Click on questions to reveal answers
What does the API rating mean and how do you tell what is needed for your application, i.e.; Harley motorcycles, Truck etc.?
To ensure quality levels and compatibility oils have a “rating” system to help consumers decide what oil is right for their vehicle. There are several organizations that rate oil for specific types of applications, with the key one being JASO (Japanese standards for metric bikes), the SAE and API for everywhere else. The rating system makes sure that particular oil meets certain lubrication criteria (an example would be zddp and phosphorus levels). Having a higher rating such as SM vs SG doesn’t necessarily make that oil better, just a different formula and additive package.
The easiest way to decide what oil rating is right for your vehicle is to check the owners manual or with the vehicle manufacturer. Since the 1960’s, they will spec a specific rating for the vehicle such as SG, SL or SM for American vehicles, and JASO MA or MA-2 for metric vehicles.
PROUDLY MADE IN THE USA
Thanks for making products in the USA! I was wondering though, do you guys make everything that goes into the oil, even the crude or base oil and things like that? If you don't, where does that come from?
Made in USA is very important to us, we want to help support the US economy as much we can and seek out US suppliers. We also buy our cardboard case boxes, labels, and promo items (stickers, signs, catalogs, apparel ect) from US companies.
We source our additives and base stocks from US companies and shop for only the best, then blend and bottle them in Brookfield CT using our batch blending process. This is a slower and more expensive method, but yields a far superior finished oil. There are lots of cheap ingredients in the petroleum market from China, India and Russia and other places but we won’t use them. We prefer to stick with quality components that we’ve been using and trust since 1966.
What type of oil should be used for a 2008 Night Train 96 cubic inch and is it the same oil for the primary?
For your Night Train, we recommend Spectro HD Platinum 20w50 (full synthetic). It will provide excellent lubrication and is highly resistant to heat. Drain interval is 6,000 miles or once a year (we recommend changing oil before winter storage if you live in a cold climate).
For the primary, use Spectro HD primary chaincase oil. It will also help reduce clutch chatter and creep, and helps clutch plates engage very smoothly.
The top three frequently asked questions at Spectro. Do you know the answers?
Question 1: Can viscosity grades be mixed?
Question 2: Can you explain multi-weight lubricants?
Question 3: My dealer says I have to use the OEM lubricant in my motorcycle or my warranty is void.
Spectro Oil Answer No. 1: Yes, you can and no harm will be done. Topping up with 10w40, if its all you have available, will not injure the 20w50 in your crankcase. It will, however, lower the overall viscosity of your crankcase oil to a certain extent. This will cause no harm to your motorcycle. Likewise, adding a 20w50 product to 10w40 will slightly increase the overall viscosity in your crankcase. Again, no harm will occur.
Spectro Oil Answer No. 2: A multi-weight oil is an oil formulation that acts as if it has two different viscosities, depending on the temperature. At the lower test temperature (40C), it flows as the first number would indicate, and at the higher test temperature (100C), it flows as the second number would indicate. This multi-weight nature is made possible by the addition of long-chain polymers to the oil, which are coiled up when cold, but straighten out when hot, and thus change the flow characteristics of the oil. Thus a 10w40 oil will flow like a 10 weight oil when at 40C (fairly thin), but will not thin out more than a 40 weight oil would when hot (100C).
Spectro Oil Answer No. 3: This is not true. All you need to do to fulfill your warranty requirements is to use a lubricant that meets or exceeds the OEM specifications. Spectro products meet or exceed all manufacturers performance requirements.
I have a 2007 Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic Electra Glide motorcycle. 44,000 miles. My transmission final drive bearing is making noise.
This is the first year of the 6 speed for this model. I have used your 75w140 since it was brand new. I change it every 10,000 miles. The book calls for a change at 20,000. This motorcycle is 100% stock and is not hotrodded (it's a Harley). Mostly highway miles. Is this oil to heavy? Have you heard of issues with this transmission.? Is 10,000 miles between changes to long? Is there a better fix for this than the Motor Co.?
