Is your bike ready for an oil change? Whether you’ve been burning up oil on a cross-country ride or you’re looking to smash the competition with the competitive advantage of premium engine oil, there’s plenty of controversy around the perfect motorcycle engine oil. Whether you’re a firm advocate of dino oil or a faithful follower of all things synthetic, here’s a head-to-head guide to help you get the most out of your next oil change.

What Is Dino Oil?

If you want to ride hard using the same tried-and-true oil your Grandpa used, dino oil is the way to go. What is dino oil? Dino oil, short for dinosaur oil, is a common nickname for conventional motor oil. It starts its life as crude oil pumped out of the ground. Just like the term fossil fuel, it’s not meant to be a true description of what’s lubricating your motor.

Crude oil is refined into a wide range of products that we use on our bikes and around our garage. Here’s just a few things that are closely related to your dino oil:

  • Kerosene
  • Gasoline
  • Lighter fluid
  • Bearing grease
  • Bituminous concrete
  • Wax
  • Petroleum jelly

The biggest feature of conventional oil is its cost. If your engine burns oil or you’re eyeing some hard-core aftermarket mods you’d rather spend your money on, conventional oil is a great option. It’s more affordable than synthetic, so you can change your oil and grab that new exhaust kit.

However, dino oil doesn’t hold up as well to the extreme temperature swings your bike is exposed to. For that reason, conventional oil has a whole list of additives that keep your engine clean and your oil lubricating efficiently. Over time, these additives separate and break down, leaving your oil looking more like mud and sludge rather than premium lubricant.

What Is Synthetic Oil?

If you’re looking for a premium alternative that scientists at your favorite oil company cooked up in the lab, check out synthetic oil. What is synthetic oil? Similar to dino oil, your synthetic oil starts out as crude oil. However, this oil gets a lot more refining and tampering to take it to the next level.

All motor oil goes through a typical refining process, but synthetic oil undergoes refining at a molecular level. This allows you to have engine oil that only includes the specific molecules needed to maximize your lubrication and engine performance.

Before you go all-in on synthetic oil, there is a catch. Premium dino oil as already refined most of the extra junk that could damage your engine. The leftover molecules typically isn’t large enough to affect the performance of your engine, so some enthusiasts feel the extra refining is unnecessary.

For a truly synthetic product, some manufacturers don’t even start with crude oil. These innovative engine oils are highly guarded secrets, so it’s difficult to say exactly what they’re made of.

Understanding Viscosity

The bottom line is that both dino oil and synthetic oil can give you the lubrication you need to tear up the track or fly down the highway. The most important distinction is the viscosity, or oil weight, of your product. Choosing the wrong viscosity is far more concerning than grabbing the wrong type of oil.

Your motor oil is described with two numbers, like 10W-30. The first number is the viscosity when your oil is cold, typically rated at zero degrees Fahrenheit. The second number is the viscosity at running temperature, typically 210 degrees Fahrenheit. The higher the number, the thicker the oil.

Before you go out and grab some 10W-40, thicker isn’t necessarily better. Brush up on your owner’s manual and check out the ideal oil weight for your bike. Depending on the running temperature, viscosity needs and even your climate, you’ll arrive at the ideal type for your ride.

Now that you know what you’re looking for, choose the oil type that suits you. Some newer bikes prefer the purity of synthetic oil, but most are just as happy guzzling down dino oil. Check out your bike, think about what you used in the past and determine the best for your ride.

Choosing Your Motor Oil

There are many pros and cons to each type of oil, so what’s the difference between dino and synthetic oil? Many enthusiasts mistakenly think that the purity of synthetic oil is a permission slip to run longer and harder without an oil change. We’ll crush that dream right now; don’t push too far past your recommended oil change, synthetic or not.

Even the purest oil is exposed to crud. As your air filter misses dirt and grime and as your combustion engine throws out by-products that gum up oil, an oil change keeps things crud-free and avoids severe maintenance issues. Take a look at the recommended oil change frequency and type of oil for your ride and give it what it needs.

Whether you’re cruising on occasional weekends or riding all day on your reliable commuter, keep up on proper lubricant replacement to let your bike sing. Don’t forget to swap out the air filter and oil filter. A cruddy filter with new oil isn’t much better than a cruddy filter with old oil.

Shopping for Brands and Weights

From your favorite riding partner to your neighbor’s cousin who thinks he knows everything about motorcycles, you probably hear all kinds of opinions and arguments about dino oil, synthetic oil and oil change frequency. For an ultimate answer on the question, turn to your bike and your bike manufacturer. Your bike will have the recommended oil and oil change schedule for optimal use. These numbers don’t come out of the air but are calculated based on numerous performance tests.

Keep your bike running hard and your oil moving smoothly. Grab your favorite brand motor oil and experience the thrill of a smooth, crud-free oil change today. Don’t wait until your oil burns up, but listen to your bike and let it settle the unending argument between dino and synthetic oil. That way, you can be confident around every turn and on every race track.