This article was written by Mike Guillory and updated June 2002. This post offers an interesting point of view on oil filter alternatives and has helped me to form an opinion regarding oil filters for my bike.
The oil and spin-on oil filter are the two items which control and minimize engine wear. Microscopic particles in the oil, if not removed, can act as an abrasive to wear down metal surfaces. In modern motorcycle engines, like the VFR and most others, oil passes directly from the filter to the engine for lubrication, so a good, properly-functioning filter is essential.
OEM Motorcycle Oil Filters
You can't go wrong using the OEM filter for your motorcycle. However, sometimes these may be hard to find, especially on a Sunday or Monday, or in smaller communities, or you may think the OEM part is unnecessarily expensive. Or, you may want a better filter to further minimize engine wear. You deserve choices.
Alternate Motorcycle Oil Filters
If your motorcycle uses the Honda 15410-MM9-013 oil filter (most late model VFRs, CBRs, ST1100s, etc), following are some filters which are equivalent to and possibly superior to the Honda filter. These also fit most late-model Kawasaki sportbikes and Vulcans, plus most late-model Yamaha sportbikes, the VMAX, and the Royal Star. They also can be used on the mid-80s Magnas, Sabres, Interceptors, and Shadows. See Author's note #6, below for a comment about Suzuki oil filters.
Important: The only meaningful difference between all those shown below are external length. They all fit the 1994 to 1997 VFR, the CBR600s, and mid-80s Magnas and Sabres. Your motorcycle's clearance and available space for a spin-on filter may be different, so you need to consider that. The very shortest filters should fit anywhere. All threads and gasket dimensions are compatible, all have anti-drain back valves, and all have bypass valves that operate in the normal range of 8 to 13 psi range.
Motorcycle-Specific Filters - (About 2.5 to 3 inches long)
Automobile Filters - (About 3.5 inches long - fit reference 1994 Mazda MX-3, V-6 Engine)
- Purolator Motorcycle ML16817 about $6.00
- NAPA Gold 1358, Carquest 85358, WIX 51358 about $7 to $8
- AC Delco PF2135 about $10
- FRAM PH6017A about $7
- Mobil 1 M1-110 about $10
- Bosch 3323 about $5
- Purolator Pure One L14620 about $6
- NAPA Gold 1356, Carquest 85356, WIX 51356 about $6
- Deutsch D-370 about $4
- AC Delco PF-2057 about $6
- Motorcraft Long Life FL-821 about $4
- STP S-02867 about $3
- FRAM, Castrol, Penske 7317 about $3
Automobile Filters - (About 2.5 inches long - fit reference Mazda RX-7 and Miata)
SuperTech filters are made by Champion Laboratories who make Mobil One and Bosch filters and also some automaker brands. While they may not have the advanced filter media of the highest efficiency and highest priced filters, they are considered premium filters and will peform well.
- Bosch 3300 about $5
- NAPA Gold 1365 about $6
- Purolator L14622 about $5
- AC Delco PF1237 about $6
- STP S-02876 about $3
- FRAM PH6607 about $3
- WalMart SuperTech ST6607 about $2
Technical Fitment Specification
20 X 1.5mm threads, gasket diameter approximately 2.3 inches, O.D. approx. 2.75 inches, length approximately 2.5 to 3.5 inches.
- Wix, NAPA Gold, and Carquest are identical.
- FRAM, Castrol, and Penske are identical.
- In each category, filters are shown in my perceived approximate order of quality. But I admit that is an inexact science without actually testing all of them side-by-side.
- The information here is compiled from many conversations with the filter manufacturers, with other motorcyclists, fitment verification on my 1994 VFR750, and by consulting oil filter reference information published by filter manufacturers. All the automobile filters are cross-referenced with each other and to replace the Mazda filter shown, which is for the 1992 through 1994 Mx3 V6 engine, or various years of the RX7 and Miata engines.
- A legitimate concern we all should have are the performance specifications. Honda apparently does not tell companies like WIX or Purolator their filter specs. So, these companies buy examples of the filter in question, have it tested in a laboratory, then build replacement filters to the same physical dimensions and performance. That includes filtration efficiency and filter bypass valve pressure. Thus, there is no reason to believe the replacement motorcycle filters are in any way different from the Honda filters.
Automobile filters could be a different matter. However, in conversations with filter manufacturers, it appears that filter media and bypass pressures are similar, often times the same, and certainly overlap. So, while using an automobile filter could represent some additional degree of risk, if you either like to avoid all risk, or your motorcycle is still within its warranty period, you may prefer to stick with a motorcycle filter.
However, I believe the differences are only cosmetic, the risk is virtually nonexistent, and I continue to use these automobile filters on my motorcycles. The only external difference is that some automobile filters have slightly different lengths, otherwise they are the same size as the motorcycle filters and function the same. The filter makers I spoke with could not could not provide a reason why I couldn't use them on motorcycles.
- They are very similar, at mid-rpm normally in the 40 to 70 psi range, with internal relief valves. Therefore one can correctly conclude that oil filter requirements are also very similar.
Use of an automotive filter could be a benefit, if you really want the best protection. Newer high-performance filters like the Bosch and the Mobil 1 really are better and not more expensive. Instead of traditional paper filtration, they use a synthetic or mixed paper/synthetic medium that removes up to 98% of 8 to 10 micro particles, where conventional premium paper filters only remove 70% to 90%.
- Anyone happy with FRAM motorcycle filters are probably as well off using the FRAM PH7317 or PH6607 for about $3. However, several comments across the internet recently indicate that FRAM filters may not be as well made as the rest and perhaps should be used as a last resort. However, I have not verified that and it is entirely possible that they have the best filters. But I personally will not be using them.
- Suzuki street bikes use a very unique spin-on filter with few, if any automobile alternatives. However FRAM PH6018 and WIX 51359 are motorcycle filters made for most 1990s and later Suzuki street cycles, like the Bandit 600 and 1200, SV650, GSXR 600, 750, 1100, and most of the cruisers. Suzuki owners should use these numbers to check for alternatives with their local auto parts stores.
My thanks go to all those who provided input to this project. It is my intent to update this every 6 months or so to keep it current. All the information presented here is accurate as far as I know. The contents make no recommendation as to what any individual should do, only to provide those interested with information helpful to make confident choices. I have no affiliation with any company in the motorcycle or filter business.
Please refer to Motorcycle Motor Oil by Mike Guillory for a comprehensive review of various motor oils.
Web Master's Note
The author is a Chemist, retired from a major Oil and Chemical Company, after a career in the Quality Assurance of Fuels, Lubricants, and Chemical products. He and his wife both ride.
Comments or questions may be sent to Mike in Houston
'94 VFR750 - "XENA"
'85 V65 Magna -"YELLOW SONIA"