What is the meaning of oil? A dictionary would define it as any one of a great variety of unctuous combustible substances, not miscible with water. Oil – It is one of the most important part of an engine. What blood is to us humans is what oil is to engines. Oil serves several important functions in an engine mainly lubrication, cooling, efficiency, anti-rust agent, protection etc.


What oil does for the motor is generally known to all. But what is relatively unknown are the different standards and quality of oil that are available in the market. There are several different ways of ascertaining the properties of an oil the most commonly used ones are the codes such as SAE, JASO, MA, MA2, 20W40, 20W50, 10W30 etc. etc.

These codes are usually found on oil containers for the purpose of easy identification and classification.

  • API – American Petroleum Institute
  • JASO – The Japanese Automotive Standards Organization
  • “S” grade stands for Petrol vehicles. (Sprak Ignition)
  • “C” grade stands for Diesel vehicles.(Compression)
  • “W” for winter
  • Multi grade
  • Single grade
  • EP – Extra Pressure
  • SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers
  • MA – Grade for Wet Clutch type vehicles (HIGH FRICTION VEHICLES. Non Clutch Slipping Oil)
  • MA2- next version of MA(HIGH FRICTION VEHICLES Non Clutch Slipping Oil)

[MA or MA2 means you are guaranteed that the clutch won’t slip]

Multi grade Oil: Suitable for both vehicles like Diesel and petrol/LPG/CNG.
Single Grade Oil: Suitable for petrol or diesel, depending on oil grade.

EP or Extra Pressure is suitable for only gearbox applications. This grade type is not suitable as an engine oil and is also not suited for gear boxes of two stroke engines. In two stroke engines, regular engine oil is recommended as per the manufacturer.

Petrol Engine Grades :- SA, SB, SC, SD, SE, SF, SG, SH, SJ, SL, SM.
Diesel Engine Grades :- CA, CB, CC, CD, CD-II, CE, CF, CF-2, CF-4, CG-4, CH-4, CI-4, CJ-4.

We all have motorcycles with petrol engines, hence the manufacturer would only recommend “S” grade oils In which, most people prefer API/SAE-SL/SM (JASO MA or MA2). SM is relatively a good grade of oil which has better oxidation resistance, deposit protection, wear protection and low temperature performance.

There are a lot of imported oils suitable for Indian motorcycles. But one thing to remember is that foreign bikes and riding conditions differ from Indian ones so those oils would be more suitable for higher CC engines and not Indian motorcycles also most vehicles abroad employ dry clutch systems for which a different grade of oil would be recommended by the manufacturer when compared to Indian bikes because in Indian we only have motorcycles with wet clutch systems, which highlights the fact that the best oil for your bike would be the manufacturer recommended grade. But that isn’t the end of the story here as we can use grades of slightly better quality provided it falls in the same category. For example if the manufacturer recommended oil grade is API SL(JASO MA) and if, in the market, the oil company introduces a newer grade of the same oil like API SM (JASO MA2), then we could buy it.

Sometimes mechanics pour oil which into petrol engines which are more suited for diesel engines. Hence one needs to ensure the grade of the oil used starts with the letter “S” (e.g. SC,SM). If the mechanic uses something else, it would be best to help him understand the grade types.

For better understanding refer to the following information on the qualities of various grades.

  1. 0° C(32° F) – 5W-20, 5W-30, 10W-30,10W-40,20W-50
  2. -18° C (0° F) – 5W-20, 5W-30, 10W-30, 10W-40.
  3. BELOW -18° C ( 0° F) – 5W-20, 5W-30.

The above represents the temperature below which the consistency of the oil would deteriorate.

In the same grade, there are a few more different type of oils based on their contents, for example mineral, semi synthetic and synthetic.

  • What are mineral oils?
    Mineral oils are based on oil that comes from our dear old Mother Earth which has been refined. In simple language NATURAL OIL.
  • What are Synthetic oils?
    Synthetic oils are entirely concocted by chemists wearing white lab coats in oil company laboratories. In simple language ARTIFICIAL OIL
  • What is the meaning of Semi Synthetic Oil?
    Semi-synthetic oil, is a mixture of natural and artificial oils. It is safe to mix the different types, but it’s wiser to switch completely to a new type rather than mixing.

It is good to use flushing liquids before our mechanic friend pours in new oil. Usage of flushing liquids are advisable once or twice a year, It also depends on kilometers covered. Do not use kerosene, diesel or petrol as a flushing liquid for removing carbon. It may damage the bearing surface and it’s oil filming. Please read all the intsructions before using flushing agents.

