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Discussion Starter · #21 · (Edited)
Horses for Courses

Is Racing Oil that meets specs acceptable? Yes, definitely.
Is Racing Oil optimal for normal street vehicles? Of course not.
Why? Horses for courses.

Oil is made from one or more base stocks plus an additive package. A lot of attention gets paid to the base stock (mineral stock, semi-synth, full synth) but IMHO the best oils are the ones with the best additive packages. There are lots of additives!


  • Friction modifiers
  • Anti-wear additives
  • Extreme pressure (EP) additives
  • Rust and corrosion inhibitors
  • Anti-oxidants
  • Detergents
  • Dispersants
  • Pour point depressants
  • Viscosity index improvers
  • Anti-foaming agents
Source: Substances & Technologies Wiki

The "recipe" of additives in an oil product can vary widely and it can be tuned to a particular purpose. The answer to the question "what's the best additive package?" is another question: "best for what?"

The reason oil needs to be changed isn't necessarily because the base stock has lost its lubricity. It can also be because the oil has either accumulated an unacceptable amount of contamination (such as with the 600-mile service where you're getting the break-in related metallic particles out of there) or because an additive has become depleted.

My horses-for-courses point in an earlier post was only that purpose-specific oil for racing engines probably has base stock that's ultra wonderful and an additive package that I would suspect to be less-than-ideal for street usage and a long drain interval. When I notice that Motul omits recommending the manufacturer's drain interval in the in the data sheet it only serves to feed my ravenous confirmation bias. :wink:

FWIW I have a horses-for-courses philosophy in general. Automotive oil is for autos and motorcycle oil is for motorcycles. Car tires are for cars and "darksiding" seems ill-advised to me.

@Topaz , Kawasaki's interval in the Owner's Manual is 7,600 miles, so if you change at 4,000 miles you're way under that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
Guys.. I live in a country where in the summer its 35 degrees C at the minimum and its hot almsot all the year.. should i go above 10w40 as the manual reccomends to my climate?

I would do what the chart indicates, which is to say: if you're riding in temperatures above 40°C/104°F switch to a 15W-50 or 20W-50 oil.


 

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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
Cheap Insurance

There is no perfectly right answer for this. It is all dependent on the operating conditions, which vary from rider to rider. People get insane over these debates, when the reality is that for "average" riding, a regular dino oil (or synthetic) at the factory interval (with proper ratings and viscosity) will be fine. Manufacturers warranty these bikes, so they are not going to give a recommendation that is going to potentially cost them money in warranty repairs.

I've had street bikes that I took to the dragstrip, and the synthetic oil was changed after one day of use. I've had other bikes that I let go for thousands of miles.

Yes, if you want to know what the ideal change interval is for YOUR brand of oil and YOUR riding habits and conditions, then get an oil analysis.
^^ This pretty much nails it.

IMHO most Ninja 400 owners can do fine by following Kawasaki's recommendations. Just be sure to check the oil level every once in a while and keep it topped off.

But that's no fun for an oil thread on a motorcycle forum. :smile:

You can request an extra-charge test for TBN (Total Base Number) with your Used Oil Analysis. The TBN test is specifically for people who want to extend their oil usage beyond the normal interval. If you want do that (extend your interval rather than shortening it), consider changing the filter at mid-interval for the reason explained below.

A used oil analysis costs about the same as oil and a filter, so there's that to consider.

The owner's manual says to change the oil and filter
* at 600 miles/1,000 km, then
* at 7,600 miles/12,000 km, and then
* every 7,600 miles/12,000 km (or annually) thereafter.

IMHO a much smarter schedule would be
* at 600 miles/1,000 km (end of initial break-in period), then
* at 2,000 miles/3,200 km (end of secondary break-in period), then
* every 7,600 miles/12,000 km (or annually) thereafter.

IMHO changing your oil and filter early is "cheap insurance", so absent an oil analysis I'd shorten it to
* at 600 miles/1,000 km (end of initial break-in period), then
* at 2,000 miles/3,200 km (end of secondary break-in period), then
* every 4,000 miles/6,500 km (or annually) thereafter.

Maybe the Big Oil companies have duped me into this belief about getting cheap insurance by shortening from e.g. 7,600mi to 4,000mi, but I don't think so. Shortening the interval has advantages:


  • Additives from the additive package (acid neutralizers, anti-oxidants, dispersants, and whatnot) will remain present in the engine at all times.
  • Accumulated unburned/partially-burned fuel and other combustion contaminants will be removed from the crankcase before they ever reach high levels.
  • The oil filter will always have good flow because a filter element with previously-filtered crud in it has less flow capability than a fresh one that flows at full capability.

