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Discussion Starter #3
ya I don't mean to start a pissing contest but I was wondering if anybody has a any real test data to suggest it either does or doesn't. I need an oil change & would love to use the better oil if possible......
 

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My advice (sure to be contradicted or debated) is that synthetic is fine if it was designed for motorcycle use. Others will say don't waste your money and just use the cheapest automotive oil. I would never put car oil in my bike even if it is synthetic but others have different opinions. Hence... the oil wars. You can search on this site for endless debates on this topic, but have at 'er. I will sit back and watch. Where's my popcorn?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
should have asked me before as I just ate a big bag of cheese popcorn so addicting. anyway I hear a lot about friction modifiers which can cause slippage, but I don't think the oil has these in them. I think I will just use some Valvoline syn-tech or if I can find motorcycle special oil at the parts store & see what happens. isn't the whole idea about oil to be slippery & reduce friction anyway??

another question when you change the oil ain't you supposed to change the aluminum gasket on the oil drain bolt?
 

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Generally, the best advice I think anyone can give is to follow what your owner's manual advises.

Yes oil should be slippery. Can it be too slippery? The answer is yes from what I have experienced and learned over the years. Wet clutches need friction to work. Friction modifiers can make oil so slippery that ball bearings stop rolling and start skating. Car engines do not have ball bearings nor do they have wet clutches nor do they share engine oil with their transmissions. Yet a motorcycle engine can have ball bearings to support the crankshaft, and all that I know of use ball bearings in their transmissions and most motorcycles use a wet clutch. So a motorcycle oil has vastly different demands placed on it when compared to car engine oil.

No doubt there will be others who will tell you that have always used car oil in their bikes and never had a problem and I don't doubt them. But each rider and each bike is different. Some ride hard and fast, some drive only in the city and some are long distance touring riders, some ride in a tropical climate and others in near arctic conditions and this can impact the demand you place on your oil. So in some cases, the type of oil is not as important as in others.

My philosophy is; why take a chance? You might save a couple of bucks per oil change, but how much does it cost to rebuild an engine, transmission or clutch?

Yes they want you to change the aluminum washer on your drain bolt each time. I have reused mine on multiple occasions without a problem. If the surface is badly scarred then replace it.
 

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Oh boy! Oil! I can only give you my experiences with various types with 2 caveats:

  • if you have a hydraulically operated clutch, replace the fluid yearly;
  • use Blackstone Labs for oil sample analyses to see exactly what is happening with the oil of your choice.
Those said:

  • I ran auto oil 10w-40, Full Synth, Semi-Synth and conventional, for yrs and yrs with no side effects. My bike has 133,xxx miles and all the clutch parts are factory original. The only reason I quit using it is they quit making 10w-40;
  • I switched to Valvoline motorcycle specific oil from AutoZone, 10w-40, 10w30, or 20w-50. I've seen no discernible difference in operation based on weights. Full Synth vs. Semi Synth vs conventional makes no difference. I just buy what's on sale. I change my oil usualy once per year, sometimes twice;
  • My own sample analyses show that in my bike any of these oils are "good" for a long time. I average 10 to 12 thousand miles per year and horribly abuse my bike on the hwy and in the woods on dirt roads.
  • Different brands affect the way the clutch works. My bike hates Rotella and Mobil 1. It loves Valvoline;
  • Finally, there was no difference in longevity between synth and conventional.
Summary-

Clean oil good, dirty oil bad. People tend to overthink it but it really is that simple. If the bottle doesn't say "friction modifiers" it will probably work fine. But there's only one way to find out. To the original question of clutch slippage, my answer is a definite "MAYBE". But in 40+ yrs I've known the switch to synth to be a problem exactly 1 time. I switch often between synth and conventional, no problems yet but it's only been 12 yrs and 133,xx miles. Who knows? Also, I long ago quit changing oil on mileage. What a stupid reason IMHO. I change mine when downshifting starts to become a little stiff.

If I were you-

There's really no good reason performance-wise to switch to synthetic. They are not IMHO "better". But OTOH if it makes you feel good then go for it! There's no down side to it either. You've been very general giving us no bike model or mileage or riding style but if you think it will make you and your wallet happy than go for it!
 

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Rbentnail's experience with oil on his bike is impressive, but if his engine/trans/clutch failed tomorrow, how would anyone know if it would have gone another 50,000 miles had he used what his owner's manual specified?

There is a reason why Kawasaki and other manufacturers have tribology engineers on staff to design their bearings and to spec the oil those bearings need. I put my faith in those engineers and have done enough study in my lifetime to appreciate the basics of tribology to the extent that I take oil very seriously.

