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Apr 15, 2004
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Another seemingly trivial question:

Some people say it's a good idea to run monograde oil - 50wt in summer, 40wt in winter - to help reduce wet sumping. Sounds interesting to me but I was down at the denver brit shop yesterday and asked the know-it-all proprietor about that. He poo-pooed the idea, saying the mono is too thick when the engine is cold and too thin when the engine is warm. He sez just use 20/50 and drain the sump before every ride.

What do you guys think? I'd like to try the monograde oil but this dude implied it would damage my engine...


The multigrade oil will circulate quicker during start up, especially in cold weather. I've always used 20w-50 in my British bikes and have not had any oil related problems. My Norton shop manual lists several oils and 20w-50 pops up more than once as a recommendation.

As dynodave mentioned, a Norton is fully capable of wet sumping even with straight 50 weight, it's just a bit slower to do so. I recommend 20w-50 for your Norton.

Ever heard of a Stella scooter? I saw pictures of one today and it looked hauntingly familiar, damn near the spitting image of a 60s Vespa! I think it would make a great little comuter bike, so long as you didn't have to travel too fast.

Is the Brit bike shop you do business with in Denver called Black Ball?

No, the brit shop is called Isles Motorcycles. The're really more of a Triumph place but they have a huge inventory of Norton parts. BSA stuff too. Greg Isles is da man now; his dad Larry started the biz back in the 70s. I haven't heard of Black Ball.

Funny you should mention Stella scooters. Isles had one parked out front this weekend. Looked nice. Scooters are popular around here with people who live in the city. Vespas are oh so trendy and oh so pricey. But I think I'd rather have a Royal Enfield if I was going to buy something just for riding around town :wink:


Norton recommended multigrade 20W50 as late as 1973 (when I bought my Roadster). However, about the time when Gulf became a sponsor of the John Player production race team, Norton issued a service bulletin replacing their recommendation to 40wt monograde. My bike had 20W50 until this bulletin and has lived on 40wt ever since. The biggest difference I have found is it seems easier to keep the 40wt in the crankcase (fewer drips). I think either will provide adequate lubrication.
Stella Scooters for all practical purposes are an India made Vespa, supposedly with some improvements. Scooters are big in India and both Piaggio and Innocenti (Lambretta) had factories there. Like RE I think the license agreements have expired and now the factories are selling the products outside of the parent company. The local scooter guy I know says they aren't up the the same quality level as the Italian made but I'm not so sure, I had a '79 PX200 Vespa for a while and the quality was not anything to write home about. Still they are cute and kind of fun for short urban trips (just watch out for the soccer Moms in SUVs on the cell phone smoking).
Just to keep the tone of the original thread; Years ago Crane cams only recommended Kendall oil to warrant their cams (Pennsylvania crude based). Since then synthetics have come to pass and I suppose they're better but I don't think they make a monograde, or do they? Also the air-cooled Porsche guys swore by Shell Rotella monograde. Rotella was speciffically for diesels.
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