4 Interesting Facts About Harley Davidson Syn3 And HD360 Brand Motor Oil

  • By George
  • February 8, 2019
  • Comments Off on 4 Interesting Facts About Harley Davidson Syn3 And HD360 Brand Motor Oil

Here are 4 interesting facts about Harley Davidson Syn3 and HD360 brand of motor oil.

1) Harley Davidson motor oil does not have a professional rating from a 3rd party, or do they mention how their oil compares to API or JASO ratings. Their official reason for not having an API rating is:

[i]Harley-Davidson® does not recommend any lubricants that have not been tested and approved by Harley-Davidson® engineering because we do not control the formulations. Lubricants are reformulated frequently to meet changing American Petroleum Institute (API) Ratings. API Ratings are developed and tested for use in water-cooled automotive engines and diesel applications. There is no API Rating (classification) for Motorcycle Engines.

Harley-Davidson®, in close partnership with our suppliers, analyzed available petrochemical technology and developed a custom-blended candidate fluid that could be used in all three cavities of a Harley-Davidson®/Buell® motorcycle.[/i]

Other motorcycle oils from companies like Mobil 1 and Valvoline both have API and JASO ratings. The ratings are printed on the oil container labels. Motor oil from other motorcycle brands like Honda and Kawasaki have API and JASO ratings. Harley Davidson oils are certified and tested in house, but there is no way of knowing if the testing itself forces them to reach the same high standards set by JASO and API.

Here is an example of Kawasaki’s motor oil recommendations in the owners manual for the 2019 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager. Notice they say to use motor oil that meets JASO and API standards when switching to another brand. Also notice their viscosity chart for different ambient temperatures.

Kawasaki recommended oil viscosity for different ambient temperatures

Recommended oil for the 2019 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager


Harley Davidson does refer to API ratings when making recommendations for switching to other oil brands in an emergency, but the API ratings are for diesel oil (see image below). Harley Davidson doesn’t say why they recommend using an oil formulated for diesel engines and I don’t know the answer. It makes me wonder if Harley Davidson Syn3 and HD360 oils are actually formulated for diesel engines and this is the real reason Harley doesn’t bother getting API or JASO rating for their motor oil?

2) When Harley Davidson first introduced SYN3 motor oil, the container label said “Synthetic Motorcycle Lubricant.” Nowhere on the oil container did they tell the customer that the oil is actually a 60/40 blend and not a full synthetic. 60/40 blend means the oil is 60% synthetic and 40% conventional oil. Everybody knows that a blend is inferior and cheaper than a full synthetic oil. This type of advertising is not illegal, but it is misleading. This oil is no longer sold by Harley Davidson and has been replaced by Harley Davidson Syn3 full synthetic oil.

3)Harley Davidson motor oils are only available in 20W50, SAE 50 and SAE 60 oil viscosity. Harley Davidson discontinued their HD360 10W40 motor oil and changed the oil recommendations for newer Harley Davidson motorcycles. I don’t know when this change occurred, but I assume it was around the time they started selling a full synthetic oil. The old recommendation was to only use 20W50 motor oil in ambient temps above 40F. The new recommendation is to only use 20W50 Syn3 in ambient temps above 30.2F. The old recommendation still applies to the HD360 20W50 conventional oil. If your riding in cold weather with temperatures lower than 40F, and own an older Harley Davidson motorcycle, then it’s possible your owner or service manual is using the old recommendations. I’m sure most Harley Davidson riders won’t attempt to ride in temperatures below 40F, but what if you want to and don’t want to pay the higher price for a full synthetic oil. You’ll have to get your oil from a place other than Harley Davidson.

I don’t think most Harley Davidson techs are even aware of the oil viscosity change, and you can forget about contacting Harley Davidson customer service for answers, because they will just direct you back to the dealership. I don’t think there is a way for most people to contact Harley Davidson engineering for the official reason for changing the oil recommendation chart. I have no idea if Harley Davidson applies the new oil recommendations to older Harley motorcycles. They probably do and will say full synthetic oil is the reason for the change.

If you want to use 10W40 in your Harley motorcycle for cold weather riding, then you need to change to another brand. I’m sure most Harley dealerships will allow you to bring in your own motor oil to use when your bike is serviced. Both Valvoline and Mobil 1 sell a 10W40 motorcycle oil.

This chart is in a Harley Davidson service manual for Harley Davidson touring motorcycles

This chart is in the owner manual for 2020 touring and sportster models


4) Harley Davidson and other motorcycle brand motor oils can be hard to find. Their motor oils are only available online and at their dealerships. If your away from home and need a quart of oil, it can be difficult to find unless your close to a Harley Davidson dealership during operating hours. Other oil brands like Mobil 1 and Valvoline are available at auto parts and department stores around the country. Both Mobil1 and Valvoline can be found at Autozone and Walmart, and many of these stores are open 24 hours a day.

I don’t think Harley Davidson is being dishonest about their motor oil products, although they were a bit misleading about their synthetic blend. I do believe Harley Davidson sells good motor oil, and its all I use in my two Harley Davidson motorcycles. I don’t do any touring riding, and I use a KLR for cold weather riding. I would be curious to know what oil Harley Davidson recommends for riding in temps below 30.2F? And everyone should know that motorcycle manufacturers like Harley Davidson don’t manufacture their own motor oil; they buy it from an oil company and put their label on the container.

I think most serious motorcyclists riding in extreme conditions like cold weather riding are using other brands of motorcycles. Harley Davidson seems to attract people who are more interested in an image than putting serious miles on their bike. As far as not having a good viscosity oil for the extreme cold, I guess there just isn’t a market for 10W40 motor oil with Harley riders. Maybe with the newer models coming out in the near future, Harley Davidson will find itself offering 10W40 motor oil again.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.




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