Another reason to prefer a shorter interval is to accommodate seasonal temperature differences. I live in a desert where seasonal temperatures vary widely and summer temperatures exceed 110°F (43°C). Because of that, it can make sense to run 15W-50 or 20W-50 oil in the summer 10W-40 oil in the winter.

The cost difference between changing annually or semi-annually is reasonable at $2-3.50 US per month if you change your own oil. Oil+Filter cost is about $25 US (mineral oil e.g. Kawasaki 4-Stroke Oil) to $42 US (Full-Synth e.g. Motul 7100).

This video claims used oil hampers performance (at around 4 minutes in):

 

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Take this with a grain of salt, but my f-150 has 10k mike oil change intervals... first time made me nervous. I did an oil analysis and they commented that it looked like 6k mile oil and was just fine. This was with fords semi synthetic whic is actually cheaper than other name brand oils.

Another gotcha is, I had a 95 shadow vlx 600 and it’s oil change intervals were 8k miles back in 95. So these oil change intervals aren’t crazy imo.
 
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Whatever the manual says. The end.
Ha ha, like your style.

I pulled the manual out as a matter of interest and heck it's pretty wide open: Basically any 10W-40 that falls between an API rating of SG and SM.

I'm using an SL rated semi-synth called Elf Moto 4 Roadstar.

I generally change around the 4 - 5000K mark as I ride my bike on the hard side and oil is cheap, esp in these small quantities.
 

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Ha ha, like your style.

I pulled the manual out as a matter of interest and heck it's pretty wide open: Basically any 10W-40 that falls between an API rating of SG and SM.

I'm using an SL rated semi-synth called Elf Moto 4 Roadstar.

I generally change around the 4 - 5000K mark as I ride my bike on the hard side and oil is cheap, esp in these small quantities.
Thank you. I said before I am aviation so to me it's what the manual says, simple as that lol.
 

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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
Severe Conditions? Shorten the Drain Interval

I said before I am aviation so to me it's what the manual says, simple as that lol.
You can increase TBO by changing your oil more frequently and using better oil, but you certainly don't need to.

The Owner's Manual says:
"Service more frequently when operating in severe conditions: dusty, wet, muddy, high speed, or frequent starting/stopping."

A more comprehensive Severe Service list would be


  • Racing / high-load riding
  • Hot environment
  • Dusty environment
  • Wet or muddy environment
  • Stop-and-go driving
  • Frequent short trips

So severe conditions require shortening the drain interval to "more frequently than every 7,600 miles/12,000 km". :rolleyes:
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
API Service Category SM or SN FTW

I've been reading through some online Oil Arguments (ouch!) and also lots of information from oil-related websites and PDFs. Here are a couple of thoughts:

Thought #1: Spending more on oil doesn't always mean you get a better product.
Thought #2: It helps to pay attention to an oil's API Service Category.

Here's a big page full of test data that should convince you that paying more for a name-brand oil doesn't always mean you get a better product.
CONSOLIDATED DATA ON 5W-20s EXAMINED BY PQIA

Successive API Service Categories are progressively more stringent. SL is from 2001, SM is from 2004, and SN is from 2010.

SM oils are designed to provide improved oxidation
resistance, improved deposit protection, better wear
protection, and better low temperature performance

over the life of the oil.
Low-temperature performance is important because most engine wear happens during and shortly after start-up.

[SN oils are] designed to provide improved high
temperature deposit protection for pistons, more
stringent sludge control, and seal compatibility.
For our intents and purposes, SN appears to be only marginally different than SM.

A lot of people who seem to know what they're talking about believe that as long as an oil meets a certain spec you are golden. Indeed it appears to be extremely difficult to prove that any specific oil that meets a certain specification is better than some other oil that also meets that same specification. (If you can do that, pleas do!) This suggests the following optimization strategy:


  1. Choose a specification you're comfortable with (e.g. API SM).
  2. Find an inexpensive oil that meets or exceeds that specification.
  3. Profit.

I tend to trust familiar brands more than brands I've never heard of, so here's my working theory:

For street-riding purposes, any familiar-branded
API SM or SN motorcycle oil that's the correct
weight for your climate
will be very good oil that
does everything you need your oil to do.

Example:
Kawasaki's US$6 ATV oil meets API SM and their US$12 full-synth oil only meets API SL. Given a choice between those two, I'd opt for the higher-spec'd oil for half the price and maybe change it slightly sooner just for good measure.


Reference:
This page does a good job explaining API Categories and Their Importance:
API Categories and Their Importance | MotoTribology
 

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Great post. Thanks for gathering all that information.

  1. Choose a specification you're comfortable with (e.g. API SM).
  2. Find an inexpensive oil that meets or exceeds that specification.
  3. Profit.
^^ Good strategy, at least from the point of view of protecting the engine.

However, in the case of motorcycles you have to consider also how the oil 'feels' on the gear shifting (mainly) and on the clutch.

