LAST UPDATED: March 20, 2021
Best Motorcycle Oils: Keep Your Motorcycle Running at Peak Performance
Get a reliable motorcycle oil that will keep your bike running for a longer time.
The Review Team
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PUBLISHED ON March 20, 2021
In a single year, more than one million motorcycles are sold in the United States alone. Each bike comes equipped with the latest technology for efficiency and performance. For a motorcycle to function efficiently at peak power, it requires oil. Oil keeps your pipes clean, making sure the engine is lubricated, runs fine, and doesn’t seize or overheat.
Since your bike’s health is dependent on having good oil, you can’t risk having a substandard product. However, there are just so many motorcycle oils on the market, and with each claiming to be better than the other, it can be difficult to tell which one is right for your bike. This is where we come in with the advice to help you get the best motorcycle oil to keep your ride in top shape.
This is performance-blend mineral oil has anti-friction additives. It can be used in motorcycles, ATVs, scooters, and side-by-side vehicles. It’s also a genuine OEM Yamaha product.
- Protects the engine from wear and tear
- Promotes stable clutch performance
- Keeps the engine clean, healthy, and running smoothly
- Great lubricant for metal components
- Has to be changed more frequently since it's a mineral oil
- Not recommended for high horsepower motorcycles
This semi-synthetic oil is designed to promote reliable performance in both engines and wet-clutch applications. It’s recommended for four-stroke motorcycles and ATVs.
- Affordable solution to extending your oil drain intervals
- Can help reduce engine noise and prevent overheating
- Allows smoother shifting and improves responsiveness
- Not suitable for dry clutch applications
- Might thicken over time
- Not the best choice for new engines
Motul 7100 Synthetic Oil 4T is the best motorcycle oil recommended for all four-stroke motorcycles with catalytic converters. Meets JASO MA, API SL standards. Designed with ester technology for better engine response.
- Cleans and protects engines from dirt
- Ideal for a smoother transmission
- Designed to improve motorcycle engine response
- Lasts long before requiring an oil change
- Not ideal for low-capacity motorcycles
- A bit pricey
- Not ideal for short interval or city rides
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Benefits of Motorcycle Oil
- Lubricate your engine. The main function of engine oil is to ensure enough lubrication is provided to all engine parts to minimize friction and wear. Motorcycle engine oil works by lubricating two moving parts, covering them with a thick slick film. For maximum effect, the lubrication system needs to provide a continuous flow of oil to all parts of the engine.
- Cool your engine. Engine oil carries the heat away from lubricated parts. When the engine is switched off, oil returns to the oil pan. The best motorcycle engine oils will help cool your oil when it is in the oil pan. It is essential that the oil temperatures never go above the flash point.
- Clean your engine. Engine oil is made up of two basic ingredients: additives and base oil. While the additives provide additional engine protection through a cleaning process, the base oils help in lubrication. Motorcycle oil is designed to clean up all engine components it contacts. The additives are well-formulated to clean the carbon formations collected on the engine parts.
- Improve efficiency and performance. Since motorcycle oil helps keep your engine clean, your bike’s motor extracts the best fuel efficiency. When your engine is clean and running smoothly, it maximizes the mechanical output of your engine.
- Elongate engine life. A well-maintained engine will last longer than an abused engine. Regularly using good engine oil will help maximize the life of your engine. Motor oil helps minimize sludge buildup, keeping the internal parts clean and well-lubricated.
Types of Motorcycle Oil
Mineral oils are composed of crude oil with different additives that neutralize acids. Moreover, some companies include frictional modifiers in their products to improve lubrication so that you don't run out of the product. Mineral oils are very useful if you are using a new bike. They offer great protection for new engines for the first few miles. Also, in case you have a small-capacity engine, it is advisable to use this type of oil.
Synthetic oil is a modified oil that contains pure crude as an essential additive. Over the years, synthetic oils have improved with the advancement of technology. Synthetic oils are popular due to lower viscosity, which makes movement smoother for motorcycle engine parts and reduces internal friction. The problem with synthetic oils is that they are quite expensive, which can be a small price to pay for protection and long life.
Semi-synthetic oil, like the name, suggests, it is a mixture of mineral and synthetic oils. High-performance motorbikes require synthetic oil, while mineral or conventional oils keep the engine clean and running smoother for longer. Semi-synthetic oil is ideal for 125-180 cc medium-sized engines.
