Engine Oil For Antique Motorcycles. Spectro Oils Answer.

Question: 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!

Answer: 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. (provided by Spectro Performance Oils)

Zipper's

7 Responses to “Engine Oil For Antique Motorcycles. Spectro Oils Answer.”


  1. 1 Luis Feb 9th, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    Good to know. Thanks.

  2. 2 Ol Twin Feb 9th, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    Would be interesting to know which oil of today should be used in different vintage bikes. By brands, by decades, by engines?

  3. 3 Wiz Feb 10th, 2012 at 6:37 am

    In my expierence, straight grade 50 wieght in your flatheads, knuckleheads, panheads. 60 or 70 wt. [ crankpin killers] are good when you are sitting in traffic when it’s 90/100 degrees out, but what about when you fire it up in the morning or riding late at night when it’s cool out? That heavier grade is just too thick! Your shovelheads can go either way, 50 wt. or 20/50 wt. Evos 20/50 wt. Synthetic should only be used once the motor is broke in. It’s too good and the motor needs to wear into itself initially. After about 1,000 miles [change the oil/filter at 250, 500] you can switch to the synthetic. In older motors [pans, knucks, flatties] synthetic will let you discover/amplify any oil leaks, so I don’t run it in them. Just my opinion. Wiz

  4. 4 harley 83 Feb 10th, 2012 at 7:23 am

    what a waste of time for this to be debated or even talked about here, next your going to see the amsoil crazys chim in. advertising. if you own an old bike you know how to maintain it..

  5. 5 Tom Feb 10th, 2012 at 11:52 am

    It’s still surprising no one mentions acid etching of motor shafts.

  6. 6 Knuckleheadmotor Feb 10th, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    I agree with Wiz and Tom’s statements. I have been riding a 65+ year old Harley for 32 years now using 20-50 wt almost exclusivly. I have been rebuilding old motorcycle engines for over 35 years and have dome some crude studies of my own, as far a weight of oils and efective flow/pressure thru the engines. I have ridden them down the road watching oil pressure’s as they warm up thru running hot and found that the old pumps cannot pull the heavier straight weight oil’s thru the oil lines fast enough to keep the pumps full. As a result the measured or effective oil flow and pressure thru the engine is reduced over running a multi grade oil such as 20-50. I have seen in cool weather conditions with a hot engine, and the cool air flowing past the oil tank and engine the oil pressure and flow actualy drop off to the point I was worried about what was taking place while at highway speeds. If it is always hot out then use a heavy straight weight. Acid and water etching of the steel shafts, I see it daily when I am tearing down these engines and transmissions, the same with wheel bearings, there is a certain amount of humidity in the air no matter where you reside. Including the desert, think about those cool evenings, the humidity changes. Just a observation. As a side note your oil delivery to your chain oilers if equiped will vary with the cahanges in oil weigts as they are made and appropiate adjustments are needed.

  7. 7 Larry R Feb 10th, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Good Info. Knuckleheadmotor. I’ll take that to the bank.

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