Regular maintenance is probably the best thing you’ll ever do for a motorcycle. So, if you’re going to be changing the oil and filter anyway, why not pick up some performance in the process? We’ve already discussed the easy bolt-on gains from a Stage 1 session, adding new pipes, a new air filter, and re-mapping the fuel delivery, and there’s lots more we’ll get into later, such as choosing cams and the like, but in the meantime, why not pick up a little performance in an oil can?
The guys at Speed’s Performance Plus (SPP) haven’t let anything escape their notice in their quest for that kick-in-the-pants oomph we all want, which is why they’ve made the switch to synthetic oil for all their oil changes. Why synthetics? Because SPP has found synthetic oils, and there are plenty of good ones available, hold their viscosity longer, do a much better job of lubrication overall, and perhaps most significantly, really remove the heat. Running a full-synthetic can dramatically drop engine temperatures. We’re talking anywhere from 15 to 25 degrees. That’s huge, and especially welcome in a Harley, especially the late models. SPP’s Jamie Hanson says his personal bike, previously running with about 250 degrees of oil temperature, dropped to a consistent 225 after switching to synthetics. And there’s more. With their chemically rearranged and recombined hydrocarbon molecules, synthetics also do a better job of withstanding those engine temperatures that cause conventional oils to vaporize or oxidize. And the synthetics eliminate contaminants, the trace amounts of sulfur, wax, and asphalt that result in varnish and sludge buildup. Synthetics almost always have a superior additive package too, and they cling to the metal so startup is that much safer. Engineered to deliver all the lubrication properties of premium petroleum-based oils, synthetics do all that with none of the cold-thickening or heat-thinning detriments. And they last. Not that you’d want to try it, but independent lab tests have determined that synthetic lubricants can go for 25,000 miles or more without significant breakdown.
Jamie Hanson says his personal bike, previously running with about 250 degrees of oil temperature, dropped to a consistent 225 after switching to synthetics.
We might as well dispel some myths here too, such as the one that says synthetic oils cause engine leaks. Bad gaskets and seals cause engine leaks. If your bike didn’t leak before switching to synthetic, it won’t leak after the change. More misinformation says you can’t switch from synthetic oil to conventional oil, or vice versa. Again not true. As long as the synthetic and the conventional motor oils both meet the viscosity and performance requirements of the engine, they can be interchanged.
One caveat. With a switch to synthetics you’ll definitely want to include an oil filter that’s synthetic compatible. Synthetic oils can cause ordinary paper-element filters to deteriorate prematurely. But there are plenty of name-brand filters available that work with synthetics. Another option is one of those cleanable/reusable metal-mesh filters. Not only would this be the last oil filter you’ll ever buy, these filters flow better and the ones that SPP offers include magnets in the base to further trap metallic particles and the canisters, which spin right on where that stock oil filter went, feature cooling fins to drop the oil temperature even more. That’s something to think about.
Speed’s doesn’t stop there either. It’ll continue the switch to those full-synthetic oils for the primary and the transmission. They’ll use 20-50 in the transmission with a 10-30 going into the primary. The benefits are smoother shifting, better clutch action, and transmissions that click right into neutral.
Now, are we gaining significant horsepower here? Probably not, although a cooler-running engine will always perform better and one of those reusable and free-flowing oil filters will take some stress off the oil pump, undoubtedly freeing up a few ponies. But you’re going to change the oil and filter anyway, right? Or you’re going to have it done. Why not get some performance gains in the process, not to mention all that longevity and durability coming from an oil that lubricates better and stays cleaner longer? How you service a bike, and what you service it with, is worth paying attention to. HB
Speed’s Performance Plus
(605) 695-1401 – MN
(605) 695-2272 – SD
(386) 405-7898 – TN