Pick the perfect motorbike oil for your ride with Infinity Motorcycles’ guide to oil. Expert tips to pick the ideal motorcycle engine oil. Learn more today.
With so many different products on the market, one can be left intimidated when considering which oils to use for your motorcycle. Different things to think about, such as viscosity and temperature rating, make the task of finding the right product even more confusing – strenuous, even.
Before considering what motorcycle oil to use, we first need to understand the purpose and importance of motorbike oil, and what regular maintenance means to the longevity of your engine.
Internal combustion engines have various internal moving parts, and many of them have metals rubbing against each other. When these engine parts move, they create an enormous amount of friction which results in heat and wear. The basic function of engine oil for motorcycles is to manage this friction by lubricating the internal parts and distributing the heat evenly across the engine so that it can run at an optimum temperature.
There are two common types of internal combustion engines that can be found in motorcycles, namely two-stroke and four-stroke engines. So, what exactly does this mean and how does this affect you?
Two-stroke engines differ quite considerably from four-stroke engines but for the benefit of this article, we will consider the differences based on the engine's lubrication.
In two-stroke engines, the oil is mixed into the fuel either via a built-in mixing system or by filling the fuel tank of the motorcycle with the correct oil/fuel mixture. In four-stroke engines, the oil is stored in an oil sump or tank and pumped throughout the engine to provide overall lubrication.
Two-stroke engines are very simple in design and provide a fantastic power to weight ratio. This type of engine is commonly found in dirt bikes, ATVs and scooters. Semi-synthetic two-stroke oils work best for bikes that are driven daily, as they offer good lubrication and clean burn off.
In a four-stroke engine, the oil needs to be changed at regular intervals as oil degradation can lead to poor performance and, ultimately, cause severe engine wear.
TYPES OF OIL
So, what are the different types of oil available on the market?
1: Mineral oils
Mineral motorbike oils are the most conventional forms of oil. These are derived from crude oils and are often the most economical option available as they usually require less refinement. They often lack the cleaning properties found in more expensive synthetic or semi-synthetic oils. These oils are therefore not suited for extreme conditions, such as extreme winter cold or summer heat, as they are less efficient and require more frequent changes. They are mostly used in older engines.
2: Semi-synthetic oils
Semi-synthetic oils are a combination of conventional mineral oils with the added advantage of chemical components designed to provide more efficient engine protection and a prolonged lifespan of the oil. This oil type is generally used in smaller engines, found most notably in every day, commuting motorcycles.
3: Synthetic oils
Synthetic oils are made in laboratories and use mineral oils only as additives where required. This oil type is designed to withstand a vast range of temperature conditions while still providing excellent lubricating properties even under severe stress. Most synthetic oils are designed to cling to engine components to improve cold starting, which is where engines struggle the most. This makes synthetic motorcycle oils perfect for cold starting your motorbike. They can also offer extended drain intervals.
When choosing an oil for your motorbike, always stick to the manufacturer's guidelines. Engineers spend hundreds of hours testing different products to ensure the best performance in their machines. Two terms that are always present on oil cans are viscosity and oil grade. In addition, it’s important to consider the impact of oil additives on your motorcycle. But what do these terms actually mean?
Viscosity and oil grade
Viscosity simply refers to the thickness of a liquid; for example, water has a lower viscosity than maple syrup. The grade of an oil refers to the viscosity rating of oil at different temperatures. It is common to see two sets of numbers separated by a ‘W’ on a can of oil and, generally, people think that the ‘W’ stands for ‘weight’ when in fact it stands for ‘winter’. The number preceding the letter W refers to the viscosity of the oil at low temperatures, while the second number refers to the oil's viscosity level at 100 degrees Celsius. In colder conditions, lower viscosity oils are used as they will protect engines starting up in extremely cold environments.
Oil manufacturers will advertise oils that clean your engine while you ride. These additives are designed to aid the combat of carbon build-up and also assist in distributing heat more efficiently.
AND THAT'S IT!
While choosing the right oil can be very daunting, thankfully your mechanic or bike shop will know what oil is best suited for your machine. For the DIY enthusiast, there is a myriad of products available, and as long as you stick to the basic recommendations from your manufacturer you won't go wrong. Motor oil companies do all the testing and research for you, all you have to do is make sure that you select the right motorcycle oil for your bike’s engine. Take the first step and browse Infinity Motorcycles’ selection of motorbike oils perfectly suited to your bike today.