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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Synthetic oils are known to cause a wet-clutch to be in its friction zone longer. If someone studies Honda Owner's Manual, it appears that Honda figured that out too. For example, from 2001-03, Honda had no synthetic oil. Their Owner's Manuals suggested GN4, Honda's conventional oil. However, by 2004, Honda began marketing their new HP4 semi-blend. In the Owner's Manual was even a full page picture of their new oil with strong suggestion to use it. The HP4 bottle even had the words "engineered for GoldWings" on its label. By 2007, Honda came out with their full synthetic HP4S oil, and the words "engineered for GoldWings" was removed from their blended synthetic, and now the Owner's Manuals were strongly suggesting their new full synthetic.

As time past, and I think on or about 2010 or 2012, their suggestions to use synthetic oils no longer existed, and it was then back to their GN4 10w-30.

Below is a picture of burnt clutch plates. He reports using a synthetic oil.

For 6th gens, Honda has strong wording suggesting their conventional oil GN4 10w-30.
 

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How many miles on the damaged clutches you have repaired on average?

What brands of synthetic oils have been mentioned?

Have you ever noticed the same damage on a bike using GN-4?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
How many miles on the damaged clutches you have repaired on average?

What brands of synthetic oils have been mentioned?

Have you ever noticed the same damage on a bike using GN-4?
Regarding average miles, I'm not sure. If I had to guess, probably say about 50k. If I do see burnt plates, it is almost always on trikes. However, the one pictured is a 2-whl that was using Rotella oil. In most cases the customers are either using Rotella, or Amsoil. For me, on my 2007, I had 22k and blew my clutch using Honda's semi-synthetic.

No ... I've not seen a burnt clutch with GN4.
 

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Regarding average miles, I'm not sure. If I had to guess, probably say about 50k. If I do see burnt plates, it is almost always on trikes. However, the one pictured is a 2-whl that was using Rotella oil. In most cases the customers are either using Rotella, or Amsoil. For me, on my 2007, I had 22k and blew my clutch using Honda's semi-synthetic.

No ... I've not seen a burnt clutch with GN4.
Greg is by chance two wheel or trike. Are the ones coming in with burnt clutches pulling trailers
 

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clutch

Regarding average miles, I'm not sure. If I had to g"blduess, probably say about 50k. If I do see burnt plates, it is almost always on trikes. However, the one pictured i?s a 2-whl that was using Rotella oil. In most cases the customers are either using Rotella, or Amsoil. For me, on my 2007, I had 22k and blew my clutch using Honda's semi-synthetic.

No ... I've not seen a burnt clutch with GN4.
What exactly do you mean "blew my clutch",?Does this mean no action at all, at those low miles.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
What exactly do you mean "blew my clutch",?Does this mean no action at all, at those low miles.
Yes ... little to no forward motion. Oil smelt burnt. I was competing in slow race.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Greg is by chance two wheel or trike. Are the ones coming in with burnt clutches pulling trailers
The clutch pack pictured is a 2-whl with a hitch. I have no idea how much or often the hitch is used. Other factors that I can think of that cause the clutch to be in a friction zone too long are converting a Wing to a trike, slow race competition, drill team type riding, carrying more then the 405-420lbs total payload, other riding factors like living in a really hilly city with stop lights on steep hills, etc.

Using synthetics can add just enough friction time where the clutch plates begin to over heat.
 

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Well it looks like I will be replacing the Synthetic oil with reg GN4 ... Lucky I'm not 400 lbs, (only 160 lbs.)and very rarely carry a passenger, BUT I did convert my two wheel'er into a Roadsmith trike last season...AND I do haul a trailer w/ever I'm away on a trip ....Next week I'll be on a 5-7 hour one way trip to Northern Maine... I do not want any problems while away from home...

Thank you Gregg!

Ronnie
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Greg, from the tone of your comment, it was the Rotella synthetic rather than the dino oil that was the culprit in the burnt clutch problem?
It's a synthetic problem, not specific to any particular oil.

