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Thread: Synthetic Oil vs. Conventional Oil

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    Registered User BBKME's Avatar
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    Synthetic Oil vs. Conventional Oil

    My early oilhead is ready for an oil change and I'm contiplating switching to synthetic but wonder if it will make a noticable difference or not. She runs just fine and has about 36K on the clock. I'm sure the topic has been discussed before but...

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    Registered User 58058D's Avatar
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    Search function

    Typing in Synethetic into the Search function at the top of the page will get you more than you can digest....you will likely be able to narrow your search to your model with your mileage....
    Jim Douglas '00 K1200RS >135,000 miles my primary bike again,
    Gone: '09 K1300S sold @ 22k mi, '93 K1100RS traded @ 78k mi, '85 K100RS sold @ 44k mi
    '06 Kaw 650R track bike sold
    http://www.seagullbb.com/

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    Registered User BBKME's Avatar
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    I see said the blind man as he picked up his hammer and saw. I spelled synethetic wrong so my search didn't work. Thanks.

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    Motorcycleton
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    I have a 94 R1100RS. I think that this bike qualifies as an "early" airhead.

    I sometimes use Mobil 1; other times I'll use semi-synthetic (e.g., Valvolene DuraBlend) or regular dino oil.

    At the MOA Rally in Wyoming in 2008 I wanted to change my oil. The Wal-Mart in Gillette was out of Mobil 1. I bought the 5 quart container of Castrol 20W-50 and used it.

    Typically my bike gets the oil changed at intervals of less than 2k miles. I've never noticed any difference in one type of oil or another insofar as affecting the bike's performance or operation.

    [And I've used many of the Fram 3614 oil filters in that bike with no problems!]

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by robsmoto View Post

    Typically my bike gets the oil changed at intervals of less than 2k miles. I've never noticed any difference in one type of oil or another insofar as affecting the bike's performance or operation.
    why change at 2K? factory spec is 3x that distance. waste of your money, waste of our natural resources, all for no gain whatsoever, except in the wallet of whomever you're buying from.

    as for engine performance, as long as there is sufficient oil in the motor, no one will ever notice a "performance" difference. oil usage might vary a bit, and you will likely get better heat protection and longevity from a sythetic vs a dino- but never a real operational difference that can be felt.
    Ride Safe, Ride Lots

  6. #6
    Old man in the mountains osbornk's Avatar
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    You won't be able to tell the difference with the oil. However, with older bikes, you might run into an oil seepage problem with synthetic. I switched to synthetic on an older K bike and and older airhead with low miles and I experienced oil seepage on both. The rear seal leaked on the K bike and the push rod seals leaked on the airhead. I think the seals harden as they age that results in the seepage. When I switched back to conventional oil, they both stopped leaking. I still have the airhead and over 10 years have passed since my "experiment" with no more leakage.

    Ken
    'You can say what you want about the South, but I almost never hear of anyone wanting to retire to the North.

  7. #7
    I Need More COWBELL 308NUT's Avatar
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    Don't be fooled by synthetic oils.


    I went to an "oil " seminar a few years ago put on my one of our major oil suppliers.

    My company Sport Classic and Competition www.sportclassiccomp.com services Ferrari automobiles. The oil I use in my customers cars is very important. Ferrari says to only use specific oil or it will void warranty. Not sure how they can tell what oil I put in the car but that is what they say.

    Ok back to the discussion at hand.

    According to the oil guru at this seminar, the requirment for oil to be called synthetic in the US requires only 5-20% synthetic blend and the manufacturer can call the oil Synthetic thus deceiving the public.

    from my research there are only 2 fully 100% synthetic oils produced for the consumer auto industry. That is Shell Helix about ($20) a quart. and Elf Excellium. I have a difficult time getting Shell Helix so I use Elf in every Ferrari I service and I use it in my personal cars (Chevy truck and trailblazer) I also us it in My 01 R1100R and my Guzzi and Harley, my race car ETC.

    With my experience the Elf Excellium is hands down the BEST oil I have ever used. I have put up to 6000 miles on the oil and it usually comes out nearly as clean as it did when it went in.

    so take this as you will I recommend Elf Excellium for all applications at about $12 a liter not cheap but worth it.


    Wade
    I love em cause Dueces are Wild !!!!!! My 2001 R1100RL

    "There is no honor in a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent"

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    Quote Originally Posted by 308nut View Post
    I have put up to 6000 miles on the oil and it usually comes out nearly as clean as it did when it went in.


    Wade
    is that a visual assessment alone, or are you having the oil analyzed by one of the firms that specializes in that procedure? and if so, how does that compare to other products' post-6K analysis?
    (I would put little faith in a visual review).
    Ride Safe, Ride Lots

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    oil

    A 6000 mile interval pretty well negates the need for synthetic oil. My brother is an Acura mechanic and he insists I should go to 2500 mile change intervals. Sometimes I worry about him.
    "...I have put up to 6000 miles on the oil and it usually comes out nearly as clean as it did when it went in.."
    On a boxer, the oil will probably be black as the dark of night after about 3000 miles because of the engine design. If it isn't, you ain't running it hard enough.

