperatures. Semi-synthetic oils don’t cost much more than mineral oils do, but offer advantages over the latter.

Why does a 2-stroke oil have to be mixed with fuel?
A 2-stroke engine is built and runs differently to a 4-stroke one. A 4-stroke engine keeps most of its oil in its crankcase and oil sump and recirculates this oil to lubricate the engine. With a 2-stroke engine, the process is somewhat different. Here, there is no oil sump as the crankcase deals with the compression and induction of the fuel/air mix. The only way, therefore, to provide oil to the engine for lubrication is by adding it to the fuel. As this oil is burnt with the fuel, it can’t be recirculated. A specific 2-stroke oil is needed as 4-stroke oil would leave damaging deposits behind when it burns.

Is any engine oil better than no engine oil?
Yes, but when it comes to motorcycles, the 'right' engine oil is better than 'any' engine oil!

Why do some engines burn oil?
Unfortunately, some types of engines just use more oil than others due to their design. Here, the burnt oil can leave damaging deposits behind, meaning these engines often need more top overhauls. However, if a touring engine uses more oil than is necessary, changing to a lighter grade of oil often solves the problem.

Can I top up my engine with a different type of oil?
As long as you don’t mix a 2-stroke oil with a 4-stroke oil, you can safely top your engine up with a different type of oil. You probably wouldn’t want to mix different grades, say, a 5W-30 synthetic with a 20W-50 mineral oil, but if you do, it likely wouldn’t do any harm.

Do I need to warm up my engine before riding?
The oil needs to be warm, but, even better, hot, especially when riding at speed. When cold oil is pumped into an engine, cavitation (bubbles of vacuum within the oil) is likely to occur. This, in essence, means that the engine does not receive enough oil for it to run optimally at speed. Warmer, and so thinner, oil ensures that the engine not only receives enough oil, but that all moving parts within it can work optimally. Ideally, use a 5W-40 or 10W-40 oil and ensure the engine warms up properly for a few km before speeding up.

Do I need to regularly change my oil?
If you tend to drive short distances with a low annual mileage, regular oil changes are vital, irrelevant of whether the minimum mileage for an oil change was reached or not. Water vapour and fuel tend to make their way into the oil, and, unless you drive long distances, they never have the chance to evaporate. This can cause damages like corrosion, gear tooth pitting, and ring and bore wear. Long-distance riders with a high annual mileage who use a high-quality oil can afford to be a little more relaxed on the oil changes.

What's the best type of oil to use in a road bike?
Your ideal choice of oil would be an ester semi-synthetic 10W-40 or a 10W-30 that is also shear-stable. The fact that the oil is shear-stable is more important than the fact that it is semi-synthetic. You are still better off choosing shear-stable mineral-based oil than a low-quality semi-synthetic one that isn’t shear-stable. Only for frequent long-distance riders would the cost of a full-synthetic oil be worth it, as it can help save on oil changes and fuel costs.

How does oil 'cling' onto the engine's internals?
Where there is high-speed rotation in the engine, e.g. with a plain bearing, the high speed draws a thick layer of oil between the two surfaces, like a wedge. Here, this oil supports and carries the load of these surfaces. As soon as the spinning stops, however, either due to the slowing down or stopping of the engine, this wedged oil gives way. Where no rotation occurs in an engine, oil cannot form this thick wedged layer to protect metal surfaces. Here, oil provides a thin protective film and often relies on anti-wear agents, detergents, and anti-oxidant chemicals to help protect from metal-to-metal contact.

Engine Oil Glossary

When it comes to motorcycle engine oil, there are a lot of terms that get thrown around. We’ve created this quick glossary to help you understand what everything means.

Anti-Wear Agent
In boundary lubrication conditions, this additive reduces the amount of wear caused by metal-to-metal contact by chemically reacting with the metal surfaces and forming a film between them.

Corrosion Inhibitor
This engine oil additive helps to protect metal surfaces by inhibiting corrosion caused by contaminants. It usually does so through a chemical reaction that forms a protective film over the metal surfaces.

Detergent
This engine oil additive chemically reacts with acidic, sludge-forming contaminants in the oil to neutralise them. It then holds these, now harmless, impurities in suspension.

Hydrocracking
Using hydrogen, the hydrocarbons in mineral oil are put under high temperature and pressure to crack their molecules. The result is a synthetic-like base stock of high quality. When blended with further additives, hydrocracked oil is not only extremely stable but also comparable in performance to synthetic oils.

Oxidation inhibitor
This additive prolongs the storage life of engine oil. It does so by helping to counteract the negative effects of oxidation.

Synthetic lubricant
The base oils for synthetic lubricants are artificially made from chemical compounds or polymerisation of hydrocarbons, instead of by refining petroleum. Synthetic oils offer several advantages over mineral oils.

Viscosity
Viscosity refers to a fluid’s resistance to flow. Temperature directly impacts the viscosity of the oil. Cold oil is thicker and hot oil is thinner.  An engine oil, however, needs to be able to adequately protect and lubricate an engine both at start-up, when it is cold and while running, when it is hot. The solution here is an oil with two different viscosity grades, i.e. a multigrade oil.

Questions? Tips, Errors?

We work hard to keep our motorcycle oil chooser up to date but if you spot any errors or you can help us fill out any missing info, we’d love to hear from you. Likewise, if you have a question, just enter it in the comments box below and we’ll get back to you straight away. Thank you!

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