Why would you want to use the best motorcycle oil? Unlike cars, motorcycles use their engine oil not only for the engine but also for the gearbox and clutch. Because of this, motorcycle oil has to withstand more abuse than car oil. This makes both higher quality oil and more frequent oil changes a good idea.
Although you can use car oil in a motorcycle engine, especially if it is high-quality car oil, I would recommend against it. Car oil has a lower level of friction modification and a higher rate of shearing (viscosity breakdown). The first makes your transmission run less smoothly, while the second can harm your motorcycle engine if the oil goes bad too quickly.
Top 5 Best Motorcycle Oils
|Motorcycle Oil||Oil brand||Oil type|
|Castrol Motorcycle Oil||Castrol||10w40 & 20w50|
|Mobil One Motorcycle Oil||Mobil One||10w40 & 20w50|
|Royal Purple Motorcycle Oil||Royal Purple||10w40 & 20w50|
|Lucas Oil Motorcycle Oil||Lucas Oil||20w50|
|Motul 7100 4T||Motul||10w40|
Motorcycle oil is pretty cheap, and even when buying the best motorcycle oil available, the price is going to be almost nothing compared to the price of your motorcycle. Or even just the engine. (Assuming you aren’t riding a third-hand 40-year-old piece of rust.) If you value your motorcycle, take a few minutes to learn about what oil to use.
What to look out for
Most motorcycles either use 20w50 motorcycle oil or 10w40 motorcycle oil. Which one is the best for you depends on how the motorcycle works. If you don’t know which one to pick already, check the manual. 20w50 motorcycle oil is slightly thicker than its 10w40 counterpart, and in some engines (not many) using the wrong motorcycle oil can actually cause some harm.
There are both synthetic and natural motorcycle oils. Synthetic motorcycle oils tend to last almost twice as long and are often of higher quality. They do tend to be a bit more expensive as well. Very generally speaking, most natural motorcycle oils should be changed once every 3000-4000 miles, and most synthetic motorcycle oils should be changed once every 5000-7000 miles. This does depend a lot on your bike though, so make sure to check the manual or change often. Additionally, high-quality synthetic motorcycle oil can improve your gas mileage quite a bit. With that, synthetic motorcycle oil basically pays for itself. As such I personally recommend using only synthetic motorcycle oil.
Lastly, and most importantly, make sure you read the experience other people have with the motorcycle oil. Finding the best motorcycle oil is tricky, and how any specific oil ends up performing can be difficult to predict. Because of that, I recommend reading the reviews from other people, for example on Amazon, as that can help you with your decision. You may even find someone with the exact same bike as you have. Besides that, try out different high-quality brands and oils till you have found the best motorcycle engine oil for your bike.
Castrol Motorcycle Oil Review
In this review we do have a clear winner. Castrol Power1 Synthetic 4T Motorcycle Oil is not only one of the best motorcycle oils you can find, but also the cheapest in this list. With both API SL and JASO MA-2 certifications you know that it is a good oil in theory, like so many other motorcycle engine oils. When it comes to actual riding, however, the improvements in transmission shifts and cooling are very noticeable. Compared to the other motorcycle oils the Castrol motorcycle oil really does work wonders. The longevity of the oil is excellent as well, it is a fully synthetic motorcycle oil, which means it should last almost twice as long as “natural” oils. And even then, at the recommended oil change time the motorcycle oil still looks very good.
The Castrol Motorcycle oil is available as both a 20w50 motorcycle oil and as a 10w40 motorcycle oil, and both in a single quart bottle and a discounted six-pack of quart bottles for a total of 1.5 gallon. Compared to the other brands, the Castrol Motorcycle oil isn’t more expensive at all. Combined with it being the highest quality motorcycle oil I could find, I highly recommend it to anyone looking for an oil change.
Mobil One Motorcycle Oil Review
Mobil One Motorcycle Oil is about as good as the Castrol oil, and deserves its second place. When it comes to certifications, the Mobil One motorcycle oil is even slightly better than the Castrol motorcycle oil. With both API SM, SL, and SJ qualifications and JASO MA and MA2 qualifications, Mobil One motorcycle oil is one of the best you can find. However, when it comes to actually biking around, the performance seems slightly worse than Castrol oil. Besides that, Mobil One oil is also 40% more expensive (for a six-pack) at the time of writing.