Do not mix mineral oil with synthetic or semi synthetic when we top up the oil level. New grade oils have better detergents that remove the carbon content. So try to use new grades rather than old. Do not use car engine oils for motorcycle purpose. That may harm the motor. Car engine oils content with friction reducers. Two wheeler engine oils – specifically four stroke engines with a wet clutch multi plate setup do not need oils with friction reducers as they can increase or decrease the friction, If we use friction reducer then the clutch will start slipping fast at high rpm or at the time or heavy load and high torque.

Soon we will be hearing about ILSAC grades:- International Lubrication Standard Advisory Committee. Due to limitations we can’t publish a detailed oil grade chart. In the market there are lots of Oil companies, with various different types of oils for almost all types of engines so producing a detailed list would be really time consuming. I would, later on, post a chart on the most common and important oil grades.

– Chinmay Dangre

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  1. Which Engine Oils meeting “API CG4 15W40” are available in India?

    Can these be used where Minimum “API CF4 15W40” or “API CF4+ 15W40” is recommended?

  2. As I mentioned “c” series for diesel not for petrol. So CF4 certainaly not for petrol engines. Since if the Q is for diesel bike then the only diesel was from Taurus, Suraj in 2 wheeler segment. But if u want for petrol engine then go for Motul 15W50 “SM” grade

    • Dear Chinmay, can you please advise me for the best oil for my vintage royal enfield 4stroke bike for better performance, long run, smooth engine, good pickup, for excellent ride, as im working out of country so please advise me the best oil with your experience suitable to my requirement.

      Thanks for your anticipation,

  3. Chinmay Dangre:
    As I mentioned “c” series for diesel not for petrol. So CF4 certainaly not for petrol engines. Since if the Q is for diesel bike then the only diesel was from Taurus, Suraj in 2 wheeler segment. But if u want for petrol engine then go for Motul 15W50 “SM” grade

    Yes Chinmay, I had asked about the Diesel Engine Oils to be used in Tata Indigo.

    I used Castrol CRB Turbo SAE 15W40 CH4.
    Tata Motors Ltd Recommended to use SAE 15W40 CF4+. So CRB Turbo SAE 15W40 CH4 passes the Recommendation although I read behind the CRB Turbo Can that it is recommended for Light Commercial Vehicles.
    But as it passes the Tata Motors Ltd Recommended Grade, I am safe to use the same.

  4. What are the specific disadvantages of using a diesel oil in a petrol engine and vice versa, assuming a similar generation of oil is compared (SM v/s CI 4).

  5. The constraints imposed by the two engines are not entirely identical: more particularly the minimum performance levels of chemical properties relating to detergent action and dispersion are different. << straight from Motul.

    1. Higher dispersancy to deal with higher levels of soot
    2. Higher detergency levels to minimise depositing on components and as a result a higher TBN which will minimise the risk of Sulphuric Acid formation from diesel dilution.
    Diesel engine oils, as compared to petrol oils, do not have very good low temperature sludge formation resistance.

    3. Diesel oils are useable in petrol engines, but if signs of low temperature sludge formation are seen, then switch back.

    4. Petrol engine oils are not suitable for diesel engines in the long term because of the lack of detergency/dispersancy predominant in a diesel, and also a lack of high temp sludge formation. << Collected Info.

    So the main point is detergent, additives, chemicals (if it is synthetic) level which are given by the company for specific engines which can harm if we pour it in wrong engines.

    I have purposely copied some of the info from specific sites. Which can satisfy you in peoper words.

    For example:- Now a days all the oil manufacturers write about CNG/LPG complaint oils. Every fuel shows its own identity. And works at different temprature. High performance oils are different due to high temperature, domestic engines need different grade to keep the engine in condition. Since Diesel engines works on compression and petrol works on ignition, so the temperature is also different. There will be huge carbon deposition factor in both types of engines. The sludge formation can decrease the efficiency of the engine. Thats why it is advisible not to use oil which are for diesel engines in petrol engines. But yes There is one grade which manufacture writes on the pack "MULTIGRADE" in that case the level of additives etc..etc.. meets both the engines (At certian limits).

  6. Thanks for the detailed reply!

    The reason for my requesting information on the same was the impression that diesel oils apart from better soot dispersion also have better shear resistance, something that motorcycle engines with a unitary construction need sorely, esp ones with tiny sump capacities (such as those made by HH).

    While using a non Jaso MA oil may seem like heresy given the wet clutch, in actual usage, unless the plates are on the way out/hard to begin with, it does not make too much difference on the low powered engines available here. Besides, if the oil is without the friction modifiers, it may not make too much difference as far as the clutch is concerned. See here for article on usage of “non motorcyle” oils in a motorcycle engine:


    Interesting result? The bike the test was done on has a wet clutch, BTW. And price had little corelation to performance either.

