Motorcycle Oils For Vintage Harley Use - Harley Davidson Street Forum - Street 500 and 750
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post #1 of 3 Old 04-10-2019, 04:02 AM Thread Starter
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Motorcycle Oils For Vintage Harley Use

I am trying to figure out what's the best oil for each of my various old Harley and Indian motorcycles.
Yes, I know this is can of worms, but I am considering the application of detergent vs non-detergent oils in various motorcycles.
For example, if an engine is recently rebuilt and fresh with a filter in the lubrication system is detergent oil the better choice, vs an old "as is" engine without lubrication filter to run non-detergent oil.
I am not going to bother bringing the synthetic vs non-synthetic oils debate into this one.
Let the opinions fly!

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post #2 of 3 Old 04-10-2019, 07:55 AM
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Good question............ My opinion, for what it is worth............ I have had many bikes old and new I have also rebuilt engines and have carefully ran them in afterwards prior to selling them on or using them as a daily slog - I have never really worried about the issues that you are considering regarding detergents. Non - detergent oils are 'old-school'. Some used to say that non - detergent oils were superior due to the fact that they left a 'lining' on bearings and surfaces which then prevented wear? Oils with detergents need to be changed as per the spec otherwise sludge build up can be an issue. In today's motoring neither should really be a consideration as the properties of the better class of oils cater for both scenario's. I have always been more concerned with the lubrication properties of the oil when it is initially put in and how good it still is when it is taken out. I have also 'thrashed' modern sports bikes and rode older bikes a little more sedately. I always use Castrol 20w50 Power 1 and never had a problem.

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post #3 of 3 Old 04-10-2019, 11:33 AM
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How far back? we use to use 60W at one time . It would blow today's engine up. We used straight weights and non detergents in some old old ones to slow leaks. Not a good idea anymore. In more modern engines muilt grade 20/50 fills nearly every need. In some extreme cases 20/60.
Plain old HD F+ has been around a long time and been used in gear boxes and primaries on bikes that ran a lot of miles. HD 20/50 same thing. For the most part good oil is good oil regardless of the brand. At one time high Zinc content was used to reduce wear, But the EPA moved against that and most Car oils have none. Some motorcycle oils have a little in them but modern science has eliminated the need.
Leave the non detergent oils in history where they belong
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