Best Two-Stroke Oils: Get Your Engine Running Smoothly
Keep your bike or boat running smoothly with the best two-stroke engine oil.
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BY Ray Prince / LAST UPDATED ON October 13, 2021
Two-stroke engine oils are specially formulated for two-cycle (two-stroke) engines. Two-stroke engines differ from four-stroke engines with higher RPMs and better heat management through friction reduction and improved lubricity. Two-stroke engines are very popular on motorcycles. Keep reading to learn more about two-stroke oils, our recommendation on the best two-stroke oils, benefits, and answers to the most frequently asked questions.
A great all-rounder oil, this one is especially suited for oil injection systems where no fuel or oil premixing is required.
- Smokeless, clean burn, low ash production, and easy to mix
- Also boasts ISO GD and JASO FC and FD standard certifications
- Not the best option for yard tools or other similarly small motors where mixing ratios of 32:1 are required
Available in a number of different packs and sizes, this Pennzoil two-stroke oil is our best value pick.
- Easy mixing, blue dye for optimal detection, and increased detergency
- Suitable for a wide range of premix systems
- Makes for a great low-scuff oil
- Designed for boat engines, making it more suited to those kinds of applications
Great stability and awesome performance make this oil deserving of an honorable mention.
- High temp stability, clean burning, reduces scuffing and buildup
- Dyno with proven gains of up to 5 percent
- Suitable for a wide range of motors
- Price point is a little high when compared to competing brands and products
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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 Two-Stroke Oils
- Prolonged engine life. Quality two-stroke engine oil offers a full holistic cleanse with a combination of low ash formulas and high film strength. It also burns cleaner, leaving little to no carbon deposits, which can strip your engine of horsepower.
- Higher engine output. Quality two-stroke engine oils produce a higher engine output due to a cleaner burn, limited to no carbon deposit build-up, and optimized piston ring movement.
This Houston, Texas-based company has been around since 1913, creating innovative formulations for all your motor needs. As an international company, Pennzoil is one of the market leaders in manufacturing motor oil, gear oil, and transmission fluid. One of the most popular products is the Marine XLF Engine Oil.
A company that manufactures only synthetic motor oils, Royal Purple makes a variety of performance products to help your bike’s engine run smoothly. Based in Porter, Texas, the company’s specialty products include high-quality two-stroke oils. The best seller in the lineup is the HP 2-Cycle High Performance Oil.
Based in sunny California, Red Line makes exclusively synthetic oil products that are designed for cars and motorcycles alike. Its philosophy is to keep your engine running smoothly and performing optimally through the use of its quality products. Check out the 2-Stroke Race Oil.
Lucas Oil was founded in 1989 and is based in Corona, Calif. It produces a wide range of products, from heavy-duty oil stabilizer and upper cylinder fuel lubricant to power steering stop leak. We recommend the Lucas Oil Semi-Synthetic 2-Cycle Oil.
Valvoline has been in business for more than 150 years. It’s one of the top car motor oil brands in the world, and it operates around 1,400 quick-lube locations. The company produces a number of lubricants and automotive chemicals, such as the Valvoline 2-Cycle Multi-Purpose TCW-3 Motor Oil.
Two-Stroke Oil Pricing
- Under $15: We suggest being a little wary of motor oils at this price point. Although you can find a couple of decent options, you’re running the risk of ending up with a substandard product that might do your engine more harm than good.
- $15 to $35: At this price point, you’ll find a variety of good to really good motor oils, from a variety of brands. Packaging sizes range from small quart bottles to bigger gallon jugs, so you’re getting plenty for the money.
- $35 and up: If you’re looking for the highest-quality performance oils, this is the price range you’ll be shopping in. It’s worth the investment to keep your sports bike running smoothly, as most products at this price will be extremely effective at doing their job.
Synthetic Oil vs. Natural Mineral Oil
There are many differences between synthetic and natural mineral oil. Natural mineral oil is derived from the environment, taken out of processed crude oil. Synthetic oil uses mineral oil as a base with synthetic additives such as stabilizers and detergents to help produce lower emissions and deeper piston cleanliness. Today, many oil manufacturers are constantly innovating and experimenting with different additives and octane enhancers for optimal performance.
Look for oils with ISO-I-EGD or Jaso FD certification. This certification ensures your oil has passed several protocols related to piston cleanliness and detergent effect. Jaso FD, passed by the Japanese Automotive Standards Organization (JASO), also covers an exhaustive list of protocols, including but not limited to exhaust smoke output, lubricity, and exhaust system blocking.
The cheaper two-stroke oils will tend to carry API-TC standards. However, this is a far less stringent standard and is rarely used today compared to ISO-I-EGD and Jaso FD, so choose accordingly.
Single or Multi-Pack Options
Two-stroke oils generally come in single container or multi-pack options. Expect to save a bit when purchasing as a bundle with a lower cost per ounce.