You are correct, there have been many bearing failures in the early 6 speed transmissions. A google search or a search of HD message board and forums will provide some solutions. There are several factors that cause the bearing to fail, none of them are lubrication related. If your bike is equipped with the automatic primary chain tension adjustor, they have been known to over tighten the primary chain, causing excessive bearing load which leads to failure. Several companies make an aftermarket manual chain adjustor, I’m familiar with the Baker version, it works very well.
Here is a link with more info, there are many more like this. http://www.hdtalking.com/touring_models/38666-transmission_bearing_failure.html
75w140 is the correct weight to use with the 6 speed. We recommend changing at 10,000 miles or once a year, whichever comes first.
Does Spectro Performance Oils make a compatible oil for the final drive on the BMW K1600GT motorcycle.
BMW recommends their BMW 75/90 synthetic (Castrol manufactured SAF-XO) that retails for around $50 per liter. However for many years US BMW riders have been using Spectro Platinum 75/90 differential lubricant (full synthetic GL-5 rating, part number L.75w905) with excellent results for less than half the cost of SAF-XO. To date we have received no negative feedback from using this product in the K1600GT final drive.
Will your 2 stroke oil separate in cold temperatures?
All of our 2 stoke oils will stay mixed regardless of temperature, however we do recommend using mixed fuel within a few weeks due to rapid breakdown with today’s gasoline. If fuel is stored longer than 4 weeks we recommend using a fuel stabilizer/ condition such as Spectro FC. Adding Spectro FC will keep gasoline (mixed or not) for at least 12 months.
Can Spectro Platinum 32:1 be used in small engines? Chainsaws etc.?
Yes, Spectro 32:1 can be used in any 2 cycle engine. I personally use it in my chainsaws, leaf blowers and string trimmers with great results. You can expect to see less carbon build up, longer life and virtually smokeless operation. For best results, we recommend mixing our 2 cycle oils with 93 octane premium gasoline, engine performance will noticeably improve.
Can Synthetic Oil Be Switched to Regular Oil?
Yes, synthetic oil can be switched to regular oil in an engine. And vice versa: the oil type can be switched as often as desired. Both synthetic and regular oils lubricate engines internally, providing a barrier that prevents metal-on-metal contact inside the engine.
When synthetic oil started gaining popularity, it was thought that it would harm your engine to switch between it and regular oil. It is now believed that not only is switching harmless, but also in some circumstances it may be advantageous.
Some synthetic oils are synthetic blends, which include regular oil mixed with synthetic. As these semi-synthetic oils are a blend of the two types, riders should experience no issues from switching between oil types.
It has been stated that when synthetic oils were first introduced, switching from synthetic to regular oil caused leaking, mostly as a result of different seal-swell rates of the oils. However, these issues have since rectified, and there are currently no problems due to switching back and forth.
With high performance cars from Detroit (new Corvette) coming with full synthetic oils from the factory, when is a good time to switch your new motorcycle or ATV over to full synthetics?
That’s a good question, we’re asked it frequently. Spectro recommends breaking in with a mineral oil (5 to 10 hours of run time), then changing to whatever oil you’ll be using permanently. This would be the time that you switch to a full synthetic. There is no benefit to breaking in with a full synthetic, in fact it can slow the piston ring seating process if the cylinder hone is not perfectly done. Modern automotive engines are honed on CNC honing equipment, and the hone pattern is designed to allow ring seating with the “factory fill” synthetic oil. This is why some performance automobiles are shipped with full synthetics.
It’s always a good idea to change oil on a new engine in the first 5 to 10 hours of operation, this will remove any residue left from manufacture and assembly. Also during break in be sure to vary engine speed, it’s critical to proper ring seating.
78 Harley is too hot to handle!
I am a newbie rider who bought a '78 Harley FXE. What is the best oil to use (it runs very hot!)? Should I go with a synthetic?
For Shovelheads, we recommend a straight weight oil. Use Spectro HD 50 in cooler climates, HD60 for moderate temps, HD70 for very hot summer temps. Oil temp should be around 180 to 215 degrees, it’s a myth that cooler oil is better. When oil temp gets up to 250 or higher, that’s when you should start getting concerned. Synthetics will take heat stress much better than mineral oils, however there is little benefit if the oil temp is under 215 degrees.
