What kind of grease?

7 replies to this topic
  • NothingOrDouble

Posted May 21, 2004 - 07:04 PM


I'm about to send my shocks and forks to Precision Concepts in El Cajon for a revalve and respring. I thought while the bike is torn down, I would grease the swingarm, linkage, and steering stem bearings. My bike is a 2001 XR650R with about 1000 baja miles on it. I'm pretty sure that the orignal factory grease is still in the bearings. My questions are: should I remove all of the old grease with a degreaser and regrease with a premium synthetic or should I just add more? What type of grease was the bike manufactured with? Any compatibility issues with a synthetic like Silkolene RG2?

Any advice is appreciated...

  • JetPilot

Posted May 22, 2004 - 02:54 AM


You should definately grease everything on that bike while you have it apart. Honda is known for being very stingy with thier grease on the XR's. The BRP website recommends regreasing a brand new XR with a good grease before you even ride it. There is a lot of work into doing a good job of cleaning and greasing, so make sure you use the best grease you possibly can. Doesnt make sense to spend hours and hours of work and have it go to waste quickly because you saved a couple bucks on grease. Synthetic is far superrior to regular grease. I use Mobil 1 synthetic, its real good stuff. Valvoline synthetic sucks, I gave the stuff away the first time I used it. Not all grease that is synthetic is good, so make your selection carefully. And BTW, do a good job of cleaning out all the old grease and dirt before aplying new grease. Synthetic grease wont do you any good if its sitting on top of and being displaced by old grease.

  • qadsan

Posted May 22, 2004 - 09:11 AM


Making the assumption that synthetic is always better is the wrong assumption IMHO. A good petroleum based grease with an excellent additive package is often better than a good synthetic grease with a fair additive package. You also have to take into account compatibility because not all greases are compatible with each other and different greases are designed for different applications (high speed, low speed, sliding, shearing, etc). Take Mobil 28 synthetic wheelbearing grease for example. It's an excelllent wheel bearing grease, but its clay base has compatibility problems with other greases and it would make a poor choice for the wheelbearings in a boat trailer because water will wash out its oil.

If your bike is going to spend anytime in the water, then stay away from a lithium based grease whether synthetic or not because it will emulsify with small quantities of water and then your bearings will be left with goop inside and no oil to protect them. A Lithium complex grease is more water resistant than a plain lithium base grease, but neither has the water resistance of an aluminum complex grease. Many aluminum complex greases are compatible with lithium, so you can often mix the two without worries, but I'd still recommend reading the label or checking with the manufacturer if there's any doubt.

If you take a small amount of your favorate grease and place it in the palm of your hand and stir in some water with the index finger of your other hand and it starts to get milky, then I'd recommend staying away from that grease if your bike will see water crossings, or if you live in a humid environment (condensation), etc.

When the grease is milking up, its breaking down right before your eyes and you can be certain that water will wash out the oil over time and leave you with much less protection. I believe an aluminum complex grease is a very good choice for the bearings in our bike and you'll often find this type of grease in boating shops for watercraft applications and wheel bearings for boat trailers, or performance stores for motorcycles & or off road vehicles, etc. Just because the store favorate lithium grease might say "waterproof" on the label doesn't mean it actually is and the local auto parts guy probably won't know the difference between clay, aluminum, lithium, barium, etc.

You can think of grease as a sponge that holds the base oil & additives which is used to lubricate & protect your bearings. The oil is continuously released from the complex to the bearings when they heat up under operation and its reversed back into the grease at lower temperatures & while under operation. Reversability is very important when looking at greases because a synthetic grease that has poor reversability is a poor choice when compared to a petroleum grease with good reversability, which is another reason not to be stuck on the term synthetic as always being the better choice because there's often more to consider than simply the base oil. Even a grease with the best base oil many not be very effective without the right EP (Extreme Pressure) additives. For instance, when the load is placed on the needle of a bearing itself, it will squeeze out the hydrdynamic flim of the oil and you'll have metal to metal contact unless you have a good barrier additives to protect against this, which is why its the 'entire package' that should be considered as opposed focusing on the 'synthetic' label.

