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Discussion Starter #1
I hear this all the time on the site, especially when it comes to reasoning on using car and truck oils in this bike as opposed to high quality synthetic motorcycle specific oils. So I have some questions. Not putting anyone down, just starting a discussion.

How come the recommended oil is 20W50 instead of the very popular 5W20 and 5W30 oils or even a 5W40? Do any modern cars run a 20W50? Is there even a 20W50 non racing car oil commonly marketed?

Why does even the 2006 owners manual still say to use API classifications SF, SG, or SH when SJ, SL, and SM are usually the only ones listed on car and truck oils?

Does any car manufacturer list 12,000 mile valve check/adjustment, gear box oil changes and new spark plugs intervals?

Does any car manufacturer still recommend break in service at 600 miles to include oil and filter change, and computer fault check?

Do any cars have starter sprague clutches that get splashed with motor oil and not engage at higher engine mileages?

Does any car manufacture still recommend break in procedures like keeping the rpm under 4000 for 600 miles?

All the above are fairly common for motorcycle engines, but I am not aware of any for car engines. Half the motorcycles in the US have seperate engine and transmission oils.

Has anyone achieved over 100,000 miles using only car and truck oils in their K1200LT's. I know of several that have achieved this with motorcycle specific oils. Any that have not needed valve adjustments? Mine hasn't at 135,000 miles and I've almost only used synthetic motorcycle oils.

Just curious.
 

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TimVipond said:
Has anyone achieved over 100,000 miles using only car and truck oils in their K1200LT's. I know of several that have achieved this with motorcycle specific oils. Any that have not needed valve adjustments? Mine hasn't at 135,000 miles and I've almost only used synthetic motorcycle oils.

Just curious.
Tim,
You bring up a very good point and I'd love to hear some logical answers.

I had 107,181 miles on my '01 when the motor went. It went due to not enough oil. I used Mobil 1 for all but the first 20,000 of those miles.

George
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
George - was that Mobil 1 motorcycle oil or car oil? In the AMSOIL comparison motorcycle oil test, Mobil1 motorcycle oil came in second. This kind of conflicts with my BMW mechanic who told me the worst sludged up engines were those using Mobil1, but I haven't asked him if it was their car oil or their motorcycle oil. I didn't think there was much of a difference until I looked at the typical properties of both.

Also, why didn't you have enough oil in your engine? Did you have a leak, someone forget to put enough in, was it burning that much oil? Mine uses less than a quart between 12,000 mile oil changes.
 

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It is very much like a car engine in that it is liquid cooled, inline, 4 cylinder, overhead valve, etc.. I have had my engine apart, and it is built almost exactly like many car engines, just smaller than most. The cams, followers, valves, and valve guides are of automotive design.

It does have one area that is different from MOST (but not all) automotive engines, that is the NikaSil plated aluminum cylinders, where most car engines that are aluminum block construction have cast iron cylinder liners.

The main and connecting rod bearings are certainly automotive type. So is the chain drive system for the cams much like many automotive engines. The pistons are aluminum, as are almost all automotive engines.

I have read on various oil manufacturer's web sites that their oils are formulated for "high temperatures of air cooled cylinders", with "friction modifiers for engine oil lubricated clutches", but none of this exists on the LT.

If you took the cutaway picture in the service manual for the LT, and turn the picture 90 degrees, show it to anyone that is familiar with engine design, they would have no idea it was a motorcycle engine, and would think it is from a car.

So, yes, it is very much like a car engine in almost every way.

The sprag clutch certainly is not automotive, but just a way to allow the starter motor to be small and short, with no typical automotive solenoid driven sliding gear engagement to the flywheel (commonly called a "Bendix" drive). That takes a lot of space lengthwise. Also on the LT it easily lends itself to allowing the starter motor to perform a dual function, engine starting and reverse drive.

