Author Topic: Save $47.07 On Your Next Harley Davidson Big V-Twin Motor Oil Change  (Read 51 times)

smallengineshop

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Changing the oil in your Harley Davidson big v-twin motorcycle shouldn't cost more than changing the oil in your car or truck. I created this post to show some lower cost options bikers have when doing routine maintenance, which many of you might find useful especially now with the pandemic lock down and so many people out of work or working less.

Harley Davidson big v-twin engine characteristics to consider when choosing a motor oil:
  • The Harley Davidson v-twin engine doesn't share it's motor oil with the transmission and clutch like most motorcycles, making it more like a car engine in that respect.
  • The Harley Davidson v-twin engine is air cooled or partially air cooled on some newer models, and tends to run hotter than a fully water cooled engine.
  • The Harley Davidson v-twin engine uses older valve train technology with a high friction area where the cam lobe makes contact with the hydraulic lifter or tappet. The valve train is similar to a older automotive V6 or V8 engine.

Options when choosing a motor oil for your Harley Davidson motorcycle:
  • Take the easy but expensive route and purchase Harley Davidson Full Synthetic SYN3 motor oil and filter kit for $71.95 (black filter). You'll get 4 quarts of SYN3 full synthetic motor oil, oil filter, and a rubber seal for the drain plug
  • Switch to another brand of motor oil formulated for a V-Twin motorcycle engine. You can choose between conventional oil and full synthetic and pay between $8 and $16 per quart. There are many oil filter brands to choose from and prices range between $7 and $12 (black filters).
  • Switch to Mobil 1 Advanced Full Synthetic 15W-50 motor oil and pay $22.38 for 5 quarts or $4.47 per quart. Same options as above for oil filters.

Mobil 1 Advanced Full Synthetic 15W-50 motor oil is a good choice for a Harley Davidson big v-twin engine?:
  • Since the Harley Davidson v-twin engine doesn't share motor oil with the transmission and clutch, then why worry about transmission and clutch lubrication when choosing a motor oil? You shouldn't!
  • Full synthetic motor oils are naturally more stable than conventional motor oil at higher temperatures making them a good choice for an air cooled engine. Conventional motor oils start to break down around 275F, while full synthetic motor oil will withstand temperatures higher than 300F. Harley Davidson recommends using SYN3 or HD360 conventional oil for use their engines.  If the recommended HD360 conventional motor oil is adequate for use in a air cooled Harley Davidson engine, than the Mobil 1 Advanced Full Synthetic 15W-50 motor oil will be more than adequate to handle the higher heat.

    All outdoor power equipment, OPE, engine manufacturers from Honda to Briggs & Stratton build air cooled engines. Most, if not all, OPE air cooled engines are covered in a shroud with a fan built into the fly wheel to move air around the engine cooling fins to keep the engine cool. I can't think of one OPE manufacturer that says you need a specially formulated motor oil to deal with the added heat produced by an engine that relys on air cooling only. Yes, each manufacturer pitches their own brand of motor oil, but in the same breath they give you API ratings so you can choose to use another brand of motor oil. Here is what Kolher engine says about their Command Pro 27HP air cooled V-Twin Engine:

    "OIL RECOMMENDATIONS
    We recommend use of Kohler oils for best performance.Other high-quality detergent oils (including synthetic)of API (American Petroleum Institute) service class SJ or higher are acceptable. Select viscosity based on air temperature at time of operation as shown in table below."


  • Mobil 1 Advanced Full Synthetic 15W-50 motor oil is a high performance motor oil formulated for higher performance automotive engines that use the older valve train technology with a high friction area where the cam lobe makes contact with the hydraulic lifter or tappet. This requires a motor oil with high anti-wear additives like Zinc and Phosphorus,which Mobil 1 Advanced Full Synthetic 15W-50 motor oil has.  For example, Mobil 1 Full Synthetic 20W-50 V-Twin motorcycle motor oil has a Phosphorus and Zinc content of 1750 and 1600 ppm respectively. Valvoline Full Synthetic 20W-50 motorcycle oil has a Phosphorus and Zinc content of 1000 and 1120 ppm respectively and Mobil 1 Advanced Full Synthetic 15W-50 motor oil has a Phosphorus and Zinc content of 1200 and 1300 ppm respectively. Mobil 1 Advanced Full Synthetic 15W-50 motor oil's Phosphorus and Zinc content falls in between the two leading brands of motor oil formulated for motorcycles.

