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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Oil change interval

It depends. The manuals give a rule of thumb (every 6k?), but that's all it is. I might regard the manual's recommendations as the "outside" limit. There are many things to consider. Variables: Miles between changes (how far) Time between changes (how long) Frequency of rides (how often) Weather/climate conditions Quality of oil Type of oil (dino vs. synth) Weight of oil Quality of oil filter Condition of oil filter Age of motorcycle (years and total miles) Type of driving (hard, easy, "stately") Economics (affordability) Given my particular situation, on balance I change roughly every 3k miles. --

We discussed this a while back - the manual is way wrong. Our scoots just won't hold the 4.2 quarts that the manual says it will. . To bring the oil to the halfway mark of the sightglass isn't even 3 qts.

You may find folks here not responding much to this question, as we've
gone over it many times, and the end result tends to be the same - no
unamious decision between synthetic, semi-syn, regular oil, motocycle
oil or regular auto oil, etc. Different folks have their own favorite,
and some believe their oil has magical powers that other oils do not.

But to answer your question, I think you'll find those that have tried
synthetic have liked it. The issue of viscosity will be debated, and
that debate can be found in the Verses.


I belive for best protection in your bike (or car), use Shell Rotella Synthetic, available at Wal-Mart in blue containers for $13 / gallon. For the best petroleum oil you can buy, get Shell Rotella T, Mobil Delvac 1300, or Chevron Delo 400, about $7 / gallon at any auto parts store. Why? The Total Base Number (a factor keeping oil from turning acidic over time) is higher than my previous favorite, Castrol GTX, and it's cheap. It was also rated well by Motorcycle Consumer News.

A higher TBN will allow you to go longer (time-wise) between changes without the oil turning acidic and attacking your bearings. If you change oil every 6 months, this is less an issue. Both of these oils placed well above Honda's non-synthetic motor oil that they specify for their machines. MCN's oil articles are excellent reads if you haven't seen them. If you decide to use synthetic oil, don't switch until you have about 2,000 miles on the bike. Because they are so slippery, synthetic oils can interfere with the break-in, making it take too long. Some riders have reported their bike puts off less heat after they switch to synthetic. I have noticed this too. IMPORTANT !!!! On the back of most oil cans is a circular stamp with the certification. Avoid oils that say "energy conserving" in the bottom half of the donut. These oils contain friction modifier additives that could cause clutch slipping over time. Essentially all 10w-30 oils are energy conserving, and should not be used in your motorcycle. Starman.

IF your average riding temperture stays above 45 degrees. But.. 10/40W is fine too for cooler temps. In Arkansas we use 20/50 year round, 10/40 for maybe a mid-winter oil change.

Absolutley no need for 20W50 oil in our liquid cooled bikes. The thinner the oil the better it dissapates engine heat. That in conjuction with the small oil passages in our engine really screams out for a name brand 10W40 or 15W40 (e.g. Shell Rotella T, $1.77/qt at Wal-Mart). A thinner oil also pumps faster, so the cams get oil faster than they would with 20W50. A 20W50 is only a benefit in aircooled bikes like Harleys or Yamaha V-Stars because in traffic they get really hot, so hot that they have to pull over sometimes and shut off the engine or loose it! You'd even loose a little power and MPG due to the extra friction, though it would be difficult to measure. Be sure to change it every 1500 - 3000 miles for the best protection.

I'll go with Bruce on this. If it's liquid cooled, it gets 10w40, even here in Dallas when it's 110 degrees. I've noticed that my Hondas shift smoother with 10w40, too, than they did with 20w50.

20w50 is good. I am in texas and used Valvolines 20w50 in the summer and valvolines 10w40 in the summer. I got the idea from a friend that had rode for over 40 years and takes awesome car of his 3 bikes. I use the Valvoline Motorcycle oil.
Look for the API symbol on the bottle. You do NOT want one that says "Energy Conserving" in the bottom half circle.
Kaw recommends 10W-40. DO NOT use any oil that says "Energy Conserving" or "Friction Modifiers" - most 10W-30 oils are this type and therefore NOT recommended for our bikes. I'm not sure about the 5W-30, but I would use either 10W-40 or 15W-40.

Looks like there is some good discussion and commentary on what lubricants to use in our bikes. Here is a URL for what imho is an excellent article:


