If you’ve noticed that your motorcycle’s engine has been making unusual noises, or that the oil has developed a dark and gritty texture, these are telltale signs that your bike is due for an oil change.
But wait! Before you get started, are you sure you’re using the best possible oil for your motorcycle?
There are plenty of motorcycle oils on the market, but only a few of them will provide the highest quality clutch and engine lubrication required for the smooth, seamless ride all bikers dream of.
Our list of the 5 best motorcycle oils available on the market today will help you to make sure your bike’s engine is properly lubricated at all times. We’ve also included a buyers guide and FAQ section for extra helpful information.
Note: Please always follow your motorcycle manufacturer’s recommendations with regards to engine oil, as per your vehicle owner manual. This is important for the longevity of your bike’s engine/transmission and your own safety.
Top 5 Best Motorcycle Oils
OUR TOP PICK
Castrol’s Power Synthetic Motorcycle Oil is amongst the most superior motorcycle oil products.
The synthetic formula is designed to enable superior performance, both in bikes for casual, day-to-day riding, and competitive performance bikes.
This oil is formulated with Trizone technology. Trizone technology is a patented technology invented by Castrol and provides protection for your engine, gearbox, and clutch. It has been proven to reduce gear pitting and clutch slipping, and improves the overall durability of your engine.
Castrol synthetic motorcycle oil’s engine protection technology also allows for super-fast acceleration, without damaging your motorcycle’s internal components. It performs well in high temperatures, and in both air and water-cooled engines.
Moreover, Castrol’s oil formula has good shear stability, which prevents the oil’s viscosity from breaking down over time.
This oil is suitable for use in 4-Stroke and V-Twin motorcycles and is also available for purchase in viscosity grades 10W-50 and 20W-50.
- Trizone technology provides engine, gearbox, and clutch protection
- Allows for fast acceleration
- Good shear stability for long-lasting viscosity
- Performs well in high temperatures
- Works in air and water-cooled engines
- Suitable for use in 4-Stoke and V-Twin motorcycles
- Also available in 10W-50 and 20W-50 viscosity grades
- Some reports of increased engine noise
Shell Rotella’s Synthetic Diesel Engine Oil is one of the most popular motorcycle oils on the market and for good reason.
Its incorporated Triple Protection Plus technology helps to protect against loss of viscosity through high shear stability and heat resistance.
It also uses a low-ash formulation to protect against dirt and other potentially contaminating factors. Its synthetic additives also help to protect against engine wear.
Rotella motorcycle oil provides enhanced fuel economy by a margin of 1.5% compared to standard motor oils, so using this oil is also likely to save you money in the long term.
This is also a highly versatile oil that is suitable for use in all on-or-off-highway diesel engines.
- Highly versatile
- Uses Triple Protection Plus technology
- High sear stability
- Low-ash formulation
- Additives for engine wear protection
- Improved heat-resistance
- Enhanced fuel economy
- No longer API-SN approved, so may not be suitable for unleaded gas engines
Mobil 1’s 20W-50 V-Twin Synthetic oil is suitable for 4-cycle motorcycles.
This oil uses advanced synthetic oil technology to ensure great performance, even in extremely high temperatures.
It also works well at low temperatures, providing effective lubrication during start-up, which helps to protect the transmission system from wear.
The synthetic oil also ensures high acceleration and horsepower, meaning it will allow your motorcycle to perform optimally in all conditions, including prolonged, high-speed riding.
Moreover, the versatility of this oil makes it suitable for use in various engine systems. This includes systems where the engine and transmission lubrication systems are combined and those where these systems are separate.
However, it performs at its best in unintegrated engine and transmission systems, so if this meets the description of your motorcycle, this oil should definitely be high on your list of contenders.
Mobil 1’s synthetic oil is also formulated to help protect your engine and transmission system(s). The formula not only keeps your engine clean but also provides protection against heat-related wear and internal corrosion.
- Used advanced synthetic oil technology
- Performs well in high and low temperatures
- Suitable for use in separate and combined engine/transmission systems
- Enables high acceleration and horsepower
- Effective engine cleaning properties
- Corrosion and heat-wear protection
- Only available for purchase in packs of 6, which raises the price for a single purchase
Honda’s 10W-40 Pro GN4 Motorcycle Oil has been a staple of the motorcycle oil market since 1975 and continues to satisfy and impress customers today.