You should also check ignition timing and fuel/air mixture. Shovelheads have an intake manifold that is prone to leaking causing an over lean condition, which will in turn make the engine run hot. Ignition timing that’s retarded (or if the advance weights are seized or broken) will cause overheating too.
What weight fluid should I use in the primary on my 2002 heritage Softail FLSTCI?
We recommend Spectro HD primary chaincase oil, it’s a 85w and designed specifically for use in Harley primaries. This oil will eliminate clutch plate chatter, reduce clutch slippage and provide excellent lubrication for the primary chain.
You can also use a motorcycle rated 20w50 motor oil such as Spectro HD20w50 (non synthetic is best for this application), however the performance will not be as good as with HD primary oil.
I just rebuilt my suzuki ltz400 with a big bore kit, which oil would you recommend me running?
We recommend 10w40 for the LTZ400, and always use a motorcycle oil (wet clutch compatible).
It’s always a good idea to break in new motors with a mineral oil such as Spectro 4, once break in is completed switch to whatever oil you plan on using permanently (Mineral, Semi syn or Full synthetic)
Full synthetics such as Spectro Platinum 4 10w40 will provide the best protection and have the longest life, however depending on your riding style semi synthetic (Spectro Golden) or Spectro 4 mineral oil is also a good choice.
Oil Change; Based on Time or Miles?
I own five motorcycles (2 antiques) and only use Spectro oils (I picked up a case this morning). On many of these bikes I only put perhaps 1,000 miles on them or less annually. People tell me I should change the oil before putting them to bed for the winter but I don't want to be wasteful either. What is your recommendation?
Should one change oil based on time or miles? Once the bike has been ridden any miles after the oil change should it be changed again before storage? I thought I would ask the experts!
Even though you don’t roll many miles, time does count for something, as the oil does oxidize while it is just sitting in the engine. That oxidation can affect the lubricating qualities of the oil, and whatever contamination did occur during your brief riding activities also then has a long time to degrade the inside surfaces of the engine. It may not amount to much, but why not be on the safe side with your machines? That said, once a year oil changes will be fine.
Change the oil before you store the bikes and make sure you start and run the engines after the oil change for 15-20 minutes. This ensures that the new oil has been circulated throughout the engine.
Don't overlook the problems of today's gasoline, either - between ethanol's corrosive effects and vagaries in refining, you don't want to assume your fuel will not degrade. You should make it a habit to add a prescribed amount of FC Premium Fuel Conditioner to every tank of gas, and if you think that too much, at least be sure to add it (and run it through the system for 15 minutes) before you set aside the bike for any amount of time.
Do you Batch Blend oils?
For example, Spectro has always insisted on batchblending all of its products. When our products are batch blended, the base stocks and additives that go into each and every bottle can be more carefully measured and controlled, ensuring performance consistency. If an additive is needed to counter a specific problem, say powerrobbing heat, Spectro is dedicated to having the optimal dose of that additive in each and every bottle shipped to market.
With batchblending, we can do precisely that.
To ensure performance consistency, we clean the production lines totally between batches so there is no mixing of ingredients from one batch to the next. Most blenders are content with mixed product at the beginning and end of a run, which means you dont always get the exact product the label says you're getting.
Hello, I am working on a research paper covering the technical merits of motorcycle oils at Oklahoma State University. From what I understand thus far, automotive oils contain less phosphorus than motorcycle oils, because phosphorus deteriorates catalyst converters in automobiles.
Can you tell what the function of a catalyst and a converter are in an automobile? Why are high phosphorus concentrations in oil bad for the catalyst?
Thank you for your help
Adam, an exhaust catalyzer is designed to convert the unburned hydrocarbon molecules in combustion engine exhaust into C02 and water. This process requires capturing the available heat in the exhaust. Since stored heat is the key, catalyzers only work when extremely hot and thus performance during warmup periods is usually poor.
Also, since diesel engines produce a relatively cool exhaust, these devices do not work on large diesel trucks very well. For this same reason, they also dont work well on the typical 2cycle engine.
