10w40 VS 20w50 Motorcycle Oil – What are the Differences?

Last Updated on January 4, 2023 by Leepu Da Maxim

There are some key differences between 10w40 and 20w50 motorcycle oil. Though both 10w40 and 20w50 are multi-grade motor oils but 10w40 oil is thinner at cold temperatures than 20w50 oil. At high temperatures, the viscosity of 10w40 oil will increase but the viscosity of 20w50 oil remains relatively constant.

Key Takeaways

  • If you use 10w40 oil in cold conditions then this oil will flow more easily compared to 20w50 oil
  • In the hot condition, 20w50 oil will flow more easily compared to 10w40 oil
  • What type of oil will best suit your motorcycle depends on the type of motorcycle as well as the weather condition
  • You should always follow the motorcycle manufacturer’s specific recommendations for the type of oil to use in the engine

10w40 & 20w50 Motorcycle Oil – Main Features

1. Useful winter motor oil 
2. Viscosity grade 40
3. More Recommended for lower temperatures
4. Efficient for motorcycles with small or medium engines
5. Intermediate protection of engine components
1. Useful winter motor oil 
2. Viscosity grade 50
3. Efficient in winter at normal temperatures 
4. Ideal for motorcycles, diesel engines, liquid cooling, and air engines
5. Increased engine protection and a further reduction in friction

Why Is Motorcycle Oil Important?

In principle, it is necessary to consider that a motorcycle needs a set of fluids and implements to work. Of course, you need gasoline to use your motorcycle just like any other vehicle. However, motor oil is not only applied to cars or large vehicles. A motorcycle also needs certain oils to function.

Motorcycle oil in particular allows the various components of the engine to run smoothly. The main purpose of this component is to avoid friction of the metal components of the engine. So, as engines run more efficiently and smoothly, the oil is of higher quality and performance.

Conversely, if you do not apply oil to your vehicle, then the metal parts must work with too much friction. Here, already the main consequences are an excessive increase in temperature and a significant loss of power.

In turn, the various components can crack and the seals dry out immediately. Finally, the combustion process simply will not work without good motorcycle oil. So, the first objective is to maintain a proper engine temperature.

This prevents the components and metal parts of the engine from being deformed by the high temperatures. An efficient reduction of the friction in the engine allows for extending the life of these important components. This is the main thing to be able to use a vehicle for many years.

Therefore, the choice of motorcycle oil is important as it is with other vehicles. Every single internal part of the engine can be kept clean to operate efficiently. Heat is removed by the operation of the motor oil. So, it is also necessary to understand that any motor oil has a certain life span that must be considered. 

How Often Should The Engine Oil Be Changed?

As we have mentioned, motor oil has a certain life span when operating in a vehicle. That is why it is necessary to change the engine oil as well as the oil filter every certain amount of time. When using a vehicle, engines accumulate a certain amount of friction inside. This is not only true for motorcycles but all vehicles in general.

In turn, each of these vehicles has a certain specified tolerance. This is why different vehicles such as cars and motorcycles require a certain amount of time. You do not have to wait the same time to change the engine oil in a motorcycle as in a car. Different brands of motorcycles have unique periods for maintenance.

Today’s engines have increasingly advanced with superior technology. So, this creates a greater amount of friction within the engine. So, this could generate small pieces of metal that are detached during this procedure. Of course, this does not happen immediately but throughout the life of a vehicle.

Also, dirt and dust can filter through the different seals inside an engine. This happens even more when the driver drives on muddy or uneven roads. These small elements are gradually deposited in the cylinder heads and inside the cylinder. Therefore, over time the efficiency of the engine can easily decrease.

However, the engine oil is responsible for cleaning every internal part of the vehicle. That is why certain additives are added to engine oil. In general, old engine oil must deal with a lot of debris and small pieces of metal.

So, changing the engine oil allows your motorcycle’s internal engine parts to run free of debris. In other words, you will be able to take care of a large part of your vehicle’s mechanics. In turn, the time taken or the amount and distance traveled by an engine to change the oil and oil filter is often used as a reference. 

What Are The Types Of Motorcycle Oils?

Today, technology has advanced in every aspect of a vehicle. That is why we can find different brands and types of oils. Each of these oils can provide certain advantages and functions for vehicles. In principle, we can find three main classifications of oils.

1. Mineral Oils

This type of oil is one of the most natural since it is formed from crude oil without adding anything special. Mineral oil is a standard lubrication oil.

This type of oil can provide good performance for motorcycles with small engines between 80 ccs and 125 ccs. In this case, the functionality is more than enough to obtain excellent protection for the components of these engines.

In extreme conditions, these oils have a certain structure that prevents certain molecules from joining together. This is the only benefit since other types of oils can provide better protection for engines.

At the same time, the useful life of mineral oils is not very long, although the cost is very accessible. Besides, this oil does not handle very stressful situations for the engine well. 

2. Semi-Synthetic Oils

This oil is one of the intermediate points between synthetic oils and mineral oils. Therefore, the versatility and protection of semi-synthetic oils are superior to mineral oils. Even 30% of the composition of these oils is chemically induced. So, this allows a motorcycle to run much cleaner and more efficiently. 

Also, today’s semi-synthetic oils can provide excellent benefits at very balanced costs. In general, motorcycles with a 125 cc to 180 cc engine should choose this type of oil. The benefits that this oil can provide to these engines are more than enough to protect the entire life of the vehicles. For more powerful motorcycles, there is a more powerful oil.

3. Synthetic Oils

Synthetic oils have a low viscosity index and are therefore perfect for powerful motorcycles. Motorcycles with a power of more than 200 ccs should use this type of oil. In particular, 100% of these oils are obtained in laboratories. Here, in turn, certain additives are added from the use of mineral oils. 

In particular, this option is the one chosen by the most demanding users due to the excellent results it can provide. Synthetic oil can provide the greatest protection and withstand the most extreme conditions.

Whether it is a high temperature or intense use of the engine, synthetic oil protects the components of the motorcycle. While the cost of this option is high, the level of performance is also high. Investing in expensive synthetic oils can reduce the number of repairs to motorcycle mechanics.

What Are The Considerations For Motor Oil?

To learn even more about the different available motor oils, we can mention some additional aspects. This way, you will be able to choose the right oil for your vehicle and your motorcycle needs.

1. Oil Grades

Particularly when you encounter a 10w40 motorcycle oil you should pay attention to these characters. Here, the letter w indicates that it is useful motor oil in the winter. The viscosity index is determined by the first number, in this case, the number 10.

The lower this number is, the more suitable the oil is for cold starting or low temperatures. In the same way, the second number, i.e. 40, refers to the oil’s resistance to constant high temperatures. Of course, these are viscosity numbers that are relative and not actual values.

2. Viscosity

In principle, you may find a semi-fluid viscosity index, sticky or thick inconsistency. For higher-performance machines, oils with low viscosity are required. In this way, the oil can count on free and faster mobility.

This is why mineral oils have a high level of viscosity. On the other hand, synthetic oils have a low viscosity index. Therefore, low-power motorcycles need high-viscosity oil to work well. 

3. Additives

Another important aspect is the number of additives a motor oil can have. Synthetic oils usually have additives that are manufactured from mineral oils. These additives are in charge of cleaning the waste accumulations inside the engine.

In turn, these additives are in charge of optimizing the performance of an engine and taking care of its entire life. This is why the most expensive synthetic oils have excellent additives for the highest-performance motorcycles. Although there are other important aspects, these three characteristics are the main ones.