Oil is the lifeblood of our engines so it is not surprising that we feel so passionate about oil and hence we frequently engage in oil wars. But I think we can all agree that oil needs to be changed frequently, and as rbentnail pointed out, you can have it lab-tested if in doubt. This reminds me of the days I used to wrench at a local Kaw dealer, and synthetic oils were just hitting the market for the first time. One of the other mechanics switched his KZ900 to a synthetic oil because it promised oil change intervals of something like 10,000 miles. At about 6,000 miles he sent a sample in to their lab for analysis. The report came back with a giant WARNING message stating the oil should be changed immediately or serious engine damage would occur.

Bear in mind, synthetic oils of today are vastly improved over synthetic oils of the 1970's. In my opinion the best feature of synthetic oil is their application in cold weather performance. If you plan to ride to the Arctic circle in the wintertime, the obvious choice is synthetic. It remains highly pourable when other oils have turned into cold molassas. This would also be applicable to any cold weather riding. It is a fact that most engine wear occurs in the first few seconds after a start. This is why you should not rev an engine when you first start it. Give the oil time to circulate and for hydrostatic pressure to build if you have plain bearings in your crank. If the oil is cold, this process will take longer and synthetics perform better when it is cold.

In the end, oil is a personal choice. You can do your research and make a decision, or you can simply follow what your bike's manufacturer recommended. To me, the latter is the safest choice.
 

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A member of the venture forum is famous for buying cheap used 83 or 84 V4 Yamaha Ventures for $1200 or less and riding them until the engine goes. He always used the cheapest oil he could find at the Dollar Store or the Walmart brand conventional, usually 20w50 in the hot summer. He didn't think anything about riding across the southwest desert at 100mph for hours riding double with a pack. He did believe in changing it every couple thousand miles and he got well over 200k miles out of 4 of those Ventures and almost 200k out of the 5th one. He has lots of videos on youtube under PucPuc or Cowpuc.
I use JASO spec oil in my bikes.
 

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I follow manufacturer's specs for oil and oil change intervals for my KLR 650 (JASO). Oil change every 12,000 kms (~7,500 miles). I will typically travel at 130 to 140 kph all day when on pavement.

Have done the Trans-Labrador Highway twice. First time it had about 1,100 kms of rough, gravel roads, but the 2nd trip they had more of it paved and gravel portion was down to about 700 kms. At times I ride it almost like a motocrosser or enduro and travel ATV trails deep in the woods. The bike has never missed a beat but admittedly I only have 36,000 kms on it so far.

I have owned about 18 motorcycles over the past 50 years and have always followed manufacturer's specs for oil and oil change intervals and I have never had engine, clutch or transmission problems that could be blamed on oil. That's my two cents worth.

Anyone is free to save a few bucks on cheap oil but if you have to replace it every 2,000 miles are you really saving any money in the long run? I just don't see the need to take a chance on cheap oil but I respect other riders rights to do so.
 

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Shell Rotella may have a synthetic oil that's good for motorcycles. I use the Rotella 15W-40 regular in the white bottle for my 81 KZ650-CSR. It has the JASO-MA rating & usually goes on sale at various places. Chevron Delo is another one that I use. These are heavy duty oils w ZDDP or equivalent & are marketed for diesel engine use. 15W-40 may not be good in colder climates, but I don't have to worry about that as it's always hot here. When choosing a motorcycle oil, I check to make sure it has the zinc-phosphate compounds in a minimum amount, usually listed as a percent or ppm.
 

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ZDDP is excellent as an anti-wear additive particularly on camshafts or areas under high pressure. It can be hard to find these days because unfortunately it does not play well with catalytic converters. Mobil makes one with high ZDDP also, but I cannot recall the exact name it is sold under.
 

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Agreed, as long as they meet the oil specs in your manual.
Trouble with that is my Kawasaki is an 85 and it only says use 10w40, or 10w50, or 20w40 or 20w50 SAE SE and oil has changed a lot in the last 35 years. It even says use 5w20 oil in the forks. Now we have JASO spec motorcycle oil and special fork oil.
 

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You raise a good point and yes oils have changed and been improved over the years, but oils with friction modifiers are not good for the wet clutch that most motorcycles have. Oils that are advertised as giving you better fuel economy probably contain friction modifiers and should be avoided. Some oils will state that they use friction modifiers.

I would stick to your bike's recommended oil viscosity and look for JASO MA rating.
 

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Read the owners manual. If Kawasaki states it's OK to use semi-synthetic or full synthetic then who are we to tell the manufacturer and designers otherwise? The manual will clearly push the OEM brand but as long as the specs are met then any brand oil SHOULD be fine. From my limited research the JASO MA/ MA2 spec is critical. Oils with this spec meet the requirements for a wet clutch system which most bikes have. Also it is best (IMO) to use oil formulated for motorcycles as someone above commented (or eluded to) car oil has some additives (such as friction reducers) that could cause clutch slippage. (oil that's TOO slippery and slick~ that's a new one right! 😉 ) Looking at oils from at the chemical level, synthetic molecules are more uniform and as such typically wear longer than conventional oil. There is literally TONS of info on the topic.