  • JetPilot

Posted May 22, 2004 - 10:15 AM


Thanks for the info Quadson as always, so that leaves me with the question of which grease to buy ? Is Mobil 1 a good water resistant grease with a good additive package ? If not, which brand is the best ? I understand what you are saying, and it makes a lot of sense, but in the end I still have no idea of which brand has the properties you say are good. I read your posts and really and really like how you explain why certain things are good or bad, but telling us the best brand names would really help.

Also, I remember reading your post about engine oil, and that Mobil synthetic delvac 1 was a very good oil with a good additive package. I asked where to find it and the mechanic said for I dont want to use oil designed for diesel engines in a car or a 4 stroke bike. Is there any reason I would not want to run Delvac 1 in a bike or my honda car ?

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  • NothingOrDouble

Posted May 22, 2004 - 10:27 AM


Good dissertation on grease quadsan...thanks.

I was down at the local Honda dealer asking what kind of grease to use. Asked about compatibility and what kind was used by Honda during initial assembly. I got the usual slack jaw blank stare when I said words like Lithium and molybdenum. Then the counter guy walks me over to the grease and selects one at random. Anyway, I knew I would get a little wisdom from someone on TT.

I suppose that to avoid compatibility problems, removing all old grease is the way to go. What is the best way to do this without bearing removal and solvant tank? Will an aerosol engine degreaser hurt anything? Thanks.

  • Portland_650R

Posted May 22, 2004 - 10:56 AM


Here in rainland, the local dealer sells Sea-Doos, and has great synthetic waterproof grease. It is the stickiest stuff I've ever felt. It was a bit expensive - I believe $8 a tube - but great stuff so far. :thumbsup:

  • JetPilot

Posted May 22, 2004 - 12:27 PM


Ok, great synthetic grease, sounds just like what the doctor ordered, so whats the NAME !!!!!

  • qadsan

Posted May 22, 2004 - 01:46 PM


If you went to a boating supply store, they'd probably have a couple good choices for aluminum complex grease to choose from. I know Bel Ray makes an aluminum complex grease (their's is blue in color from what I recall) that's sold at many motorcycle aftermarket stores. I use Shaeffers 221 NGLI grade 2. Here's a link to the tech specs on the grease I'm using and its been an awesome product, but you can find similar products under different brand names.


Mobil in general makes top notch products and most of their greases are no exception. The Mobil 1 synthetic grease grease uses a lithium complex soap thickener and its much more water resistant than a plain lithium grease, but not as water resistant as an aluminum complex. There's nothing wrong with using this product, but I'd recommend inspecting the bearings at least once a year or more often if the bike spends much time in the water or mud.

If I hear someone tell me not to use an oil like Delvac, Rotella, Delo, etc, because its designed only for deisels, then I know I'm talking with someone that's not informed because these oils are not just for diesels. They're heavy duty motor oils for both gasoline & diesel applications (multi-fleet) and while all of them may not be suitable for use in motorcycles, many of them are. They share many of the same features as motorcycle specific oils and do not contain clutch unfriendly friction modifiers like typical passenger car motor oils.

As far as Delvac 1 goes, I just got my first analysis back from ~20+ hard hours of off road use and I sheared the crap out of the oil, so I'm quite surprised. It's a great oil no doubt, but I'm going to give it another run and see how it goes. I should also point out that while it did shear down more than I expected, it still performed better than some oils I've used.

If your Honda car specifies a 40wt oil as being OK, then Delvac 1 could be used without issues, but I'm guessing your car probably specifies something like a 5W-30, in which case I'd stick to something like Mobil 1 5W-30 synthetic if you're in a colder climate or the Mobil 1 10W-30 if you're in a warmer climate.

Here's some links about greases if you want to read more about this topic.

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