That's what pushed me to try a 'better' oil than the plain mineral oil recommended by kawi.
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 · (Edited)
Great post. Thanks for gathering all that information.
My pleasure. It was interesting. Wow people really go nuts over oil...

However, in the case of motorcycles you have to consider also how the oil 'feels' on the gear shifting (mainly) and on the clutch.

That's what pushed me to try a 'better' oil than the plain mineral oil recommended by kawi.
Good point!

It isn't safe to assume that synthetic oil is better than mineral oil by virtue of being synthetic. Notice that Kawasaki recommends by API and JASO specs, not what the oil is made from.

Remember, if you select an API SM or SN oil you're rejecting all of the API SG, SH, SJ, and SL oils. I would expect better spec'd oil to provide better shifting and clutch operation by virtue of its being made from better base stock(s) and additives. I don't have enough experience to know one way or the other.

I realize it's hard to wrap your head around these two misconceptions:

Misconception 1) Synthetic oil is better than conventional oil with the same spec.
Misconception 2) Expensive name brand oil is better than non-advertized oil with the same spec.
Nevertheless, you'll have a hard time proving with facts and data that either of those is true.

On the bright side, as a consumer it's simple (I didn't say "easy") to take advantage of those two misconceptions. Just select an API SM or SN oil without worrying much about (1) how the oil's molecules were made or (2) whose label is on the bottle.


Just for fun, now I'll make the opposite argument:
If you change your own oil, the difference between 2.3L of pretty-darned-good Kawasaki ATV oil (API SM / JASO MA2) and 2.3L of top-grade Motul 7100 (API SN / JASO MA2) is about US$17, so there's that to consider. :smile:
 

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@AZFox has now knocked it completely out of the park.

I would have to say this is THE BEST oil related thread on the whole interweb thingy! I've read tons and this one should get an award!


So here it is...


:3tens:


Thanks again for all your efforts!
 

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Discussion Starter · #35 · (Edited)
Heavy Duty Engine Oil

Thanks again for all your efforts!
You're welcome!

No motorcycle oil thread would be complete without bringing up diesel engine oil a.k.a. Heavy Duty Engine Oil a.k.a. HDEO. I wouldn't use it in a motorcycle but a lot of people would. The reasons I wouldn't are


  1. For 2.3L of oil, the cost savings isn't enough ($8 max).
  2. The full-synthetics cost as much as inexpensive motorcyle oil.
  3. It's not appropriate for hot weather because viscosity will self-degrade.

Some factoids:


  • HDEO is relatively inexpensive and people put it in everything.
  • The major-brand HDEOs meet API SN specs for gasoline engines.
  • Major-brand conventional and semi-synth HDEOs are 15W-40.
  • Major-brand full synthetic HDEOs are 5W-40.
  • Rotella T4 and Rotella T6 meet the JASO MA & MA2 wet-clutch spec.

In a shared-sump motorcycle these oils are not likely to hold their 40-weight viscosity after accumulating some mileage because motorcycle transmissions chew up "Viscosity Index improver" molecules. Put another way, these oils are not particularly strong in the Shear Stability department (because they're made for diesel engines and diesel engines are easier on VI improvers than motorcycles are).

If you're worried about your clutch being covered under warranty and want to run a HDEO (despite advice against it), the only ones I found that say they meet JASO MA are Rotella T4 and Rotella T6.

Conclusion: Rotella T6 meets specifications and appears to be adequate oil if your weather isn't hot, but you can buy motorcycle oil for the same price so why bother? :plain:
 

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Discussion Starter · #36 ·
Short Intervals Are Counter-Productive?

Here's something interesting: There are people who will tell you that changing your oil too frequently results in extra engine wear because fresh engine oil doesn't protect an engine as well as oil that has been in the engine for a while.

You would think oil protects best when it's brand new and fresh, but that's not necessarily true. The reason is because anti-wear additives require some time in the engine before they change (activate or break down or something like that) and reach their full effectiveness.

I'm not sure exactly what changes happen to the additives, but supposedly their effectiveness "improves markedly" as the oil ages during the first miles/hours of engine operation after an oil change. The study people quote about this is an SAE study ("the Ford Conoco Study") that resulted in a Technical Paper (2003-01-3119).

So there's an argument against short intervals that goes like this: By changing your oil too frequently you cause your bike to spend more of its lifetime with less-protective fresh oil and not-yet-activated anti-wear additives in the crankcase.

I'm not saying this is true because I don't know one way or the other. I'm just reporting that some people believe short intervals are counter-productive because fresh oil requires time in the engine before wear protection reaches full effectiveness.

Who knew?! :blink:
 

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Discussion Starter · #37 · (Edited)
Goldilocks Interval

Closing some browser tabs...
Check it out, I can argue with myself about oil change intervals.

