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Thread: Rotella-T?

  1. #1
    Rookie rdx4me's Avatar
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    Default Rotella-T?

    I've searched & read through many, many, many of the "Best oil" threads on here and it seems they are just like opinions so we all know how that story ends so I'm not even going there...

    My question is, the Rotella-T 15W40 is freqently mentioned and readily available nearby (Walmart). Is that the only specifics when buying it?

    Does it say "For Motorcycles" on the label?

    This is my first Busa...

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    Default Re: Rotella-T?

    I've been curious about this myself, so checked out Wikipedia
    Shell Rotella T - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    I'd probably buy the synthetic referenced below (Multigrade synthetic oil -- in SAE 5W-40). Maybe someone else will chime in.

    Shell Rotella T is a line of heavy duty engine lubrication products produced by Shell Oil Company. The line includes engine oils, gear oils and coolants. The oil carries both the American Petroleum Institute (API) diesel "C" rating as well as the API gasoline engine "S" rating. Ratings differ based on the oil.

    Product lineup

    The Rotella product family is categorized by Shell into the following product families:

    * Engine oils
    * Coolants
    * Tractor fluid (a universal transmission, gear, hydraulic, and wet brake fluid)
    * Gear oil

    In the engine oil family, there are four basic oil sub-families:

    * Multigrade conventional oil -- in SAE 10W-30 and 15W-40 viscosity ranges
    * Multigrade synthetic oil -- in SAE 5W-40
    * Single grade conventional oil -- in SAE 20, 30, 40 and 50
    * Synthetic blend oil

    Both the multigrade conventional oil (10W-30 and 15W-40) and the synthetic SAE 5W-40 meet the newest API certification of CJ-4/SM.

    Shell is marketing their new CJ-4/SM oil as "Triple Protection," meaning it provides enhanced qualities for engine wear, soot control and engine cleanliness. Shell's Rotella website indicates that on-road testing confirms the new Triple Protection technology produces better anti-wear characteristics than their existing CI-4+ rated Rotella oil. This is achieved despite a lower zinc and phosphorus additive level as called for by the API CJ-4 specification. (The 15W-40 Rotella T with Triple Protection oil has approximately 1200 ppm of zinc and 1100 ppm phosphorus at the time of manufacture.)


    Motorcycle usage

    Though marketed as an engine oil for diesel trucks, Rotella oil has found popularity with motorcyclists as well. The properties of heavy duty engine oils tend to map to the same requirements of motorcycle oils, particularly those whose engine and transmission share the same oil. (This is called a "shared sump" design, which is unlike automobiles which maintain separate oil reservoirs - one for the engine and one for the transmission). The chemical additives found in heavy duty engine oils work well with motorcycles. In addition, the lack of "friction modifiers" in truck oils such as Rotella means they do not interfere with proper wet clutch operations.

    Motorcycle specific oils tend to cost between $8 and $10 per quart. Shell Rotella T 15W-40 costs about $10 per gallon (or about $2.50/quart). The price economy of Shell Rotella T allows a motorcycle owner to change oil more frequently, thus matching the "extended change interval" value of motorcycle specific synthetics.
    Last edited by AJAY; 01-31-2009 at 09:27 AM.

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    Default Re: Rotella-T?

    Buy it,it's tough oil.

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    Rookie rdx4me's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rotella-T?

    Thanks Ajay! That's some very good information you posted. I wonder what the cost of synthetic is?

    I'll check it out today and see.

    Thanks again!

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    Default Re: Rotella-T?

    The last time i bought 5w40 it was 18 per gallon at wal mart. When I first started using it it was 12. Why use 15w40. Thicker isnt better. Engine will start better using the 5w and oil will get where it is needed faster on cold start. Know that alot of what makes diesel oil good is going away due to the addition of catalytic converters and traps on diesels.

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    Default Re: Rotella-T?

    always mobile one (for motorcycles) for me.

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    Default Re: Rotella-T?

    Looks like I stopped reading too early on the Wiki writeup. Here's some more interesting reading.

    JASO-MA

    JASO is an acronym that stands for "The Japanese Automotive Standards Organization." Among other things, they set standards for oil to be used in motorcycles.

    One standard, JASO-MA, specifies a set of characteristics an oil must meet to be certified by JASO. It includes such things as the amount of sulfated ash, the foaming tendency, and the degree of friction provided by the oil.

    The friction test is what is of particular interest to motorcycles. An oil that provides too little friction has a tendency to allow wet clutches -- those bathed in the engine oil -- to slip. An oil that demonstrates too much friction does not provide the lubricity needed. The JASO-MA test specifies a range of friction the oil must fall within to meet the specification.

    The new Rotella T CJ-4 15W-40 and 5W-40 packaging does not officially state compliance with JASO-MA.

    However, posts in various motorcycle-related forums cite e-mail confirmation from Shell that Rotella 15W-40 and 5W-40 CJ-4 has been tested and shown to meet the JASO-MA friction test. The belief is that the new CJ-4 oil does in fact meet JASO-MA, but the packaging does not carry the certification, nor does Shell advertise it as complying with JASO-MA.

