LAST UPDATED: June 23, 2019
Best Two-Stroke Oils: Get Your Engine Running Smoothly
Keep your bike or boat running smoothly with the best two-stroke engine oil
The Review Team
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PUBLISHED ON June 23, 2019
From dirt bikes to chainsaws, two-stroke engines are aplenty. To function well, they require regular maintenance and a high-quality motor oil designed for their particular configuration. That translates to needing a two-stroke oil. Read on to find out everything you need to know about the best two-stroke oil for your needs.
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Benefits of Two-Stroke Oil
- Clean engine. As oil flows through your engine, it picks up dirt, grime, and other particles, which has the potential to sludge up the entire thing. That leads to more maintenance costs and a big hassle. As a preventive measure, replace your oil regularly.
- Better gas mileage. Dirt bikes and motorcycles already have pretty good gas mileage to begin with, but it can usually still be improved by keeping your engine in tip-top shape. Changing your oil regularly will keep the engine running smoothly, helping to keep your gas mileage up.
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.
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-$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.
- Over $35: 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 vs. Natural
Most two-stroke oils are available in synthetic and natural forms. Synthetics make up slightly more of the market, as they tend to work better, making them overall more popular. Their improved resistance to heat, cold, shear, and oxidation has led many manufacturers to discontinue organic-based compounds.
If you’re looking for high quality, you’ll want your oil to carry an ISO-I-EGD or Jaso FD certification. Cheaper oils tend to be certified to API-TC standards, but you’ll want something a little bit better than the basics. That’ll keep your engine running at peak power, protecting it from damage and keeping it clean.
- Bottle Size: Although motor oil doesn’t “go bad” in the traditional sense once the cap is cracked open, you want to avoid buying significantly more than you need. Not only is it more money, but you run the risk of accidentally getting dirt or grime mixed in with the un-used oil that’s going to be sitting on your shelf. It’s better to use a fresh bottle every oil change.
- Multi-Pack Options: Some brands of two-stroke oil are available in multi-packs of small bottles. This is a great option to save money in the long run, especially if you’re looking to do your own oil changes.
- Use Case: Whether you’re using two-stroke oil for a motorcycle engine, a boat, or a chainsaw makes a difference. Be sure to check that you’re buying the proper viscosity for your motor and that the oil is OEM approved.
- Additives: Anti-corrosion additives in your two-cycle oil work to keep the inside of your engine rust free. If you want to make use of this feature, look for engine oils that contain these additives.
- Stabilizers: A slightly different type of additive, some two-stroke oils contain fuel stabilizers. This keeps the gasoline and oil mixture stable, improving its longevity.
Best Two-Stroke Oil Reviews & Recommendations 2020
Available in a wide variety of sizes, this semi-synthetic two-cycle oil features smokeless clean burning and low ash production. That makes it among the most environmentally-friendly motor oils out there, which is especially suited to marine craft engines. The formulation mixes well with gasoline at all temperatures, making its use a breeze.
As a high-quality motor oil, this product meets ISO GD and JASO FC and FD standards, as well as exceeding API TC standards. It’s suitable for use in air-cooled engines and is specially designed to prevent carbon deposits on piston rings, skirts, crowns, and under-crown areas. This oil is best suited for oil injection systems where no fuel/oil premixing is required but will also work in premixes of gasoline and oil up to 50:1.
Although overall a great choice for bikes and boats, it’s not the best option for yard tools that prefer a mixing ratio of 32:1. The formulation has a tendency to dry out in this use case, making it a less-than-ideal option if you’re searching for something to lubricate your power tool engine.
Available as a single gallon or in a multipack of three, this Pennzoil 2-cycle oil is our best value pick. The XLF formulation mixes easily with gasoline and is dyed blue for easy detection. It can be used in a variety of mix ratios, making it suitable for a wide range of premix systems. The additives in the oil give it increased detergency over TC-W3 formulations, providing supreme protection against piston scuffing.
It also keeps performance-robbing carbon deposits from forming in the combustion chamber, piston tops, under crowns, and on piston-combustion rings. The synthetic blend is low smoke and reduces overall oil consumption. Because of its synthetic base, it also lasts longer than other formulations, saving you even more money in the long run.
The formulation works well in a wide variety of use cases. However, keep in mind that it is originally formulated for the specs of a boat engine. That makes it a very high-performance blend that might not work quite so well in smaller engines (think RC airplane). Keeping that in mind, this is a great oil that comes at an even better price.
Red Line’s two-stroke racing oil has a couple of features that make it deserving of the honorable mention status. Its high-temperature stability is particularly useful, preventing deposits of carbon on combustion chambers, exhaust ports, rings, and crowns. The special high-performance formulation has proven gains of 3 to 5 percent and more power over longer runs, making it ideally suited to racing applications.
