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Old 06-15-2002, 02:02 PM
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Oil and the XS1100

Oil and the XS1100
by David Hansen

Checking the Oil

First off, though it seems obvious, the oil level is checked by placing the bike on the centerstand and verifying that the oil level is within the limits of the top and bottom of the little window on the lower right-hand side of the engine case (near the rear brake lever). Checking the oil level on the sidestand may result in overfilling the case by as much as 1.5 quarts! That much overfill can reduce the performance of the bike in the best case, or damage rings and seals in the worst case through too much pressure.

Changing the Oil

So, with the bike on its centerstand, remove the oil drain plug (don't confuse it with the drain plug for the middle-gear oil at the rear of the engine) and drain the oil. Clean the plug well and reinstall it. Then remove the oil filter (there will still be some oil in the filter to spill out), twist the old filter off the filter bolt and put the new oil filter over the bolt into the filter housing. Place the filter housing back on the bike making sure that the little tabs on the oil filter housing line up with slots in the engine case. Carefully tighten up the oil filter bolt - don't over-tighten, it's easy to strip. Then fill up the crankcase with approximately 3 quarts of new oil. Note: When changing the oil, the drain plug must be removed in order to completely drain the oil. Removing the oil filter alone will only remove a couple quarts of the oil. Most of us typically replace the oil filter with each oil change as well - cheap insurance. It's also a good idea to periodically replace the o-rings on the oil filter bolt and cover (if they didn't come with the filter).

If you put your bike away for the winter, it's a good idea to change the oil and filter right before you park the bike. Change the oil then run the bike just long enough to get the fresh oil distributed througout the engine. Then it will be ready to go when at the first hint of spring. Note: there are other things that should also be done when "winterizing" your bike. If you need further information, just ask via the mailing list.

What Oil to Use?

Third, oil tends to be a religious issue. There are those who swear by motorcycle-specific oils, those who swear by synthetic, and those who swear they get by fine with generic 10w40.

** OLD 2002 info**Most among us have switched to a synthetic oil. Yamaha recommends 20w40 for the XS11. Many of our riders are running Mobil1 15w50 with good results. Mobil1 is highly rated and fits well with the viscosity recommended by Yamaha. Others have used 5w50 synthetic as well. Since synthetics typically have better flow when cold and resist heat better than conventional oils, the viscosity range can be a little wider than with conventional oils. Good old conventional 10w40 is not a recommended oil, however.
NEWER info as of 2016 We have found that running Synthetic is for the most part a wasteful proposition. The clearance/tolerances of the XS11 engine components, specifically the piston rings/walls are too loose/large and so allow contaminants to get past them into the oil requiring oil changes every 2-3k miles. This negates one of the benefits of synthetic in that it would normally last many more K miles before breakdown and the need for changing. Secondly, Synthetics often have friction modifiers in their formulation and these can contribute to wet clutch slippage. Others have reported no slippage when their clutch components are within spec and have fairly new strong springs...but folks with marginal clutch components might not have slippage with DINO oil but would then have slippage after switching to Synth.

However, some DINO type oils ALSO have friction modifiers in them, and so when picking an oil, you need to ensure that the lower half of the API seal is blank and doesn't say "ENERGY CONSERVING" which means is has friction modifiers in it. As far as brands, folks have used WallyWorld/supertech as well as CASTROL and many others in the 20-50 range. Folks living in the upper portions of the USA/Canada and actually riding in less than 30 degree temps have used 10/40 just fine. But once temps are more moderate it's recommended to use the 20/50 range for better protection especially when the engine temps will be hotter with warmer weather. End of new info

Running a heavier weight oil in the XS11 (e.g., 20w50), especially early in the riding season with cool weather, can make the bike difficult to start. Some owners have reported apparent starting problems early in the season that were solved by switching to a lighter weight oil.

For more info on oil check out
Ed Hackett's usenet Oil FAQ

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