Question: Have a couple of simple questions. What makes one oil better than another? What should be in a good off-road motorcycle oil and what should not? Everybody claims to be the best, I've even heard that many "test results" published are not even applicable to motorcycles.
Answer: Here at Spectro, we've been making motorcycle oils since 1966 and continually update our formulas as oil technology improves. The true test of an oil is how well it performes over time, not the hype and half truthes used by others in marketing claims. I'll explain some of the basics of oil, keeping it as simple as possible.
Oils are compounded using three categories of ingredients:
1. Additives usually combined into a ‘package’.
2. Base oils (these may be mineral oils or synthetics).
3. Viscosity index improvers made of different types of molecules for different purposes.
We are committed to using the top shelf products within all three of these categories, and we continually tune our compounds to maximize quality. What this means is this:
Additive packages are revised every year by Infineum, the chemicals arm of ExxonMobil. They do all of the wear testing and analysis to ensure the packages meet the required OEM specifications thankfully, because this is the hardest work in the process. Some of these packages are built to be used at several optional treat rates for different uses. They perform dispersant, rust/corrosion inhibition, anti-foaming, wear protection, anti-acid and oxidation protection duties.
We always opt for the maximum treat rate allowable. It costs us more money but we believe it is money very well spent for wear and rust/corrosion protection. Then, we specially modify the package with more zinc/phosphorus (typically 1800ppm) for even better cam, lifter, and main bearing wear protection. This adds significantly more to the cost. Only a small handful of companies do this. This is the reason for the high levels you see on the additive charts.
The base oils we buy are different from most of our competitors oils also. We buy exclusively from ExxonMobil for continued quality and consistency. You can buy cheaper base oils on the ’spot’ market, but you will lose all of the aforementioned advantages.
Unfortunately, we pay dearly for this benefit. The finer base oils have a higher natural viscosity index, meaning they thin less when temperature rises. This enables us to formulate a more thermallystable motor oil than our competition. The Heavy Duty viscosity index is a perfect example of what can be accomplished with higher quality VI improvers and higher VI base oils.
The viscosity index improvers do additional work on the oils to even further lessen the thinning out as heat rises. The market is flooded with cheap VI improvers none of which we have ever used, by the way. One category is Polystyrene. Another category is Olefincopolymers OCP which most higher quality motorcycle OEM oils are made with: OCPs cost more money than polystyrene. At Spectro, we choose an even more expensive product that is higher still in shear stability and in its ability to survive in a gearbox. For us, this is more money well spent. By the way, the straight grades do not need this component which is why they work fine with methanol.
This shear stability polymer combined with huge amounts of zinc/phosphorus, is what gives a rider longer lasting oil and a longer lived motor! The higher viscosity index is what gives the rider a smoother, quieter motor with better protection at start up.
If you're still hungry for more oil tech, checkout our knowledgebase:
I know oil is a hotly debated topic on ThumperTalk, so hopefully this info will help you make a more informed decision about what oil to run in your skoot.