What a chilly ride this morning! I had to get into work early to wrap up some customer deliverables that I didn't get done on Friday, so I hit the road at a little before 6:00 AM. The temperature was around 45°, and my current bike doesn't have heated handgrips like my previous bike did. Brrr! I had to do hand flexes during the second half of the ride to keep my fingers limber. Hmmmm, I think I need to buy myself an early Christmas present, or be frugal and switch to my winter gloves. I just hate wearing those things since they aren't armored like my summer gloves and I loose a lot of the feel of the controls since they're so bulky.
This was the coolest it has been while riding recently, so it was interesting to compare my previous oil (a 5W-40 Group III pseudo-synthetic) with my new oil (a 10W-40 Group V full synthetic). By the numbers, my old oil should have been thinner when cold, facilitating better engine performance while the engine came up to operating temperature. However, this morning my bike immediately felt smoother and rev'd more freely than it did with the old oil, even at warmer temperatures.
Now, a lot of folks would say that the perceived difference in engine performance is due to a better oil, and that certainly may be part of the reason. The two oils I switched between are pretty dramatically different. But, folks often overlook another important factor—one that can send them on a wild goose chase trying oil after oil: Almost any fresh motor oil will make the engine feel better than an old, worn-out oil.
This fallacy of perception will cause folks to continuously try different brands, weights and certifications, one after another, because each new oil feels just so much better than the last. What these folks are feeling is really just a fresh oil that hasn't been beat to heck for thousands of miles, plus a little self-justification (I picked this neat new oil so it must be a better performer).
It can be fun to try different kinds of oil, but realize that there is no miracle oil and today's oils are generally very good performers regardless of brand. If you aren't performing used oil analysis (UOAs) you're liable to fall prey to this fallacy of perception. Furthermore, even if you are doing UOAs, because of different additives between oils a switch from one oil to another can cause some additive interactions or cleaning action that throws off the results from a single analysis. This makes a single UOA a weak basis upon which to make a decision about an oil brand or viscosity. UOAs are best used to establish a baseline measure of wear metals from which you can look for an early indicator of problems when a particular wear metal starts climbing over multiple oil change intervals, or spikes.