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Five reasons to use motorcycle oil in your bike

You can use Car Motor Oils in your Bike if you Add Two More Wheels.

You wouldn’t want to buy a used bike if motorcycle oil wasn’t used.

Impressive performance happens when you are using the right oil in the right application.

Len Groom | TECHNICAL PRODUCT MANAGER, POWERSPORTS

The results of a study from lubricant additive manufacturer Infineum caught my eye recently. A survey of 1,000 bikers revealed that fewer than 60 percent are using a motorcycle specific oil in their motorcycles. Interestingly, more than three quarters of respondents think they’re using a motorcycle oil. Clearly there’s confusion in the market that requires clarification.

Let’s start with why you should always use motorcycle oil in a motorcycle engine. I’ll boil it down to five key reasons.

1) Motorcycles run hotter

In general, automotive engines are water-cooled. A typical automotive engine can reach 235ºF (113ºC) during operation, which is plenty hot. Motorcycles, however, run even hotter, particularly big, air-cooled V-twins, like your average Harley Davidson. They rely on air flowing across the engine for cooling, which is inherently less efficient at dissipating heat. This configuration poses additional challenges in stop-and-go traffic when there’s little airflow, particularly on hot summer days. In fact, testing of a 2012 Harley Street Bob in our mechanical lab demonstrated an average cylinder head temp of 383ºF (195ºC).

Heat that intense causes some oils to thin and lose viscosity, which reduces wear protection. High heat also hastens chemical breakdown of the oil (called oxidation), which requires you to change oil more often. In extreme cases, the bike’s temperature sensors can shut down the engine if it gets too hot.

2) High rpm destroys lesser oils

Motorcycles tend to operate at engine speeds significantly higher than automobiles. Your average metric sport bike easily eclipses 10,000 rpm. Some have even pushed 20,000 rpm. Your car or truck’s redline doesn’t even come close. The hydrocarbon chains get ripped to shreds.. You can feel the after-effects through the peg and handle bars.

High rpm places additional stress on engine components, increasing the need for wear protection. It subjects oils to higher loading and shear forces, which can rupture the lubricant film and reduce viscosity, both of which increase wear. High rpm also increases the likelihood of foaming, which can reduce an oil’s load carrying ability, further inviting wear.

3) Increased power density = increased stress

Motorcycle engines produce more horsepower per cubic inch than automobiles. They also tend to operate with higher compression ratios. Increased power density and compression lead to higher engine temperatures and increased stress. This places greater demands on motorcycle oil to fight wear, deposits and chemical breakdown.

4) Must also protect transmission – prevent viscosity loss

Many motorcycles have a common sump supplying oil to both the engine and transmission. In such cases, the oil is required to meet the needs of both the engine and the transmission gears. Transmission gears can shear the oil as it’s squeezed between gear teeth repeatedly at elevated rpm, causing some oils to lose viscosity. Many motorcycles also incorporate a wet clutch within the transmission that uses the same oil. Motorcycle wet clutches require a properly formulated lubricant that meets JASO MA or MA2 frictional requirements.

5) Storage invites corrosion

Whereas automobiles are used almost every day, motorcycle use is usually periodic and, in many cases, seasonal. These extended periods of inactivity place additional stress on motorcycle oils. In these circumstances, rust and acid corrosion protection are of critical concern.

While a good passenger car motor oil (PCMO) hits many of these performance areas, it doesn’t get them all.

PCMOs usually contain friction modifiers to help boost fuel economy. Furthermore, PCMOs don’t meet JASO MA or MA2 requirements. If used in a motorcycle, they can interfere with clutch operation and cause slippage. And no rider wants to deal with a slipping clutch. Likewise, motor oils have no natural rust or corrosion resistance. Instead, corrosion inhibitors must be added to the formulation, and typical motor oils don’t contain them.

AMSOIL Synthetic Motorcycle Oil is designed for the unique demands of motorcycles. It’s formulated without friction modifiers for precise, smooth shifts. It also contains a heavy dose of corrosion inhibitors to protect your engine against rust during storage. And it’s designed to resist viscosity loss due to shear despite intense heat and the mechanical action of gears and chains.

Ensure your customers are using AMSOIL synthetic motorcycle oil in their bikes for the best protection this riding season.

And people who use car oil in their bikes probably use the term “drive” when referring to riding.

Don’t Let Extreme Heat Sideline Your Motorcycle

Dyno control

An Oil to Resist Thinning from Extreme Heat and Mechanical Activity

Extreme summer heat combined with slow-moving rally or parade traffic can pose big problems for you and your motorcycle.

As heat intensifies, motor oil loses viscosity and becomes thinner. The oil can become so thin that the engine loses oil pressure, causing the oil-pressure gauge to bottom out. You may hear increased valvetrain and gear noise as parts clatter together. A good rider knows not to ride with no oil pressure, so he or she will shut down the bike and sit alongside the highway (or push the bike) until the engine cools enough to restore oil pressure.