I had heard that Bel-Ray was working to make a synthetic oil that would not cause as much clutch slipping prior to grabbing, but I've not been able to confirm that.

https://www.belray.com/industry/powersports/
 

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While interesting, I’m not sure I see the correlation between synthetic oil usage and burnt clutch plates.

In the early years, Honda didn’t recommend synthetic oils because they didn’t sell any under the Honda name. Later on as you noted, when they did sell synthetic oil, it was recommended. They recommend what makes them money and that’s fine, it’s how they stay in business.

You aren’t sure on the mileage of bikes you see with burnt clutches but you suspect it’s around 50,000 miles. That would be a critical piece of data as would the brand, viscosity and how frequently the oil is changed. The type of oil filter would be good to know as well. Next you mention other causes like slow races, drill team riding, excessively heavy loads and living in hilly areas with lots of traffic lights and such. That makes sense but it also points to rider caused failures and not synthetic oil usage.

Lastly, if synthetic oils did cause premature clutch failure, with all the bikes out there using synthetic oils of various types and brands, why aren’t motorcycle shops flooded with bikes with burned out clutches? There should literally be a world-wide shortage of clutch plates. How are AMSOIL, Royal Purple and so on marketing synthetic oils for use in motorcycles with wet clutches? All they should be selling at this point is oil used in dry sump bikes, right?

I’m not discounting your observations, you’ve certainly seen your share of transmissions and clutches. I just don’t think the data is there sufficiently, yet, to point to causation.

All that said, I don’t use synthetic oil anyway.
 

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OK just checking, you say something I want to be sure I understand. synthetic is not a problem for me, I don't use synthetic, don't think I ever will.
 

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I just think there is a lot of other factors and data that should be gathered before saying Synthetic or simi synthetic oil is the culprit of failed clutch’s. Payload, city driven, racing of any sort, oil changes, terrain and brands. Brands make a difference because each one has there own additive package.
 

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My experience with clutch failures is mostly with operators. Driving habits are everything in my opinion. It seems to me the amount of time a clutch is in the friction zone and the load on the clutch is completely controlled by the operator. Operators control the lever and control the load on the vehicle and how it’s used. They decide to put a trike kit on it or pull a trailer or overload it in some other fashion.

I also believe an owner should follow the recommended oil types for wet clutches. That would be no energy conserving types for Goldwings as specified as well as load the vehicle appropriately.
 

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131,000 on my 04 & hauling a Bushtec 2 -up using Mobil 1 never even came close to clutch slipping, maybe that guy dosen't know how to use a clutch..
My local dealer has been in business 25+ yrs & never replaced a clutch on a Wing..
Maybe this guy should take riding lessons from Phil Stiener, lol lol
 

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I can't help but wonder if some of these clutch problems were caused by the owner mistakenly using automotive 10w-30 oils, whether synthetic or not, instead of motorcycle specific 10w-30. Since Honda started recommending 10w-30, I've run across a couple wing riders that weren't aware there was a difference. Whether buying their oil at Walmart or an auto parts store, there are many choices to choose from in 10w-30 oil. Probably not many, if any, non-energy conserving motorcycle oil, unless they were specifically seeking it.
 

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In my opinion, the problem is using automotive grade engine oils whether it be conventional or synthetic. Automotive oils all contain a certain level of friction modifiers whereas motorcycle specific oils do not. With the amount of wet clutch motorcycle riders on our planet running motorcycle specific synthetic oils,
you would think all of these motorcycle forums would be overwhelmed with threads dealing with burnt clutches. There are way too many major motorcycle race teams, including Honda's, using motorcycle specific synthetics with "0" clutch issues due to its use. I'd be willing to bet your customer was using an automotive grade synthetic oil.
 

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Greg - you sure have got me thinking about switching to non-synthetic Honda oil on my 12 GW with 20k miles.



I've always used Mobile 1 in my bikes - but the GW is new to me and you are very credible to me based on your GW experience.
 
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