Despite the higher price, it still beats out all other competitors with its excellent quality. Mobil One Motorcycle Oil is available in both the 50w20 motorcycle oil and 40w10 motorcycle oil versions. Overall, Mobil One is one of the very best motorcycle oils you can find, and definitely worth out trying in your motorbike.
Royal Purple High Performance Synthetic Motorcycle Oil
In third place is the Royal Purple Motorcycle Oil. Royal Purple contains a higher level of zinc, which makes it ineligible for API SM. However, it does still hold the API SL certification. The reason for the added zinc is because of a possible performance boost. There’s been a long debate about that which I won’t delve further into. What I do know is that for some people the Royal Purple Motorcycle Oil seems to be as good as any ordinary motorcycle oil, and that for others it seems to work wonders. Especially when it comes to noise reduction, in some motorcycles the Royal Purple motorcycle oil works very, very well.
One downside is the cost. Royal Purple motorcycle oil currently costs almost 60% more than the first place, which is in my opinion simply too much for an oil that does sometimes work wonders. When it does work wonders I would definitely recommend it, but in most cases it is indistinguishable from cheaper oils. If want to reduce the noise your bike makes and don’t mind trying out a new brand of motorcycle oil, I definitely recommend Royal Purple a shot.
Lucas Oil Synthetic Motorcycle Oil Review
Lucas Oil only comes in a 20w50 version, so if you need 10w40 motorcycle oil you are out of luck. Check the last motorcycle oil of this list in that case. If you are looking for 20w50 motorcycle oil, however, the Lucas Synthetic Motorcycle Oil is a solid option. It is a high-quality high-performance oil that does work very decently. Much like the Royal Purple Motorcycle Oil, it may be the best oil for your bike despite being worse than the top two on average. Minor differences between engines and gearboxes can make one brand of oil perform a lot better or worse in some situations.
When it works you will notice the engines will be a lot quieter, and the transmission will work more fluently. So if you are currently dissatisfied with your motorcycle oil, and tried out the oils above, it may be a good idea to try the Lucas Oil Motorcycle Oil.
Motul 7100 4T Synthetic Ester Motor Oil Review
Motul comes only in a 10w40 motorcycle oil version. It is certified by API for SL, SH, and SG, and also has the JASO MA certification. When it comes to using Motul oil, much like the Lucas oil and the Royal Purple motorcycle oil the performance depends a lot on your bike. Motul oil never performs worse than the average synthetic oil, and I do know some people swear by it. So if nothing in this list worked so far, feel free to try out some Motul motorcycle oil.
Both the Castrol and the Mobil one are your best bets, although none of the motorcycle oils mentioned in this review are bad by any means. If you’re looking for some car oil as well, check out our article on the best synthetic engine oils. We reviewed the best synthetic car oils in that article.
Lastly, refreshing your oil every so often is one of the most important parts of motorcycle maintenance, but far from the only part. Don’t forget to check your tires and chain regularly either. If yours are starting to wear down, have a look at our best motorcycle tires article or our best motorcycle chains article.
Tips On How To Change Your Motorcycle Oil
As mentioned before, you should aim to change your motorcycle oil every 7000 miles at the very least. Changing your oil isn’t too difficult and can be done within 15 minutes. Still, here are some tips to help you along the way:
- Make absolutely sure no sand or dust gets into the oil. A single grain of sand can damage your engine.
- If the motorcycle oil is too sticky, you can let your engine run for a few minutes to make it more fluid. Be very careful though as you don’t want to touch hot oil.
- Replace the oil filter as well. Especially if you haven’t done this in a while. Here is a good filter on Amazon. You may need a different one depending on your bike.
- Don’t use too much force when replacing the oil filter.
- Don’t overfill your oil. The best motorcycle oil level is right in the middle of the maximum and minimum markings.
- Check the oil after a test drive. Is the oil still at the correct level?
And that’s pretty much it. We also got a more in depth guide on how to change your motorcycle oil.