    Testimonies from many motorcyclists on different forums confirm the applicability of Shell Rotella T as effective for motorcycles. Numerous "Used Oil Analysis" (UOA) on bobistheoilguy.com show acceptable wear metal numbers for Rotella T in motorcycles for oil change intervals from 1000 miles all the way to 8000 miles.

    Speculation is that Shell focuses on Rotella's primary market of heavy duty trucking. Emphasizing a motorcycle certification might detract from the primary marketing. No confirmation or denial of that speculation has been offered by Shell.

    It should be noted, however, that Shell Rotella's website does have a category in the "Ask the Expert" section that does mention Rotella usage in motorcycles.


    I'll see if I can find out anything else, but if you ask me, this is the bargain way to get a high quality synthetic oil for your Busa. I'll try it next change unless someone comes up with a reason not to.

    FWIW, my standard oil choice has been one quart Mobil 1 synthetic (the automobile kind) plus the balance of good conventional/dino oil (e.g., Castrol GTX). Been experimenting for years. Found that straight Mobil 1 was too thin for motorcycle engines which had trouble maintaining pressure at idle. Mixed with conventional oils, the Mobil 1 led to significantly fewer needed valve adjustments and the adjustments needed were fewer valves and less adjustment for each valve. This comes from the days of rockers and valve adjustments every 3000 miles. I'm going to try the Rotella synthetic next time.

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    Default Re: Rotella-T?

    I don't know, Rotella-T may be good stuff, but..
    I may get flamed for "wasting your money" on motorcycle specific oil. But I personally, when it comes to oil in my Busa, like to be sure. Just one of those things that lead to a better nights sleep for me.
    I'll stick with "wasting my money" on Motul 7100.
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    Default Re: Rotella-T?

    Ok, more reading. There is a ton of this on the Shell Rotella Forum. For example

    Welcome to the Shell Rotella Forum: Rotella Oil for Motorcycles

    ROTELLA T SAE 15W-40 is a universal oil, meeting needs of many 4-stroke gasoline as well as most diesel engines. It has performance credentials (API Service Categories SL and CI-4) for lubricating both kinds of engines.

    It's best to consult your owner's manual for recommended oil quality. If your engine manufacturer recommends oil meeting any of these API Service Categories; CF-4, CG-4, CH-4, CI-4, and/or SH, SJ, and SL, or any earlier but obsolete category, then ROTELLA T may be a good choice.

    ROTELLA T Multigrade does not contain friction modifiers, and it does not comply with all requirements of ILSAC GF-1, GF-2 and GF-3 (the ILSAC oil specifications are often recommended by many gasoline passenger car engine manufacturers). That can be good for motorcycle use. Friction modifiers can upset wet clutch operation. And the ILSAC requirements limit phosphorus content. Diesel engines and other engines with highly loaded valve trains, as well as transmissions, need extra (compared to passenger car engines) extreme pressure wear protection, which is provided by an additive that contains phosphorus.

    One negative might be where the engine manufacturer recommends oil meeting JASO requirements, which limits ash content to 1.2%. Ash content of ROTELLA T Multigrade exceeds this limit.


    So the poster above, identified as "TechExpert Administrator Resident Expert" (probably a Shell employee) appears to be saying that the Rotella-T may not be sufficient for motorcycle use (due to ash content). He does not say anything about the Rotella-T Synthetic, which I would suspect to be very low in ash content and probably fine for your bike.

    So what the heck is "ash content" in oil anyway? I'm embarrassed to say that I don't really know. I do know that airplane oils specifically have very low ash content and you never never use automotive oils in piston engine airplanes. Airplane oils are referred to as "ashless dispersant" oils and typically run about $4.50 to $7.00 a quart. I typically use Aeroshell multigrade in my bird. Maybe these would also be good for motorcycles. Never thought about that before.

    I do know that diesel engines and aircraft engines both have a lot of blow-by past the piston rings. Diesel because the compression is so high and aircraft because the engines run 2000 hours between overhauls and the permitted oil consumption is very high compared to what one would think acceptable for an automotive engine. With so much blow-by, a lot of carbon goes into the oil, so the oil has to be able to handle that and still do its job.

    Will post later if I have time to research ash in oils, where it comes from, and what the impact is of having ash in your oil. For now, the Rotella Synthetic would be my choice.
    Last edited by AJAY; 01-31-2009 at 10:42 AM.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Rotella-T?

    I have used Rotella T synthetic in my last 5 motorcycles and had good results with noticeably smoother shifting. I also use it in my lawn mowers and automobiles. There are a million other good oils as well but the synthetic Rotella T cant be beat for the price.

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    Default Re: Rotella-T?

    Thanks for the advice everyone. I'm in the process of rebuilding an 02 Busa and with a little more work I hope to have her re-titled & on the road again in the next month or 2.

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    Default Re: Rotella-T?

    I got a friend that has been riding for years, diff bikes but not a busa, and he has always used that rotella synthetic oil. Of course ive seen posts of members that just use zuk dino oil without any problems seen so who knows. to me piece of mind is worth me spending the extra. but what do i know
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    Default Re: Rotella-T?

