Quick Overview: Our Top 5 Picks for Motorcycle Oils
|Castrol 06116||VIEW ON AMAZON →|
|Maxima Castor 927||VIEW ON AMAZON →|
|Lucas Motorcycle Oil||VIEW ON AMAZON →|
|Yamalube All Purpose 4||VIEW ON AMAZON →|
|Motul 104076||VIEW ON AMAZON →|
The right motorcycle engine oil gets your engine running like it’s brand new, straight from the showroom.
Many bikers were happy using car oil back in the day and didn’t think too much of it. But times change, and it’s no longer the safest and best idea to use car oil. Most motorcycle engines have a wet clutch design (which car oil is incompatible with) and the energy-saving additives can mess with your precious engine.
The best engine oil pushes your engine to the limits of its performance abilities without having any effect on fuel economy, while also lasting a decent mileage between each oil change.
I can’t recommend the best motorcycle oil for all bikes with a clear conscience, so this list has 6 oils for different kinds of bikes. We tested them all out in our garage here at Motorcycle Larry, and only included the top performers. Check out the Buying Guide at the end to know when to buy synthetic, semi-synthetic, and mineral oils.
If you want a quick recommendation, the Yamalube is great for most 4 stroke engines across the board.
Top 6 Best Motorcycle Oils of 2021
Our Top Pick / Best Oil for Harley Davidson / Best Smooth Acceleration
Castrol is arguably the most popular engine oil brand out there – and for good reason. I’ve always found Castrol engine oil to be one of the most reliable options when searching for synthetic oils. A lot of synthetic oils try to improve fuel economy and acceleration: but I have never seen a fully synthetic oil that can overhaul your acceleration as much as Castrol does. We’re talking super smooth, super fast superior acceleration at the tiniest throttle touch. There’s simply no competition.
This Castrol oil is the type of oil that improves your transmission while simultaneously reducing internal engine friction. It actually implements race-derived technology, so if it’s good enough for racing motorcycles, it’s definitely good enough for your bike.
This is four-stroke engine oil, and it uses a unique ‘Trizone technology’ that doesn’t protect engine wear but also caters to the clutch and gearbox for an overall better engine response. There are three viscosity grades provided: 10w-50, 20w-50, and 5W-40. This oil is specially designed to be a Harley Davidson oil — and is tested with Harley-Davidsons. I find it works best on my Harley as well.
Here’s what to look out for: Castrol’s full synthetic motorcycle oil has been known to increase engine noise. This isn’t something that bothers me personally (in fact, I sort of prefer it), but it’s not for everyone. Furthermore, this doesn’t have the best fuel economy — you will have to replace this more often than regular engine oils.
- Fully synthetic motorcycle oil
- Designed for Harley Davidsons
- Prolongs engine life
- Stable clutch performance
- Lubricates critical engine components
- Great for cold weather
- Affordable price point
- Not the best fuel economy
- Increases engine noise
Castrol motorcycle oils are premium oils that can do much more for your engine’s transmission and acceleration experience at a reasonable price point, as long as you can commit to more frequent oil changes. This is the best motorcycle oil for you if you own a Harley and don’t mind giving your engine a little extra TLC.
Best Racing Oil / Best Natural Oil
This 2 stroke premix racing oil is one of the best racing oils in the market. The Maxima Castor 927 is one of the few natural oils available, from plant derivates and it makes a huge difference in performance. Natural mineral oils are completely biodegradable, so if you happen to care about the environment (as you should), this is definitely a kinder decision to make.
But it’s not just the environment that’ll thank you for buying this oil. Your bike engine will probably experience some of the best lubrication with longer oil life. There’s an additive in this refined oil that actively prevents any carbon or gum formation. This is also one of the few oils on the list that have corrosion resistance properties. Not only does it lubricate and coat the inner engine parts, but also protects it from any kind of rust formation. Who doesn’t want an engine oil that boosts engine lifespan?
Since it’s meant for racing motorcycles, this engine oil can handle much higher temperatures than usual. It’ll almost never smoke and doesn’t have a reputation for leaking.
I can’t go through this review without mentioning the smell at least once. If you’ve always used synthetic oils, you’re probably used to the slightly unpleasant engine oil whiff that hits your nose. Not this guy. The Maxima Castor Racing oil smells incredible since it’s a natural oil, and will send you right back to your twenties if you spent a lot of time around racing motorcycles. There are plenty of guys who buy this oil just for the incredible smell.