This oil formula incorporates high-quality base stocks and polymer additives to cater specifically to the requirements of motorcycle engines and transmission systems.
Featuring high shear resistance and stable viscosity, this oil will help your engine and transmission to withstand intense heat and riding conditions whilst protecting against damage.
This oil is suitable for use in all Honda 4-stroke motorcycles, and will also work in ATVs, MUVs, scooters, and watercraft. It can also be used exclusively as a transmission or gearbox lubricant in Honda 2-strokes, scooters, and ATVs.
- Formulated specifically for motorcycles
- Trusted brand since 1975
- High shear resistance
- Stable viscosity
- Suitable for use in various engine and transmission builds
- Some reviewers feel that the product is overpriced
This 10W-40 synthetic engine oil from Motul is suitable for use in 4-stroke motorcycles with catalytic converters due to its low sulfur and phosphorus formula.
The formula incorporates Ester technology, which not only provides superior protection for your engine and transmission by reducing friction but also helps to improve engine responsiveness.
Motul’s oil formula is also high-pressure, which means it’s great for keeping your transmission system cool and clean.
This oil has superior shear resistance and contains anti-wear additives for extending the longevity of your engine and gears.
The improved oil film resistance, meanwhile, means that this oil performs well at high temperatures and under more intense driving conditions which require greater acceleration and revving.
Motul’s 4T 7100 oil is versatile and can be used in 4-stroke motorcycles with integrated or unintegrated gearbox systems, and either wet or dry clutches.
It works well in sport, street, road, and off-road bikes, as long as the viscosity grade is compatible.
- Uses Ester technology for engine protection and responsiveness
- Improved oil film resistance
- High-pressure formula for cleansing and cooling
- High shear resistance
- Contains anti-wear additives
- Suitable for use in various engine and transmission builds
- Reports of incorrect product being shipped
Best Motorcycle Oil Buying Guide
If you’ve read this far, you’ll probably have gathered that motorcycle oil is a highly variable product.
As such, there are several factors that need to be considered on an individual basis to determine which oil will perform best in your motorcycle engine or transmission system.
There are three types of motorcycle oil: conventional, semi-synthetic, and synthetic.
We’ve only listed synthetic oils above because synthetic oil is widely considered to be easier on your engine, have better cleaning properties due to its use of additives, and may also be better for the environment.
Synthetic oils, therefore, are more highly reviewed and tend to provide a higher level of performance over longer periods of time.
However, synthetic oil also tends to be more expensive than conventional or mineral oil, so if money is an issue, you may prefer to use conventional oil.
You could also opt for a semi-synthetic oil for a slightly cheaper option that still incorporates some of synthetic oil’s performance-enhancing and protective additives.
First and foremost, it is crucial to determine whether a given oil is compatible with the build and model of your motorcycle before purchase.
Oil manufacturers will specify in their product information whether their oil is suitable for use in, for example, 2-stroke or 4-stoke bikes.
They should also specify whether their oil can be used in integrated or unintegrated engine and transmission systems.
Additionally, manufacturers may indicate which make of motorcycle their oil is compatible with, for example, Honda or Suzuki.
Therefore, you will need to check the oil specifications before purchase to determine whether it will be compatible with the make, model, and engine type of your motorcycle.
Speaking of compatibility, the viscosity grade of a motorcycle oil is a crucial determinant in engine compatibility.
As you may have noticed from the product specifications above, motorcycle oils come with different viscosity grades. For the most part, these gradings range from 0W-20 to 15W-40.
If you’ve never bought engine oil before, these gradings might seem confusing, but don’t worry, they’re actually quite straightforward.
As you can see, the viscosity gradings consist of two numbers: the number before the ‘W’ (Winter), and the number after it.
The first number indicates how well the oil flows in cold temperatures, for example, during start-up.
The second number indicates how easily the oil flows at the higher temperatures that are reached when the engine is running.
The smaller the number, the better the flow under these conditions.
The correct viscosity grade oil for your motorcycle will be indicated in your vehicle owner manual, so be sure to check this before purchasing any oil.
Of course, when purchasing a motorcycle oil, you want it to be as well-suited to your specific bike model and engine type as possible for best results.