The typical design employs a fine "honeycomb" mesh made of high grade platinum covered with a special ceramic coating that becomes white hot as exhaust passes over it, exposing the gases to temperatures much higher than those usually found inside the combustion chamber of the engine. This mesh is usually several inches thick or deep and flow could be restricted with the slightest contamination since the coated honeycomb openings, or channels, are only a few thousandths of an inch.
Because of these close tolerances, catalyzers can literally "plug up" if "lead" is present in the fuel. The phosphorous in lubricants could cause the same condition if an engine is worn and is thus consuming large amounts of oil. These metallic compounds will attach to the ceramic coating in the presence of extreme heat, just as they are designed to do when preventing wear.
I hope you will have a new understanding of the exhaust catalyst after reading this!
I have purchased some of your "Spectro Golden 4" synthetic blend oil. The label on the bottle has it marked as sf/sg but your web site says that it is good for sh applications. Is the label inaccurate or is the error on your web site?
Your observation is correct...here is a short explanation of the situation. During the API SG period, the API made some changes to the limits on additives for implementation during the SH period with which we, as a motorcycle oil manufacturer did not agree.
Then these restrictions, focused mainly on anti-wear additives, became more intense and fuel efficiency tests became more difficult to pass for SJ approval.and manufacturers were forced to use lighter oils and friction modifiers to meet the new SJ fuel efficiency tests.
We decided to stop placing the API symbol on our products since having the symbol in place would mean we would have to limit our formulations to meet these new automotive derived needs. Further, we decided to continue to produce the SF/SG formulation that we always made since we know that it is superior for motorcycles. This has been confirmed by almost all motorcycle manufacturers worldwide by their broad recommendation to use SF/SG oils in their bikes.
As a result, for a while, the API refused to allow even this SF/SG designation to be placed on a label! Their reasoning was that it was not their current rating and nothing but the current rating should appear on labels. They then realized the reason we were doing it and then allowed SF/SG to be put on the label without their "donut" logo since our oil is primarily recommended for use in motorcycles.
Now, if your engine manufacturer requires API SH, we meet and pass all those tests too. Except: we do have anti-wear additives in our oil that are over the limit for the SH requirements but we are very confident that recommending our oils for you with these extra additives is the right recommendation for a motorcycle application where SH oil is recommended.
If you need any further information regarding our labeling and API qualifications, feel free to call us toll free at 18002438645.
Mixing Viscosity Grades
Can I mix viscosity grades?
Yes, you can and no harm will be done. Topping up with 10w40, if its all you have available, will not injure the 20w50 in your crankcase. It will, however, lower the overall viscosity of your crankcase oil to a certain extent. This will cause no harm to your motorcycle. Likewise, adding a 20w50 product to 10w40 will slightly increase the overall viscosity in your crankcase. Again, no harm will occur.
MULTI-WEIGHT multi-viscosity OILS EXPLAINED
I am still getting questions about multi-weight lubricants, so here's an explanation in one short paragraph.
A multi-weight oil is an oil formulation that acts as if it has two different viscosities, depending on the temperature. At the lower test temperature 40C, it flows as the first number would indicate, and at the higher test temperature 100C, it flows as the second number would indicate. This multi-weight nature is made possible by the addition of long-chain polymers to the oil, which are coiled up when cold, but straighten out when hot, and thus change the flow characteristics of the oil. Thus a 10w40 oil will flow like a 10 weight oil when at 40C fairly thin, but will not thin out more than a 40 weight oil would when hot 100C.
Have a couple of simple questions. Why is Spectro better than Harley, RevTech, Mobil and Penzoil these are the competitors in Europe. What does Spectro contain that makes it better than the competition or is the basic oil better than the competition? Also the graph on your website show the oils contain phosphorus, zink, calcium and magnesium: what are the advantages of these and what do they do? What should be in a good aircooled motorcycle oil and what should not? Which of these are in Spectro and are not or are at a lower percentage in competitors oils? On a scale of 10 where does Spectro end up and were does the competition?
Just a few simple questions, huh? Well, they are excellent questions and should be addressed on the tech data pages.
