News from Oakland Harley-Davidson

Motorcycle Oil: Why not just use the same oil I put in my car?”

Posted by Ryan Beeman on Mar 11, 2017 8:00:00 AM
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What's the difference? It's just oil right? It's not like I'm putting Olive Oil in my motorcycle. I should be able to just drop by the auto parts store, pick up a couple of quarts and top 'er off right? I don't need fancy motorcycle oil.

You might  be doing more harm than good. Harley-Davidson V-Twin engines operate at higher temperatures than water-cooled automobile engines, which means they require extra protection. They are specifically designed to run a certain type of oil with certain features. That is why Harley-Davidson has spent so much time and money investing their own synthetic lubricant that is specifically designed for use in your Harley-Davidson motorcycle.  Here are a couple little known facts about H-D oil:

Your H-D Motorcycle: 
Protection Required From:
How H-D Oil Protects:
  • Large Displacement
  • Air Cooled
  • High Operating Temperatures


  • High heat stability, oil won't break down


  • High Power Output Ratios
  • Wide Power Bands
  • Heavy Loads on Powertrain


  • Superior lubrication
  • Stable viscosity, oil stays in grade
  • Unique Oiling System


  • Wear on Powertrain


  • Superior anti-wear
  • Quick oil flow at cold engine start
  • Keeps engine internals clean

Make Up of Engine Oil

  • Oil is essentially made up of a “Base Oil” and the “Additives”
    • Base Oil can either be “Conventional” (mineral oil) or “Synthetic”
    • Additives are what gives oil its unique properties
  • Harley-Davidson® oils contain proprietary additives that are designed specifically for Harley-Davidson® powertrains to optimize performance.
    • Other oils contain generic additives designed to meet minimum requirements of multiple makes and models.

Can I go longer between oil changes with synthetic oil?

  • No, due to the characteristics of large displacement air cooled engines you should not extend drain intervals, even with synthetic oil
  • Large displacement air cooled engines…
    • run hotter
    • run faster
    • have smaller oil sumps
  • You should change your motorcycle engine oil and oil filter at the first 1,000-mile service interval and at every 5,000-mile service interval thereafter


Viscosity Grades of Engine Oil

  • Viscosity (or Absolute Viscosity) is defined as the measure of resistance to flow. In layman’s terms, it’s how hard or how fast something moves
  • Thick, slow-flowing oils have high viscosity numbers and thin, freeflowing oils have lower numbers.
  • The recommended viscosity grade for all temperature conditions is SAE 20W50 Harley-Davidson® Motor Oil (see chart above)

SYN3® LubricantPicture13.jpg

  • SYN3® Lubricant offers improved film strength for superior wear protection at high temperatures, and improved deposit control for a cleaner engine, transmission, and primary chaincase
  • SYN3® Lubricant can be used in the engine, primary chaincase, and transmission
  • SYN3® Lubricant is formulated for reduced oil consumption, improved wear protection, high temperature stability, and superior overall field performance

Why Should you Purchase H-D® Oil?

  • H-D® oil is developed, tested and proven under harsh, real-world conditions.
  • DEVELOPED – Designed, formulated and tested specifically for the Harley-Davidson powertrain and its internal components
  • TESTED – H-D engineers test our oil in real H-D powertrains in controlled lab environments where the oil and powertrains are pushed to extremes, ensuring superior performance.
  • PROVEN – H-D® oil is road tested for hundreds of thousands of miles.
  • Remember: Harley-Davidson® oil contains proprietary additives that give our oil specific qualities required to meet the unique demands of a HarleyDavidson engine

H-D® Oil Filters Work BetterPicture14.jpg

  • Tests prove Harley-Davidson® SuperPremium5™ Filters remove more five-micron contaminants than other conventional brands
  • Percent filtration for oil filters:
    • H-D SUPERPREMIUM5™ Oil Filters 98.5 percent
    • Brand A – 38.7 percent
    • Brand B – 26.4 percent
    • Brand C – 22.5 percent

More Than an Oil ChangePicture15.png

  • Regular service will help keep your H-D® motorcycle operating at peak performance
  • Harley-Davidson® lubricants are available exclusively through H-D authorized dealers
  • With more than 20 specific check points from front tire to tailpipe, Oakland Harley-Davidson knows how to service your motorcycle using factory approved methods

Still have Questions?

Post them in the comment section and we'll find out the answer from the experts. Or better yet, come talk oil with our Service team. 

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