However, versatility can also be an incredibly useful feature in a motorcycle oil.
The versatility of a motorcycle oil will determine how well it performs in various engine and transmission systems, and different riding conditions.
If you own more than one motorcycle, and these motorcycles have differing engine or transmission system constructions, it might be worth looking into a motorcycle oil that caters to a variety of internal builds.
For example, the Castrol Power synthetic oil is suitable for use in both water and air-cooled engine systems, while Honda’s GN4 oil specifies that it can be used in ATVs and scooters as well as 4-stroke motorcycles.
A versatile motorcycle oil can, therefore, potentially be used across several different motorcycle makes and models.
Synthetic oils, like the ones we’ve featured in our list, frequently contain additives to help protect and improve the performance of your engine and transmission system.
One of the most common types of additives incorporated into motorcycle oils are anti-wear additives. These additives protect your engine and transmission system against the wear and tear that can often occur as a result of high temperatures or acceleration.
Another frequently used additive in synthetic motorcycle oil is an anti-corrosion additive. Rust is one of the most detrimental substances for your engine and gearbox, so the incorporation of anti-corrosion additives in your motorcycle oil is likely to extend the lifespan of your engine.
Cleansing additives are also extremely valuable contributors to motorcycle oil formulas. Contaminants such as dirt and ash can accumulate in your engine and lower its performance, or even cause damage over time. Cleansing additives minimize this issue by actively keeping your engine and transmission system free of contaminants.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I put regular car oil in my motorcycle?
The short answer to this question is: yes, you technically can use regular car oil in your motorcycle. The better question, though, is: should you?
Generally speaking, car oil can work adequately in your motorcycle engine on a temporary basis. However, it is always best to use motorcycle-specific oil.
This is because motorcycle oil is designed to provide superior lubrication and frictional additives to help your engine run at its best. Car oil does not contain the same specialized lubricative properties and additives.
So while regular car oil might lubricate your engine sufficiently for a short while, using it regularly or for extended periods of time will eventually cause damage to your engine and transmission system.
Your motorcycle transmission is responsible for some of your bike’s crucial functions, such as gear shifting, so this definitely isn’t something you want to take chances with.
Therefore, we recommend always using motorcycle-specific oil in your bike’s engine.
How do I know which oil to use in my motorcycle?
We really can’t overstate the importance of checking your vehicle owner manual carefully to determine which oil you should use.
The viscosity grade is the primary factor you need to look for in terms of engine compatibility. Your manual will tell you which viscosity grade your motorcycle can handle.
What is the difference between synthetic and conventional oil?
As you can see, all of the motorcycle oils on our list are synthetic.
Synthetic oil differs from conventional oil in that synthetic oil is made artificially, whereas conventional oil is distilled and refined from crude oil.
The reason we’ve exclusively included synthetic oil on our list is that synthetic oil is generally considered to be superior to conventional oil, both in terms of its functionality and eco-friendliness.
Synthetic oil contains additives that help to improve engine performance and protection in ways that conventional oil can’t. Synthetic oil also contains fewer impurities and is less likely to form a ‘sludge’ over time.
Moreover, synthetic oil is a more environmentally friendly option due to its longer lifespan, which means that even though synthetic oil often still partially relies on crude oil for its production, less synthetic oil is needed than conventional oil, meaning less fossil fuel depletion.
How do I change my motorcycle oil?
Every motorcycle model is built slightly differently, so the first step to changing your motorcycle oil should always be to check your individual vehicle owner manual for specific oil changing instructions.
That being said, the basic process for changing your motorcycle oil will include roughly similar steps.
Before you begin, you’ll need to have a fresh oil filter, funnel, draining pan, and cleaning equipment ready. You might also need a wrench to facilitate the procedure.
To start with, it’s a good idea to warm up your engine by running it for a little while before you get into the actual oil changing process.
The next step will be to clean away any excess oil from around the draining plug and oil filter. You can do this quite easily with a rag.
Before adding fresh oil, you’ll need to drain away the old oil. Open the drain plug and allow the oil to drain away into your pan.
You’ll then need to remove the existing oil filter using your wrench and replace it with the new filter before closing your drain plug back up.
At this point, you’ll be ready to introduce the fresh oil into your motorcycle using your funnel.