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Discussion Starter #1
Yeah, yeah, I KNOW what the issues are – the wet clutch, the transmission etc etc – but does anybody have experience with extended use of (decent) car oil in their bike? The situation here is that a decent “Bike Oil” is three or more times the price of a decent car oil. (I like Mobil products because of the excellent detergent properties.) If I compare Mobil 4T Semi-Synth 4 stroke Motorcycle Oil with Mobil Super S Semi-Synth Oil. The Super S is API-SJ (on a par with Mobil 1 !) while 4T is SF or SG (can't remember which). Those are OLD specs that you might only see on cheap no-name car oils! WTF?! I like to change the oil regularly, making the price of the bike oil a big issue…
Let me know what your opinion or experience is (and please say if it is an opinion or experience – thanx)

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Motorcycle oil is what you should use. You can probably pick up a case & defray some of the cost.
Phosphorous and zinc are the primary lubricants in motorcycle oil. Calcium and magnesium are the acid neutralizers that are added. Each "upgrade" of the API level (SF, SG, SH) means less phosphorous levels. What that means in the long run, I don't know. They feel that the phosphorous content may contribute to shortened catalytic converter life. It would be wise to change out the "dino" oil each 1000 miles & a synthetic at no more than 2,000 miles, under normal riding conditions. By normal, I mean no overheating or riding in very dusty conditions. In fact, I change the dirt bike's oil once a month (1 quart!) as a matter of course. As soon as the break-in is over on my Meanie, it will be fed a diet of Golden Spectro. It is a synthetic blend. I use the regular Spectro in the dirt bike. It shifts butter-smooth since day one of using it. Spectro has always made a great bike-focused oil & is very well respected and used by many BMW riders. I believe they even make the oil for BMW, according to BMW's specs. And no, I am not a sales rep for Spectro. It sure sounds like it! But it seems that all the research I did on oils keeps coming back to Spectro. But whatever oil you use, buy quality motorcycle-focused oil in the correct viscosity and change it often.
I hope this helps your dilemma.
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To answer the question, I stopped using motorcycle oil and switched to Caatrol XLR on my first bike, an '82 Seca 400. I kept on using it for my first GPz750 and 'Wing. No issues. I will continue to use a good non-synth /environmentally unfriendly oil in GPz750.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
THATS what I'm talking about!
Awesome link!
Thanks.

Here in darkest Africa we are not exactly 'spoilt for choice', and specialised and niche products are either un-heard of (Spectro? Who?) or rediculously expensive - it does however encourage one to test "generally accepted" norms...

FWIW: On the strength of what I've read, I will be putting my favourite Mobil Super S in my bike and will monitor and report any findings / perceptions / etc on the odd chance there is somebody interested.

NOTE: One of the 'teasers' that started me thinking of this lot was the claim about suitablility for "shear stresses" in the transmission - but Honda cars have for many years recommended regular engine oil for their gearboxes, and I have been running Mobil Super S in the transmission of my Nitrous boosted CRX for years...

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The article is on several websites since it was printed in 1994 by Motorcycle Consumer News. I have the 15 page printout & it is good. This deals with the viscosity retention issue that was a concern back then. Since then, the issue has arisen of the newer "energy conserving" oils containing certain friction modifiers that do not agree with some clutches & apparently causes them to slip. I have only heard of scattered anecdotal evidence of this, however, mostly online. Regrettably, no official tests, that I know of, have been run to dispel this. The only reference to this was a tech article in Motorcyclist magazine (9/04 issue, page 87), that addressed this matter briefly, in one sentence. I quote, "Much has been written about "improper" oil harming wet clutches-making them slip, for example-but the evidence behind these claims is often hard to find." No further elaboration, since the article was about clutch tech.
Many riders use Amsoil & swear by it. Many riders used the earlier Mobil 1 synthetic but indicated that if Mobil added the friction modifiers to it, that they would stop using it. One may want to check out the Internet BMW Riders website & see what they say about oils in general. That article was an eye-opener. Again, my feeling is that the conservative approach to oils should be used until unimpeachable tests prove that it is OK to use automotive oils in the bikes. I will be the 1st to switch if this comes about. Maybe some riders on this forum can provide their experience using automotive oil in their bikes. It would prove interesting.
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Discussion Starter #8
Thanx – I value your opinion (as asked for in the opening post). I am also well au fait with the principle of getting the ‘best stuff I can’ for ‘my baby’ (I’m the guy that buys distilled water from the pharmacy for my coolant system), but in this case, I’m not going to adopt the “do it until it is dis-proven” position, for one simple reason. If there was ANY scientific study done that showed ANY meaningful and measurable benefits, you and I (and a plethora of others that care for their machines) would be quick to adopt that as a minimum standard. But, the oil companies are making these oils, not just bottling them – one would assume that there are a whole lot of things they do and add during this process to make it suitable for bikes. This ‘specification’ would be as a result of extensive R&D and development work, and it is to pay for this development that the higher prices are charged. But if this was the case, they should be able to publish even extracts of this work and the results achieved, and instantly ‘corner’ the market (you, me and the plethora). Why do they not do it?