For me, my bike just hit 600 miles and time for the coveted "first service" as outlined in the owners manual. So after doing my homework, I settled for an OEM filter and Mobil 1 10w40 Racint 4T fully synthetic oil. If this proves to be an issue (doubtful) then my fall back will be Kawasaki's own full synthetic- although a lot more expensive. I've used Mobil 1 on all my cars for years and have never had any issue. When compared to my wife's or kids cars on on conventional oil during the routine 4-6K oil change, Mobil 1 seems to hold up better in terms of color and perceived viscosity when drained - but that is just totally subjective-I get that. It also doesn't hurt that the local auto store has a sale for the stuff (2 quarts for $10) at the moment so I grabbed several quarts for the next oil change or two. 😋

With all that being said, I'm sure just about any certified mainstream brand will work.

Cheers.
 

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Synthetic oil? Why. Why would you want to leave oil in your engine for ten thousand miles. Do you think your filter would last that long? all oil filters today are made with a built in bypass just in case the filter should get clogged, the bypass will allow the engine oil to still circulate through the engine. If at 8,000 miles, your filter begins to clog, how would you know that the bypass has kicked in. You wouldn't and so you will be running your engine for the next 2,000 miles on bypassed unfiltered oil. Aside from that, engine oil absorbs many harsh chemicals that are produced in your engine by heat, combustion, friction, electrolysis and general wear. These chemicals are all acid based and must be drained out with your oil. Why leave them in there for 10, 000 miles. Lets think about clutch plates. On a car with a posi traction rear end or limited slip rear end there are clutch plates, a lot like the ones in your bike. If you were to use the usual 90W-120 rear end oil in that rear you would wear the clutch plates out in a very short time. You need to use special rear end oil that contain friction modifiers that limit the amount of slippage in the plates. Manufacturers of Cars and motorcycles spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on engineering. From style to safety to the lubricants that would best perform in their machine. Im sure Kawasaki spends lots of money engineering the oil that would best lubricate the engine parts and still leach out from between the clutch plates quick enough so as to not make them slip and burn out. I pay $22 for a gallon of Kawasaki 10-40 oil. My bike, an 800 vulcan classic takes 3.4 quarts per oil change. Im a nut. I change my oil every 1200 miles. You dont have to. You can change your oil every 3000 miles. 3 oil changes, 9,000 miles almost the same as your synthetic oil. It makes no sense and at least you know with Kawasaki oil, the problem with the clutches wont exist. Yeah, maybe you can use Valvoline 10-40 or Pennsoil or Mobil one but the key word is MAYBE. Its your motorcycle, its your toy. You dont have to go nutz looking up specs on different oils, Kawasaki engineers already did that for you. If you dont have access to a dealer to buy Kawasaki oil, order it on amazon, they ship it right to your house. Pop the cap off a Miller lite, spend a half hour and change your oil REGULARLY. It means a lot. And dont leave your permanent anti freeze in your engine forever either. Its permanent, true. Glycol will never freeze but over time the additives, like rust inhibitors, alkaline reducing agents and the like, burn out. So do we. Just my thoughts
 

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And those same Kawasaki engineers that you speak so highly of, do not insist that you use Kawasaki brand oils but they do specify the viscosity and grade of oil you need to use, and they also specify safe oil change intervals.
I follow Kawasaki's advice religiously and use a quality, brand-name oil that is rated JASO MA and I change it and the oil filter every 7,500 miles just like my owner's manual tells me to to do.

Oil wars have gone on probably since the invention of oil. This goes on in all the car forums as well, in backyard shops and in taverns. The debate of which oil is best, is endless, is passionate and sometimes ends up in name calling and bad blood. Thankfully I have not seen it descend to derogatory language here.

You simply cannot go wrong by following what your owner's manual tells you. If you venture beyond or ignore the manual, you might be fine or you might not. My perspective... why take the chance?
 

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You’re right! Those Kawasaki engineers that I speak so highly of don’t insist that you use Kawasaki oil, but they also don’t sugest,in the owners manual,to use another brand of oil. The only manual I follow religiously, is the complete shop manual. Oil change intervals are discretionary as is the type of oil you decide to use. I just think it makes sense to use an oil that is specifically engineered for your application. Remember, it’s those same engineers who wrote the owners manual.If you change your oil and filter at 7500 miles, that’s fine, If that’s what the manual suggests but then realistically it couldn’t hurt to change it at 3000 miles, could it. To each his own.
 
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