Motul is an international French company that manufactures, develops, and distributes lubricants for automotive engines including motorcycles, cars, and other vehicles. This lubricant company was founded in New York back in 1853 as the Swan & Finch company. Today, Motul has set camp in more than 80 countries internationally. As a pioneer of synthetic and semi-synthetic oil, the company has always favored innovation, research, and development. Motul is a trusted brand due to its technological development in motorsports. One of its top products is the Motul 7100 Synthetic Motorcycle Oil 4T.
Mobil Corporation is a former American petroleum and chemical company founded back in 1866. In 1999, Mobil merged with Exxon to form Exxon Mobil Corporation. Today, Mobil is still a popular brand name within the combined company. As of 2016, it had a daily production of 20 million barrels of oil. There are four main Mobil sub-brands: Mobile Gasoline, Mobil Devlac, Mobil Industrial, and Mobil 1. Mobil 1’s V-Twin Synthetic Motorcycle Oil is one of its best selling products.
Castrol is a British global brand of industrial and automotive lubricants that offers a wide range of oils, greases, and similar products for lubrication applications. The motor oil company was founded back in 1899 by Charles Cheers Wakefield. Its name originated after researchers working on Castrol products added castor oil to the lubricant formulations. Castrol is a major player in motorsports and has signed deals with Toyota and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Castrol’s 06112 Power1 Synthetic Motorcycle Oil is one of its popular products.
Royal Purple is a Texas-based oil and chemical company that was initially an industrial oil company when it was founded in 1986 by John Williams. It diversified its product line over the years and started making automotive oils for almost all vehicles, including motorcycles. It has a reputation for producing some of the best synthetic oils for gas and diesel engines, and the Max-Cycle SAE 10W-40 Motor Oil is a good example.
Motorcycle Oil Pricing
- Under $20: Motorcycle oils in this price bracket are less expensive and tend to be natural or synthetic blends. Synthetic blends are a good choice if you are looking to enjoy the benefits of full synthetic oils at an affordable price.
- $20-$30: Motorcycle oils in this price range are popular due to their full synthetic formula, low viscosity, high efficiency, and performance.
- $50 and up: There aren’t a lot of motorcycle oils in this price bracket. Motorbike oils here are high-performance oils suitable for racing bikes. They have low viscosity, peak performance, and efficiency-boosting capabilities. These motorcycle oils are not suitable for small capacity bikes.
Viscosity is how fast or slow the oil flows in your engine. Low-viscosity oil is capable of flowing fast and freely. High-viscosity oil, on the other hand, flows much slower. You will notice oil ratings like this: 10W-30. The 10W represents the SAE viscosity when the engine is cold, and 30 is when the engine is hot. Putting the wrong viscosity in your engine will cause metal on metal grinding, which could be fatal to your engine.
Additives in motorcycle engine oil work to remove debris and neutralize acidity. They also lubricate and cool your engine. Getting the wrong oil for your motorcycle can cause increased friction and a shorter engine lifespan.
- Compliance Standards. Check the body of the product for a standard mark since high-quality motorbike oils have a mark given by the manufacturer. They will have an SAE, JASO, or API mark on their body. These symbols indicate high-quality options.
- Riding Style. It’s very important that you know your riding style because motorcycle oil varies according to this. If you are a performance enthusiast, you should consider getting synthetic motorcycle oil since hard riding causes high temperatures compared to normal riding. Synthetic oil is specially designed to resist breakdown at extreme temperatures. However, if you are a calm driver, buying mineral oil would be an ideal choice.
- Oil Grade. The grade of oil your motorcycle uses is very important. It tells the user which temperature range the oil is and the right amount of viscosity to provide effective lubrication. For example, in 5W-40, these numbers represent the viscosity of the oil. The first number in the viscosity grade is the low-temperature winter rating. The “W” stands for winter. The second number in the viscosity grade is the high-temperature rating. Therefore, if you live in an extremely cold area, buy motorcycle oil with a low “W” level.
Best Motorcycle Oils Reviews & Recommendations 2021
For smaller motorcycles, ATVs, and scooters with four-stroke engines, the Yamalube All-Purpose SAE 10W-40 mineral oil can be an excellent choice for better clutch performance. It’s formulated with ultra-clean additives with anti-friction properties that clean the engine and lubricate the crankshaft, transmission, pistons, valves, and clutches to keep them healthy. Additionally, the oil maintains the efficiency of wet-clutch applications by preventing residue buildup in clutch plates and limiting heat transfer throughout the clutch assembly. It’s recommended for newer Yamaha motorcycles to keep them running efficiently from day one. It comes in a 1-gallon bottle, which is enough for a complete oil change. Plus, the product is reasonably priced.