    At present I am trying an experiment running 70% diesel oil (Castrol RX 15W40, CH4) and 30% synthetic (Mobil 1 5W50 SM), the latter for better startup protection (again, my perception). Why not straight Mobil 1? The only three synth oils that I have used (Mobil 1, Shell Helix ultra, and Pertronas Sprinta 5000) tended to vaporize and get lost through the breather in significant quantities, a big nono on a fast long distance run. Mixed thus the vaporization loss would be insignificant, if any (and there seems to be a lot less).

    So far I have done only two oil changes with this mix, at about 3000km intervals, and to me the oil “seems” just as thick on drainage as compared to the HH original oil (10W30) which feels like water is draining out of the sump. There does not seem to be any degradation in performance either (cold start behaviour, sustained high speed running etc) that is noticeable in less than 2500 km with the HH oil.

  7. Hi

    I bought an MC, a 4 cyl 1988 Suzuki GSX-R 750, where the oil were mixed with petrol and i drained it all out. Did the same with the oil cooler. Also changed oil filter.
    I put in a 10-40 synthetic oil for cars due to the fact that it’s alot cheaper. All i want this oil to do before i drain it is to “clean-out” all petrol residue and any other objects that may be inside the engine and cooler. Then my plan is to drain engine and cooler, change filter and fill up with new motorcycle oil Motul 10w/40 (i think).
    Will it matter that i used the cheap car-oil? i will run engine on low RPM until it’s warm and then drain. Maybe i’ll take the bike for a short spin on low rev’s and not for long.

    Best regards


  8. Dear Chris,
    In any engines it is recommended not to use petrol for flushing. Always use flushing agents for the same. Petrol always defilm the oil layer from the spares. For example take one brand new bearing and roll it n listen the sound. then keep the bearing in the petrol for few mins and wash it. n then listen the sound while rolling it. It will change the sound rough way, u wil hear harsh sound from the bearing. Same thing happen inside the engine. Generally now a days all the oils are having high detergent levels which cleans the engine very well. But if u are more concern then always use flushing agent in old oil, roll the engine for some time and then flush it. suzuki GSXR has wet clutch so make sure your buying MA/MA2 grade oil. I suggest go for Motul synthetic 15w/50 for that. using car oil in wet clutch bikes is not reommended at all because they r not for wet clutch. if u have doubts then please mail me on macasp@gmail.com

  9. Hi Chinmay

    Thank You so much for your help. I’ll drain the synth car oil and put in the Motul with new filter and then drain it again with new filter.
    Guess i’ll ask before doing a stunt like this again..not aware that clutch may slip and those things.

    Best regards,


  10. Dear Ravneet,
    STD CI-350cc RE :- API SM Motul 15W50 for engine oil. 2lit initially but after riding recheck the level in cold state and top up by som e.coz i don’t know hw ur mech drain the oil.
    Clutch oil :- Hero Honda 4t plus 10W30 420ml.
    GB:- 200mg AP-3 grease + 700gm(almost near to 600ml) 20W40 engine oil. mix it well and then pour it in the Gear box. For gear selector assembly use black color castrol grease.
    if the GB is 5 speed then EP90-500ml….

  11. Chinmay,

    The Enfield company suggests 20w 50 for STD 350. Some experts in this field also recommend straight 50W because it is more suitable for hot climate like central India.

    I do not see your logic in suggesting 15w 50 unless you are assuming much change in climate from very cold to hot.

    Supriy Fale

  12. Hi chinmay
    i wanna knw d bst m.oil 4 my bullet 350 std
    is synthetic oil good than which one n wats d cost
    gv complete info.thnx dude

  13. Thanks for valuable information, please advise me which oil should I use for Pulsar 150 DTSI (2005 Model)? As per my mechanic advise I m using Castrol GTX 20W50 Oil from last 4-5 Years.

  14. which oil should i use for pulsar (135cc)?
    d company recommends 20w50 . if any problem when i use castrol power1 (15w40).

  15. Hi !

    Which High Performance engine oil is better for Pulsar 150 DTS-i currently in the market of Castrol company.
    I purchased the bike in the year 2005 at that time oil recomended by bajaj is SAE 20W40 of API SG + JASO MA Grade. Which is the better & advance in this grade currently available in the market by castrol (for e.g. Castrol Active x, Castrol Active x Plus,Castrol Power -1)? Also suggest me which engine oil is better according to weather in India for Summer, Winter & Rainy seasons for high pickup and smooth engine feeling & Cooling of engine.

    One more request can you please eloborate what is 20W40 etc. Is that the range of Centigrades in Winter?

    Please give a reply in detail explaining why?

    Thanks for your time & experties on this.


