10W40 vs. 10W60 Motorcycle Oil: Fundamental Differences

10w40 vs 10w60


Engine oils help protect your engines, such as your motorcycle engine, against wear and tear. They also provide lubrication which keeps your engine running smoothly. Several motorcycle oils are available on the market, each with unique features and benefits.

Among these oils, two of the most popular types are the 10W40 engine oil and the 10W60 engine oil. Both are named after their viscosity levels when at a certain engine temperature. What are their differences, and which one is best for your motorcycle?

What does the W mean in (10W40 or 10W60) motor oil?

The W in 10W40 and 10W60 motorcycle oils stands for “winter.” These oils are multi-grade oils whose designs are for use in the winter months. Generally, these engine oils thicken less when the engine temperature is low or cold due to winter. They thicken more when the temperature increases or the engine reaches its highest temperature.

The number preceding the letter W represents the oil viscosity when the temperature is low for both oils. The number after the letter represents the oil viscosity when the temperature increases.

For example, 10W60 fully synthetic oil, 10 shows the oil viscosity before the motorcycle startup. The number 60 after the letter W shows the oil viscosity when your motorcycle engine’s temperature is at its highest.

10W40 vs. 10W60 motorcycle oil 

You can compare the properties of both oils at different temperatures to help you find out which oil best suits your motorcycle. 

These properties are their low and high-temperature viscosity, oil thickness and economy, and more.

Low-Temperature Viscosity

The number preceding the letter “W” is the value indicating the low-temperature viscosity. It is the measurement of the oil stimulating the startup of a car on a cold winter day. For both oils, there is no difference in the low-temperature viscosity. This difference because both flow like a ten-weight oil on startup in winter. They flow at the same rate when you start your engine.

High-Temperature Viscosity

The number after the letter “W” indicates the high-temperature viscosity of the oil. This number shows the rate at which the oil moves around the engine at normal temperature. For both oils, 40 denotes the oil’s viscosity at normal temperatures for the former. The number 60 denotes the viscosity of the latter at normal engine temperature. It means that the 10W40 oil is thinner at normal engine temperature than the 10W60 oil. The 10W40 oil will, therefore, move around the engine faster than the 10W60 motorcycle oil.

Temperature Range

Both oils perform at a cold temperature when you start up your motorcycle. When in hotter climates, 10W60 functions better and has a better tolerance for the temperature at that point.

The 10W40 oil has a temperature range of -25 degrees Celsius (-13°F) to 40 degrees Celsius (104°F). The 10W60 oil has a temperature range of -25 degrees Celsius (-13°F) to 60 degrees Celsius (160°F).

Since the latter has a greater tolerance for hotter temperatures, it can also resist thermal breakdown. It is because oils with a higher viscosity structure can handle hot temperatures.

Oil Thickness

When you start your engine, the temperature is low, and the less thick oil is preferred so that it will be able to reach small parts to lubricate them. The 10W40 and 10W60 oils have the same oil thickness at low temperatures. The low temperature is also the engine’s temperature at startup, but at high temperature, the 10W60 oil becomes thicker than the 10W40 oil. You can use the 10W40 oil in this situation, but if your motorcycle remains at a high temperature most of the time, you should use the 10W60 oil. Using the 10W60 will help, especially if you want to keep your motorcycle on the road for a long time.

Oil Economy 

The 10W40 synthetic oil increases fuel economy and performance more than the 10W60 oil. The fuel economy and performance increase because the 10W60 oil thickness will not let it get into every corner of your engine. The oil cannot also freely pass through the tiny holes meant for the 10W40 motorcycle oil.

Suitable Vehicle Type

The 10W40 engine oil is popular for use with medium and heavy-duty gasoline engines. It also serves as oil for diesel engines or motorcycle engines. You can also use the 10W40 synthetic oil as an alternative for vehicles with leaking issues in older engines. The 10W60 oil, on the other hand, is highly recommended by leading car manufacturers. Cars like BMW, Porsche, and Mercedes Benz mostly use the 10W60 oil.

What happens if you use a 10W60 oil instead of a 10W40 oil?

If your engine’s manufacturer does not recommend it, you should not use a 10W60 instead of a 10W40 motorcycle oil. You shouldn’t use this oil because it will not run smoothly due to the oil’s viscosity. You will also have a drastic decrease in your engine’s fuel economy and performance. As explained above, the inability of the 10W60 to reach certain engine parts to lubricate them is responsible for this.

Read : How Often To Change Motorcycle Oil


Q. Can I use 10W60 instead of 10W40?

If the owner’s manual does not recommend it, you should not use it. It would be best if you do not use it majorly because your engine will have a drastic decrease in fuel economy and performance of your engine.

Q. Which Is Better: 10W40 or 10W60?

Depending on the motorcycle you use, you should check the recommendations in the owner’s manual. Checking the owner’s manual will help you know the type of oil best for your motorcycle. Some motorcycles, especially racing bikes, recommend using 10W60 oil. It all comes down to the recommendations of the manufacturer because of this.

Q. Is 10W40 good for motorcycles?

The 10W40 is a thick oil but thinner than regular engine oils. It makes the oil the perfect fit for your motorcycle as it is continuously working to lubricate all moving parts of the motorcycle on startup.

Q. Why do BMW cars use 10W60 motorcycle oil?

BMW cars use the 10W60 oil because it supports the gasoline and diesel engines on road and off-road operations.

Read Also : 10W40 Vs 20W40 Motorcycle Oil


It can be a tricky situation when selecting oil to be used for your motorcycle. However, it is always important to remember that the manufacturers know best. After all, no one knows a creation better than its creator! You should always follow their recommendations when buying the oil to use on your motorcycle.


I am Engr. Z Eusuf Lubricant Specialist, Mechanical Engineer & has been working with engine lubricants for a long time and knows what makes them work best. I can help you find the right oil for your needs, and I have tips on how to keep your engine running at its best.

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