Engine Oil

V-Twin Engine Tech: Power, Protection, and Piece of Mind

Since the 1980s, Red Line has been a partner with American V-Twin motorcycles. Red Line has received tremendous support from road bike and racing community experts over the past 30 years, including AHDRA Drags and AMA dirt track racing. Red Line also enjoys the performance and cruising scenes at Daytona or Sturgis. Red Line is used by legendary V-Twin builders Kenny Tolbert and Bill Werner, as well as respected tuners such Dan Fitzmaurice and Hal’s Speed Shop. NHRA Champs Matt Smith and Byron Hines rely upon Red Line to reduce wear, increase power and improve reliability.

These same principles apply to all popular bikes, including Panhead and Shovelhead to Evos, the most recent production bikes, and even Evos. V-Twins have a unique challenge: motor oils are more expensive for air-cooled engines. What happens when you use less conventional oils, lower-cost synthetic blends such as Syn 3(r), Royal Purple(r), or PAO synthetics such as Mobil(r) or Amsoil (r)? Due to a lack of antiwear additives, cam journals and lifters show excessive wear.

In addition, premature main bearing, rod bearing and valve guide wear can lead to increased oil consumption. Low-cost base stocks can lead to shorter valve spring lives and lower spring tension as a result. A lack of film strength can also lead to excessive piston wear, including scuffing the skirts. Carbon buildup can be caused by poor cleanliness in the ring lands. Poor piston wear can lead to a lower ring seal, which results in less power and less power. EFI is the most popular V-Twin market. However, the majority of V-Twin bikes are carbureted. This means that even if you have the jetting right, you will get more fuel dilution and less film strength.

Red Line’s ester-based motor oils offer many benefits. Unprecedented stability over a wide temperature range is due to an investment in only the best base stocks; a bountiful additive package of zinc, phosphorus, and motorcycle-compatible friction modifiers make it the ultimate protection for American V-Twins. High levels of detergency combat carbon buildup that can deplete the ring seal. This product has been the subject of decades of R&D. It is impossible to summarize all of this detail in just a few paragraphs. The best engine builders can say it better than us. Many times, it is the lack of wear on the parts that tell the story.

Rob Schopf, Hal’s Speed Shop, says it best: “The engines that we disassemble after using Red Line motor oils simply do not have problems.” We recommend them because of that.

Credit Harley-Davidson(r), for major improvements in their new engine designs, particularly in terms of cam plates design. H-D developed a solution that eliminated the bearing arrangement, which was a significant improvement. The newer 96-inch engines (07-09) were also fitted with an oil pump that can scavenge 22% more oil, feed 88% more than older stock engines, and produces 8.8% more volume.

Schopf states that “time will tell” how the bikes wear, but these improvements provide a nice reliability increase. However, motor oil selections based on price can still cause damage.

Thicker or Thinner?

It all depends on where you live. The 20W60 Motorcycle Oil will be required in hot climates such as Phoenix and Las Vegas. It is also recommended for large engine clearances, such as Knuckle Pan, Pan, or Shovelheads. Our 20W50 Motorcycle Oil is used by many customers who want to reduce valve train noise and seal leaky bores. Our 20W50 Motorcycle Oil is strong enough to withstand huge displacements, powerful cylinder heads, and aggressive cams. It retains its viscosity for longer than both synthetic and conventional blends, which major manufacturers recommend.

Red Line’s 20W50 Motorcycle oil is suitable for aftermarket Big Twins such as those made by S&S or RevTech. This product is compatible with all wet clutch configurations and should be used by the V-Rod(r) and other cruisers. This product can also be used by Sportster(r).


These are some tips to help you use other Red Line motor oils with your V-Twin. Our 50WT Race Oil is recommended for road racing and serious track days. A slicker formula will give you more power and protection thanks to the higher dose of antiwear additives. Race oils are less effective at repelling insects, so changing the oil more often will be necessary.

Drag racing uses lower viscosities because of the shorter operating time and low oil temperatures. However, you should not run very light oils on the streets in your engine that is air-cooled.

Top Fuel racers like Doug Vancil don’t use our 70WT Nitro Motor Oil. Their bikes are smaller than Top Fuel Dragsters (for which the 70WT was designed). It’s also the fuel that wears oil out in drag racing. These teams use 50WT Race fuel and 60WT Race fuel blends, depending on the conditions. Teams that use methanol are similarly affected.

We hope this helps you sort out some of those silly things you see on the websites or forums of other oil companies. We appreciate your support.


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