The formulation is also extremely clean burning and can be used at a mixing ratio of up to 100:1 (although a 50:1 ratio is suggested). It’s one of the smoothest running oils out there, reducing smoking and scuffing better than many competitors. That also makes it suitable for RC airplane engines and other similar applications. In the long run, it will also help preserve your spark plugs, saving you money on replacement costs.
The only downside we discovered is the higher price point. Because it is such a high-quality oil, it does sell for quite a bit more than other options. However, you really do get what you paid for, and this two-stroke oil is worth the investment.
You can buy Valvoline two-cycle oil in a variety of sizes, including gallon and quart. If you need more than this, consider purchasing a case of six quart bottles. This oil formulation works best in chain saws, motor scooters, lawn mowers, snow blowers, portable generators, outboards, and snowmobiles. The oil is pre-diluted and tinted blue.
This oil is compatible with machines that require fuel and oil combinations of 11:1 to 100:1. When you follow your manufacturer’s instructions, this oil can help protect against engine wear and corrosion. It will also help prevent rust when not in use.
One frustrating thing about this oil is the lack of a ratio chart. Depending on when and where you buy this oil, it may or may not have this chart on the label. The blue tinting loses its effect when you mix it with fuel. This means there’s no color change to the fuel when mixed, which can result in you accidentally using premixed fuel for another incorrect use.
If you need oil for your professional equipment or outdoor tools, then this is the oil to use. It comes in a six pack of 6.4 ounce bottles. The formulation is designed for high load and tough use. It easily and quickly distributes to evenly coat and lubricate the components.
This oil will extend the life of your engine. It’ll lower the engine’s operating temperature. It also comes with an included fuel stabilizer, which extends the life of your fuel in the tank and protects the engine when not in use. The high-quality of this oil is immediately apparent in the running of your equipment.
Unfortunately, this oil leaves a weird smell in the air. With prolonged use of your equipment, the smell will transfer to you and stick with you. The amount of oil you’re buying is a bit misleading, as the bottles are small. You can’t buy full quart-sized bottles, which would be 32 ounces each. Five 6.4 ounce bottles equal one quart.
This oil is manufactured and sold by Yamaha. It’s designed for two-stroke Yamaha marine outboard engines. The oil is a semi-synthetic formulation. It comes in a one-gallon bottle, but you can also buy cases of multiple gallon bottles.
When you use this oil, you’re extending the life of your engine. This oil also gives your engine superior wear and corrosion protection. Since it’s a genuine OEM product, you can trust its quality and consistent performance.
While this is technically a two-stroke oil that could work in any marine engine, it’s best to only use it in Yamaha engines. It won’t perform as well in other manufacturer’s engines, WaveRunners, or sport boats. This is also an oil meant for marine use, so it’s probably best to not put it in your land-based Yamaha machines; this limits its usefulness. This oil is also more expensive than non-OEM branded oil.
The Poulan oil brand is meant for use with Poulan yard equipment. This includes lawn mowers, snow blowers, tillers, hedge trimmers, chain saws, and pole saws. The oil is semi-synthetic and is meant for a 40:1 formulation. It also contains a fuel stabilizer. When properly used, this oil will help keep the engine’s operating temperature low and extend the life of the engine.
The size of these bottles is perfect, at 3.2 ounces. This means you need one bottle per one gallon of gas when you’re mixing it for use in Poulan yard equipment. This oil acts quickly, and you’ll immediately notice a difference when you begin using this oil instead of another brand.
One frustrating thing about this oil is that you cannot use it in the place of synthetic oil. So you’ll need to check carefully what your engine requires before purchasing it. It’s also only sold as single bottles, which can be frustrating if you need to mix more than one gallon.
The RedMax formulation of oil is best used in commercial grade lawn equipment, such as riding lawn mowers. It comes in a six pack of 2.6 ounce bottles. You should use it in a 50:1 formulation. It also contains a fuel stabilizer to help extend the life of your fuel and your engine.
This oil excels at keeping your engine’s running temperature low. This will enable your engine to run better and reduce the wear and tear it experiences. The advantage this oil has is that it’s from a company that specializes in commercial yard equipment, so you’re buying an oil that’s meant for the type of use these engines experience.
Unfortunately, the bottles are very small, so if you’re running a commercial business, you’ll need to buy multiple six-packs. This makes the small size inconvenient. This oil is also not great for other engines besides lawn equipment, which limits its use.
- Follow the manufacturer's recommended fuel/oil mixture ratio when premixing the oil into the gas.
- When premixing the oil, measure the ratio carefully into a bottle or can. Shake well before adding the premix into the tank.
Q: Is two-stroke oil the same as two-cycle oil?
A: Yes, two-stroke oil can be found under a couple of different names, including two-cycle oil, 2-T oil, and two-stroke oil. A product with any of these names is suitable for use in a two-stroke engine.
Q: Can I get away without using oil in my two-stroke engine?
A: It can be tempting to think that the smaller size of two-stroke engines and their low oil concentration means that the engine can run without oil. That’s just not the case. As it is an engine with lots of moving parts, oil is a basic requirement for it to function properly.
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.