MOTO2N Oil Changes: Motorcycle Oil vs. Rotella T4/T6

Motorcycle-specific oils are expensive.

A quart of motorcycle-specific, conventional Valvoline 10W-40 goes for about $10 at the local auto parts store. Frankly, that price is silly for a quart of conventional oil.


$10/l at the parts store! Crazy!!!

A 1-gallon jug of Maxima 10W-40 goes for $28 on Amazon.

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You can’t buy Maxima oil at Walmart. You have to get it from Amazon, eBay, or a motorbike store. And you’ll be charged a premium to boot.

Don’t even get me started on the full-synthetic, motorcycle-specific oils available from companies like Amsoil, Motorex, and Mobil1. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not pay $20/quart for oil. That’s just bonkers.


This crap is $20/l. It must be imported from Sweden by authority of the King… or something.

There has to be a better way, right?

What’s the difference between auto oil and motorbike oil, anyway?

Motorcycle-specific oils are designed to work with wet clutches. Automotive oils use additive packages that don’t always play nice with motorcycle clutches. Using the wrong type of oil can make your clutch slip.

Scooters don’t have wet clutches. You can use just about any kind of halfway decent automotive oil you want in your scooter.

When you’re buying oil, look for the letters “JASO MA” on the bottle. “JASO MA” means the oil is OK to use in motorcycles that have wet clutches.





I’m not a petroleum engineer. I’m just a guy who wrenches on and rides motorcycles. I make a living working on motorcycles, scooters, and ATVs, so I concern myself with this sort of thing.

What’s the least expensive “JASO MA” rated oil on the market?


Walmart oil, baby. JASO MA. It’s inexpensive and widely available.

It’s Rotella, and it’s marketed as a diesel truck oil. But it has the letters “JASO MA” printed on the bottle, which means it’s OK to use in motorcycles, according to the manufacturer. They could be lying or fudging the truth for sales. I doubt a company like Shell/Rotella would do that just to capture a tiny part of the motorcycle oil market, but let’s be suspicious for the sake of it. Let’s not trust the bottle. How does Rotella work in the real world, according to people who have actually used it in their motorcycles?



By all accounts, it works really well. I’m not going to annotate them for you, but you’re more than welcome to check out some of my sources:



From Randakk’s Cycle Shakk:

From (crazy thorough site all about oil):

From, a Ducati site:


That’s a heck of a lot of reading. You’ll notice some people feel their bikes make more power or shift better when using “motorcycle-specific” oil compared to the Rotella, but it’s a rare complaint. Some people say their bikes work better with the synthetic 5W-40 Rotella T6.

I sometimes wonder if riders “notice” the oil change they just did but fail to notice their bike gets faster as the ambient temperature drops. There are a whole bunch of things that can contribute to a “feeling” like that, including straight-up personal variance. I know my bikes feel faster and seem to work better when I’m feeling excellent. It’s always hard for me to get my bikes to do what I want them to do when I’m in a bad mood.

We tend to think of ourselves as a constant, but in reality our minds, bodies, and feelings are a lot more “flexible” than a motorcycle’s mechanical bits. You might think you’re a “rock,” but you’re actually just a squishy little person just like the rest of us are.

With all of that said, the vast majority of bikes work fine with Rotella. I’ve decided to make Rotella part of my bulk oil program. I always give my customers the chance to choose (and purchase) a different oil for their bike. If you don’t have a preference, I will pour Rotella 15W-40 into your bike’s crankcases and pass the savings on to you.

Oil Prices @ MOTO2N:

Rotella 15W-40 T4 Conventional: $6/l

Rotella 5W-40 (recommended viscosity for modern Vespa) T6 Synthetic: $8/l

Valvoline 10W-40 Conventional: $10.5/l

I use Rotella in every bike I own, and I’ve never had a problem with it. I also change my oil frequently. I like to take the spurs to ‘em on a regular basis.

Oil changes run $42.5 + parts. Filters are ~$15. Oil starts at $6/l.

MOTO2N uses what works. If you want to spend more on oil, be my guest.

More Sauce:




Posted in Motorcycles, Scooters

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