Why does Harley recommends Synthetic Oil for Eng and Trans right way, and BMW does no

Discussion in 'Parallel Universe' started by moulin6801, Apr 10, 2012.

  1. moulin6801

    moulin6801 Been here awhile

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    Hey guys, I have owned 2 new Harleys in the last 6 years and Harley Davidson Techs, encourage changing to Syn Oil for Tans and Engine as soon as possible! and yet, BMW tells me that Engine is breaking in up to 10K miles and you should not use Synthetic Oil until than....
    Can anyone tell me why???
    Cheers
    David
    #1
  2. señormoto

    señormoto Supermoto Abuser

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    not sure why they told you that, but for the love of god we don't need ANOTHER oil thread. Run whatever you want as long as it's 10w40 and be happy riding... these engines don't need to be babied with special oil.
    #2
  3. speck

    speck It's all about endorphins

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    Great question!

    I've got a Sporty and a F800GS. I wasn't aware that Harley recommended synthetic (my Sporty is a 2002, maybe that's why) but BMW definitely advises to wait until 10k miles to switch.

    I personally don't believe in switching. I think oil "seasons" the engine. Switching might corrupt this. Maybe this is an irrational belief. But it's my own personal psychosis ad I'm sticking to it.
    #3
  4. Hicks

    Hicks der Überluber

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    can be imho a very misleading information especially for beginners.

    F800GS, unlike the cars or 12GS, does not have DRY CLUTCH, but the wet one.

    So the oil is common for the:

    - engine
    - transmission
    - clutch

    so it MUST have a special additives.. so SG, SH, SJ grade oils imho.

    ---

    +

    also I've heard, that BMW is switching to 10W50 for our engines.
    #4
  5. vtbob

    vtbob wanderer

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    The F800 engine is water and oil cooled. Once up to operating temperature, the whole engine sees a very stable, consistent and NOT at all stress full to oil environment.

    Any air cooled engine sees much greater thermal stress in both temperature range and in physical demension changes in the engine due to heat. On cold days, parts of the engine are cool, some parts very cool, on hot days in slow moving traffic the engine and the oil get very hot, sometimes over the temperature where oil cooks...some time evan enough to seize the engine...ie aluminum pistons swell to seize in cast iron cylinders.

    So, Air cooled engines are much harder on oil. Because of dimensional changes they also often need 50W oil.

    Setting oil additives aside, as they can be added to any out...ie premium oil vs cheap oil the key difference between synthetic is it's consistency over temperature (viscosity relative stable) and it's much better resistance to oxidation (burning/toasting). It's ablily to lubricate is essentially identical the dino oil.

    So using synthetic in a air cooled engine is more beneficial that using it in a oil and water cooled engine.

    Any oil that meets the manufactures spec API/JAMA etc is just fine. Spend $$ to only make you feel good
    #5
  6. TowPro

    TowPro Single Track Geezer

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    We got a winner! Synthetic holds up better to the extreme heat in the HD (air cooled) motor.

    And Its JASO. As far SG, SH, SJ grade oils , if it says "energy conserving" on the bottle, don't run it. Energy conserving means there is a additive added that is no good for a wet clutch.

    Also I think it was After SJ they lowered the amount of zinc dialkyl-dithio-phosphate (ZDDP) in the oil, which is something that is good to have in oil (google zddp)

    Also some people prefer to run oil that is API/C? rated (S is for Spark ignition (gas engine), C is for Compression ignition (diesel) as the C oils seem to have more ZDDP and some other packages that are disappearing in modern API/S oils.
    #6
  7. GH41

    GH41 Been here awhile

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    What vtbob said!! My last Harley was a 130HP Roadking. Dino oil started to darken up at 1-1,200 miles. Full synthetic Redline would go 2,500 and still look clear. I know that is not a scientific test but the syn oil appeared handled heat better. Another thing I noticed with synthetic oil is a very clean engine. No deposits at all when you open it up. BTW, you have to open a high HP Harley engine often! Sometimes it will do it by itself! GH
    #7
  8. ragtoplvr

    ragtoplvr Long timer

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    BMW is in Europe, they did not have a stupid USA judge that said severely hydrocracked oil was synthetic.

    In Europe Syn oil is PAO or Esters. That is what BMW wishes to avoid. In USA most Syn is severely hydrocracked Dino oil, and is not enough different to cause a problem. So, if you can discover it is not PAO or Ester, you should be able to use it just fine as long as also approved for wet clutch.


    Rod
    #8
  9. puckinet

    puckinet Safety third

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    Synthetic is less harmful to the environment when it leaks:D
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  10. TowPro

    TowPro Single Track Geezer

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    :thumbup

    especially the part about not using PAO (group IV) or Esters (group V).

    Looking at my owners manual, the first oil in the list is Castrol GPS SAE 10w-40
    searching the internet shows
    Castrol Power RS GPS 4T with Trizone Technology is an advanced premium quality sythetic blend 4 stroke engine oil designed for modern engines.
    Since this comes from Europe, I guess it has either PAO or Esters in it since it says synthetic?
    #10
  11. Steveman

    Steveman Been here awhile

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    The European (German) Owners Manual does nowhere states that synthetic oil should not be used. However, BMW recommends Catsrol GPS which is hard to get over here as noone buys mineral oils or non-synthetic oils. Most dealers offer Castrol Power RS which is synthetic.
    I use the Putoline Technomoto 10/40 which is semi synthetic. Mates using synthetic Motul V300 15/50 with Ester and dont have any problems with the F8...