  10. #10
    Motorcycleton
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikerfish1100 View Post
    why change at 2K? factory spec is 3x that distance. ....
    I've talked with several folks that have multiple hundreds of thousands of miles on their bikes. Without exception the rule for longevity was regular oil changes at mileage intervals of 2k to 3k miles.

    I do the oil changes myself and the cost is insignificant. Used oil is recycled.

  11. #11
    jingdog
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    Quote Originally Posted by BMac View Post
    My early oilhead is ready for an oil change and I'm contiplating switching to synthetic but wonder if it will make a noticable difference or not. She runs just fine and has about 36K on the clock. I'm sure the topic has been discussed before but...
    About the only thing synthetic oil will do that conventional oil wont is make starting easier at low (below 32 degrees F) temperatures. What do you hope its going to "make a difference" on?

  12. #12
    I Need More COWBELL 308NUT's Avatar
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    No have never had the oil analyzed, all visual, and I am sure I am not running the bike hard enough.

    However, I do run my Ferrari hard, granted I change the oil in it twice a year and average only about 2-3k miles a year. But they are hard miles. The oil still looks very clean.

    Most of my customers only average about 1000 miles a year on their cars and I do change the oil at least once a year. Not sure how hard they run them but my guess is they get babied more than raced.

    I pay closer attention to the Ferrari oil changes because basically a Ferrari engine rebuild is about $20k where the BMW is less than a 10th of that.

    So not trying to sell anyone oil but I have had good results with the Elf and personally I like it, and when my customers call for full synthetic I have to give it to them.

    Think I may have the oil analyzed on the next change just out of curiosity.


    Wade
    I love em cause Dueces are Wild !!!!!! My 2001 R1100RL

    "There is no honor in a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent"

  13. #13
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    Synth vs Dino

    I had a very bad experience with a turbo-engined car and petroleum oil, sludged VERY badly. It couldn't take the heat of the turbo. Synthetic would not have done this. If you're interested, AMSOIL puts out a report comparing various motorcycle oils, both petroleum and synthetic, they call a "white paper". Check out their website to find it. Presently I run petroleum in my R1100S as it has only 16,000 miles and the engine is still breaking in. I was a little incredulous when I heard how long these engines can take to break in (15,000 - 20,000 miles) but the oil consumption/useage does seem to be droppping off. When I reach 20,000 I will switch to synthetic. I have heard there may be seepage problems with synthetic but we'll see. Perhaps the sludge petroleum permits helps to seal seals? I haven't really noticed a difference in performance, but "feel" better using the synthetic because I know it to be a superior product. Either way, change the oil and filter regularly. It's cheap insurance.

  14. #14
    MOA,RA,ABC,AMA,TT,MOAL brownie's Avatar
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    Talking Oil thread in Sept??

    Hey.....I thought the oil thread was 'pose to start in May????? Wha' hoppen?????
    Heed NEAD: No Egos, Attitudes, Distractions!!!!!
    Shep Brown MOA 27510
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  15. #15
    Registered User lkchris's Avatar
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    Well, there are lots of self-proclaimed gurus in the motorcycle community and there's also lots of tributes to our Dads and their '56 Buicks, but the fact remains it's now the 21st century and nonsynthetic motor oil is well and truly obsolete.

    Since we deal with motorcycles from Germany, perhaps some lessons from that auto industry can be instructive. And about what they deal with in the USA.

    Both VW and Mercedes, for example permit up to 30K miles between oil changes in Europe, but in the USA specify 10K intervals for the same engines/same oils mostly for "political" reasons having to do with the incredible number of oil change "geniuses" that live in the USA plus of course the 3K mile oil change scam so beloved of our auto repair industry, including, of course, these makes' dealers.

    These long intervals assume of course synthetic oils made to specifications of the auto manufacturers themselves, and you won't really find any "legalese" synthetics that qualify.

    What's particularly interesting is the case of BMW, which on its car side in the USA features its "long life" specs to define its motor oil and for certain motors specifies only 10W-60 Castrol imported from Germany. Nonsynthetic oils are not permitted in any of the cars. Nothing of the sort happens on the USA motorcycle side, however, and all its oils are USA made and little discussed by BMW.

    It would be of particular interest to me and I think valuable information for everyone if we could learn how BMW specifies motorcycle motor oil in Germany. I'm pretty sure "most popular oil at WalMart" doesn't enter the discussion and of course BMW USA isn't sending its oil back to the Continent.

    Now, I understand I may confuse things talking about long change intervals, as that's not necessarily what motorcyclists are looking for, as it reduces time for "bonding" with one's bike. But, really, if the question is about dino vs synthetic the question is more about oil quality than anything, and it's obvious "quality" no longer relates to dino oils, and possible change intervals is a good measure of synthetic oil quality. (So is meeting manufacturer specification.) So clearly, even if one continues to want to change every 3K and unnecessarily pollute the countryside, I'm sure the goal is to do it with the best oil possible.

    And, I didn't forget about "motorcycle-specific" motor oils. I just ignore that hype, but if BMW does that in Germany I'll learn something.
    Kent Christensen
    21482
    '12 R1200RT, '02 R1100S, '84 R80G/S

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