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Engine Oil

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Nov 8, 2023
2 Harleys, 4 Suzukis, last but not least, BMW R18B
This is always good controversy on the Harley forums I frequent. Gets downright amusing sometimes. What is your go to oil in the R18?
It’s enough for exactly 5 changes, I’m using it in R18, 1250, RnineT, r1200c
Like your HDs, the R18 uses different lubricants for engine oil and transmission so pretty much any "top shelf" oil that meets spec will be just fine. We all have our favorites and just for reference, the current "global" vendor for BMW labeled engine oil is Shell, but in the not so distant past it was Castrol for Europe and Spectro for North America. I usually just grab my "official BMW oil" and filter w/ crush washer when I'm near the shop, but while on trips I do carry the filter and washer and then source my oil from wherever/whatever jobber shop I may be able to do a parking lot oil change. Many BMWs and 100,000s miles also using Mobil 1, Spectro, Shell T6 (diesel oil), etc., etc., and never had any of them cause any issues.
Lepisale must have found Unicorn piss from Switzerland :oops: :oops: :oops:. Even divided down to five bikes, it breaks down to $68.20 per bike for a complete change.

Here's my go-to:

And, to put my $ where my mouth is, I even included my last purchase date, which was a few days ago. Getting oil now so I'm stocked up for spring.

Screenshot 2023-11-12 at 21.40.46.png

Note the approvals are actually BETTER than what BMW's own oil, Part # 83 21 2 334 736, calls for, which are: "API SM, JASO MA2".

BMW Advantec Pro Motor Oil back of bottle.png

BUT, if you go to "Petroleum Quality Institute of America's" website, they have a helpful visual, showing the advancements in "API S-" service categories.


BMW's own oil is using an OBSOLETE API Service Category, "API SM", whereas Liquid Moly is using the latest and greatest "API-SN Plus".

AND, it's cheaper by a long shot!!!!

That's my .02 cents on the matter.

My bike only has 300 miles on it, not sure what BMW will put in it at the 600 mile service. But at around 2500-3000 miles I will switch to redline 20-50 synthetic. I'm in California and it's never that cold here, I'm thinking that blend will quiet down the motor a bit without effecting performance.
Bel-Ray 'Thumper' W15-50

... and yes 'Oil Threads' are amusing ... the great conundrum of the motoring world ;)
Hardly a conundrum.

Just do research and use what you feel is best for your machine. As for me, Liquid Moly provides the best bang for the buck, based on real-life data. I'm not interested in buying Unicorn Piss.

Yep, use to be unicorn piss till few years ago. It was actually green in color! I don’t know about others but I’ll pay top dollar for green colored oil!!!!
Joke aside, tread is “engine oil” not cheap or affordable or to meet specs.
Between me and my wife there is 7 BMW bikes in the garage, and 3 kids in the house all under 10!
So in total we are lucky if we manage to put over 1000 miles per year each. Not each bike!!
They are sitting in garage with AC, so I change all fluids and filters every 2 years, for last 6 years. Price of oil doesn’t make difference, my insurance is a killer!!
I wish I can drive more…..
Does anyone know why the Jaso MA2 spec is a requirement for dry clutch bikes such as the R18? I can't make sense of it from a BMW spec requirement.
Does anyone know why the Jaso MA2 spec is a requirement for dry clutch bikes such as the R18? I can't make sense of it from a BMW spec requirement.
There are so many oil threads...... Bottom line, quality oil options that meets spec are widely available from every major vendor and the cost differences are miniscule.

While I agree with your question/premise as to a dry clutch v. wet clutch reference some additives not being an issue like they would be for a wet clutch, but there are many demands on lubricants and the entire spectrum of needs may best be served with Jaso MA2 being used. That said, with heat, moisture and shear being the main enemy of a lubricants ability to lubricate, I'd bet if changed often enough one could get away with almost any grade/quality oil if the need or desire was strong enough.

Must be winter ;) 🍻 🍻
I always thought the purpose of oil was to reduce wear and heat of mating metal parts. Then along comes the wet clutch notion that we don’t want too much friction reduction?
Anyway.... I've found little to no refference as to why a jaso ma2 spec is still stated in the manual for my R18 or r ninet for that matter..... so I give up....

Of course I understand BMW supplied oil is ma2.... makes sense for them to carry just one 15w50 oil for dry or wet clutch boxers.
My bike is new, going for my 600 mile service soon. I assume the bike leaves the factory with Dinosaur oil for break in, but it might be a blend. Not sure what they will put in it at the service, some sort of 15-50....
My concern is BMW buying their oil and filters in bulk, so they in theory will buy the best deal. I'm a fanatic about my machines and will change the oil and filter every 2000 miles or so, especially on an air cooled bike.
Once the bike hits about 1500 miles or so I assume everything is seated and it's mostly broken in. Then I'll switch to a moly, fully synthetic like a Redline 20-50 and go with a K&N air filter and stay with that.

But everyone has their thing....in reality if you change the oil often, it probably makes very little difference.

What I don't get, is guys that look to save $$ or skimp on their bikes...we are literally riding around unprotected on what amounts to 8 inches of rubber contacting the road. Personally I want to have brakes, tires, fluids, et...in perfect working order. I have enough crap going on at home, I don't want to worry out on my bike.....

What Is JASO MA2 Engine Oil?

The JASO MA2 rating was introduced in the 2006 JASO T903 standard for modern motorcycle engines.

A JASO MA2 oil is simply a motor oil that meets the JASO MA2 rating.
This indicates a few things — the oil is:

  • A 4 stroke motorcycle oil
  • Primarily used for wet clutch applications
  • Suitable for a motorcycle with a catalytic converter
JASO MA2 motorcycle oil is formulated to deliver a higher wet clutch friction performance. This essentially means more grip where the clutch feel is less progressive.

Let’s dig a little deeper into the JASO MA2 rating.

What Is The Meaning Of JASO MA2?

The JASO T903 specification has several categories: MA, MB, MA1, and MA2.

A motorcycle oil with one of these standards needs to meet certain friction parameters in the SAE #2 Clutch Friction test included in JASO T903.

The SAE #2 Clutch Friction test evaluates the oil performance in 3 friction characteristics:

  • Dynamic friction: Defines clutch feel and how progressively the power transfers during clutch engagement
  • Static friction: Torque handling capacity and slippage resistance in breakaway conditions
  • Stop time: How fast the clutch engages
JASO MA2 oil must meet these values (according to JASO T903:2016):

  • Dynamic Friction Characteristic Index (DFI): ≥1.50 and <2.50
  • Static Friction Characteristic Index (SFI): ≥1.60 and <2.50
  • Stop Time Index (STI): ≥1.60 and <2.50
Also, for any motor oil to meet JASO T903 standards, it must have another quality level, like API SJ or API SN. Here’s the full list:

  • API: SG, SH, SJ, SL, SM, SN
  • ILSAC: GF-1, GF-2, GF-3
  • ACEA: A1/B1, A3/B3, A3/B4, A5/B5, C2, C3, C4
Don’t forget to remove rubber ring when removing oil filter - mine was left behind when removing. Also , the K&N 164 is easier to remove when changing.


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