Oils are compounded using three categories of ingredients:
1. Additives usually combined into a 'package'
2. Base oils sometimes including synthetics
3. Viscosity index improvers made of different types of molecules for different purposes.
We are committed to using the top shelf products within all three of these categories, and we continually tune our compounds to maximize quality. What this means is this:
Additive packages are revised every year by Infineum, the chemicals arm of ExxonMobil. They do all of the weartesting and analysis to ensure the packages meet the required OEM specifications thankfully, because this is the hardest work in the process. Some of these packages are built to be used at several optional treat rates for different uses. They perform dispersant, rust/corrosion inhibition, antifoaming, wear protection, antiacid and oxidation protection duties.
We always opt for the maximum treat rate allowable costs us more money but we believe it is money very well spent for wear and rust/ corrosion protection. Then, we specially modify the package with more zinc/phosphorus for even better cam, lifter, and main bearing wear protection. This adds significantly more to the cost. Only a small handful of companies do this, none of which make Vtwin specific oils. This is the reason for the high levels you see on the additive charts.
The base oils we buy are different from most of our competitors oils also. We buy exclusively from ExxonMobil for continued quality and consistency. You can buy cheaper base oils on the 'spot' market, but you will lose all of the aforementioned advantages.
Unfortunately, we pay dearly for this benefit. The finer base oils have a higher natural viscosity index, meaning they thin less when temperature rises. This enables us to formulate a more thermallystable motor oil than our competition. The Heavy Duty viscosity index is a perfect example of what can be accomplished with higher quality VI improvers and higher VI base oils.
The viscosity index improvers do additional work on the oils to even further lessen the thinning out as heat rises. The market is flooded with cheap VI improvers none of which we have ever used, by the way. One category is Polystyrene. Another category is Olefincopolymers OCP which most higher quality motorcycle OEM oils are made with: OCPs cost more money than polystyrene. At Spectro, we choose an even more expensive product that is higher still in shear stability and in its ability to survive in a gearbox. For us, this is more money well spent. By the way, the straight grades do not need this component which is why they work fine with methanol.
This shear stability polymer combined with huge amounts of zinc/phosphorus, is what gives a rider longerlasting oil and a longerlived motor! The higher viscosity index is what gives the rider a smoother, quieter motor with better protection at start up.
Oil Of Course
Your website regarding motorcycle oil is highly informative, especially the part where you mention SAE paper #961217. I have been doing research on motorcycle oils for some time now and that's the first I'd heard of that paper. I'll be ordering it shortly.
Anyway, I wanted to ask you why manufacturers of motorcycle oil are not required to meet the same standards as manufacturers of automotive oil? I understand that the SJrated automotive oil is inappropriate for use in a motorcycle. I guess my real question is how are motorcyclespecific oils standardized? The automotive oils must meet the SJ ratingis there a similar standard for motorcycle oil?
Thanks for your help.
Amy, at the moment there are only two standards for motorcycle lubricants and, unfortunately, the API is not the institution setting these standards and monitoring them. This means that the API designations have, over the last few years, become much "less useful" for motorcyclists for making informed purchase decisions that is the whole purpose of these ratings.
This does not mean that all API SJ oils are "unsuitable" for bikes. More on that later...
The two standards I mentioned are the JASO T903:1998 for 4t gasoline engine oils and the JASO M345:1993 for 2t gasoline engine oils. They are available from the JSAE SAE of Japan for 2500JPY /copy via email to: email@example.com
The 4t test determines, among other quality issues, if the oil possesses certain friction characteristics so that it will meet a standard set by the Japanese OEMs for their bikes friction requirements and, based on that, JSAE assigns it a designation of JASO MA or MB. Right now, an oil would be either MA or MB depending on this friction test and the OEM's have yet to step up to the plate and decide which one they want to recommend in this country for each bike they sell. Until they do that, there is no point in using these JASO ratings and they probably will not do this for marketing reasons.
