Saturday, September 26, 2015

Fall Oil Switch-er-oo

As we close off the month of September, it's perfect time to change the oil in my 2015 Kawasaki Versys 1000 LT. It just so happens that I have a scheduled oil change at the moment, but I'd need to change the oil anyway as the season is changing.

In keeping with the oil recommendations of the manufacturer (and the manufacturers of most all of my past motorcycles) the viscosity should be measured against temperatures and atmospheric conditions. In Florida, our Summers are hot enough to call for higher viscosity oils, but our Falls and Winters are quite moderate. This prompts a change to lower viscosity oils or, a "switch-er-oo."  In addition to my Florida issues, rolling through triple digit temperatures in the mid-west this Summer made me glad I was running higher viscosity oil in my new "favorite" motorcycle.

So, as it goes, every September I change my oil from the Summer viscosity of 20W-50 back down to 10W-40 for the moderate temperatures. In April, I'll change back to 20W-50.

Another change that I've just made after 13,000+ miles is changing from a mineral oil to a full synthetic. Since purchasing the motorcycle on March 31, 2015, I've been running Valvoline 20W-50 4-stoke motorcycle oil.

For my recent Fall switcheroo, I picked up some 10W-40 Castrol Power Racing 4T fully synthetic. Both my mineral and synthetic oils are good brand names and meet the type requirements in the manufacturer's specs. As a firm believer in the adage "Oil-is-Oil" that's really all that's important. A good sale on oil isn't important but it's nice. My receipts indicate that I paid $7.99/qt for the mineral and $9.99 for the synthetic.

Generally, given the higher frequency that we need to change oil in Florida due to conditions, such as dusty air, synthetics generally aren't that practical. Area dealers recommend oil change intervals at half of the manufacturer recommendation ... mineral or synthetic. Even though synthetics typically hold their properties longer than mineral oils, we still need higher frequency changes when the oils get packed full of foul crap that's in our air.

So, why am I changing to a synthetic you ask? Well, the answer is nothing more than experimentation on my part. I really just want to see if synthetic oil produces any difference in engine performance and smoothness. In my experience, the 2015 Versys 1000 LT is already extremely smooth, both running and shifting, but there are a lot of reports that indicate the bike may run better on a synthetic. We will see...


I just completed a 5,348 mile road trip with the synthetic 10w-40. I can't say that I noticed any differences, whether in shifting, engine temps, vibration, high-rpm, low-rpm. Nothing, no noticeable differences. I'll be going back to mineral.


  1. Oil changing is a tricky aspect. Most people have difficulty with that; I included (… do not tell anyone). In most cases I do get angry whenever I have to change my oil and at the same time search for a store elsewhere. I mean the work involved is just too much. It becomes worse if I am driving from work.

    Abraham Yates @ Apache Oil Company

  2. If you owned a car you might think that changing the oil in a motorcycle is a very easy process. It is quite the contrary. I tried to tackle this myself and quickly realized that I was in a little over my head. These bikes are high precision and this should be something left to the experts to get it done right.

    Shayne Gustafson @ Berico Heating and Air