A fleet of three vehicles was run in Las Vegas and oil samples were collected at various drain intervals from 3000 miles to 15000 miles. As in the previous study, the results showed that the aged engine oils provide lower friction and much improved wear protection capability. These improvements were observed as early as the 3000 mile drain interval and continued to the 15000 mile drain interval.
-- https://www.sae.org/publications/technical-papers/content/2007-01-4133/
At this point I'm confident that it's indeed true that new oil is less wear-protective than oil that has aged for a while. I'm still not sure how much of a difference this makes, and I don't care enough to find out.

Yeah, but

These findings indicate that although engine and engine oil technology continue to improve, it is not possible to predict oil's expected life in service at statistically significant levels under a variety of operating conditions and external variables based upon engine oil age (miles). There appear to be circumstances in the current passenger vehicle population that would necessitate engine oil changes at relatively short drain intervals.
-- https://www.sae.org/publications/technical-papers/content/2008-01-1740/
Conclusion: Your drain interval can be too long or too short. Just make sure it's not "very long" or "very short" and all will be fine. How's that for precision? :wink:

Edit: Eh, I didn't mean to be quite that vague, so in the interest of Precision Internet Bro Science I'm gonna translate that. Somewhere in the range between a 4,000-mile/6,400-km (Severe Service) interval and a 7,600-mile/12,000-km (Normal Service) interval is Just Right depending upon where your riding lands on the severity-of-service scale.
 

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Discussion Starter · #39 ·
Tribohemical Barrier (TCB)

Good info! Thanks for sharing!

You're welcome.

The "short-intervals-cause-more-wear" thing caught me by surprise. I'll try to explain it...

First, a Vocabulary Phrase: tribochemical barrier (TCB)
A tribochemichal barrier (TCB) is a protective chemical film that builds up on parts. A TCB's purpose is to improve (reduce) friction and improve (reduce) wear. A TCB is made of molecules that come from additives in the oil.

The odd and unexpected part is that oil additives require some time in the engine before they reach full effectiveness. Over time they chemically convert in a way that improves their ability to establish a TCB.

To complicate matters, fresh oil has fresh detergents, so there's a double whammy: When you change your oil, a wear-protective TCB that's established gets deteriorated by the detergents and it doesn't get replenished right away because the fresh oil needs to age before its additives will work at their full TCB-building effectiveness.

I interpret the sentence "These improvements were observed as early as the 3000 mile drain interval and continued to the 15000 mile drain interval." from a previously-mentioned SAE technical paper abstract to mean the aging process takes a while.
 

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Discussion Starter · #40 ·
Postpone "The Good Stuff" for a While

A lot of in-the-know people will tell you to avoid using synthetic oil during break-in and even slightly beyond, often accompanied by advice about synthetic oil being "too slick".

I agree in principle that you should avoid high-end oil for a while, except I'd say the reason isn't because of slickness. The reason is because high-end oil has more effective anti-wear properties. Oil with extremely effective anti-wear capability would seem to be at odds with achieving some desirable and beneficial wear until your engine and transmission are fully broken in.

Put another way, the theory is: Oil that does its job too well doesn't allow parts to break in properly.

One way to guesstimate and oil's anti-wear capability is to look at its API Service Classification because each subsequent classification standard requires more anti-wear protection than the previous one.

Repeating a conclusion from a previous post: If you're following the factory-recommended drain interval (7,600 for Normal Service or shorter-than-7,600 for Severe Service) you would have an extremely difficult time proving that buying a fancy-pants synthetic oil makes any measurable difference in engine wear compared to other oil that meets the same API specification.

Put that another way, oils that have the same API specification are extremely likely to provide the same wear protection for your motorcycle, regardless of how their molecules were made.

With that in mind, here's a modification to the previous recommendation, which was to shop for oil by API Service Classification and choose API SM or SN oil (thus avoiding the SG, SH, SJ, and SL oils).


  • At 600 miles and 2,000 miles, use oil that meets API SL specifications or lower.
  • After those two intervals, switch to oil that meets API SM specifications or higher.



Two intervals of non-premium oil isn't very expensive, especially in the grand scheme of things. Here are a few examples, all 10W-40, only to show what 5 quarts of API sub-SM oil costs. For some of these, prices vary widely.

Valvoline 4-Stroke Conventional (API SJ?) $25
Honda GN4 (semi-synth, but API SJ) $29
Kawasaki's mineral oil K61021-202A & K61021-302 (API SL) $29


Disclaimer: I don't know for a fact whether or not using super-premium oil hinders a good break-in. The answer is probably "it depends". :) I strongly suspect that the smart thing to do is to avoid using high-zoot oil until your engine is fully broken in, but I don't care enough to prove one way or the other.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯
 

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