The test work in that article showed:
* Bikes are indeed harder on oil then cars (Though I’d love to see what the ‘engine oil’ in my CRX transmission looks like in comparison – it is only changed every 40000km).
* The viscosity degradation happens early in the ‘useful life’ of the oil.
* ‘Good’ oils fare better then ‘Cheap’ oils
* The ‘bike’ oils did not show a measurable benefit in terms of viscosity degradation.

What this tells me is in comparison with using the ‘best’ bike oil I can get, and changing it every 5000k (~3000mi), getting a ‘good’ car oil and changing it twice as often is both better and cheaper. It’s hard to fault the reasoning?

Clearly friction modifiers are ‘out’ so any oil that has them are out, too – no debate.

I’m going to try it out, and as I said, I’ll let you know my perceptions and observations…

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Brett, you have to buy distilled water at a pharmacy??! Your location shows South Africa. Please don't tell me they have proclaimed it a controlled substance and you need a prescription! I am not being wise, just shocked! One can buy it anywhere here.
Anyway, the bikes' manuals call for distilled water to eliminate mineral scaling buildup iin the cooling system. Heck, I wash the bikes with distilled water-it leaves no spotting from any minerals. You also need it for the battery, if you have the removeable caps. I also use it in the cars when I change out the coolant.
When you said you use Mobil S, I have never heard of that oil. It might even be that the container is not marked, "energy conserving" on the API label (if it even has an API label). If the grade is SE or SF, then it has a good amount of phosphorous in it. Across the pond here, the oil companies have to focus on light vehicles in order to help the car producers meet gas mileage standards. In fact, Ford has all but mandated that we are to use a 5W-20 oil in the newer cars because that helps Ford meet the minimum CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) standards for their vehicles, thus avoiding heavy government fines. With hundreds of millions of cars & trucks here, I think you can see what I am talking about. They've got to be putting cutting edge additives in our stuff, and that is what would concern me about using it in the bike. Even Kawasaki in their GTPP extended warranty will not cover parts damaged by using "improper" oils. Where you are, the regular oils may even be suited for a bike, unless they are marked, "energy conserving". I hope you can use the stuff to save some bucks.
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Discussion Starter #11
You can buy distilled at some garages and a few spares places, but they are not set up to bottle it – so who knows what container you are getting if you don’t take your own, and given that many garage owners are not known for scruples.. {I remember at some stage somebody did a snap pole taking water samples form the fancy little (battery) water bottles they keep on the forecourts… Of 20 odd samples only 2 were ‘possibly’ distilled water though there was evidence that the containers had held tap water at some recent point… }

It’s nothing to do with being regulated, it’s just that most decent ‘stills’ are in laboratories, and hence supplied to pharmacies, in decent containers etc etc. Maybe my example is a bad one seeing it seems distilled water is cheap and freely available there – here, people look at me funny because of this – cost-wise it is equivalent to buying a premium beer! Expensive but I do it…

I kind of assumed that the product range would be pretty much a world-wide thing, but a quick look at the Mobil Website showed that as ever, you guys are doing different stuff…

Here is the data sheet for Mobil Super S which I use in the engine and gearbox of my CRX and what I’m proposing to use in my bike: (Any comments?)
http://www.mobil.com/UK-English/Lubes/PDS/EUXXENPVLMOSuperS.asp

Thanks for your input so far...