Unfortunately, it has a shorter drain interval than synthetic blends that can be changed after every 4,000 to 6,000 miles—instead, this mineral oil needs to be changed after about 2,000 miles. You should also know that it isn’t recommended for lubricating a performance motorcycle with high horsepower since it may not handle the extreme operating conditions.
This semi-synthetic motorcycle oil from the American company Lucas is intended for use with wet-clutch applications. It’s specifically designed to meet or exceed the performance requirements of four-stroke cycles in today’s market. The oil includes no-friction modifiers to ensure maximum performance and provides superb film strength over a wide range of temperatures. It has an additive package that is exclusive to Lucas Oil and isn’t found in other brands of motorcycle oil. According to the manufacturer, this improves compression and seals piston rings better so you can achieve more power. You should notice fewer problems with fuel dilution, and you won’t need to drain the oil as often. It definitely keeps the engine looking clean, even after a few thousand miles, and shifting gears is smoother too. This oil is suitable for a wide range of bikes, and it’s a great option for the price point.
However, note that this is 10W-40 semi synthetic oil and designed specifically for use with wet clutches. You’ll need a different formula for non-wet clutch applications.
If you are looking for motorbike oil that will give your engine the best refinement, then Motul’s 7100 is your best bet. This motor oil has been formulated to make gear shifting easier with little pressure on the lever. Motul 7100 is a full synthetic motorcycle oil certified by the American Petroleum Institute for its purity and smooth operation. If you are a performance enthusiast, Motul 7100 synthetic is the ideal product for your motorcycle. It is designed with improved oil film resistance for better performance at high temperatures and revs. Its ester technology helps minimize internal motorcycle engine friction, providing improved performance and efficiency. This fully synthetic oil is manufactured to last longer; Motul suggests that motorcycles using this oil can reach 1,000 miles before replacing the fluid. Its excellent shear resistance protects your engine as well as your gearbox, resulting in smooth shifting and trouble-free performance.
One drawback to the Motul 7100 Motorcycle oil is that it is not ideal for low-capacity bikes. It also has a high operating temperature, which makes it unreliable for city or short rides. This high-performance, low-viscosity oil is also pricey compared to other products in its range. On the bright side, it offers excellent value in few amounts, which is a small price to pay.
Most motorcycle engine oils are designed to improve your bike’s acceleration by improving the engine transmission quality. However, very few products can match Castrol. The Castrol 06112 Synthetic Motorcycle Oil, through its unique oil blend formula, allows for superior acceleration at the touch of your throttle. This helps your engine roll fast with little friction. The Castrol Power1 synthetic oil is an affordable engine oil that offers great improvements to your bike’s transmission. Apart from offering excellent longevity, it is also available in two different grades: 10W-40 and 20W-50. This motorcycle oil is capable of changing viscosity when it is subjected to mechanical stress, making it more fluid when it is subjected to extreme temperatures.
A disadvantage with this oil is the possibility of leakage if your engine gasket isn’t properly placed. You might also need to change the oil more frequently using this oil compared to others. Some motorcycle owners have also noticed increased engine noise using the oil.
This 10W-40 motorcycle engine oil is designed specifically for wet clutch application and is Turbo certified. Premium4 utilizes a blend of premium petroleum base stocks and includes advanced trimetallic additive technology. The result is a long-lasting, multi-grade oil that guarantees stable viscosity for all water- and air-cooled four-stroke motorcycle engines with integrated transmissions. The additive package has anti-wear and anti-shear properties as well as extra anti-scuff agents to better cope with high temperatures and extreme loads. The all-weather formula will reduce friction and engine temperatures, so you can be sure of an easy start, even in cold weather. Maxima Racing Oils has been manufacturing motorcycle lubricants in the US since 1979. We definitely recommend this for racers who take their bike maintenance very seriously. Regular street riders are unlikely to notice the extra heat protection, and most don’t ride in sub-zero temperatures either.
Some riders have reported clutch slipping after swapping to this oil, but overall, it performs well. And it might seem silly, but we are really disappointed that the gallon container has no indicator on the side for measuring how much you need or showing how much oil is left inside.
