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Offline DaveMtn

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Another oil analysis
« on: September 26, 2017, 03:01:36 PM »
Several people whose opinions I respect have expressed doubts about the wisdom of Honda's 8000-mile oil change interval. On the other hand there is this topic

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Which shows good results running Amsoil 10W-30 synthetic for 9500 miles. I was running Castrol Actevo, a "part synthetic," so I decided to drain the crankcase at 5000 miles and have it analyzed. The analysis sheet is attached below.

Discussion: As you can see most of the numbers are very good, the only exception being the viscosity, which has dropped below spec.  At 100 degrees C 30 weight oil is supposed to test out between 9.3 and 12.4 centistokes.  8.9 (this sample) is on the high end of the 20 weight range.

What surprised me even more than the drop was Blackstone Labs' assurance that this is no big deal!  I emailed them asking for clarification, and here is what they said:

Motorcycle engines in general tend to shear the oil down and that lowers the viscosity. It's not a harmful process and the thin viscosity is a very common find for these types of engines. We'd be more concerned if there was a lot of fuel present and that was thinning the viscosity out of spec, but that wasn't the case here. We'd continue to use the recommended 10W/30 weight oil. Yes, it may thin down, but there's no evidence that the thin viscosity is harming the engine. Wear metals are all in great shape here.

Well obviously this is their take. They have analyzed a lot of oils from a lot of motorcycles, and their belief is that viscosity does not matter as long as the oil is lubricating the engine properly. That seems entirely reasonable.

Me being no expert, and something of a worrywart, I would be happier if the oil had not gone out of spec.  I'm glad I did not wait until 8000 miles to change it.  I replaced it with another 3 quarts of  Actevo which I intend to run for only 3000 miles and have it analyzed. I will post that analysis but with winter coming on it will likely be 4 or 5 months.

This is not a criticism of Actevo in particular. I knew going in that natural motor oils (and "part synthetics" are mostly natural oil) tend to shear more than full synthetics, that's why I decided to find out how my oil was doing. I hope this will encourage other riders, if they have the interest and the means, to get an analysis and post results so everyone can make more informed decisions on this maintenance issue.

In any case comparison of my analysis with julman99's shows there really are differences between brands and types of motorcycle oil, even when they all meet Honda's stated criteria.


Offline julman99

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Re: Another oil analysis
« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2017, 07:46:00 PM »
Thanks for posting this! It's interesting they do suggest you could have run the oil all the way to 8000 miles. I knew motorcycles shear the oil (mostly because of the clutch and gearbox), but as you, I thought it would be a really bad/alarming finding that your oil was more of a 20 viscosity. However according to Blackstone, it is not terrible unless fuel is the cause.

The oil analysis I did was kind of a special condition, a three week trips where the engine was started in the morning, ridden all day long and then shut off at night. It had almost no city riding, almost no idling, and very limited heat cycles. I'm not saying it was easier/harder for the oil, it was just a special scenario.

My current oil is around 4000 miles with a good combination of commuting and trips. Once I reach 8000 I will do another analysis and it will be a more real life, day to day scenario.
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Offline DaveMtn

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Re: Another oil analysis
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2017, 04:58:02 PM »
Hey julman99, thanks for your post. Looking forward to seeing the analysis from a "normal" 8000-mile run.
I have a question about your oil analysis. The lab found a small amount of molybdenum in your oil. I think that must be from the oil itself, part of Amsoil's additive package. Am I right about this?
And then, as a follow up -- have you noticed any clutch slippage issues?

Offline julman99

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Re: Another oil analysis
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2017, 02:14:25 PM »
*Originally Posted by DaveMtn >>>> link hidden <<<<
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Hey julman99, thanks for your post. Looking forward to seeing the analysis from a "normal" 8000-mile run.
I have a question about your oil analysis. The lab found a small amount of molybdenum in your oil. I think that must be from the oil itself, part of Amsoil's additive package. Am I right about this?
And then, as a follow up -- have you noticed any clutch slippage issues?

Hey! Sorry for the late response!

I never put molybdenum nor any other additive, has to be from the additive package as you said. The clutch feels perfectly normal, it pop wheelies in 1st and raises the wheel a bit in 2nd with no slippage at all.
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Offline mdb

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Re: Another oil analysis
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2017, 05:25:28 AM »
*Originally Posted by DaveMtn >>>> link hidden <<<<
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Hey julman99, thanks for your post. Looking forward to seeing the analysis from a "normal" 8000-mile run.
I have a question about your oil analysis. The lab found a small amount of molybdenum in your oil. I think that must be from the oil itself, part of Amsoil's additive package. Am I right about this?
And then, as a follow up -- have you noticed any clutch slippage issues?
Moly is not an issue.  Many motorcycle oils have moly in them.  Check out Redline and Royal Purple MC oils.  Plenty of moly.
I agree with Blackstone about the viscosity.  Engine oils for cars are plenty thick enough at 0W-20.  0W-16 is even factory fill (from what I have read) on some cars in Japan.  If you are concerned about the tranny then check out the viscosity of ATF.  It is much thinner than 10W-30 engine oil.  Trannys in bikes don't need thick oil for protection.  There is very little load on the gears when compared to a differential; they don't require 75W-90 gear oil.

Offline DaveMtn

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Re: Another oil analysis
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2017, 02:22:09 PM »
Hey, thanks to both of you for your input. Thanks Julman99 for confirming my guess about the molybdenum. I suspect that it is like a lot of things -- a small amount is helpful, but a lot may get you into trouble. Reason I asked is that while it is true that some reputable oil companies put molybdenum in their motorcycle oils, others brag about -not- doing the same thing. It's always good to have input from a rider with real world experience (popping wheelies on a CB500X! Wow!).

MDB I respect your view and Blackstone's, I just can't get it out of my head that if Honda had designed -this- engine for 0W-20 oil they would have specified it. I admit to being a worry wart. Anyway next change I will try a different oil, looking to find one that will stay in grade for 5000 - 8000 miles.

Offline mdb

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Re: Another oil analysis
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2017, 01:38:05 AM »
Here are a few more thoughts about oil.
If oil is going to shear, it shears very quickly in the first several hundred km.  Then it levels off and generally stops shearing.
Every internet tribologist who rides a motorcycle thinks that they are smarter than the engineers who built their engine.  Apparently everyone else in the world except for the people who make motorcycles knows that oil shears in a bike.  Have you ever considered that they are well aware that the oil shears and they take that into consideration when they recommend a grade of oil for their bikes? 
Food for thought.

Offline SnowOwl

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Re: Another oil analysis
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2017, 12:52:00 PM »
Very good point and I fully agree.  If one were so inclined, you could do an analysis every 200 miles (or km) and get an idea of the trend of the changes the oil goes through.  I for one trust that the correct oil is specd and will just use the Honda oil they call out.  This engine will likely out last the bike with any quality oil in it.  It is, after all, not a high-revving close tolerance race engine,  it is a consumer grade engine.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2017, 12:54:12 PM by SnowOwl »
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Offline mdb

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Re: Another oil analysis
« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2017, 07:52:18 PM »
Exactly.  As long as the factory service intervals where adhered too, who has ever worn out a modern water cooled engine on a motorcycle?  Doesn't happen.  Most bikes are crashed, neglected or sold long before the engine is shot.

Online uku383

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Re: Another oil analysis
« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2017, 01:56:46 AM »
That's a very good point, MDB. I'd be interested to know what the greatest mileage that anyone has heard of for an EFI 500....

 


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