Decreased airflow stresses oil

Air-cooled V-twins get plenty hot on their own, but riding in slow moving traffic makes it worse. Crawling along barely above idle doesn’t generate enough airflow to cool the engine. Add to that the blazing sun reflecting off the asphalt, and it’s a recipe for trouble. In extreme dyno testing designed to create heat, we’ve seen cylinder temperatures in a 2012 Harley-Davidson* Street Bob* as high as 383°F (195°C).

It’s up to the motor oil to protect the engine despite the intense heat; however, oil becomes thinner as it heats up. If it becomes too thin, it can fail to form a lubricant film of enough thickness and strength to prevent metal components from contacting during engine operation and wearing out. Once the lubricant film fails, it falls on the anti-wear additives to prevent wear. They form a sacrificial layer on components to keep them from contacting. But additives are designed to deplete with time and use. Once they wear out, your engine isn’t protected in this scenario.

Heat breaks down oil faster

The rate at which oil oxidizes, or chemically breaks down, doubles for every 18°F (10°C) increase in lubricant temperature. Oxidation occurs when oxygen molecules attack oil molecules and result in a chemical reaction that leads to harmful byproducts, like sludge and varnish. The faster the oil oxidizes, the sooner it wears out and requires changing.

Ride Hard. Run Cool.®

AMSOIL Synthetic V-Twin Motorcycle Oil uses high-quality synthetic base oils that naturally resist thinning due to extreme heat and mechanical activity better than conventional base oils. As a result, it forms a thick, strong lubricating film on engine components despite the intense heat. Although any oil will become thinner in extreme heat, riders who use AMSOIL Synthetic V-Twin Motorcycle Oil won’t see their oil-pressure gauges bottom out, providing the confidence they need to keep riding after others have shut down their bikes and started pushing.

Find AMSOIL Products for My Bike

*All trademarked names and images are the property of their respective owners and may be registered marks in some countries. No affiliation or endorsement claim, express or implied, is made by their use. All products advertised here are developed by AMSOIL for use in the applications shown.

Should I Warm Up My Motorcycle Before Riding?

Should I Warm Up My Motorcycle Before Riding?

Should I Warm Up My Motorcycle Before Riding?

As soon as you crawl out of bed tomorrow morning, try this experiment: run outside and sprint down the street. Aside from embarrassment over your jammies (or lack thereof), how do you suppose you’ll feel?

Your motorcycle likewise needs to warm up a bit before hitting the street. Many folks at AMSOIL love anything to do with an engine, including motorcycles. So to get the technical details explaining why, I consulted a few of our resident bikers. They provided two main reasons for letting your bike warm up before riding.

1) Help avoid piston scuffing

Metal expands when it’s heated, and anyone who’s sat astride a motorcycle knows they make serious heat. Subjecting a cold piston to extreme heat and friction without first allowing it to warm up can cause rapid piston expansion and scuffing.

John Skuzinski, AMSOIL Mechanical Test Development Manager, says this:

“Optimal parts ??clearances inside the engine are not achieved until normal operating temperatures are reached. If clearances are less than normal due to low engine temps, and the throttle demands the engine goes to work spontaneously, internal temperatures can rise very rapidly. Most frequently the pistons will heat-up and expand well ahead of the cylinder bores. The chances of clearance-related scuffing and seizure are thereby increased proportionally.”

Translation? Something might break.

AMSOIL Director of Facilities and Maintenance, Rollie Everson, agrees. “I like to get them [engines] warm before putting any type of stress on the mechanical components. This makes sure components expand at a gradual rate when they are cold.”

2) Ensure the oil circulates properly

Another reason to warm up your bike is to circulate the oil. Here again John Skuzinski has some good insight. “Cold oils inhibit pumpability and flowability, making it more prone to thin-film and hydrodynamic-wedge breakdown. Under extreme cold-oil conditions, it is possible that the oil won’t be able to flow into the oil pump, leading to bearing and journal damage and wear.”

Translation? Again, something might break, this time due to lack of oil.

Of course, a good solution to poor cold-flow is to use a high-quality synthetic that flows quickly to engine parts despite cold temperatures. AMSOIL laboratory chemist Dale Beck explains:

“The highest chance of wear should be under the initial startup when the oil has yet to be circulated to all the components in the upper end. AMSOIL motorcycle oils have very good pumpability at cold tempatures, definitely colder than I enjoy riding the bike at, so I don’t worry much about the oil not being circulated enough. Our oils also have very good protection for cam wear, relating to initial startup, so unless you are redlining the engine after startup there shouldn’t be any worries about other engine parts.”

How long should you warm the engine?

