|Synthetic oil for Harley-Davidson motorcycle’s is probably one of the most debated subjects you will find on any message board or in any Harley magazine. I’m not about to fuel the fire about the motor companies about-faceon the use of synthetics, conflicting research reports, or all the mechanics who swear that “only Harley oil is formulated for Harley engines”. Rather than writing about the merits of synthetic oil being a superior product over petrolium based products, I thought I’d simply share my own experiences and let you decide. Performance is what counts so I set out to try several brands for myself to see if there really was a difference. I’m not a chemist nor do I own a sophisticated test facility so my comparisons are based on personal observations and simple temperature readings. To read about wear test comparisons performed between Screamin’ Eagle® Synthetic (SYN3) and AMSOIL Synthetic Oil check out Amsoil vs. Harley SYN3. Also worth reading is the Great Oil Debate article written for American Iron magazine regarding synthetic oils.|
Let the Tests BeginFor my comparison I used a stock 2004 Heritage Twin Cam 88b with free breathing SE exhaust and K&N air cleaner. Following the initial break-in period, the recommended 1000 mile service was performed and lubricants were replaced with Harley brand petrolium based lubricants. The bike was driven an additional 1500 miles and monitored daily for oil temperature after the first week. All tests were performed during the summer months on a daily commute of 40 miles under a combination of traffic conditions. I live in Southern California so the clutch and tranny get a good workout with plenty of time to heat up. What I found was my oil temperature averaged approximately 240 degrees (Fahrenheit) at the conculsion of each commute and appeared to fluctuate approximately 7-10 degrees. Following this test (4+ weeks later) I changed oil to H-D’s Screamin’ Eagle® Syn3 20W-50 in the crankcase, primary, and transmission as recommended. Outdoor temps during this test period varied but were typically in the mid to upper 90′s. Once again I followed the same daily temperature testing and found the oil temperature dropped off an average of 2 degrees below that of the regular petrolium-based oil. Temperature readings fluctuated about the same as the conventional oil. Also the all too familiar shifting “clunk” seemed like it had quieted down slightly. On the down side, the occurance of false neutrals (or false 1st gear) increased substancially! Coincidence? This led me to want to try another product line just to see if it was related to the Syn3 oil or an unrelated occurance.
Third Time’s a Charm!My third test was using Amsoil Synthetic 20W-50 oil in the crankcase, Amsoil synthetic 10W-40 oil in the primary chaincase, and Amsoil Severe Gear 75W-90 Synthetic Gear Lube in the transmission. I should note here that the synthetic oils were those specified for use in V-Twin motorycles and lacked the friction modifiers as rcommended for Harley engines. I also used only genuine H-D oil filters for each test. While you can use the same 20W-50 for all 3 crankcase, primary, and transmission as with H-D Syn3 (the name Syn3 refers to use in all 3), I chose to use viscosity ranges that more closely matched those of the recommended petrolium based oils. This is probably just my own opinion but I believe 20W-50 is too heavy for the primary which requires more cooling than it does lubrication. Same goes for the transmission, where the originally equipped gear oil is closer to 75W-90 and 20W-50 seems like it would be too thin. Harley doesn’t openly publish the viscosity of their petrolium based gear oil (they just give a part number) but most agree it is in the range of 75W-90. Using 3 different lubricant viscosities also happens to be a recommendation of the manufacturer, who calls this a “Three-fluid system”. This test using the Amsoil three-fluid system showed an average temperature reduction of 12 degrees from stock and 9 degrees less than Harley-Davidson’s Syn3. Temperature fluctuation seems to have flattened out as well with the oil temp staying between 225 and 230. Outdoor temps during the day have been a consistent 90+ degrees with quite a few days breaking the 100 mark during the testing.