Best Two-Stroke Oils Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- It's vital to read the manufacturer's directions when premixing the oil into the gas in order to get the proper fuel/oil mixture ratio.
- Measure the fuel/oil mix in a bottle or other container. Shake the premix, and then add it to the gas tank.
- When choosing oil for your motorcycle, pick the highest-quality oil possible. With the proper surface tension and adhesion, it will leave a coating on the motor after you turn the bike off, which will prevent corrosion.
- If you race your motorcycle, look for oils that are specifically designed for racing. They are formulated to lubricate the motor but are also lightweight, so they don't produce too much drag, and may actually increase horsepower.
- Avoid cheap, poor-quality oil for your motorcycle. It can cause deposits to build up on the piston and spark plug, which will affect your engine's performance and power.
- Look for 2-stroke oils that have acquired either a Japanese Automotive Standards Organization (JASO) or the International Standards Organization (ISO)-certification.
- We recommend a 50:1, 25:1, or 40:1 premix of oil/gas for two-stroke outboards.
- Purchase a multi-pack over a single container to save money per ounce.
- Look for synthetic 2-stroke oil over petroleum two-stroke oils if you want to help save the environment with lower deposits and emissions. Note, many petroleum-based 2-stroke oils contain solvents and additives that increase emissions even more.
- For the best performance, viscosity, and lubrication, we recommend a fully synthetic 100% ester-based lubricant for your two-stroke engine.
- We highly recommend Royal Purple, Lucas Oil, Valvoline, and Red Line for 2-stroke oils. These are all highly reputable brands that have more than a hundred years of history combined in the automotive oil and lubrication industry.
Q: What are the two different types of two-stroke oils?
The two different types of two-stroke oils are petroleum-based oils and full synthetic oils. However, recent years have seen formulations that mix both petroleum-based and synthetic oils. Petroleum-based -stroke oils derive from fossil fuels and synthetic two-stroke oil is made using a mix of mineral oil and additives, such as detergents and stabilizers to burn better and emit little to no smoke.
Q: Which is better: petroleum or synthetic two-stroke oil?
Synthetic two-stroke oil is better for the environment, producing lower deposits and emissions due to lower ash content. Petroleum-based two-stroke oils include non-lubricant solvents and additives that allow for easier gasoline mixing. These solvents and additives burn at a high clip and produce higher emissions.
Q: Which two-stroke oil should I use?
Our recommendation is to consult your owner's manual, which can advise you which type of oil to use. Using the wrong oil can cause premature engine wear.
Q: What are the two types of two-stroke oil certification?
The two types of two-stroke oil certifications are set by the Japanese Automotive Standards Organization (JASO) and the International Standards Organization (ISO).
JASO ratings have three levels - FB, FC, and FD. FB level is the lowest level and FD level is the highest level, each of which adheres to strict requirements on lubricity, exhaust smoke emission, detergency, exhaust system blocking, and other parameters.
In turn, ISO ratings also have three levels - ISO-L-EGB (lowest), ISO-L-EGC (mid-level), and ISO-L-EGD highest. It closely follows the Japanese system, with EGB standards equally, JASO FB, EGC standards equaling JASO FC, and EGD standards equaling JASO FD, except for an additional test pass for piston cleanliness and detergent effect.
Q: Is two-stroke oil the same as two-cycle oil?
Yes, 2-stroke oil is also referred to as two-cycle oil or 2-T oil.
Q: What is the best oil to gas ratio for 2 stroke outboards?
We recommend a 50:1, 25:1, or 40:1 premix of oil/gas. Be sure to find an outboard motor-compatible 2-stroke oil with certification from the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA).
Q: Why is changing engine oil on dirt bikes so important?
Dirt biking is a highly aggressive sport. It is very rough on terrain, forcing more dirt and debris into your engine through the air filter. Infiltrating carbon and aluminum particles can darken your oil in a hurry, causing your pistons and cylinders to go through heavy wear and tear with an infrequent oil change schedule. As a best practice, replace mineral-based two-stroke oil every 2000 miles, semi-synthetic two-stroke oils every 5,000 miles, and full-synthetic 2-stroke oil every 10,000 miles, or as needed based on driving conditions.
Q: What is the difference between two-stroke and four-stroke engines?
The difference between two-stroke and four-stroke engines lies in the number of times a piston moves up and down per combustion cycle. In a two-stroke engine, the piston moves up and down one time per combustion cycle without the use of intake or exhaust valves. In a four-stroke engine, the piston moves up and down two times per combustion cycle intake or exhaust valve activity, resulting in slightly less power. Two-stroke engines also run on gasoline with oil mixed in, as opposed to four-stroke engines which run on gas without any oil mixed in.
Our top pick for the best two-stroke oil is the Lucas Oil Semi-Synthetic 2-Cycle Oil. It comes in a wide range of different sizes and works well in a number of different two-stroke engines.
If you’re looking for our best value pick, check out the Pennzoil Marine XLF 2-Cycle Oil. It features a smooth formulation that works especially well in boat engines.