This is really the perfect 2 stroke oil, so I have to be nit-picky if I want to mention any negatives. I wish there was an indicator on the side of the bottle so I knew how much was left — and maybe dyed oil for detecting oil spills easier would make this a 12/10.
- Reduces engine friction
- Great engine oil smell
- Best motorcycle engine oil for 2 stroke
- Refined castor oil and refined crude oil
- Prolongs motorcycle engine life
- Not as affordable as synthetic oils
- No way to tell the oil level
This is one of the best motorcycle engine oils for a 2 stroke engine. It’s also suitable for a dirt bike, as long as it’s mixed in the right proportions. This oil is suitable for you if you’re keen on a great smelling oil and don’t want to use synthetic oils anymore.
Best Budget Engine Oil / Most Affordable Motorcycle engine oil
Engine oil can get pretty expensive, especially when you calculate how many oil changes you need to do in a year. Since it’s not a one-time cost, it can’t hurt to choose the type of oil that’ll work out cheaper in the long run. The Lucas Semi-Synthetic oil is an affordable option that doesn’t sacrifice performance.
Semi-synthetic oil is great for wet clutch applications, and this one works with 4 stroke as well as 2 stroke engines. It’s also air cooling, keeping your engine cooler. One of the most noticeable things about Lucas Engine oil is that it drastically reduces engine noise. If you’re keen on a silent and powerful engine: you’ll appreciate this guy.
Shifting gears is super smooth with this oil. Lucas oil claims they have a super-secret additive that actually protects your engine’s piston rings as well as improves compression, which can’t hurt. This is one of the best motorcycle engine oils for high-performance motorcycle engines and contributes to higher horsepower as well (as much as the engine is capable of).
Be extra careful not to confuse the red label with the blue label. The blue label is semi-synthetic fuel for wet clutches, while the red label is not meant for wet clutch and is a purely synthetic oil.
You’ll get long drain intervals with this oil: and you can expect anywhere between 4000-6000 miles between every oil change.
- Protects engine piston rings
- Improves compression
- Designed for high-performance motorcycle engines
- Compatible with wet clutch applications
- Semi-synthetic motorcycle oil
- Long drain interval
- Improved fuel economy
- Not corrosion resistant
- Doesn’t do much for the engine cooling
This is a great semi-synthetic oil option if you’re looking for an oil that’s affordable in the long run — both in the price per gallon as well as long drain intervals.
Best Mineral Oil for Overall Applications
The last product in my Top 3 goes to Yamaha’s very own Yamalube. Yamalube is another famous engine oil, holding its own against other mineral and synthetic oils in the market. You can use this wonder in practically any vehicle with a four-stroke engine, though it isn’t designed for high-performance motorcycles.
The Yamalube viscosity grade is Oil 20w-50, making it super versatile for lots of vehicles. Most garages have a bottle of this stuff that they use across the board. One of the first things I’ve noticed with the Yamalube is better clutch performance. The two main killers of wet clutches are oil residue buildup and uneven heat distribution. Yamalube prevents both of these from happening.
This motorcycle engine oil definitely does a great job at keeping the engine running smoothly with the RPMs that your engine promises. There are loads of anti-friction additives, so you get performance that tangibly feels smoother while riding.
By the way, JASO MA is the international standard that measures the quality of engine oil. According to Yamaha, this engine oil exceeds the JASO MA requirements.
However, you should know that while Yamalube is affordable, it doesn’t have the same drain interval that synthetic oils do. This petroleum-based mineral oil will need to be replaced ever so often, which can be annoying if you’re used to those rare synthetic oil changes once every 6,000 miles. Also, the Yamalube doesn’t have corrosion-resistant properties like Maxima Castor Oil.
- Mineral-based oil
- Anti-friction additives
- Exceeds JASO MA international quality standard
- Compatible with wet clutches
- Prevents uneven heat distribution
- Not corrosion resistant
- Not for power motorcycles
- Shorter drain interval
If you’re looking for reliable mineral oil that’s tried, tested, and true, the Yamalube is a great option for you. It’s been the mineral oil of choice for decades and can be used for just about any four-stroke engine.
5. Motul 104076
Best Synthetic Oil / Best Performance Enhancer
The right kind of motorcycle oil can push your engine to its max performance level. Motul engine oil really lets your engine’s performance shine, with way higher temperature resistance than most other engine oils. This super high refined synthetic oil does two things very well — cool and even out heat in your engine, and lubricate gear shifting to reduce the overall pressure on the lever.
