Choosing the right motorcycle engine oils

Article by: Dr Trisonic. Sep 2019.

I have a friend who is a motorcycle enthusiast. We have known each other for many years, and he knows that I worked in the performance additive industry for many years on engine oil formulations. Like many motorcycle lovers, he asked me about choosing the right motorcycle engine oil for his bike. So I started thinking about how to assist motorcycle owners to select the right motorcycle engine oil for their bikes.

Below are some tips to help you determine which motorcycle engine oil will work best for your bike;

  1. The selection of a suitable motorcycle engine oil begin with the viscosity grades based on SAE J300 standard. Some typical viscosity grades are SAE 10W-40 and 20W-50. Your motorcycle manufacturer will have a recommended viscosity grade for your bike model, we would strongly suggest that you follow the manufacturer’s recommendation.

  2. The engine oil that goes into your motorcycle engine is designed to keep it running efficiently to protect the vital engine components and to keep your ride running cool and clean. Other key function of a motorcycle engine oil are engine clutch and transmission gears protection. As such, it is important that the motorcycle engine oils performance cover the needs of these three critical components.

  3. A good motorcycle engine oil ensures a longer engine life and a trouble-free riding experience. As such, it is important that you select the motorcycle engine oil formulated and manufactured by people who have good experience and knowledge of motorcycle engine oil formulations.

  4. All motorcycle engine oils apply the same performance standard developed for gasoline motor oils such as API and ACEA specifications. However, some gasoline motor oils in the market are not suitable for motorcycle applications. Such gasoline motor oils are formulated to provide good fuel efficiency by the addition of friction modifier to lower the friction characteristics and are generally of lower viscosity grades like SAE 0W-20 and 5W-30. Such gasoline engine oil would result in clutch slippage, lost of power and transmission gear pitting and wear. Therefore, Japanese motorcycle manufacturers have jointly developed JASO T903 standard to assist motorcyclists to select the right motorcycle engine oil for their bikes. JASO T903 standard have also been adopted as the global standards by other motorcycle manufacturers globally. ALWAYS look for the correct JASO specification for your motorcycle!

  5. Does a Synthetic motorcycle engine oil works better for my bike? Most lubricant companies will have you believe that synthetic motorcycle engine oils last longer resulting in a longer oil change interval. A high quality synthetic engine oils contains high quality performance additives and synthetic base oils resulting in a very expensive engine oil. Does it bring better performance? Not necessarily! Most of the time, high quality mineral-based motorcycle engine oils with API SN specifications would out perform the lower quality fully synthetic motorcycle engine oils with API SJ specifications.

  6. ALWAYS read the owner’s manual from the motorcycle manufacturers. The owner’s manual will specify the recommended engine oil for your motorcycle. It is a good practice to use what is recommended in the manual.


While the above problems may be worrying, you can always consider the high quality motorcycle engine oils like Trisonic™ SpeedMax 4T PRO-RIDER 5W-40 (fully synthetic oil) and Trisonic™ SpeedMax 4T XT PLUS 10W-40 which has passed the difficult performance requirements of major manufacturers like Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki, etc. Trisonic™ SpeedMax 4T motorcycle engine oils provide outstanding performances and maximum protection to most modern motorcycles.