About one minute is plenty of time to allow the piston and other parts to gradually expand and ensure good oil circulation to the upper end. Most riders start the engine and spend a minute or two putting on their helmet and preparing to ride. Once they’re ready, so is the bike.

“I warm mine up so I know everything is running well. I usually do this while I put on my helmet and make final adjustments before departing on a ride.” – Patricia Stoll, AMSOIL Trade Show Manager

“I usually let it warm up while making my last adjustments (ear plugs, gloves, glasses, etc.). This takes about a minute or two.” – Jim Swanson, AMSOIL Trade Show Representative

“I would guess that mine only warms up for around a minute. I usually start it just before putting on my helmet and gloves. In my opinion, anything more than a few minutes is a waste of fuel and can lead to deposit formation on the spark plugs and exhaust.” – Dale Beck

To wrap it up, warm up your bike for at least a minute before heading out. Just use the time to buckle your helmet, slip your gloves on or finish other preparations. That way you’re not wasting time – and you’re likely saving your engine from wear.

Find out why our Co-President & CFO loves V-twins.

FIND AMSOIL PRODUCT FOR MY MOTORCYCLE

First Time Heading to Sturgis? We’ve Got Some Tips.

First Time Heading to Sturgis? We’ve Got Some Tips.

First Time Heading to Sturgis? We’ve Got Some Tips.

The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is a true bucket-list destination for any motorcycle enthusiast. (Well except for sport or adventure riders)
Each year thousands upon thousands of riders descend on Sturgis, S.D., and turn this small, sleepy town into a motorcycle mecca. Some travel the road to Sturgis as an annual endeavor, while others make it a once-in-a-lifetime journey. In either case, there is always the thrilling experience of hitting the open road to Sturgis. For those taking their inaugural ride to the world-famous Rally the week of Aug. 4-13, we’ve got some ideas to keep in mind that will help make your first rally appearance a success.

Formulate a plan:

It’s easy to become overwhelmed with the sights and sounds of Sturgis. Leaving room for spontaneity is essential, meaning you don’t need a minute-by-minute itinerary. But having some guidelines ensures you are in the right place at the right time, whatever your dining/entertainment/riding needs. Before you leave, check out the various venue schedules to see what they have in store throughout the week and plan accordingly. Have some extra money for the $20 burgers and overpriced beers.

Prepare your bike:

Nothing is worse than a roadside breakdown, whether on Main Street in Sturgis or en route to and from the rally. Before you hit the highway, make sure your bike is roadworthy for the miles ahead. Check your tires for proper inflation and tread; chain/belt condition; brakes; lights and, of course, fluids. A fresh oil change with AMSOIL Synthetic Motor Oil will help your engine deliver peak performance despite the intense heat for which Sturgis is famous.

Pack accordingly:

Sturgis can get hot. Very hot. Bring light-colored clothing that breathes and reflects the sunlight. Long sleeves are a must to prevent windburn, so bring something light and easy to take on and off before and after the ride. Don’t forget sunscreen to keep you protected during the long hours you’ll spend out in the open.

Stay hydrated:

Did we mention Sturgis can get hot? Staying hydrated is key to staying alert and refreshed while clocking miles under the sun. Plan rest stops around gas stations and restock your drinking fluids often.

Be prepared for lots of bikes. And wildlife.

Driving alongside a large pack of bikes takes skill and confidence in your riding abilities. Be aware of your surroundings at all times and practice safe riding habitsto keep yourself and those around you out of harm’s way. Additionally, South Dakota has deer, bison, coyotes, sheep and other animals roaming the frontier and wandering onto roadways. Be alert to their presence and avoid riding at night.

Have Fun $$:

Most importantly, have fun and enjoy making memories at the largest motorcycle rally in the US. Expect to see thousands of enthusiasts who share your passion for riding, and hear a week’s worth of powerful exhaust and bike rumbles from every bike model imaginable. Expect to see AMSOIL, the Official Oil of Sturgis, welcoming riders in the Main Street booth just east of Junction Ave. and conducting oil changes at the locations below. When the 2017 event draws to a close, expect to leave while already making plans for your next trip to the historic Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

AMSOIL Oil Change Locations:

Adam Halstead – Rapid City Exit 55 on I-90 (near HD Rapid City)

Mark Miklos: Mad Dog Custom Cycles – Intersection of Junction Ave & Sherman St (across from HD)

AMSOIL Helps Motorcyclist Set Guinness World Record

Danell the Motorcycle Hero and Adventurist

AMSOIL Helps Motorcyclist Set Guinness World Record

Sioux Falls Note: Yours truly tipped AMSOIL off on this story!! And it’s a great one! Consider your own adventure whether it’s on the pavement such as a coast to coast run or a single track off road advanture. Just be sure to use AMSOIL as it will hold up when all others sheer out. Over-built to take the abuse!

Danell Lynn hoists her GWR certificate while seated on her bike, Amelia.