  16. Hi friends, i own FZ 16 and it now three years since i bought it…initial days i was using YAMAHA LUBE engine oil but, i was not vey much satisfied with its performane. From 5th Service i stated using shell Advance AX5
    Premium mineral 4-stroke motorcycle engine oil
    Shell Advance AX5 is an ideal oil for standard motorbikes. Mid-size engines require reliable oil performance under a range of conditions during the stop-start cycle of commuter journeys. Till date i have not faced any issues , my engine sound the same way how it was when i took it out of the showroom three years back…I have done almost 30000 Kilometers…and still the top speed is 125 default engine with no performance upgrade…Enjoyee.

  17. I want to know the better alternatives for Motul 3000 4T PLUS, 15W50 API, SL Grade JASO MA.
    Plz suggest me.
    (recommended for Bullet UCE 350)

  18. I own a yamaha R15 & have completed 13,000 km but im not satisfied with the current oil that im using in my bike yamaha lube recommended by yamaha so I kindly request you to plz advice me for best engine oil with grade for my bike

    • Go ahead and put motul 5100. 15w50 semi synthetic oil u will love it like anything my friends are using this oil for there r15 v2.0 use this oil and don’t put 300v fully synthetic right away just put this oil and feel the difference. Which u will get exactly after 200 km of using 15w50 oil

  19. Diesel engine oil or heavy duty engine oil (HDEO) is suitable for motorcycle. The thing to watch out for is it API rating. Most HDEO is dual rated for both “C” and “S” rated. they are commonly use oil for motorcycle for years in the states and bikes have been clocked countless miles on HDEO.

    HDEO is normally cheaper then motorcycle specific oil and used oil analysis(UOA) have show it to perform equal or even better then a lot of motorcycle oil out there dosen’t matter synthetic or not. it is a very stout oil. common viscosity of HDEO is 15W40 and this grade is normally much more shear stable then many common synthetic 10w40 or 5w40 oil as it uses less viscosity index improver (VII).

    a good place to start learning about HDEO for motorcycle is http://www.bobistheoilguy.com/forums/ubbthreads.php
    spend some time there to understand why is it so and why choosing the more expensive synthetic oil over mineral does not mean you can getting better protection if your usage does not demand those level of protect.

  20. hi…goodmorning,
    i have one 500cc bullet, and want to change engine oil,,,,i have gtx 20w50 with me,can i use that

    with anticipation
    dr saan

  21. could we consider 5w50
    fully synthetic engine oil the best grade
    engine oil as it have higher winter and summer

  22. Iam using SUZUKI ZEUS 125 , 2008 model, clocked 32000kms. . . . Which engine oil is best in fuel economy for zeus bike ? Can i use Herohonda 10w30 4t plus? Any pblms ? Pls tell me. . .thanq

    • Try moto 4 gold 20w40 rs 260. or gulf pride 4t plus 20w40 rs. 230. Both will give u a real good taste to your bike exactly after 200 km of running the bike use it and let us know accordingly

  23. I would really appreciate if u could answer this.

    I have been using gulf pride 4t plus and moto 4 gold 20w40 only till date but now I would like to shift to semi synthetic should I go for it or stick with 20w40 only. If suppose u suggest I can go for semi synthetic how is castrol power 1 15w40 for honda cb unicorn. I have done 5500 km till date it is a 6 months old vehicle.

  24. Hi Chinmay,

    Thanks for sharing such valuable information’s. I was very keen to know about oils. I get to know a lot of details from your post.
    Could you please clarify one of my doubt?
    I have Royal Enfield Standard 350 (1996). My mechanic suggesting me to use Castrol 90 no (gear oil) in engine. I questioned him, Is there any specific reason to use 90 no oil. he said it is more lubricative and give strength to engine and will not got think in high temp also. He said this oil helps in good and quick engine start.
    However, I have heard from few mechanics that 90 no (gear oil) is not at all good for engine. It is like cholesterol for engine and harms a lot.
    Now, Could you please clarify my doubt? Which one is good? Can I use Castrol 90 no (gear oil) as engine oil in my RE-350. Will it improve engine performance?
    Thanks in advance.


  25. Hi All,

    I have Bajaj Bike – 1ooT -(Twin spark engine). I am awaiting First service of my Bike.

    Please suggest which is the best engine oil?


  26. Thank you so much.
    this info was really helpful and answered all my questions within a minutes time.
    great job.
    sir, can u please help me with your email id.
    thanks and regards,

  27. ALL FELLOW PEOPLE for an oil advice use this oil in any bike then tell me the performance its elf hdb ultra 20 40 i am using for the past 10 years 5k km gurante with ultra smooth of engine mail me to qfirststar@gmail.com

  28. Hi,I want to know best engine oil for pulsar 135ls. Is castrol power 1 20Ww50 or Valvoline 4t synthetic blend 20w50 oil good or any other brand? Currently i am using Motul 15w50 should i switch or continue using motul please reply.


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