Can you think of any ways the LT engine is unlike a modern small automotive engine?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Dave,

Most of the items you mention also apply to many motorcycle engines. However the items I mentioned earlier like recommended motor oils specifications, frequent spark plug changes, frequent valve clearance measurements, all pertain to motorcycle engines. No surprise then, that BMW specifies motorcycle type maintenance schedules and motorcycle type oil specifications.

It seems to me that API SF, SG, SH 20W50 motor oils which most motorcycle oils meet which were formulated and tested for motorcycles should outperform most car specific API SJ, SL, SM 5W40 and lower viscosity oils that car oils meet which were not designed and tested for motorcycles, and precisely why BMW specifies them. I see no reason to second guess them.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
dshealey said:
Can you think of any ways the LT engine is unlike a modern small automotive engine?
In general:

1. engine size - LT 1171 cc. Small auto 1500cc and larger.
2. Maximum permissible engine speed - LT 8500rpm. Small auto = much less.
3. Compression ratio - LT 11.5:1. Small auto - less.
4. Engine oil - LT API SF, SG, SH, 20W50. Small auto API SJ, SL, SM 5w20.
5. Power to weight - LT 0.1 hp/lb. Small auto - half that.
6. Spark plug change interval - LT 12,000 miles. Small auto 100,000 miles.
7. Valve clearance check - LT 12,000 miles. Small auto much longer if any.
8. Break in and service - LT 600 miles under 4,000 rpm. Small auto - none.
9. Top speed - LT 130mph. Small auto - much less.
10. Fuel - LT premium. Small auto regular.
 

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TimVipond said:
George - was that Mobil 1 motorcycle oil or car oil? In the AMSOIL comparison motorcycle oil test, Mobil1 motorcycle oil came in second. This kind of conflicts with my BMW mechanic who told me the worst sludged up engines were those using Mobil1, but I haven't asked him if it was their car oil or their motorcycle oil. I didn't think there was much of a difference until I looked at the typical properties of both.

Also, why didn't you have enough oil in your engine? Did you have a leak, someone forget to put enough in, was it burning that much oil? Mine uses less than a quart between 12,000 mile oil changes.
I have never seen any motor run on any of the Mobil 1 oils automotive or motorcycle have a build up of sludge.
 

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Motorcycle vs Automotive oil

As far as I know, the only difference between automobile oil and motorcycle-specific oils relates to wet clutch operation. Putting some automotive oils into motorcycle engines where the oil also lubricates the clutch plates can lead to clutch slippage and failure. Motorcycle specific oils are engineered to work with the clutch plate material without slippage.
Since the LT has a dry clutch, an auto oil would be fine. (I certainly hope so, since that's what I've been using!)
 

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nplenzick said:
I have never seen any motor run on any of the Mobil 1 oils automotive or motorcycle have a build up of sludge.
I'm going to guess that this has been covered somewhere, but Mobil 1 had sold in the past an AV-1 synthetic aviation oil for aircraft, air-cooled piston engines.

Some engines had HUGE sludge build ups. The Mobil sythetic had a difficult time keeping all that crap in suspension.

Granted, aircraft piston engines are crude, with lots of blowby in the crankcase, and huge amounts of lead in the fuel, plus, manually controlled fuel mixtures that are frequently set wrong.
 

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TimVipond said:
George - was that Mobil 1 motorcycle oil or car oil? In the AMSOIL comparison motorcycle oil test, Mobil1 motorcycle oil came in second. This kind of conflicts with my BMW mechanic who told me the worst sludged up engines were those using Mobil1, but I haven't asked him if it was their car oil or their motorcycle oil. I didn't think there was much of a difference until I looked at the typical properties of both.