:wink:

Oh and @Staff: Thanx for the excellent link! Much bed-time reading!

:)
 

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Distilled water is cheap here. 52 cents a gallon. Spring water is more! My wife's expensive professional iron requires it. I wash the bikes with it because my own tap water is very hard. I use it for the trucks' cooling systems and for my cigar humidor. Lots of uses. Don't feel out of place for using it. It is the wise way to use the correct stuff.
I see you oil is API SL. I would not use it myself because of the lowered phosphorous/zinc content of the SL rating requirement. There are those out there that would say that there should never be metal-to-metal contact within a bike's internals. Most of the time, that is true. But it is not 100% reality. The one time you overheat can be the one that costs you an engine. The guys on the Yamaha Warrior website change their oil out immediately when they overheat after riding in traffic, etc. That is the cautious way. There is too much to lose otherwise. Liquid cooled bikes can also overheat. The oil has to be assumed to be toast after (or during) such an episode. The phosphorous/zinc additives give you that buffer zone of protection that you hopefuly will not need. If you need it, the oil has broken down enough to create metal-to-metal parts contact within the engine/transmission. Yes, there are the 10w-40, 20w-50, 15w-50 oils that do NOT have the energy conserving certification. My estimation of this is that they are probably OK to use, but only if I was pressed to lay Vegas odds on it. But would I use it myself? No. Not until there are credible studies to indicate otherwise. Perhaps if I were stranded somewhere & had no other choice...
I know that my attitude reflects extreme conservatism on this subject. This kind of debate has been going on for decades & may never be resolved without irrefutable scientific evidence. That probably won't come about in the forseeable future. Too bad. There a a lot of superb quality light vehicle oils out there.
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The Case for Using Mobil 1 15W-50 Automobile Oil in a Motorcycle by Shazaam!
Manufacturers' Recommendation
Most motorcycle manufacturers recommends motorcycle-specific oil, pointing out that car motor oils have been reformulated and no longer meet the needs of motorcycle engines. Oddly enough, they usually make no distinction between the use of synthetic or petroleum-based oils even though it's an established fact that synthetic oils are a better lubricant. Full synthetic oils offer truly significant advantages, due to their superior high temperature oxidation resistance, high film strength, very low tendency to form deposits, stable viscosity base, and low temperature flow characteristics as compared to traditional petroleum-based oils. Yada, yada, yada ... They also make no distinction between petroleum and synthetic oil when recommending oil change schedules even though the oil manufacturers suggest that synthetics can be run two-to-three times the mileage of petroleum oils between changes. The oil drain interval that is specified in the owner's manual is for what is called normal service. Normal service is defined as the engine being at normal operating temperature, at highway speeds, and in a dust-free environment. Stop and go, city driving, trips of less than ten miles, or extreme heat or cold puts the oil change interval into the severe service category, which has a shorter recommended change interval. So, manufacturers are saying to change your oil even more often anyway because no motorcycle experiences only normal service conditions. Consequently, longer drain intervals should not be used to balance out the higher cost of the synthetics. Synthetic oil can be considered cost-effective only if the potentially higher rebuild and repair costs associated with increased engine wear are factored in. There is no convincing evidence, so far, that synthetic oils lowers these costs in motorcycle engines.

