Maintenance Plus

Speed’s Spotlight

Knowing which set of pipes or cams is likely to perform best or what tuning setup will be the real performer is all good information to tuck away for future use. Everyone wants the most from his or her bike and with a solid understanding of what works, chances are you’ll make the right decision the first time around. No one wants to take a shotgun approach here, trying everything to find the one that sticks. All this applies to regular maintenance as well, those routine oil-and-filter changes. Done with that same amount of background knowledge there’s performance to be gained here, too.

The benefits of a high-flow air filter on a Harley are well known. A better breathing engine is a V-twin making more horsepower, more torque, and even delivering better fuel mileage. But there’s that other filter on the bike, and just as aftermarket air filters have proven their worth, the same can be true with an oil filter. “Absolutely,” says Jamie Hanson. Jamie and the crew at Speed’s Performance Plus are asked to perform lots of those basic oil-and-filter jobs along with all the high-po pipe, cam, and EFI mapping work and what they’ve found, and have to say about all this, is just as worthwhile as anything they can pass on about the pipes, cams, and tuning. “Synthetic lubricants coupled with the right oil filter can really make a difference,” Jamie says. “Not to mention what it’ll do for the longevity of the bike itself.”

First the oil. Why synthetics? “Synthetic oils,” and there are plenty of good ones Jamie begins, “hold their viscosity longer to do a better job of lubrication overall. And really important in an air-cooled Harley, they remove the heat.” Running a full-synthetic like the Royal Purple SPP uses can drop oil temperatures anywhere from a 15 to 25 degrees. An air-cooled engine, remember, is also oil-cooled so any help here, especially in a hot-running, late-model Harley, is more than welcome. And synthetics, especially the ones coming from smaller boutique refiners like Royal Purple almost always come with a superior additive package. They’ll cling to the internal metal parts with a high film strength for better protection at start-up and then maintain that unbroken film under all operating conditions. All this happens without any of the cold-thickening or heat-thinning common to even premium petroleum-based oils. It adds up to a bit more power, better fuel economy, reduced emissions, and of course better protection against wear. Granted, a quality synthetic like that Royal Purple can cost a bit more per quart, but you’re only buying three, and how often? Synthetics can last for thousands of miles longer than ordinary oils.

And what about the filter, anything to be gained there? “You’ll definitely want one compatible with synthetic oils,” Jamie goes on. Inexpensive paper-element filters deteriorate quickly, he warns, even clogging up. There are plenty of good filters designed to work with synthetics, though, notably the K&N Wrench-Off models, “But a really good option,” Jamie tells us, “is a cleanable/reusable metal-mesh oil filter.” Not only is it the last oil filter you’ll ever buy, these oil filters flow better than even a quality disposable and the filtering element is first rate. Made from medical-grade 304 stainless steel micronic filter cloth, they’re even FAA approved for aircraft use. The ones SPP offers also include a trio of rare-earth magnets in the spin-on base to further trap metallic particles and debris. But in addition to all that, the finned-aluminum canisters these filters use drop oil temperatures even more; temperature drops of anywhere from 4 to 10 degrees. It’s a double-whammy, a combination oil filter/oil cooler, and along with all that cleaning and cooling these reusable filters have charted nice little bumps in the horsepower and torque numbers. Credit that to the high-flow characteristics easing the job of the oil pump.

So back to that original question: are there performance gains to be found in something as simple as an oil-and-filter change? The answer is yes. How you service a bike and what you service it with is worth paying attention to. You can talk about all of this and plenty more with the guys at SPP when they’re at a nearby event. Check out their schedule on the web site.


Speed’s Performance Plus

(605) 695-1401 – MN

(605) 695-2272 – SD