    Hope I'm not boring the crap out of everybody with some of these technical postings. Here's some material below on "ashless dispersant" oil used in aircraft engines. The short answer is that "ashless" oils do not use metal compounds in the formulation. Why? Because metal compounds leave "ash" behind that can cause preignition in the engine, where the fuel is ignited early in the cycle and can actually hammer the rising piston "knock" which will quickly destroy the engine. Air-cooled aircraft piston engines are very vulnerable to this, especially on takeoff, and you run a good risk of dying if your engine tanks while your taking off.

    So why is this important to motorcycles? Motorcycle engines tend to run higher compression than automobile engines and tend to be much higher performance. Like an aircraft engine, the system is more highly stressed, so it is likely that motorcycle engines are also prone to preignition. Low ash or "ashless" oil makes a lot of sense for a motorcycle. This is probably more true of air-cooled bike engines than water-cooled engines like our Busas, but why screw around when it's easy to put good oil in.

    Here are a couple things from the net if you're interested in reading further:
    Castrol Motor Oil and Lubricants - Aviation Piston Engine Oils - FAQs

    What is an Ashless Dispersant oil?
    Ashless Dispersant oils are formulated from base stocks blended with additives designed with a range of objectives which may include enhancing low temperature fluidity, high temperature stability, corrosion inhibition and anti-wear protection. The additive system is ashless and of a dispersant nature offering greater engine cleanliness. Ashless means that the product does not contain any metallic components - this is important because it reduces the formation of harmful metallic ash deposits within the engine. Dispersant means it will hold small particles in suspension if they do not dissolve, allowing these particles to be carried away from critical areas and filtered out. This helps keep the engine clean. Ashless Dispersant piston engine oils are approved against SAE J1899 specification (superseding MIL-L-22851D).



    Oil Recommendations
    Ashless Dispersant (AD) Oil
    Ashless Dispersant Oil could be written as Ashless and Dispersant Oil. There are two distinct features to remember about AD oil. Ashless stems from a requirement to clarify that the oil does not leave behind any ashes, or burning embers as it cleans. Decades ago in aviation history, oils that cleaned involved metallic cleaning particles that left embers. Such glowing metallic embers contributed to pre-ignition. Detergent oils have long since been removed from aviation piston engines. Aviation oils that clean are required to be Ashless. When an oil has Dispersant qualities, the particles created and removed by cleaning are suspended (dispersed) within the oil. Being dispersed, they are collected better by the oil filter. During the initial engine break-in period, RAM believes that AD cleansing is premature. RAM recommends a non dispersant Mineral Oil during the initial twenty-five hour break-in period of an aircraft piston engine, or replacement cylinder.


    The second site from RAM Aircraft Engines is interesting because they chime in against any synthetic or synthetic blend oil, a frequent prejudice in the aircraft community (unless you're reading something from an oil manufacturer). My own experience is all with mineral oils or semi-synthetics in aircraft. I have lots of experience mixing Mobil 1 with dino oil in motorcycles with good results (greatly reduced wear and high mileage).

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    Default Re: Rotella-T?

    ive always used rotella-t. oil. Ive just used the regular rotella-t oil. I just get it in the gallon jugs at autozone. Never a problem. Comes down to personal preference and i change it every 3,000 so i just stuck with that.

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    Default Re: Rotella-T?

    Rotella-T? I was thinking that was some kind of Pasta!

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    Default Re: Rotella-T?

    You can buy Valvoline 10w-40 4 stroke motorcycle oil at Advance Auto Parts for about $3.85 a quart. I been using it on my BMW (20w-50) , my Suzuki DR 200 and will do my first oil change on the Busa I just purchased using Valvoline 10w-40 4 stroke oil. It hasn't given me any problems! Wardie
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    Default Re: Rotella-T?

    repsol full synthetic is what i use

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    Default Re: Rotella-T?

    Quote Originally Posted by customrt99 View Post
    ive always used rotella-t. oil. Ive just used the regular rotella-t oil. I just get it in the gallon jugs at autozone. Never a problem. Comes down to personal preference and i change it every 3,000 so i just stuck with that.

    Exact same here.Regular Rotella T.
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    Default Re: Rotella-T?

    +100 on the Rotella
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    Default Re: Rotella-T?

    Quote Originally Posted by rdx4me View Post
    Thanks for the advice everyone. I'm in the process of rebuilding an 02 Busa and with a little more work I hope to have her re-titled & on the road again in the next month or 2.
    I have used Shell Rotella Synthetic 15W-40( blue 1 gal. bottle)for years in all my bikes.Synthetic oils are more stable over a wider temp range than standard mineral oils due to the fact that synthetic oils only have one or two hydrocarbon molecules as opposed to thousands in mineral oils. The engines are better protected as there is no crud build up as in standard oils. When torn down, the engines with synthetics will be almost clean and the friction surfaces will have a (protective layer) patina on the surfaces. Why pay more for Royal Purple et al when Rotella does the same job cheaper. Big Red
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