Personally, I've been using Castrol's synthetic blend since I purchased my bike in 2001. This is my 5th season with this oil and it has done fine for me. Because the oil lubricates the engine and transmission, I change it every 1500 to 2000 miles, depending upon the type of riding I do. If I do more stop and go, city/in town riding, I change it more often. Looking at the Kawasaki spec sheet, it says: Engine Oil - SE Class SAE 10W40, 10W50, 20W40, 20W50. I've never read anything in the manual that recommends motorcycle oil over any other type. To me, the spec says it all. However, the article explains that there is an advantage to using synthetic or synthetic blend oils.
I had read this awhile back. The article seems to prove my gut feelings that the best oil on the market today is Mobil 1 synthetic. Test after test I have read keeps showing this oil at the top. I do plan on switching to it soon, and will let you know what I think... > > KM >
KM; I've been using Mobil 1 for years in my cars. It works. I get better mileage with it. I believe better engine life also. I also go 5 times between changes. I change the filter every 3K or so and top off and roughly at 15K or so, I change all the oil, plus filter. I have submitted one test to a local outfit after the 15K routine and the viscosity etc, was still good. Well within specs. Could probably go further. Mobile however just changed their lineup. I.e. They now have an oil specifically for diesel applications and SUV's.! Have mixed it in my diesel truck 50/50, (Mobile 1/Chevron Delo 400) also with good results. But I also have a secondary filter system on the truck that filters down to 4 microns, vs the 40 or so with the full flow filter. But I do fairly heavy towing with that Powerstroke, so I do change that out every 5K regardless. I have it running hot with a chip, and bit higher thermostat than stock with some other add-ons for power. But my experience is Mobile 1 is the best I've used. I get better mileage, plus longer life. I use the 20-50 when I can find it in the bike here in FL. (not the 5-30 with energy star.!!) Bob D
I think Mobil 1 V-twin 20w50 Motorcycle Oil - Autozone $8 quart, Wal Mart (with motorcycle acces dept) $6 quart also Amsoil is rated excellent and Shell RotellaT 5w40 synthetic in the blue gallon jug at Wal Mart $16.48 is very good. I've read all the "Motorcycle Consumer News" oil test and info articles over the years and it helped form my opinion. IMHO - just my 1.5 cents
The non-synthetic (cheaper) Rotella has been highly recommended for
bikes. A friend of mine (Chemical Engineer for Exxon) has recommended
and used Rotella for several years in his Hondas (Magnas, Sabres,
Interceptors). From personal experience, the non-synthetic Rotella sucks in old Hondas and our Vulcan 500, in spite of what Mike tells me...lol. Satisfied Castrol GTX user

178 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Greg and all...after years of web research :) I've come to the
following conclusions.. 1. Use only 40 or 50 weight oils (10w,
15w etc), as they are not 'Energy Conserving' and will not
affect your wet clutch. 2. Synthetic oils will offer
marginally better protection and longer change intervals than
a top quality petro based, but unless you are running an air
cooled bike, run in extreme conditions, or just like to beat
on it, you will get more than adequate protection from your
Castrol GTX as long as it is changed regularly and often.
Synth oils probably do not offer much of an advantage to the
great majority of cruiser/touring riders. Make your own
cost/benefit judgement on this. 3. Moto specific oils vs
automotive oils come down to marketing and what each
individual is comfortable with. AFAIC, the additive packages
in moto specific oils and their 'performance' are fine, but
considering the price, the quality/performance of the oil I
use (Shell Rotella) vs the Moto oils, the way I ride
(aggressive but not a beater), the frequency of my oil/filter
changes, and the bike I own, I'm comfy spending $1.89/qt vs $5
or $7. Remember, this is only MHO, and is not meant to
represent the opinions of this group, VROC, the API, NASCAR,
the NHTSA, the AMA or MRF, or yo momma. :) Nexxttt.....

The gist of the article more or less said that using the
rccomended oil in your machine does provide the proper
protection. But if you buy regular petrolium oil @ $2.00 a
quart and change it every 3k y0u are still spending as much in
the long run as someone buying a synthetic for $4.00 a quart
and changing it every 6k miles.If you change your oil more
often (than waiting 3.000) or wait longer with the synthetic ,
these figures obviously change, If cost is not a big
concern...they give the nod to synthetic oils...simply because
they provide better protection as a whole...But do state that
"regular oil" is in most cases just fine and you don't need to
spend the money for some specialty oil..provided you do change
your oil at reccomemded intervals. Almost all premature
failures of engines can be traced to failure of the driver in
maitaining proper oil levels or not changing oil at
reccomended intervals.

I did not, but it is fact at this point, IMO. Automotive 10W40
or heavier is fine and just as good as MC oil if not better.
Like most riders know, just change it often. I change my oil
at least every 2K. It's so easy and a good 10W40
(e.g.FormulaShell) can be found on sale for .80/qt, so why the
hell not? ﷓Bruce
That Super Tech sem-syn in 10W40 will be fine, as will almost any name brand 10W40 or 15W40. What many of us prefer is probably the best bang for the buck oil out there: Shell Rotella T in 15W40, $1.76 at Wal-Mart. It's a quality group 2 basestock oil with many additives that are excellent for our scoot. I use it and like others here now have a smoother shifting trans which is just icing on the cake. I've never seen Mobil 1 in 15W40 in any store around Metro Detroit. If ya do go with Mobil 1 then use the 15W50, many bikers swear by it and don't want to spend the extra $2.50/qt on Mobil 1's MXT 10W40 MC oil.

Try the Shell Rotella T or QuakerState semi-syn 4x4 in 10W40 or 15W40 and let us know how your tranny feels.

It's over kill but the Mobil 1 "red cap" 15W50 is popular and the 10W40 bike formula is great but quite expensive. My favorite synthentic is Amsoil's 10W40 bike formula. Best bang for the buck is the current board favorite and one I really like and the same one that is developing an almost cult like status in the bikes and hotrods. Drum roll please.................................... Shell Rotella T 15W40 ($1.78 at Wal-Mart)! Try it and see if your tranny doesn't shift smoother. Change it at least every 3K and your bearings will thank you years from now.
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