Also, why didn't you have enough oil in your engine? Did you have a leak, someone forget to put enough in, was it burning that much oil? Mine uses less than a quart between 12,000 mile oil changes.

sludge builds up in engines for a couple reasons, the most common being folks using different blends of oils, the other, people NOT changing the oil. Thee cleanest car engine I ever took apart (high mileage) was a 302 in a Mercury GM, the fellow from new ran nothing but Quaker state oil. ya know the oil that got the really bad rep for sludge! the next cleanest was mine using castrol 20/50 wt changed every 5k miles, the next my HD using nothing but Kendall 70wt in summer 50w in winter Car oils period.

the LT I used 20/50w for quite some time (I forget when I went to snake oil (errr amsoil) I would have gone to shell rottella T Syn, but it was hard to find then, now my bike has been on amsoiiled for quite some time (I'm guessing 50k miles, it still gets the site glass as dirty as the castrol did, no differences

Tom
 

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TimVipond said:
Dave,

Most of the items you mention also apply to many motorcycle engines. However the items I mentioned earlier like recommended motor oils specifications, frequent spark plug changes, frequent valve clearance measurements, all pertain to motorcycle engines. No surprise then, that BMW specifies motorcycle type maintenance schedules and motorcycle type oil specifications.

It seems to me that API SF, SG, SH 20W50 motor oils which most motorcycle oils meet which were formulated and tested for motorcycles should outperform most car specific API SJ, SL, SM 5W40 and lower viscosity oils that car oils meet which were not designed and tested for motorcycles, and precisely why BMW specifies them. I see no reason to second guess them.

Ok, most auto manufactures recomend light wieght oils (or at least when they forst started using light oils) was due to the fact they are trying to get the absolute best gas mileage out of them, yes that is true, but if you read in most auto manufactures owner manuals you will see a heavier oil recomeded for higher temps,

just like the HD manual, if you actually read it it states temps above 80 degree use 60wt

not the 20/50
 

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Add more miles per hour for #9....for the BB(Blue Bullet)
 

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TimVipond said:
Dave,

Most of the items you mention also apply to many motorcycle engines. However the items I mentioned earlier like recommended motor oils specifications, frequent spark plug changes, frequent valve clearance measurements, all pertain to motorcycle engines. No surprise then, that BMW specifies motorcycle type maintenance schedules and motorcycle type oil specifications.

It seems to me that API SF, SG, SH 20W50 motor oils which most motorcycle oils meet which were formulated and tested for motorcycles should outperform most car specific API SJ, SL, SM 5W40 and lower viscosity oils that car oils meet which were not designed and tested for motorcycles, and precisely why BMW specifies them. I see no reason to second guess them.
I did not second guess them either. Used BMW dino until 18K, then BMW synth for about 60K, then switched to Castrol Syntec synth, still 20W50, and SH rated.
 

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TonyWilliams said:
------------------Granted, aircraft piston engines are crude, with lots of blowby in the crankcase, and huge amounts of lead in the fuel, plus, manually controlled fuel mixtures that are frequently set wrong.
Fuel mixtures set wrong? I am shocked! :rolleyes:

Why, in all my flight training, at least 10 mninutes were devoted to mixture control. Surely, most people who have no idea how an engine works can grasp it in that time. :D :D Of course, it IS covered in the aircraft's operating manual, and we know everyone reads that. ;)

Shows how slow the aviation industry is to make changes. Only in the past few years have any (few) general aviation aircraft come on the market with FADEC (Full Authority Digital Engine Control), and single lever power controls.
 

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TimVipond said:
In general:

1. engine size - LT 1171 cc. Small auto 1500cc and larger.
2. Maximum permissible engine speed - LT 8500rpm. Small auto = much less.
3. Compression ratio - LT 11.5:1. Small auto - less.
4. Engine oil - LT API SF, SG, SH, 20W50. Small auto API SJ, SL, SM 5w20.
5. Power to weight - LT 0.1 hp/lb. Small auto - half that.
6. Spark plug change interval - LT 12,000 miles. Small auto 100,000 miles.
7. Valve clearance check - LT 12,000 miles. Small auto much longer if any.
8. Break in and service - LT 600 miles under 4,000 rpm. Small auto - none.
9. Top speed - LT 130mph. Small auto - much less.
10. Fuel - LT premium. Small auto regular.
LOL

You obviously have never been to Europe. Almost EVERYTHING you say here applies ONLY to the US market. In Europe there are PLENTY of cars with engines ranging from 600cc to 1 liter that use high compression and premium gas ....

