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Thread: Synthetic vs. Conventional Oil for 1200 Hexhead (RT)

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    Synthetic vs. Conventional Oil for 1200 Hexhead (RT)

    What's the scuttle out there in fellow motorhead land on synthetic vs. conventional oil in our beloved Boxer engines? I've had my '08 RT since new and have recently started doing my own services. Last one (30K), I just got some "BMW" 20w-50 since I at was the dealership getting the other parts. I was looking at the motorcycle oil in the local auto parts store and was contemplating switching to Castrol Synthetic motorcycle oil, but was curious if it was really worth the money. When I first got my bike, and couple of old Beemer riders after that... have all mentioned good old conventional, Castrol 20w-50. Especially running it at normal cruising speeds and regular maintenance.

    From all my years of wrenching on everything from bicycles, to motorcycles, to VWs, to helicopters... I've always learned that taking a new or rebuilt motor, after initial break-in period, and running with synthetic from then on is a great thing to do. If it has been running for years and well broken in on conventional, not much reason to switch. What's your thoughts and advice?? Thanks!!

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    na1g
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    Registered User lkchris's Avatar
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    It's the 21st century ... use full synthetic.

    For their cars, BMW (and Merc and Porsche) permit nothing but synthetic and BMW bike engines aren't built any differently.

    The difference is that for safety reasons BMW wants dealer inspection every 6K miles. Cars don't need valve adjustments, either. Bikes I think mostly need checks.

    That's way too early to dump synthetic oil, so they go ahead and permit nonsynthetic for basically political (but not environmental) reasons. BMW cars get their oil changed every 15K miles and Mercedes here goes 10K or 13K, which is less than they specify in Europe. No other service between oil changes.

    The cars come with synthetic factory installed. In the 21st century there's no such thing as break in.
    Last edited by lkchris; 10-16-2013 at 07:46 PM.
    Kent Christensen
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    Old man in the mountains osbornk's Avatar
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    I look at it a little differently than some that insist on the best of everything. To me, it's a few simple questions. A properly maintained bike engine will last many miles regardless of what kind of oil is used. Ask yourself:

    1. How long and how many miles do you keep your bikes?

    2. How many years do you plan on riding?

    3. How many engines have you worn out on the motorcycles you have owned?

    When I was in my late 50s, I planned on putting a 50 year roof on my house at a far greater expense than the cost of a 30 year roof. When I was telling my brother, he looked at me and simply said "How many years do you plan on living?".
    'You can say what you want about the South, but I almost never hear of anyone wanting to retire to the North.

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    Administrator 20774's Avatar
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    What does your owner's manual say? Have you seen the March 2013 ON article on oil comparisons? You can find the issue on-line on the MOA website.
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    I don't think many motorcycles could benefit MORE from using synthetic than the oil cooled BMW's.
    14 R1200GSA, 93 R100R. No car is as fun to drive as any motorcycle is to ride.

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    Registered User jandhumphreyme's Avatar
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    I use full synthetics with oil change intervals recomended by manufacturer, typically 6 to 7k miles. I also install synthetic oil after break in oil change. I've followed this regime over several bikes all with over 50k miles and never experienced any ill effects nor felt like I was over spending. Internal engine inspections during valve shim adjustments all engines were very clean with little wear. Oil consumption was minimal on all.
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    Riding where it's hot! AZ-J's Avatar
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    I switched to synthetic on my R1200S because of our temps. Bike runs to redline fine, whether 110 or 79 (like we are now after 82).
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    TravelsWithBarley.com
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZ-J View Post
    I switched to synthetic on my R1200S because of our temps. Bike runs to redline fine, whether 110 or 79 (like we are now after 82).
    I do the same, though our temps in Vermont are probably a bit lower than yours.
    '07 R1200GS for solo rides
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    2011 R1200RT ka5ysy's Avatar
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    A couple of Blackstone Labs oil analysis reports will give you the proper interval for a particular oil. Only way to do it scientifically instead of a SWAG. Full synthetic is the way to go. If it is good enough for turbine engines, my boxer gets the same treatment. Tranny and final drive too for that matter.
    Doug, 2011 R1200RT Polar Metallic
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    Glad this thread was brought up at this time. I am getting near 6,000 and will be picking up the oil, filter and crush washer shortly. I was considering synthetic and the arguments are sound going either way. I am not hard on my engines but want the best for my baby.

    A slight switch on this thread. With the mention of trany and final drive, when do I change their oil and is synthetic recommended for them??? I have read nothing about that.

    Thanks

  12. #12
    P Monk
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    BMW labled oil.

    I have used mostly BMW (Spectro) syn in my GS. Went to buy a gallon of the stuff the other day and it only came in quarts. The lady in parts said Spectro was no longer BMW's supplier that it was now from Castrol. That being the case, guess I will just save a 100 mile drive to buy oil since the Castrol Synthetic MC oil is available at the local Advance Auto store. I have used Mobil 1 a couple of times. It's all good.
    P. Monk
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZ-J View Post
    I switched to synthetic on my R1200S because of our temps. Bike runs to redline fine, whether 110 or 79 (like we are now after 82).
    Did it not "run to redline fine" on non-synthetic oil?

    It is interesting that whichever oil one uses the recommended change is every six thousand miles. So one supposed "plus" feature of synthetic, it can be ran longer, doesn't apply when it comes to BMW motorcycles (Harley states the same). But a BMW car goes 15/16,000 miles on synthetic...with not that much difference in redline limits. You with GSW machines, does your manual now allow your "partially" water-cooled engine to go 15/16,000 miles between oil changes if you use synthetics?

    Just love oil threads, they're like a time out from reality. Moments you can spend typing/talking and no one really takes you serious...because...well because it really doesn't matter.
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  14. #14
    Registered User greenwald's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lkchris View Post
    It's the 21st century ... use full synthetic.

    For their cars, BMW (and Merc and Porsche) permit nothing but synthetic and BMW bike engines aren't built any differently.

    The difference is that for safety reasons BMW wants dealer inspection every 6K miles. Cars don't need valve adjustments, either. Bikes I think mostly need checks.

    That's way too early to dump synthetic oil, so they go ahead and permit nonsynthetic for basically political (but not environmental) reasons. BMW cars get their oil changed every 15K miles and Mercedes here goes 10K or 13K, which is less than they specify in Europe. No other service between oil changes.

    The cars come with synthetic factory installed. In the 21st century there's no such thing as break in.
    What he said.

    Besides better viscousity and heat management, there are cleansors in synthetic not found in dino oil. Better for the bike in the long run, ergo, worth the expense.

    Even in my GMC Envoy, synthetic cleared up some emission problems because the cleansors in it cleaned out the cam shaft sensor and eliminated the pesky engine warning light associated with that chronic problem.

    Use synthetic.
    Kevin Greenwald - Touring Tips Editor
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    Ponch ponch1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by greenwald View Post
    What he said.

    Besides better viscousity and heat management, there are cleansors in synthetic not found in dino oil. Better for the bike in the long run, ergo, worth the expense.

    Even in my GMC Envoy, synthetic cleared up some emission problems because the cleansors in it cleaned out the cam shaft sensor and eliminated the pesky engine warning light associated with that chronic problem.

    Use synthetic.
    I wonder if it'll fix the oil burning problem I have with my 2009 Suburban due to the AFM? :
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