For decades, the Pro GN4 Motor Oil has been in Honda’s arsenal of some of the best lubricants for light-duty Honda motorcycles. Constant testing and the addition of a selection of additives over the years have led to the development of reliable motor oil that can be used in modern four-cycle engines. This petroleum-based mineral oil meets the requirements of new engine technologies. The formulation boasts advanced viscosity stability and shear stability, which help prevent premature breakdown even after prolonged use of the product. This helps to extend the drain period, even if it’s a mineral-based oil. It can also clean the engine to make it run smoother and quieter.
This oil is mostly recommended for casual riders whose bike’s manual recommends using a stable mineral-based lubricant. You should consider looking for a stronger synthetic blend if you use your Honda for racing. You should also note that it might ship with a leaking bottle.
The Max-Cycle SAE 10W-40 Motor Oil is designed to help the engine run cooler to produce more horsepower than when other conventional oils are used. The formulation contains Royal Purple’s proprietary Synerlec additive that improves the oil’s shear properties and film strength, translating to longer drain intervals. The product is JASO MA2-certified and meets API viscosity specifications, so it will not cause transmission slippage in motorcycles with wet-clutch applications. Its minimal zinc content makes it an excellent option for motorcycles with catalytic converters. The oil bonds to the metallic engine parts to reduce friction and prevent premature wear and tear. Also, you don’t need to flush out your oil system before use.
If you intend to purchase the pack of six, you should inspect your package immediately after receiving it since it might ship with a few missing bottles. Also, the pack of six is on the expensive side.
Red Line motor oils are specifically formulated for use in modern, high-revving, four-stroke bikes of all varieties, including ATVs, motocross bikes, and V-twins. And if your Big-Twin motorcycle engine specifies 20W-50 oil, this is for you. The oil is fully synthetic and contains higher than average amounts of zinc and phosphorus, which help to protect your engine against wear and tear. You can also expect to see an improvement in wet-clutch operation thanks to Red Line’s special friction modifiers. The base mixture used by Red Line for its motor oils is premium grade and 100-percent synthetic, which makes all the difference when it comes to viscosity. It’s thicker and stickier than other 50W oils, and it holds up particularly well over time and at high temperatures.
As you’d expect, premium-grade oil comes with a premium price tag. This isn’t a budget-friendly bottle of oil, and unless you really know a thing or two about bikes, you might not notice any difference. On a regular street bike, for example, specific improvement in performance is probably going to be negligible.
- Before changing your motorcycle oil, make sure you check the drain intervals from your service manual. In case you are using natural oil, make sure it is replaced after 2,000 miles. If you are using fully synthetic oil, you can change the oil after 5,000 miles.
- Most riders don’t change the oil filter, but this is necessary. Changing your oil filter together with the oil offers better performance and efficiency from your engine.
- Some motorcycle owners prefer using additional additives after changing the oil. However, this is not necessary for the long run. Additives cost more money, and using them together with your synthetic blend oil that already has additives won’t offer any benefit.
- Before changing your oil, make sure you start your bike and let it warm up for at least 10 minutes. Wear safety gear when handling old used oil.
- Replace your old washer with a new one after replacing oil. This simple maintenance tip will save the threads in your oil pan since it will take less torque to tighten the drain plug.
Q: Can I use car oil instead of motorcycle oil?
No. The oil used for motor engines is on a completely different wavelength from the oil used for motorcycles. Using it for your motorbike can cause irreparable damage.
Q: I have an oil change coming up. What type of oil should I use?
Check your bike’s owner’s manual. It is difficult to go wrong with what the manufacturer recommends. The manufacturer knows what a specific bike requires. A rule of thumb is to check whether the product is API-, JASO-, or ILSAC-certified.
Q: Should I use synthetic or conventional oil for my motorcycle?
Synthetic oil will rarely affect things; however, this doesn’t mean it is appropriate for every motorcycle. Again, a good rule of thumb is to check your owner’s manual for the most appropriate product for your motorcycle.
Q: Which is the best oil for four-stroke motorcycles?
If you are looking for a mineral-based oil, we recommend the Yamalube All Purpose SAE 10W-40 Oil. The Lucas SAE 10W-40 Semi-Synthetic Motorcycle Oil is a good semi-synthetic blend, while the Red Line 42504 20W-50 Fully Synthetic Motorcycle Oil is a decent choice for a fully synthetic option.
If you are looking for the best motor oil to keep your engine clean, lubricated, and running smoothly, we recommend our best pick, the Yamalube All Purpose SAE 10W-40 Oil. For an affordable yet long-lasting formulation that doesn't need to be drained out frequently, consider the Lucas SAE 10W-40 Semi-Synthetic Motorcycle Oil.