Anti Wear additives
According to their manufacturers, motorcycle-specific oils are claimed to be formulated with additives that reduce engine wear. Specifically, they point to the use of zinc dialkyldithiophosphate (ZDDP) as the prime anti-wear additive used in all engine oils. ZDDP, however, contains phosphorous that has a life-shortening effect on the catalysts used in exhaust emission equipment, first only on cars, but now more recently on motorcycles.
The Environmental Protection Agency mandated a reduction (from a maximum of 0.12% down to 0.10%) of anti-wear additives containing phosphorous in automobile-specific engine oils. It's important to note that this reduction was only required for the "energy conserving" lower oil viscosities of 0W-20 through 10W-30. The thicker oils were not required to meet this lowered phosphorus level. That is not to say that oil manufacturers won't lower the ZDDP levels in their 40 and 50 weight viscosity oils in the future. Since additives cost the oil companies money, if they feel that they can get by with less, they probably will be inclined to do so. Also, standardizing the additive packages across all viscosities would also simplify their production process. It's important to note here that, formulating oil with higher levels of anti-wear compounds than is needed, simply results in unnecessary combustion chamber deposits. Which is why most oil companies LOWERED anti-wear compound levels even before EPA required it. So far however, tests have shown that automobile-specific Mobil 1 15W-50 (a viscosity exempted from the mandated reduction) has had no change in phosphorous level in its formulation.
Motorcycle Consumer News tests have shown that after the EPA-mandated reduction, Mobil 1 motorcycle-specific oil has now only about 15% more phosphorus than automobile-specific Mobil 1 15W-50 and about 6% more zinc. Keep in mind however that, even though automobile oils now contain somewhat lower levels of ZDDP, Exxon-Mobil still states that Mobil 1 automobile oils "exceed the most-demanding protection requirements of modern, high-reving, powerful 4 stroke automobile engines ... yada, yada, yada." So, where's the reason to believe that the lubrication requirements of street motorcycles is measurably different? It seems clear that the current anti-wear additive levels in modern synthetics (both automotive and motorcycle blends) provide greater protection than required in any high performance motorcycle engine during the suggested oil change interval.
The oil manufacturer's advertising that directly equates reduction in engine wear with the tiny percent changes of ZDDP in the oil is misleading the consumer at best. It's well known that majority of engine wear is known to more likely occurring during the metalto-metal contact of a cold start, an operating condition best handled by a synthetic oil's very high film strength properties. Increasing the amount of ZDDP in the oil does no good if there's no oil coating there at startup.

Catalytic Converter Models
The latest models are now being shipped equipped with catalytic converters. Since motorcycle-specific oils with higher levels of phosphorus are now verboten by EPA for use in these models, I'm curious what oil the bike makers will now recommend? Maybe automobile-specific Mobil 1 15W-50.

Friction Modifiers
Exxon-Mobil claims, as a selling point, that the formulation of motorcycle-specific Mobil 1 MX4T has none (?) of the oil additives called friction modifiers (usually molybdenum-based but not necessarily) that could lead to clutch slippage in some wet-clutch motorcycles. This is not an concern, of course, for dry clutch models. But, this IS supposed to be the current compelling reason to avoid some automobile-specific formulations of Mobil 1 that now contain friction modifiers to meet fuel economy mandates, when previously they did not. At it turns out, wetclutch slippage can be a problem, and seen more often when you use the lower viscosity 10W-30 Mobil 1 and other oils that are designated "Energy-Conserving" on the bottle. As a perspective on this issue, a Oct 2000 Motorcycle Consumer News test showed that the molybdenum content of Mobil 1 MX4T motorcycle-specific oil is 5 ppm and 11 ppm for Mobil 1 15W-50 automobilespecific oil.

Energy-Conserving Oils
Combine a lower viscosity oil with a formulation that includes additional quantities of molybdenum-based friction modifiers and you get the Energy-Conserving designation in the API Service label on the back of the container. But, automobile-specific 15W-50 Mobil 1 doesn't carry this designation ... because of its higher viscosity. A higher viscosity oil's resistance to flow is the reason why automobile-specific oils that are not energy conserving have been used successfully in wet-clutch motorcycles without slippage problems. So 15W-50 Mobil 1 works fine in wet clutches. Keep in mind however, that because motor oils loose 30% (or more) of their viscosity in the first 1,500 miles, you will tend toward wet-clutch slippage later if you prolong your oil change interval.

