What Motor Oil Should You Use?

From CycleChaos
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Never has there been an issue as hotly debated as what motor oil to use in a motorcycle. Forget helmet use, forget brand-loyalty, forget counter-steering. If you want to see an inflammed ruckus with much YELLING and many exclamation points!!!!!! ask about motor oil in a motorcycle forum.

It seems like such a simple question. And perhaps there is a simple answer: Use the motor oil that you feel meets your needs.

But how do you decide which motor oil that is?


You're going to have to do a little research. Do some reading. It'd be nice if there was some resource that simply said for motorcycle XYZ, use motor oil brand ABC in grade 123. And you may find one that does, but that resource will invariably have been at least sponsored, if not directly written, by the folks who make and sell motor oil brand ABC in grade 123. Shocking.

Owner's Manual

The first thing to read is the owner's manual for your motorcycle. If you don't have one, get one. You can buy owner's manuals from:

  1. Your local authorized dealer
  2. An online vendor of OEM parts
  3. Helm, Inc. if you're looking for a Honda manual
  4. Or even eBay, if you're brave enough

The owner's manual is written by the people who know your motorcycle's innards the best, and who have a vested interest in it living a trouble-free life. (Yes, you'll buy a new bike sooner if your old bike dies young--but will you buy the same, short-lived, brand again?)

What you'll find in the owner's manual is the minimum API grade of oil to use, and a variety of weights to choose from, depending on the conditions under which you'll be riding.

This is your starting point. Don't use a motor that doesn't meet the specifications listed in the owner's manual. There's really no reason to, since there are a vast array of motor oils to choose from that will meet those requirements.

API Grade