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Thread: Oil consumption and colour

  1. #1
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    Oil consumption and colour

    Hi everyone, at the risk of starting another synthetic vs mineral oil war....

    I bought my 2009 Ulysses second hand with 65,000km on it and not knowing the history of it I changed the oil pretty soon after (at around 66,000km) with Syn3, new filter, Formula+ in primary etc. The oil that came out looked fine, still pretty light, but I have no idea how long it was in there. The bike was one owner from new and was only first registered in 2011 (sat around the H-D dealership for a few years) so not too old. I can't see any smoke or anything and it runs beautifully, no hiccoughs hot or cold and puls strongly through the rev range.

    I've now got nearly 70,000km on the clock and checked the oil the other day - it was down about half a quart and is also getting very dark, almost black. I know the manual says to change every 8,000km (5,000 miles) but I'm obviously not going to get that out of it with my riding. It's taken me 6 months or so to put ~3,500km on it and most of that time has been commuting (so lots of idling, bursts of acceleration, getting very hot etc) with only a few good weekend runs.

    So, rather than pouring NZ$75 into it every time with Syn3 would I be better off buying normal H-D 360 20w50 at NZ$44 and replacing it every 3000km? With the mileage on my bike starting to get up there should I be avoiding synthetic oil anyway? Is half a quart every 3000km (~1900 miles) normal? I've seen some other threads about oil consumption but it's usually when the engine is being run in. Thanks in advance!

    Cheers,
    Andrew

  2. #2
    Senior Member lunaticfringe's Avatar
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    andrew: quite a few kiwis on here. happy to see you. my opinions below and my hope and dream is that this may commence an "oil thread" that lasts thru at least July 4th holiday.
    1-@ the 42,000 mile mark most XB's i've seen will consume a bit of oil between changes dependent upon air temps and how hard they're ridden. one US pint(16 fluid ounces) of consumption in 1900 miles not unreasonable.
    2-i suspect the H-D Syn-3 has alot of detergents and dispersants as part of it's additive package. though you didn't mention it i also suspect this was not the oil used by previous owner. chances are the Syn-3 washed away substantial contaminants darkening it which you observed when changing it. i change oil on at least 1 XB per week and in similar situations with approx. 2550 US miles accrued most all of them darken the oil somewhat. nothing to be concerned with.
    3-clearly costs are a consideration on your end. are you aware that the toyota yaris/scion 1.5L oil filter from 2007 and up fits your XB? and are you also aware that you can run any automotive oil of your choice in correct viscosity in the motor/swingarm? these are roller-bearing crank motors with relatively mild valve spring tension rates and are pretty tender on motor oil. having said that never EVER run automotive oil in the primary/trans assembly. it must be correct viscosity and it MUST BE JASO-MA rated meaning "wet-clutch/cycle trans" compatible.
    4-the breather system and spark plugs give insight into the health of your motor. if the plugs are oil-soaked and "coked" around the outer shell.....and pools of frothy oil reside on the airbox base-plate your motor has internal sealing problems and substantial wear. if not it's typically in good health.
    Last edited by lunaticfringe; 05-16-2018 at 02:03 PM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Cooter's Avatar
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    Exactly

    Like a boss, lunatic. A BOSS

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    Thanks lunatic, all solid advice. I'm not too worried about spending money on oil (or other things) that are needed, I'm more worried about wasting money on something I don't need to and mineral oil is a lot cheaper :-P

    I'll whip the airbox cover off and have a look for oil in there, though it sounds like a quart every ~6000km is fine for the mileage I'm now up to. Thanks!

    Cheers,
    Andrew

    P.S I've been amazed at how many Buells there are kicking around NZ - we must be pretty well represented per capita!

  5. #5
    Senior Member Cooter's Avatar
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    I'd rather use synthetic oil and change it less often, but YMMV.

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    Yeah I'll put another round of synthetic through it and hopefully it won't go so dark so quickly - what lunatic says makes sense and it might have just cleaned out the crap built up over a few years. I'll keep an eye on it.

  7. #7
    Senior Member lunaticfringe's Avatar
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    my pleasure andrew. as mentioned quite a few kiwis on this board. great friend of mine one of them. board name Dobe1. can't remember if he hails from north or south island. he prefers to be called "Lebowski" for reasons i've never quite deciphered.
    regarding your lubricants andrew i would not switch back and forth between mineral and synthetic. pick your poison as we say and stick with it. just my opinion based on little to nothing. i don't know what JASO-MA rated oils are available down there but there are better choices than the H-D syn3 line. motul....belray....torco....amsoil....mobil-1....maxima all produce a fully synthetic JASO rated DEDICATED wet clutch trans fluid in correct viscosity. search around and see what's available.

  8. #8
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    We can get pretty much everything down here, but sometimes it costs quite a bit more (the Syn-3 is actually one of the cheapest ones when buying per quart, about $6 cheaper than Belray and Mobil-1). I'll probably roll Lucas 20w50 synthetic motorcycle oil next as that comes in a 5 liter pack which will give me two complete changes (and is JASO-MA rated) and stick with Formula+ in the primary as that seems to give me the smoothest shift (that could be all in the mind though...).

    And yes, I'll do my best to stick with an oil type - thanks again!

    Cheers,
    Andrew

  9. #9
    Senior Member Dobe1's Avatar
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    Lunatic - best mates, however you can be quite tense on Thursday evenings at the bowling alley:
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