OIL THREAD...opinions and knowledge fact or fiction

Sidecar Flip

Living Legend
Jul 16, 2006
20150 Mc Carty Rd. Deerfield, Michigan 49238
I was over on the Bonneville forum the other night (remember I do have a Bonneville too) and....

CC Rider, the moderator on the forum admitted that he didn't use Mobil 1 XT4 or whatever the oil is that is only sold at the dealer and costs more than Amsoil, but Triumph stated after exhaustive tests, the Mobil was the best for the bike (wonder if Bloor has stock in Exxon-Mobil?)

Mr. CC uses.....ready for this...Shell Rotella T 15-40 and has for over 70 thousand miles in his T100 and his Thruxton. Seems a couple of other posters over there also use that and Shell Synthetic Rotella 5-40.

There was great discussion about the Rotella's and I'm no chemist but I do know that automotive lubricants made today don't have the phosphorous and zinc additives in them because of Gummit emission standards whereas the H.D. Diesel oils do.

CC went on to say that he changes his oil every 3 thousand miles and every time he pulls the valve cover, the overhead is clean and shows no blow by or varnish. The T100 is air/oil cooled, not water, so there would be more variation in temperature extremes than with the R3 and it's water jacket.

So, in summary, why not use Shell Rotella 15-40 at less than 10 bucks a gallon or Triumph recommended Mobil at 40 bucks plus. Even with 3K oil changes, you'd be 10 bucks ahead with Rotella and flushing the contaminants out every 3K instead of every 10K. 3K sounds better to me. Besides, Rotella is available everywhere and the Mobil is hard to get (only at dealers). For sure, I'm going to switch my T100 from Amsoil to Rotella. I ride it less than 3K per year anyway.

This ought to be a good one for discussion as opinions about oil are like butt holes, that is, everyone has one.:D
Alright Flip I'll bite;

I assume the Rotella is a C grade diesel oil?

From http://motorcycleinfo.calsci.com/Oils1.html

The C certification tests have been largely developed by Mack, Caterpillar, Detroit and Cummins to provide the additives necessary to keep these engines running a long time. The latest commercial certification is CI-4 Plus, which includes extra protection for high temperature high revving motors. Since it's designed for diesel motors, they don't care about no stinkin' catalytic thingies, and CAFE is a place where you get a cup of joe and a donut. CI-4 Plus differs from CI-4 with higher detergent requirements and better sheer stability. The shear stability is exactly what motorcycles need due to running the engine oil through the transmission.


Commercial 15w-40 oils are a good choice, because they have relatively few VIIs which are the more expensive shear-stable sort. Synthetics typically don't contain much of a VII package, so shear is not as big an issue with them.

If you prefer a less expensive petroleum oil, Chevron Delo 400, Mobil Delvac 1300, and Shell Rotella T are available at any auto parts store for under $7 per gallon, or at Sam's Club or Costco for under $6 per gallon. This price is reasonably competitive with passenger car oils, and you are getting a Group II oil with the superior commercial additive packages. Notice in the table above that these oils have particularly good high shear film strength, meaning the protection you get for your bearings is much better than with a 10w-30 or 10w-40 oil. I don't have any information about how long you can run these oils before their viscosity breaks down, but I'm confident it's at least as long as the best consumer petroleum oil.

I highly recommend reading the entire article. Especially about how additives can affect the clutch's performance and what viscosities that are "energy saving" can do to a motorcycle.

Sounds like his choice isn't bad, however I am always one to follow manufacturer's instructions and I figure the same engineers that recommend a certain oil have a reason. I don't think the stock in Mobil argument applies this time because why would they recommend changing the oil only every 10,000 miles, and not 3000?

For the few times that I have to change my oil in a riding season, the risk of not using a factory recommended oil vs. the cost savings, it isn't worth it to me.

If the guy with the Bonneville has over 70,000 miles, I would assume his riding style is different than your average Rocket owner. If you look at ratios like the amount of times it is started from cold per mile versus the average Rocket rider, there will be a big difference. This guy (like vonbonds and ironbutter) starts his bike and rides about 500 miles or so. The average guy starts his bike and rides 50 miles or so. So the average guy is starting his engine from cold many times more than a long distance rider. Engine wear is going to occur mostly at start up of a cold engine. So maybe his comparison isn't the most accurate for the average rider.
I really didn't want a "bite". Just some other views. The Mobil stuff is over 40 bucks a gallon and the Amsoil is way up there too.

I was really surprised the the guy used Rotella and actually had no problems with it. He actually states that he felt clutch engagement (and the T100 and R3 have the same type of clutch) was enhanced with the Rotella. That's strictly a seat-of-the-pants opinion but at 70K with no problems, that's neat. I like the availability of the Rotella versus the Mobil. The Mobil is strictly a dealer item (I've never found it anywhere else or discounted for that matter) whereas the Rotella is available everywhere.

I use Delo400 in my Caterpillar ACCERT engine in the Western Star. It's a C rated oil just like Rotella T. Interestingly, for 2007, the engine manufacturers are going to initiate an additive package change in C rated Group II oils so that the oil won't contaminate the catalytic convertors and related emission componetry on the 2007 compliant engines due out this January.

My T100 is getting Rotella T 15-40 this change and I may try it in the R3 too, that is, unless you guys feel I might trash the motor.:confused:
Interestingly, for 2007, the engine manufacturers are going to initiate an additive package change in C rated Group II oils so that the oil won't contaminate the catalytic convertors and related emission componetry on the 2007 compliant engines due out this January.

I would be hesitant to use the oil with the added additives then, that is why they don't recommend using automotive oil in motorcycles. Those additives are hard on the clutch and are said to cause slippage. The fact that those additives aren't present is a reason why they recommended using the commercial grade diesel oils in motorcycles.
I see that the author of the paper you refer too, also uses Rotella 5w-40 synthetic in his bike and recommends it for a motorcycle oil. He also recommends Rotella T 15-40 but with change intervals increased.

It's all very interesting. On a side note, for years I've been using either Mystic JT8 or 15-40 Rotella in all my diesels and I've never had a lubrication related failure. I use the Delo in the ACCERT engine because that's what Caterpillar recommends and it's priced about the same as Rotella.
Pig9r - "I don't think the stock in Mobil argument applies this time because why would they recommend changing the oil only every 10,000 miles, and not 3000?"

The oil itself, Mobile 1 FS, probably reads something like "good for 10K..." It's sitting at home waiting for the first change of life blood. I'm inclined to think, stranger things can happen (set to music), Mobile 1 FS has a much much longer full service life. They, Mobil, want you to spend that $35+ every 10k on their FS. I may be sum dum but I ain't plum dum; and, I do love to propagate conspiracy theories. My VS1400 Intruder and before that a 1100 Virago both had wet clutches and I always used top shelf Castrol GTX. I certainly didn't have 70k on either of them but the Church of the 3000 mile Redemption was regularly attended.

For my new red-head I'm changing the scriptures (Constantine did it) to read: Filter, filter, filter...filter. The photo finish conclusion will be forthcoming, at the next 10k oil change. Report to follow.

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This is my opinion and just mine.
Why buy a $15,000 motorbike and worry about spending $70 bucks every 10,000 miles. For an oil change.
Just my opinion. :)

Ditto that.:bch: And even better why worry about halving the 10,000?