Things That Go Clunk in the NightAside from cooler operating temperatures the shifting dramatically improved using the heavier 75W-90 Synthetic gear oil. That familiar “clunk” sounded slightly quieter than with the Syn3 oil… but this might have been my own perception since the shifting felt smoother. Overall I’d have to say that the Amsoil (in my opinion) is outperforming the Syn3 oil. I had thought of switching back to Syn3 to do another test, However, since the dealer charges $2 more per quart for Syn3 than what Amsoil costs, it just didn’t make sense to switch back. Slightly cooler operating temperatures, reduced noise, and cheaper price have sold me on this oil. Though I am far from being a scientific test facility, based on my own comparision I would highly recommend Amsoil to anyone thinking of making the switch to synthetic oil. To read about wear test comparisons performed between Screamin’ Eagle® Synthetic (SYN3) and AMSOIL Synthetic Oil check out Amsoil vs. Harley SYN3.
TECH / SAFETY / VENDORS
La Rosa Design is known for their cool leather solo seats and bags for most Harley-Davidson models. And now, La Rosa uses the same leather to manufacture heat shields. Leather has been used to protect you like any other metal heat shield would only with style . All La Rosa heat shields are offered in different lengths from 6” to 12”. And of course, design and leather color to match the style of your seat and bags.
Raci-Babi - Helmet Hair and Riding Comfort Solutions for Men and Women Motorcycle Riders
Ghetto Girlz uses and endorses La Rosa Design's products. We have their custom leather seats, heat shields, saddle bags, tool bags, fender covers and more on our bikes. They make a quality, durable product that fits well and looks great. La Rosa will customize the threading, design and color of the piece you want so you can truly customize your ride. Look at the pictures of our bikes in Ghetto G's Garage to see how their products have transformed them to our own tastes. They are local to the Bay Area so support one of our own.
Expert advice for first-time and returning riders
Ghetto Customs Contact (510) 485-0971
These are 10 Quick Rules of Biker Etiquette.
Rules of Biker Etiquette you would assume are common sense, but you would be surprised on how many people over look them.• Learn the proper way to introduce your self. Remember if your wearing a patch on your back, your representing your entire club. Make sure you do it right.Club name – Road name – City of OriginIf your a prospective member it’s:
Club name – Prospect – Road name – City of Origin
• If it’s not YOUR bike in the parking lot, don’t sit on it or touch it.
• Keep your hands off another persons patch. That includes when your greeting a fellow biker. If you absolutely have to touch their back. Touch their shoulder area where you clear the patches. Remember these people likely went through all kinds of hell earning those patches, so show some respect. The only person allowed to touch them is the person wearing them and the brothers and sisters they share patches with.
• Don’t interrupt a conversation among bikers. Unless your invited into the conversation your not welcome. Mind your own business and go about your way.
• Respect better half. How would you feel if some one flirted with or spoke rudely to your better half. This only leads to a bad path you do not want to be at the end of.
• If you bump into a fellow biker do the respectful thing and admit its your bad. If you ignore it and continue walking they have no choice but to consider it a sign of disrespect.
• Don’t go starting fights in a bar. Why do you think the bars are banning colors? I’m not saying let anyone disrespect you, but be smart about it and don’t be the one picking fights. Your ruining it for everyone.
• Don’t cut into the middle of a pack of riders for ANY REASON! If merging from or onto the freeway, slow down, and fall in behind. Hauling ass and passing another patched member is a sign of disrespect.
• Don’t pass anyone in their own lane, because now your really asking for it. Not only is it illegal, they may “accidentally” stick out a boot and send you off the road. If you don’t know the fellow biker riding in front of you, don’t pull up beside them with out an invitation. They will automatically assume you’re up to no good,and react.
Some of you know that on June 2nd 2013 I hit the side of a drunk golfers car. He crossed 3 lanes to turn into a driving range without even looking at what might be coming down the two right lanes. I have spent many months recovering from this. I was very lucky, since all I could do was just go with it. I could not even use my brakes, it was that quick. Even at 35 mph it still hurts a lot. So be on the lookout for everything that might cause an accident. . Oh and yes it totalled my 2003 Heritage Springer Softail.
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