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SECTOR FOCUS: MOTORCYCLE LUBRICANTS


Why passenger car motor oil


is no longer the best choice for four stroke motorcycles


Matthieu Vaslin, Product Line Specialist at Chevron Oronite


Traditionally end users and some motorcycles manufacturers have used passenger car engine oil in four-stroke motorcycle applications. An initial view might lead some observers to notice the similarities between the two types of engine and hence believe the assumption that a four-stroke passenger car engine oil is interchangeable with a four-stroke motorcycle engine oil. However there are some core differences between the two types of engine and oil lubrication system that make the initial observation flawed.


For the passenger car engines, the engine and the transmission use different oil unlike four-stroke motorcycles where the transmission, clutch and engine use the same oil through an interconnected and integrated system of lubrication. There are also other major differences between both types of engine. Passenger cars use a dry type starter system, a dry clutch and separate transmission system. For motorcycles all components share the same oil for lubrication.


These fundamental differences have an impact on lubricant design in their respective application. Typically motorcycles operate at higher power and higher speeds than passenger cars resulting in more


10 LUBE MAGAZINE NO.148 DECEMBER 2018


stress for the lubricant. Motorcycles have a higher output to weight ratio than cars, they are lighter and have higher acceleration. They also typically work on higher engine revolutions per minute (or rpm) than passenger cars, up to 9,000 rpm is not uncommon for motorcycles whereas cars tend to operate at around 5,000 rpm. The specific power range that motorcycles operate at is also higher than passenger cars, for motorcycles 160 kw/l, and for cars around 100 kw/l. Differences in engine performance of motorcycles creates different attributes. Here volatility is more critical because of higher temperature operation which leads to higher oil consumption. Improved oxidation performance is needed due to higher operating temperatures, about 1.5 times that of cars as measured by kw/l.


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