The result is super smooth acceleration and riding experience, with an engine that’s pushed to its maximum RPMs and horsepower capabilities. Performance is big with this Motul 7100 4 stroke engine oil.
Motul’s technosynthese ester technology is quite renowned and will take engine response to the next level. Your gearbox also gets its fair share of lubrication and protection. The Motul 7100 is also certified by the American Petroleum Institute as SL/SH/SG which means this is one of the highest grades of purity and refinement, way more than conventional oil.
However, there’s no escaping the fact that this is expensive oil. Switching to this oil does mean you shell out more, particularly because you can only go about 1000 miles between oil changes on the Motul 7100. It’s also built for high-capacity bikes, so this would be wasted on a regular low-capacity bike for daily commute.
- Suitable for cold weather
- Protects gearbox
- The highest grade of purity and refinement
- Fully synthetic oil
- Reduces pressure on the lever
- Great for high-performance engines
- Great for racing bikes
- Not for low capacity bikes
- Higher price point
- Requires frequent oil changes
This is the best bike oil if you’re looking for performance and durability alone. Superior performance comes at a slightly more premium price than regular engine oil, and if you’re comfortable with going ‘the extra mile’ for your bike, look no further.
Best Shockproof Oil / Best Oil for V Twin Engines
If you own a Harley V Twin engine (I own a 2003 Dyna Wide Glide), this is one of the best transmission fluids you can get your hands on. This heavy shockproof oil pretty much silences a loud roaring engine to a quiet rumbling one. Not only does your engine completely quiet down, but the tell-tale whine of the gears completely disappears.
But the sound isn’t the only aspect that gets an overhaul. This super slippery motorcycle oil gets into the teeth of your gears and to coat them and provide complete shock protection.
The grade of this oil is quite high at 75W250. This means it can be used at very high temperatures, which isn’t just recommended but absolutely necessary when you’re riding a powerful motorcycle. This oil also has refrigerant additives in it, and it cools down the engine while also containing anti-freeze.
This may be obvious to some riders, but I was shocked when I first used Redline and saw that it’s bright red. This actually makes it a whole lot easier to detect any dangerous oil leaks or oil spills. The only possible disadvantage of using this oil is that it smells bad. Every time you do an oil drain, you’ll be wrinkling your nose, but your bike will thank you for it!
- Heavy-duty engine oil
- Coats gears and shockproof
- Engine cooling
- Reduces engine noise
- Removes gear slipping and whine
- Dyed red to detect oil spills
- Not as affordable as conventional oil
- Doesn’t smell great
A heavy engine high-performance two-wheeler can’t do with regular oil. Especially when running for long periods of time. This heavy-duty shockproof oil is perfect for controlling high heat in engines for those long rides.
Different Types Of Engine Oils
1. Mineral Oils
Mineral oils tend to be one of the most affordable engine oil options in the market. These petroleum-derived products don’t go through as much refinement as synthetic oils and are great for low-capacity motorcycles.
Even though you might save a few bucks by the gallon when opting for mineral oil, you’ll likely recover the difference in the long run since mineral oil needs to be replaced much more frequently than synthetic oil alternatives.
Natural mineral oil does have the advantage of smelling great. Castor oil is a great example — it smells good enough to be used as a cologne!
2. Semi-Synthetic Oils
Semi-synthetic oils are a mixture of mineral oil and synthetic oil and have a medium grade of refinement. These engine oils don’t have to be replaced as often as mineral oil while being a cheaper alternative to fully refined synthetic oil. Semi-synthetic oils are great for regular motorcycles with medium capacity.
3. Synthetic Oils
Fully refined synthetically produced oils are made with polymers and provide some of the best lubrication to motorcycle engines. High-capacity motorcycles usually demand synthetic oils to handle high heat as well as high performance.
A lot of racing motorcycles use synthetic engine oil. Synthetic oil tends to be higher-priced, but they go on for anywhere between 4000-6000 miles between an oil change. You’d have to do the math, but it might just work out the same in the long run.
Factors to consider when buying an engine oil
1. Manufacturer’s Recommendation
Things can go horribly wrong when you use the wrong engine oil viscosity. Ruining your engine or causing a cylinder to misfire isn’t worth the trouble — so it pays off to pay attention to the grade of engine oil required for your specific engine.