Same applies to the rest here. Do NOT take the US market as gospel. in fact the US market is the exception not the norm.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
ahh.... but American oils are A LOT different than European oils. Much different standards (ACEA) which are set by the European car companies compared to lower standards in the US set by API (oil companies). Many European manufacturers even have their own specific standards.

In the US we can call highly refined, cracked and hydrotreated crude group 3 oils "synthetic" which the marketers of cheap US oils love since they can make "synthetic" oil for a fraction of the cost of a true synthetic. That is not allowed in Europe. Only group 4 and 5 oils which are made from pure chemicals are allowed to be called synthetics in Europe.

Also, I have been to Europe as I have motorcycled thousands of miles in Italy, France, Germany and Austria so don't jump to conclusions, please.
 

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This is a rotated view from the service manual. Sure looks like a car engine, doesn't it?
 

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Discussion Starter #18
So do many European and Metric motorcycles. My question is still if they are so similar, why do they recommend different lubricants and have more frequent maintenance?
 

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TimVipond said:
George - was that Mobil 1 motorcycle oil or car oil?
Also, why didn't you have enough oil in your engine? Did you have a leak, someone forget to put enough in, was it burning that much oil? Mine uses less than a quart between 12,000 mile oil changes.

I was using Mobil 1 car oil.

As far as why it was too low, it was a combination of factors. It did spring a mild leak from a stripped valve cover bolt hole, (the dealer, not me!), but that probably only accounted for a quart or so of loss. It was burning oil and, after the first symptoms of a problem occurred, (noise when idling), it just got worse and worse. The sight glass had gotten dirty and, combined with being a bit tired after riding 12,500 miles in 10 days, I just didn't check it well enough or often enough, (plus, knowing that I had screwed the pooch on the 'Butt, my attitude was pretty much in the toilet as well).

I admit, I am hard on bikes. However, I am on my third K bike, with a little over 400,000 miles on the three combined, and I have never had the perverbial "BMWs don't use oil" engine. All of my bikes used oil. That being said, I could usually go 3,000 miles on new oil before it would start to go away. I changed oil and filters at 5,000 mile intervals.

George
 

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motorcycle engines/car engines and men's bodies vs women's

I think all of us would admit that there is a good deal of sameness in men's and women's bodies. But they are certainly very different in several areas. If you need these spelled out for you, you are on the wrong forum.

Motorcycle engines appear to be very similar to car engines too. The main thing is that motorcycle companies do not -expect- us to ride nearly as much. Yes some of us ride over 25,000 or more miles per year. But that isn't the norm. Most motorcycles are ridden less than 3,000 miles per year. And the engines are both tuned for more power but also designed with the idea that they won't be used as much.

Because of this there is a ---lot--- less engineering done on making motorcycles as low maintenance as possible. Heck, they don't even consider it important to be able to easily get to the air filter. What does that tell you? Ok, they want most of us to spend rediculous amounts of money at a dealership getting that changed because for a lot of us it is scary taking off all that plastic with the hope that everything will go back together correctly.

That is just one of many examples of where todays motorcycles are more like cars and car engines from before 1920. Much more maintenance. Much more unique skills needed to work on motorcycle engines. And yes the skills required to take off the plastic and work your way to the air filter count.

People like me aren't lazy. We just have better things to do. People like me forced car companies to change the way cars were made before we would buy them. I just wish motorcycles would catch up on the good things (easier to get to the parts to maintain and the same maintenance schedule of modern quality cars sold in America).

I expect opinions to vary on my comments. This wouldn't be a message board without that.
 
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