can synthetic oil increase hp?

I saw this am on tv, a show called HP tv. They did a test on a camaro, on the dynometer, and produced 302 hp, then they drained the motor oil, transmission fluid, and gear oil, and replaced it with a synthetic oil that claimed to increase the hp by reducing friction. After the change of oil and other fluids, the car was placed back on the dynometer and produced 310 hp. Was this real, is this reproduceable in a motorcycle, has anyone ever heard of this. Thanks. :)

I saw that same show today :) , I think it would but they changed all the oils on that car not just the motor oil the rear to.

[ July 07, 2002: Message edited by: 02XR250rRider ]

I guess it depends on which so called synthetic they are talking about. Years back Honda did some tests that led them to make the change in their dirtrackers. YOu could see the difference on the Dyno. It is small but "free" so to speak. They also found that 5w-30 made a noticeable amount more than the heavier weights. Something they were also willing to do that you and I may not be.

Any horsepower increase would be negligible. It probably wasn't your normal synthetic oil. It probably had all kinds of special, friction modifiers in it, which aren't good for the clutch in a motorcycle. The main advantages of synthetics in your bike are better longevity between oil changes. Stands up to heat better before breaking down, a plus in an air cooled engine. If you want to use a synthetic, try the Mobile 1 15wt./50. It doesn't contain friction modifiers.

You wouldn't be able to get the same difference, since there is not so much metal going through the oil on a motorcycle, therefore not as much to gain.

Even if you got the same gain (2.5%), it would only amout to about 1 HP on an XR400.

But I would still recommend Mobil 1 for your bike, as it keeps the motor in excellent condition.

Is this Mobil 1 auto or motorcycle oil.

I know you can get by on Mobil 1 auto but I wouldn't push my luck. Use a good synthetic motorcycle oil or blend . Maxima is now making a 5w50 Synthetic that they say works great and seems to cool engine better too. I have been running Maxima 15w50 myself.

I just wonder why everyone insists on running Automotive oil instead of Motorcycle lube ? There is a difference. Honda's with RFVC engines will fail before other types due to high head temps. It will literally boil the oil in the head on a petroleum base oil , running hard in tight woods. Expecially Auto oil, that is if the clutch isn't already slipping.


Dwight :)

It seems that most of the justification for using Auto oils is that everyone is too cheap to buy the good stuff. I just read an article from Motorcycle Consumer News ( MCN ) , All talk that auto oil is ok to use seem to stem from an article by a Mike Guillory who isn't in the motorcycle industry. I have read several articles by MCN about this issue and fully believe they haven't a clue and are misleading motorcyclist who are looking for justification to use the cheap stuff.

I have spoken from experiance on the results of running something like Castrol GTX in your bike. I have seen too many poor XRs fried because of auto oils.

Of course I am probably beating a dead horse here and everyone is going to do what they want.

good luck,

Dwight :)

Since we are on the subject of synthetic oils I find it interesting that there is no real definition of that term. Virtually all of them are simply oils which are refined to a greater degree, just picking out the types of molecules most desireable. They all still reflect thier base stock.

People seem to like the idea of Mobil 1. It is the only one that I am aware of that is created from ethylene gas rather than a liquid base stock.

Any gained hp for most of us is just a bonus along with getting superior lubrication. And honest,,,motorcycle engines are not all that unique that we cant benefit from the millions poured into research for the other industries. My experience stradles enough fences to convince me. Lately some really big advances have come from outside the industry, which really is not surprising or new.

The definition of "synthetic" in this case is "man made." Fully synthetic oil is not simply more highly refined crude oil--it is man made--synthesized by humans. There are several places on the internet where one can find this information. There have been several posts from people who have been using Mobil 15W50 (red cap) automotive oil in their motorcycles for years with no clutch problems.

Get real. Man made?? from what?? They are made from crude oil and if you ask the manufactures point blank you will find that out. Like I said,,the definition is not so clear.

Call this guy and ask him about synthetic oil Clic here I'll never use synthetic oil in my XR..never ever...if you just trail ride ...fine but if you abuse the bike a ready for major clutch least in my good luck...