If your engine oil has too much viscosity, it results in a lot of friction between engine parts, forcing the engine to work harder and use up extra fuel.
If there’s too little viscosity, there won’t be enough lubrication on all the parts of your engine, which defeats the whole purpose and can damage your engine from the inside. Finding an engine oil in Goldilock’s Zone is the perfect viscosity for motorcycle engine oils. This is unique to your engine.
The grade of motorcycle oil is the viscosity of the oil at different temperatures. It’s usually indicated through a series of numbers like 15W40 or 10W40.
If there is “W” in between the numbers, it indicates a multigrade oil. These are oils that have different grades, depending on the temperature outside. The viscosity of the oil is more in winters and less in summers. Multigrade oils help you in dealing with this problem.
Engine oil additives are the ones added to improve the performance of the primary oil being added to the engine. They help refine the engine by better lubrication of the stock oil.
Usually, additives are no more than 5% of the total volume of engine oil. Just like any other thing, adding too many additives can be counter-productive to the engine’s performance. These days, all three kinds of motorcycle oils contain additives to give a performance boost.
Lastly, you should also consider the price of the oil you are buying. If you have a low-end motorcycle, it doesn’t make sense to invest in a higher-priced motorcycle oil. It will give no notable increase in performance.
On the other hand, buying cheap oils for your high-end motorbike can be disastrous. It will damage your engine beyond repair. So, read about the compatibility of the oil you choose and ensure to spend only the required amount.
FAQs on Motorcycle Oils
1. What is the purpose of a motorcycle engine oil?
Motorcycle engines need regular top-ups of engine oil for better lubrication and functioning. Running a motorcycle engine without enough oil can seriously damage it. Having enough oil in the engine prolongs its lifespan while preventing the usual wear and tear.
Lubrication is basically covering the inner parts of the engine with a slick film to prevent the metal from grating against itself. You’ll usually hear unusual sounds from the engine when there is insufficient oil. Cooling is another important aspect of engine oil. Engines reach very high temperatures, especially in high-capacity motorcycles. When run for long distances, they only get hotter. Engine oils cool them down to an optimum temperature, but not so cold that they freeze over.
2. Is it bad to overfill motorcycle engine oil?
Overfilling motorcycle engine oil can be just as bad as not putting in enough. Overfilled engine oil spills over to other parts, such as the crankshaft, and then burns to release carbon and smoke — clogging the exhaust pipe and system. It can also clog the air filter, or leak outside: both bad outcomes. Engine failure is not something you want to risk.
3. Can I use car oil for my motorcycle?
It might be tempting to use the same bottle of car oil lying in your garage on your motorcycle, but please don’t. Car oils generally have a similar composition to motorcycle oils, but you never know when an additive can act up and damage your motorcycle engine. Some car oils have friction modifiers that are meant to improve car mileage. However, a motorcycle engine is much smaller and needs that friction.
You could accidentally cause the breakdown of your motorcycle engine if you use a car oil that’s energy saving. While some will suggest that you can get away with using car oil on a four-stroke motorcycle engine once in a while, we recommend not doing it at all. Well, maybe only if you’re in a pinch.
4. Are fully synthetic oils better for motorcycles?
Most bikers agree that fully synthetic oils are some of the best options out there for any bike. Higher capacity bikes get the most out of fully synthetic oils, so it’s a good idea to use them if you have one. Mid-capacity engines will need semi-synthetic oils and the lower capacity ones can make do with mineral oils. But it is generally accepted that synthetic oil is the best motorcycle oil of all.
5. How long will a synthetic motorcycle oil last?
Synthetic oils are the most long-lasting of all motorcycle oils and can generally last anywhere between 4000-6000 miles.
6. What happens if I don’t use motorcycle engine oils? What happens if I put too little motorcycle engine oil?
Engine oil is essential and if you don’t replace it at regular intervals, it can cause the engine to overheat, increase friction between the parts and hence reduce the motorcycle’s life. After one point, the engine could completely fail and you’d have to replace it! Not worth it, in my opinion.
Best Motorcycle Oils – Final Words
Getting motorcycle oil is one of the things you just have to commit to doing once you’re a biker. The right kind of oil can give you better engine performance than you thought possible, while also saving you money in the long run with better fuel economy.
If you’re not sure which oil to buy, I’d recommend the Yamalube 4 Stroke Engine oil.