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.
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BY Norah Tarichia / LAST UPDATED ON March 19, 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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Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
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
- 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.