The JASO 2t M345 standard is in worldwide use now for two cycle engines providing standards known as JASO FA, FB and FC, but as you might have already guessed, the US importers of Japanesebuilt engines have chosen to ignore this standard.also for marketing reasons. You see, if they make a recommendation to their customers to use an oil that meets a certain standard, then companies that specialize in lubricants, like Spectro, can meet these standards and then draw the connection of "Factory Approved" legitimately. That is the last thing the OEMs want they sell oil, remember?
This is the one and ONLY reason that HARLEY has no symbols or standards on their bottles other than their own.
What we do here at Spectro is choose the latest technology, highest quality, APIapproved additives and base oils, then modify the additives by customordering them without the friction modifiers that might affect a wet clutch. Then we further modify them here by adding more antiwear and corrosion inhibitors than those normally allowed/defined by the API to help protect a motorcycle engine when resting for long periods and at higher RPMs at higher temperatures.
That way, in the end, you get a significantly betterperforming oil than the API SH/SJ oil originally specified.
Straight Weight or Multi-viscosity product
Should I use a straight weight or multi-viscosity product?
Multi-viscosity products are the preferred product in modern engines. They offer better flow upon initial startup and are more heat stable than straight weights. In the vast majority of motorcycles and particularly 1970 models forward, multi-viscosity is the preferred product. Older and antique models may require straight weights of SAE 40, 50 or even 60 in some early Harley-Davidsons. Your owners manual should be a useful guide in viscosity selection.
Synthetic for CBXs
Why is it that you are 'afraid' to recommend a Synthetic for my CBXs ? They are in as good a shape, if not better, than my Gamma or Ducati...
Here's the deal....in 1980 the SAE delivered a paper that specified and commanded that all seal and gasket manufacturers worldwide should use materials compatible with PAO synthetic base oils. Previous to this command, many of the seals available would frequently allow these types of Group 4 oils to pass easily by the seal and instead arrive on the garage floor where they would provide little lubrication benefit.
It is probably OK to use a synthetic oil in your CBX....but it is not worth the possibility of a leak. Also, most clutch designs in the 70s and 80s are insufficient in grip strength to hold under full throttle in top gear at peak power while bathed in synthetic oil: they will slip. I agree, many people ride older bikes running synthetics with no trouble. But Ill guess they do not ride the bike at top speed with the throttle pinned up hill in top gear, at full rpm.
Besides, you do not lose any lubricating protection by using a petroleum oil vs. a synthetic. Synthetics just last longer and resist extreme temperatures better. Why risk the possible downside?
2 Cycle Engine Question
I have an old, 2-cycle engine. Can I use your oil at 20:1 ratio as my manual recommends?
Our Golden Spectro 2-cycle pre-mix product is designed to be used at higher ratios than conventional 2-cycle lubricants. Because of its synthetic components, additive content and viscosity, it works best at ratios from 40:1 to 64:1. We recommend starting at 40:1 in older machines and checking your exhaust pipe for excessive drool. If you have a large volume of drool, go to a higher mix ratio until the drool is minimal. You will have all the protection you need and yet have very crisp throttle response and never foul a plug following these recommendations.
Changes in API Ratings
Ive noticed changes in API ratings on automotive oils from time to time: SJ, for example. These are not always reflected in Spectro products. Why is this?
The API American Petroleum Institute quality assurance system is driven by the automobile manufacturers. When API had SG as its highest quality level, it was good for both motorcycles and automobiles. However, when the API went to SH quality levels, changes occurred. Lubricant manufacturers added friction modifiers to increase fuel efficiency and decreased the allowed levels of zinc and phosphorous in these oils. These were concessions to the automobile manufacturers and were a step backward as far as lubricant performance in motorcycles and, in particular, Japanese models was concerned.
Why? Increased levels of friction modifiers can detrimentally affect the clutch and starter systems in some Japanese motorcycles. Decreased levels of zinc and phosphorous are not advised for highRPM, highoutput motorcycle engines which run hotter and have small lubricant reservoirs compared to automobiles. The API SJ rating, for example, further increased friction modifier treat levels to improve automobile fuel efficiency. Zinc and phosphorous were further limited, as well. All of these steps are in the opposite direction of how a premium motorcycle lubricant should be formulated. Therefore, Spectro Oils do not have the SJ rating on them for the reasons stated above.