    Cheers Steve
    #11
  12. ragtoplvr

    ragtoplvr Long timer

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  13. moulin6801

    moulin6801 Been here awhile

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    So, are you guys saying that BMW does not recommend Syn oil because it has/ uses a "wet clutch" ??
    What does it mean exactly? Is it better than dry??
    Thanks
    #13
  14. TowPro

    TowPro Single Track Geezer

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    This is all hearsay to me until I READ where BMW says "no synthetic oil". Not the dealer, not the rider, but BMW needs to say it. In the mean time I will continue to use Amsoil synthetic oil made for motorcycles with wet clutches. It even comes with a warranty that reads something like if Amsoil oil causes a motor failure, Amsoil will fix it.

    PS: it was Mobil that took Castrol to court.
    And I am told that the group III can be called synthetic is a world wide thing, not just the USA..
    #14
  15. JRWooden

    JRWooden never attribute to malice...

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    I'm going to stand on the sidelines and listen except to say that the oil recommended in the manual is:

    10W-40 Castrol Act -> Evo X-TRA 4T which is a "semi-synthetic" I'm sure Castrol slips BMW a few bucks for printing that in the manual,
    but just to avoid any issues I use it.
    #15
  16. Steveman

    Steveman Been here awhile

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    Nope, BMW does not say "dont use syn oils!" As they have stated in the owners manual to use Castrol GPS, which is semi synthetic it has been said that you should use mineral oil. I do not know where the rumor comes from...

    A wet clutch runs in the oil, a dry clutch does not and although they function different the outcome is the same. Most bikes have wet clutches, some have dry clutches, like the BMW boxers and many of the Ducatis....

    Under some circumstances wet clutches can slip if the oil does not fit. Even if the oil has the JASO MA approval, which calssifies an oil for being used in a wet clutch system this may happen. And if it happens it is 9 out of 10 times synthetic oil which -seemingly - causes the problem. Why seemingly? Well, most of the time it is a combination of syn oil and a worn clutch.
    I can not remember that it ever happened in my circle of ffriends and customers that a new clutch slipped when a syn oil was used. We used to fill our race engines (Kawasaki 750RR) with Castro RS 10/60 which was a pure automobile oil with friction reducers. An absolute no-no, but Kawasaki recommended it for the kit engines and so we used it and never had a problem. We also used it in all our street bikes and my mate used it in his CBR 900 Fireblade. We changed the oil at 30.000mls and the clutch started to slip and he was mad about that and complained that he never will use this darn oil again and blablabla. I checked his clutch and it was worn, installed a new one and refilled with RS oil again. No problem. I am not saying this will not happen with a brand new clutch cause it could but it is most unlikely. Most of the time its just a combination of a clutch liner material which can't cope with the oil. Maybe his clutch would have lasted another 2000mls with mineral oil or semi synthetic, I dont know. But I know that syn oil is good for the motor internals :)

    Cheers
    Steve

    PS I think wet clutches are better, but thats a personal opinion rather than a technical one...
    #16
  17. Lokey

    Lokey redneck

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    I have been following this thread with some interest as I am about to change over to synthetic oil in my F8GS. I has 3000 miles on it now and when I hit 4k I will change over. I have used Mobil 1 V-Twin 20-50 exclusively in the engines on my bikes (Harleys and BMW boxer twins) over the years with great success. I'm going to use Mobil 1 racing 4T 10W-40 in this bike and see how it works.

    As you may know, on the Harleys, the primary chain/clutch runs in it's own oil bath and doesn't share oil with the engine or the trans. After some experimentation, I found that Mobil 1 10w-40 car oil worked the best for the clutch. On cold mornings it allowed the clutch to release easier so no more hard clunks into first and provided for a very smooth clutch. In all the years I used it, I never had to replace a clutch. True, this was on a street bike and I wasn't racing, but I ride fairly hard and while I don't beat on my bikes, I don't baby them either.

    I guess what I am trying to say is that I really don't think that synthetic by itself would cause a clutch to slip or fail earlier than a petroleum oil would. I think it is more a matter of how the bike is operated that would generate early failures. As for the engine breaking in, there are car manufactures that recommend synthetic oil from the very first.
    #17
  18. TowPro

    TowPro Single Track Geezer

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    The mineral oil recommendation is on the top of the next page in the owners manual (at least in the English/USA owners manual)

    But I will assume they are recommending mineral oil over vegetable oil (Vegetable oil was very popular in 2 stroke motorcycles).
    #18
  19. Steveman

    Steveman Been here awhile

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    Thank you!
    Yep, I downloaded the manual and on page 126 it definitely says BMW recommends mineral oils.... :deal
    However in the German manual everything is the same, just on page 127. But the sentence "BMW recommends mineral oils..." is missing there.... *wonders*

    Cheers Steve
    #19
  20. Steveman

    Steveman Been here awhile

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    I agree with everything you say except with the above. I'd say syn oils lube better and longer and they do have friction reducers. Not as much as automobile oils but at least there are FR's in there and as I said I doubt that the problems would appear with a new clutch. The problems occur with used clutches very often.... especially with oils containing Ester. Make the finger test and put a drop of Motul V300 between your fingers.... it feels much more slippery than a common semi syn or mineral oil...

    But well, maybe am wrong :D The most important thing is that our clutches dont slip although we use oils which are not recommended. Like you I have positive experiences with my preferred brand (Motul and Putoline) so I will keep using it...

    Cheers Steve
    #20