[ July 09, 2002: Message edited by: mpcv2000 ]

GR, motorcity is a good site. Been there before. I didnt have time to go to the one on patents. I stand on what I said about where base stocks come from. If you have had anytime in that industry you would already know that synthetics where oil is concerned are a matter of refining past the original "cracking" process. Crude oil is where the material comes from, just as in most plastics. By your "manmade" definition any oil could be considered synthetic I guess since it doesnt occur that way in nature. Synthetic oils start out just as most of the plastics do,,,crude oil. Black, smelly and oh so flammable.


I will ONLY use Motorcycle specific SYNTHETIC oils in my XRs. I don't know what crap you have been told but synthetics will hold up better in your XR. If you are refering to Automotive synthetic oils, I agree. There is only 1 brand I would use in a pinch. And they also make Motorcycle specific Synthetic oil.

I stand by my reputation and finishing record.



There is an incredible amount of research and data available, if a person is willing to look. Quite simply, the majority of lubricant's found in motorcycle shops, are simply repackaged and labeled, then marked up for profit. Anyone that has been around this industry for more than 20 years, or been involved in the ownership of a dealership, will know and understand that relationship. If a person does not wan't to concern themselves with all the hype and different formulas vs, applications, then Yes!, they should just go buy the reccomended product from the authorized dealer. On the other hand, for those of us that have lived breathed and slept this industry, and are gear heads to boot, save the B.S., we know better. Many, many factory teams do not use the products they promote via stickers and advertising.

I couldn't agree with Ochster more. Even the best of riders may not be qualified to make suggestions about products that they haven't even used.

I have been around shops for more than 30 years.

Oil requirements have changed and the oils have changed.

Motorcycle oils are not repackaged Automotive oils.

Not anymore. Maybe back in 1972.

Ask a motorcycle engineer. Not a hard headed dealer that refuses to change because he had been using Castol GTX since 1970. I run into this Daily. I work in the Motorcycle Industry. I don't just recommend what I sell. I just make sure the customer understands his machines needs and picks the brand of his choice.

I have Heard OssaGP state that Diesel Oils could be used. I have heard similar info from one engine builder. I don't know for sure. I don't want to take a chance. I have seem many engine failures from running the wrong oils. From premature wear to overheating and Cam failure, to just can't seem to keep a clutch in the machine. "It keeps slipping."

This oil thing is getting old.

Run a Automotive oil in your XR and expect a failure now or later. How many posts have you seen guys looking for heads or complete engines ?

I don't care what you use. But Don't ask if you don't want to know.


Dear Dwight,

I don't make many posts on this site but I do read it almost daily. You seem to have appeared on this site fairly recently. This site has always been people sharing "opinions". Most of us are just regular 9-5 type guys who love motorcycles and just like to share the things we've learned and hopefully learn some things from other people on this site. There seems to be a few pros on the site as well and they have always been very helpful sharing their "opinions".

You however, seem hell bent on showing us underlings "THE WAY IT IS". This site is for people sharing "opinions". It is not, "THE WORLD ACCORDING TO DWIGHT".

I'm not trying to start an argument here, but it would be nice if you could lighten up a little bit and not try to make people feel stupid for their opinions.



'99 XR400

Renthal Bars (Carmicheal bend)

Scotts Damper

Summers Fork Brace

Baja Designs Dual Sport Kit

ICO Racing odo/speedo

Snorkle removed, Uni Filter, Re-jetted 160/58

96/97 end cap w/Vortip

I rode my 86 XR250 to death until I purchased my 400 last year. I used auto oil, motorcycle oil, synthetic,dino lube, straight weight and multi viscosity (ATF once in an emergency). The bike was used in the desert in Arizona and the tight Ozark trails around here. The next door neighbor kid bought it and we tore it down to put new rings and the second set of valve seals in it. The piston still showed machining marks the full length of it all around and the cam and rockers had little wear. The cam chain was very worn but the guides still looked pretty good. I replaced the clutch twice in 16 years. This bike had the chain and sprockets replaced 9 times since new and countless tires(still have all the receipts). This should give some idea the hours on the bike. The **SECRET**, changed the oil every 2 to 3 hundred miles.

Either Honda builds an amazing motorcycle or the oil DOESN'T make that much difference if it is changed regularly.

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