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Note: Law Abiding Biker™ Media is not recommending you use any oils in your Harley engine that are not officially approved and/or recommended by Harley-Davidson. We are only relaying information that is known to many in the biker community. You are solely responsible for what you decide to do to your bike.
Podcast-Okay, so you're out on a motorcycle road trip and don't have any synthetic oil or “approved” oil for your Harley-Davidson, but need some suddenly. There are no close stores for motorcycle oil, but the local truck stop has heavy duty 15W-40 diesel oil available. Can you throw some of that into your Harley motor and be on down the road? Maybe you are you on an extreme budget and can't afford full Synthetic motorcycle oil, such as 20W-50 Amsoil, which we use here at Law Abiding Biker™ Media in all our bikes.
Check out theses podcasts:
- Amsoil Synthetic Vs. Harley Davidson Synthetic Oil | The Scoop (Episode #26)
- Dynacycle Semi-Synthetic Oil Real World Testing By Bikers | Amsoil or Dynacycle? Does it Matter? (Episode #95)
Oscar is on a mic during this episode and I get to ask him a bunch of technical questions. As you all know by now, Oscar is a wealth of knowledge and my beloved resource when it comes to motorcycle oils and used oil analysis (UOA). We use Black Stone Lab for all our UOA's. You'll have to listen in to get all the details on this topic as Oscar spills his knowledge!
Like a diesel engine, a Harley engine is classified as “heavy duty” use. So, many of the additive packages they put in the oils are very similar. If you're going to do this, our suggestion is to at least use full synthetic 15w-40 heavy duty diesel oil. Again, we are not actually encouraging anyone to put heavy duty diesel oil in their Harley. Always check with your local Harley-Davidson dealership mechanic for advice.
There are many bikers out there that swear by using heavy duty diesel oil in their Harley. Big Daddy Kane here at Law Abiding Biker™ Media has also done it before in the past. Just know that Harley-Davidson recommendations are different and you definitely could have warranty issues should they discover it. If you're not under warranty then heck, do what you please at your own risk.
Our personal take on it? Oscar and I are going to continue using full synthetic 20W-50 Amsoil in our Harley-Davidson's as it's approved and we love it. I'll spend almost the same amount of money buying full synthetic 15W-40 heavy duty diesel oil anyways. But, if you're using standard (non-synthetic) 15W-40 heavy duty diesel oil then you can go real cheap.
New Free Video Announced:
Pure Gas App we discussed: (Find Ethanol Free Gas)
Email we covered:
Email From: David Caldwell
Thanks! I was scheduled for an expensive dyno tune at Hammer Performance here in Sandpoint (great bunch of guys), but I watched your post re Vance & Hines' FP3. Cancelled the dyno thing, ordered the FP3, and installed it today. Cleaned my 15 Road Glide Special right up. Amazing piece of work. Bought the bike off the showroom @ Lone Wolf, had a stage one put in first thing, and it never would run right. Had them re-tune this spring, but no improvement. Did the FP3, ran a 45 minute map run, zapped it, and fell in love with my bike all over again. The dyno tune at Hammer and the FP3 were basically even money (actually Hammer had the potential to be quite a bit more), but with the FuelPak I can keep tuning indefinitely. As you can see from your roster, I support what you're doing. Keep it up!
- Osvaldo Banuelos of Burbank, Illinois
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Peter Yucius says
What. Is. Up. Ryan, Oscar, Chewy, BDK, et. al.!
I wanted to chime in on the recent podcast concerning Diesel Oils. Totally enjoy these break-downs that you do on different mechanical issues. I remember episode 90 and how much we friggin’ laughed every time Ryan said “alu-min-eee-um” but i digress…
Oscar did a great job breaking down the make-up of diesel oils and discussing the additives, viscosity, boundary protection, hydrostatic protection and all that other crap. Ryan hit the nail on the head when he said that “If I was scraping by and needed to save a few buck on oil changes, I wouldn’t have a Harley.” Most metric riders that pursue these alternatives are doing it for that reason alone- to save money.
The most prevalent choice in this oil segment is Shell Rotella and you guys didn’t mention it by name which i thought was odd. Did you do this intentionally to remain neutral and not advertise a specific brand?? But anyway, the biggest difference between Harleys and metrics is that the motor and transmission on metrics share the same oil. This is a MAJOR issue when it comes to using non-motorcycle-specific oils. The additive packages that Oscar talked about are the exact thing that will JACK UP your clutch. So, those diesel oil alternatives should be JASO and MA something, something rated which means that they do no have friction modifiers in them to make your clutch slip.
I ride a 2015 Victory Vision and the oil spec is 20w-40 semi-synthetic (ya’ll didn’t mention semi-syn’s either). The Vision trans and motor share oil too. Try to find a 20w-40 semi syn at Wally World or Ahab’s convenience store… you can’t. SO, I have tried a Rotella 15w-40 semi-syn in the Vision and I did not like the clutch feel, plus you should change the oil sooner than 5k due to break down. Victory and Amsoil are the only 2 brands that come in 20w-40 and the oil change kit from Victory is $70 which includes the filter and 4.5 quarts. That is a managable cost, but it looks pretty inviting at times to consider using Rotella and saving $30 to spend on ammo. 😉
My other bike is a crotch-rocket Honda VFR800. That takes 10w-40 Thank GOD and doing an oil change with motorcycle-specific oil is $35. SO, no need to try and save a few bucks, but a LOT of sport bike guys swear by the 5w-40 Rotella Full Syn.
Anyway, after all my bullshit rambling… my point is that you addressed Harley concerns with this episode, but you left a lot of issues out when it comes to other makes that share trans and motor oil. You may want to address this at some point. Or not. The oil debate is a crazy rabbit hole…
Peace out High-Tech-RedNeck!
Richard Stergulz says
With Harley not using one sump for motor and clutch oil, I don’t see why friction modifiers would not be a good idea for the engine. If the tech sheets say the car oil of the proper high temp rating was available in full synthetic, wouldn’t it be better with friction modifiers in the engine? Either diesel or extended car oil be better for the engine.
Ryan Urlacher says
I’d say use what Oscar recommends. The guy is way smarter than me…LOL. Thanks for listening.