Viscosity Retention
A frequent marketing claim made for motorcycle-specific oils is that they retain their viscosity longer than automotive oils when used in a motorcycle. That is, motorcycle-specific oils contain large amounts of expensive, shear-stable polymers that better resist the punishment put on the oil by the motorcycle's transmission, thus retaining their viscosity longer and better than automotive oils would under the same conditions. Nevertheless, when tested by MCN, the best-performing oil of the group tested was Mobil 1 automotive oil. Based on their test results, here's their advice:
1. Use a synthetic oil. The viscosity of synthetic-based oils generally drops more slowly than that of petroleum-based oils in the same application. There is no evidence that motorcyclespecific synthetics out-perform their automotive counterparts in viscosity retention when used in a motorcycle.

2. Change your oil more frequently, and more often than 3,000 mile intervals that is normal for cars. Motorcycles are somewhat harder on an oil's viscosity retention properties than cars. (The gears in the transmission are probably the significant factor in cutting the longer oil molecules into shorter pieces that are less viscous.)

3. Use the Mobil 1 in the 15W-50 viscosity only. The recent reformulation of thinner viscosity versions of Mobil 1 make them inappropriate for both wet and dry clutch applications.

Better Detergent Additives
Exxon-Mobil claims, also as a selling point, that Mobil 1 MX4T is specifically designed for sport bike needs and therefore uses a different dispersant/detergent technology for "better high temperature performance and engine cleanliness." Without an explanation of this technology it's hard to be specific here but one thing is certain. Water-cooled motorcycles operate at similar temperatures as cars do so this presents no obvious advantage here.
The dispersant/detergent issue is probably more directed at wet-clutch designs where abrasive friction material particles are suspended in the engine lubricating oil, so there's no distinct advantage to dry-clutch motorcycles. Changing your oil frequently negates this issue.

Marketing
Separating the oil manufacturers' marketing hype from fact is difficult for the consumer. Given that the role of marketing is to enhance their oil's image and persuade you to switch to it, be sceptical when presented with unsupported claims. A tactic often taken is: more is better. In this case, if the higher levels of anti-wear compounds advertised in motorcycle specific oils are good, still more is better, right? Maybe, but using oil with higher levels of anti-wear compounds - than needed - will cause increased combustion chamber deposits. That is why most oil companies LOWERED anti-wear levels before the government mandates intended to protect catalytic converters.
Another approach, enhancing their product's status through premium pricing and sponsorships (that are essentially paid endorsements) are effective ways of positioning their product to convince you, the consumer, that you're getting the very best when you buy it. If you're not a product engineer, guidance from sources like Consumer Reports can be useful here in making informed decisions. For example, they did a quality comparison of several products a few years back and found that the less expensive products often worked the best and had the highest quality, but noted that people tended to buy the more expensive products because they thought they would be better. Keep in mind that your dealer's will first recommend what they sell, and it's natural to expect that they'll try to sell products with the highest profit margin, all other things being equal.

Bottom Line The bottom line here is, to get the best protection, you need to change any oil frequently. Changing your oil serves to remove abrasive dust ingested from the air, from (wet) clutch wear and harmful combustion by-products from the engine that accelerate wear. Studies have shown that most motor oils loose 30% of their viscosity in the first 1,500 miles. So for the best motorcycle engine protection, dry clutch or wet clutch, I recommend (and use) the less expensive 15W-50 weight (remember ONLY 15W-50) automobile-specific Mobil 1 and change it every 1,500 to 2,000 miles.
 

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Ultimately, we ask the oil to: maintain viscosity well, lubricate well, and not be harmful to the wet cluch systems. I foresee that the motorcycle oils will ultimately have to meet the same phosphorous/zinc standards as the car oils, and that means a reduction of it. We see this in the SJ oils already. This falls under the "lubricate well" department. Once the motorcycle-specific oils lose this "edge", I would see no reason to continue using them. The Shell Rotella T synthetic & the Mobil 1 in 15w-50 will be the focus of my interest should this come about.
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michaelvZX6RR said:
1Adam12, very interesting read.

But dude, one word: paragraphs.
Sorry about that. I cleaned it up for an easier read.
 
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