    Most motor oils formulated for cars and trucks have a much lower Zinc content than the oils already mentioned. It was found that Zinc in motor oil can harm a car or trucks catalytic converter. Since most car and truck engines today don't have the higher friction area between the cam lobe and tappet found in a push rod engine, motor oil manufacturers lowered the Zinc content to less than 800 ppm for most automotive motor oils. Even with the lower Zinc content, motor oil manufacturers say this level of Zinc is adequate for the older stock automotive V6 and V8 push rod engine, therefore it should be adequate for the stock Harley Davidson engine, and the Mobil 1 Advanced Full Synthetic 15W-50 motor oil far exceeds the 800 ppm for Zinc and Phosphorus.

Is 15W-50 viscosity motor oil OK to use in a Harley Davidson big v-twin engine?:
  • The colder a motor oil is the thicker it gets. Most engine wear occurs at start-up when the engine is cold. A motor oil functions best at operating temperatures say around 212F and above. At room temperature all motor oil's are thicker than at operating temperature. In an ideal world the motor oil would have the same thickness at start up, or at ambient temperature, as it does at operating temperature. Both the 15W-50 and 20W-50 motor oils have the same thickness at operating temperature and have the same viscosity represented by the number 50 in their viscosity rating. The number 50 represents the viscosity of the oil, or its ability to flow at 212F. The 15W and 20W represents the viscosity of the oil at 32F. In a normal summer day, say when it's 90F outside, the 15W-50 motor oil will be thinner at start-up than a 20W-50 motor oil making the thickness closer to the thickness of the oil at operating temperature. This makes it easier for the engine oil pump to move the motor oil through the engine and lubricate the engine.

    Harley Davidson has recommended many different motor oil viscosity over the years. They used to sell a 10W-40 motor oil for colder winter riding, which they discontinued probably due to low sales. They sale a 50 and 60 weight motor oil for the warmer summer months. In Harley Davidson owner manual's (not positive the info is the same in every manual) Harley recommends a temporary replacement brand of motor oil in the following viscosity: 20W-50, 15W-40 and 10W-40. Point being, Harley Davidson isn't tied down to the 20W-50 oil viscosity.

Compelling evidence to use Mobil 1 Full Synthetic 15W-50 motor oil in your Harley Davidson big v-twin engine:
  • Probably the best evidence that Mobil 1 Full Synthetic 15W-50 motor oil is a good choice for your v-twin Harley comes from a guy named Scooter Tramp Scotty, who uses this exact same motor oil in his Evolution powered Electra Glide, which has accumulated over 500,000 miles. Now I don't know how many engines he's gone through to reach 500k miles, but I do know he has decades of experience using motorcycle motor oil, and since he basically lives on his motorcycle and his lifestyle forces him to be frugal, he is forced to make a wise motor oil purchase come maintenance time. He also has several years experience doing motorcycle maintenance work part time at motorcycle rally's around the country. Here's his video about changing the oil in his Electra Glide:

    <a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/aGFtFpFX8uA" target="_blank" class="new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/aGFtFpFX8uA</a>

Motorcycle motor oil is expensive! Harley Davidson riders love their motorcycles and are willing to pay more to keep them in top condition, but why pay more if you don't need to? 4 quarts of Mobil 1 Full Synthetic 15W-50 motor oil and a Fram filter for a Harley Davidson big v-twin motorcycle costs $24.88 compared to $71.95 for the Harley Davidson brand. That's a savings of  $47.07 to change your motor oil using a high quality aftermarket brand. Add $4 for a better quality NAPA Gold oil filter.

I don't claim to be an expert about lubrication or motor oils, so do your own research and make your own decisions.

References:
https://www.hotrod.com/articles/engine-oil-temperature/
https://www.mobil.com/en/lubricants/for-personal-vehicles/our-products/products/mobil-1-15w-50/
https://www.mobil.com/lubricants/-/media/project/wep/mobil/mobil-row-us-1/files/mobil-1-product-guide-rev-31.pdf
https://www.valvoline.com/our-products/motor-oil/4-stroke-full-synthetic-motorcycle-oil
https://sharena21.springcm.com/Public/Document/18452/a3213ab0-e481-e711-9c10-ac162d889bd3/1133c41e-92bb-e711-9c12-ac162d889bd1
https://www.enginebuildermag.com/2014/08/preventing-flat-tappet-cam-failures/

« Last Edit: September 15, 2020, 04:50:53 PM by adminjoe »
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