Motorcycle Consumables — Oils, Fluids, and Lubricants

When maintaining any motorcycle, people often go to groups and forums with the same questions about motorcycle consumables:

  • What’s the best oil to use?
  • What are the best tyres to use?
  • What clutch/brake oil should I use?
  • What brake pads?
  • What spark plugs?

And so on.

Some of these answers are engine- or motorcycle-specific. For example, I wouldn’t suggest the same tyres for a Yamaha YZF-R1 as I would for a Ducati Monster, nor would I suggest the same set of tyres for two people riding an R1 if one’s planning on touring and the other is planning on building a track weapon.

Motorcycle consumables - oil change

But since motorcycle oils, clutch fluids, cable cleaners and so on can be used on pretty much ANY motorcycle, I wanted to catalogue them here, so you can have a one-stop shop for the best consumables to buy for your motorcycle

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Summary — Motorcycle Consumables

The following are the motorcycle consumables I recommend for nearly every motorcycle.

Motorcycle Chain lubricant

Another one to not over-think.

If you have a chain drive, you need to lubricate your chain every 500 miles/800 kms, or more often if you drive in dirty or wet conditions. (Make sure you have a good brush to clean your chain, too — one of our recommended motorcycle maintenance tools.)

Motul is a well-respected brand, and its chain lube is effective, non-messy, and affordable.

Motorcycle Oil — 10W-40 Synthetic

The recommended motorcycle oils for any motorcycle tends to vary, although they generally recommend something like 10W-40 Synthetic or Semi-Synthetic.

The exact weight recommended depends less on the motorcycle and more on the climate. If it goes well below freezing, a slightly different (more expensive) weight might be more useful.

From the Kawasaki manual:

Kawasaki recommendation of engine oil viscosity - usually 10w-40

And from the Triumph manual:

Oil viscosity chart for Triumph motorcycles

Nonetheless, here are a few of the motorcycle oils I recommend over and over and over.

  • Yamalube 10W40 — Recommended for Yamaha motorcycles, but in general a great, affordable oil. Safe for Hondas, I’m pretty sure. Not recommended for your KTM (j/k)
  • Castrol 10W40 — Much more expensive, but a brand more well-known for oils than machines that use oil. (But is it better?)

Brake Fluid/Clutch fluid — Dot 4

Every single manual I’ve seen says to use “DOT 4” brake fluid for brakes, and for clutches if you have a hydraulic clutch. (i.e. not a clutch cable).

Castrol is a name brand, and this is quality brake fluid that won’t let you down.

Note: In theory, every time you do your brake fluids, you’re supposed to have a new container, even though there’s no way you’d use a whole container every time you do your brakes/clutch (unless you waste a lot). It’s only $10, though.

Motorcycle Grease — Valvoline

  • Recommended: General-purpose Valvoline grease

Grease? Gross!

You actually use grease quite a lot in motorcycles. Aside from it just being a great way of removing squeaks on old bikes, a lot of the bike is meant to be greased and often isn’t — steering head, wheel bearings, and other parts.

I recommend cost-effective but very effective Valvoline grease.

Grease is cheap and it’s way more effective than using whatever other oil you have handy (WD-40 is not a lubricant!)

Engine Coolant — 50/50 Ethylene Glycol

Do you have a water-cooled engine? Then you need coolant!

You do NOT need to over-think coolant. Pretty much EVERY manual I’ve seen says “Use an ethylene-glycol blend” and they pretty much all recommend 50/50 mix.

You can either buy pre-mix, or mix it yourself if you feel vaguely adventurous (but why bother? And also, you would have to find de-mineralised water and do it in a bucket). Basically, buy pre-mix.

If you want, you can use Engine Ice. Many people say it keeps their engines’ reported temperatures lower. But check local street laws, and also track rules — sometimes only ethylene glycol is allowed because anything else is a safety hazard if it leaks onto the road (if you crash).

Motorcycle Cable Lubricant

If you have a clutch cable (and not hydraulic a clutch line), then you need to lubricate it every so often.

You can actually use any kind of lubricant here, but I find that cable lubricant penetrates more.

Another one to not over-think. It’s very cheap, and awesome insurance.

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