Motorcycle Forums » Harley Davidson

Harley Davidson V-Twin Oil Temperature

  • August 10, 2009 12:05 PM PDT
    What should the oil temperature be on a Harley Davidson v-twin.  I have a 2007 Road Gide and just got one of those cool digital oil temperature thermometers for father;s day.  When it is around 90 degrees outside, my oil temperature is around 255 degrees.  Is that right, or is that too hot.  Since I never had a thermometer before, I have no idea what the engine or oil temperature normally is.
    • Moderator
    • 16453 posts
    August 11, 2009 12:00 AM PDT
    Hey Hotwired, I did a search on Google for 'harley oil temperature' and found some interesting answers. 255 doesn't sound out of the range but a lot of people reported lower temps. Also a lot of people reported inaccurate gauges. I don't doubt someone here will know the specs. I will watch this forum with great interest.Thanks for starting it!
    • 5417 posts
    August 11, 2009 2:41 AM PDT

    255° is not that unusual for a Harley depending on the conditions. Can you tell us a little more about the bike and riding...

    Is it a stock 96 cubic inch motor, are you running motor oil or synthetic lube?

    When the temp is at 255° are you in traffic or moving slow? What is the temp immediately after a ride at 55 mph or more?
  • August 11, 2009 3:32 AM PDT
    I think I read that Harley says the standard operating temp for a big twin is 230 degress. I have a 95" with some head work and cams.... The hottest I have had mine is 224. That was in the Redwoods with the air temp of 105. I have an oil cooler and I aways run Amsoil.. Have you done any engine mods ?
  • August 11, 2009 5:03 AM PDT
    To answer Lucky's questions;

    It is a stock 96 cubic inch motor. The only change is I added SuperTrap slipons.

    I am running regular HD motor oil, not synthetic

    I see the temp at 255 degrees when running around town. Usually look down at it when stopped at a light. The lowest I have seen it is 240 degrees just after getting off the freeway where I was running low RPMs in 6th gear at around 70 mph.
    • 1 posts
    August 11, 2009 11:09 AM PDT
    Hotwired, 255 degrees is definitely not out of range for the 96 ci v-twin motor. Especially around town in the warm summer weather. You could certainly drop that 10 to 15 degrees by going to synthetic lube in place of the motor oil. The synthetic will reduce friction which is what causes the heat.

    I am assuming that you change your oil and filter as recommended. One thing that will cause the oil tempurature to rise slightly, is a dirty oil filter. If the oil flow is restricted, the oil will get hotter.

    I am not big on oil coolers for anyone who doesn't live in the desert, even then they really don't do all that much, especially around town with a lot of stop and go --- which is where you need it the most. The oil cooler can only cool the oil when there is air flowing around it, and even in HOT weather, 60 mph air flow is enough to keep the engine at its proper temp.

    Bottom line is, which has been said here and many other places, the Harley Davidson v-twin is an air cooled engine that runs very hot. It was designed that way and runs well that way.
    • 835 posts
    August 12, 2009 5:43 AM PDT
    Got to agree with Bailout on the oil cooler. I live in AZ where the teperature is always 100 degrees plus in the summer. I put the Harley Davidson oil cooler kit on and found that it did only help when moving. If I am in traffic my oil temp is always 255 or more.
  • August 18, 2009 3:18 AM PDT
    Definitely change over to synthetic and your temp will go down. Mine ran anywhere from 225º in the wind to 240º+ in the city. When I changed over the synthetic it started running at 220 - 230. Hardly ever see it above 235 now except on REAL hot days in traffic.
  • September 20, 2009 2:47 PM PDT
    I ride a 1200 Custom with some mild performance work and as far as I know (I have a gauge)230 is tops recomended.I use synthetic and normally stay around 210 at 80 mph on a hot day.Stop and go stuff might get as bad as 220 plus:-(
  • September 25, 2009 8:46 AM PDT
    Thanks for all of the input. I did switch to synthetic about 2 weeks ago. The temp has been around 240 in stop and go. But it has been OVER 100 degrees here everyday since I changed the oil. Once the weather gets below 90 again, I will let you know what the oil temp is. That way its apples to apples.
  • October 11, 2009 4:49 AM PDT
    Hello, I also have a 2007,Its an ultra classic with lower fairings so my engine gets LESS AIR,I live in Miami where its 90 plus almost everyday,I have a oil cooler and still my bike runs at 250 degrees most times untill I had the the 103 big bore kit installed, now it runs in the 230 area,Harley says thats because of EPA standards in which they believe in whole heartedly, Harley's are made to turn off when running too hot so not to damage the motor.
    ALSO Harley has a PROGRAM in which they down load into your bike to shut one CYLINDER OFF when you stop at lights to keep the temp down when it hits a certain tempature,You should ask them about this,They downloaded this for me FREE!!!!!!!! PS, I also run synthetic!!!!
  • October 16, 2009 5:00 PM PDT
    Howzit... Read this article a while back on ETIMS which stands for Engine Temperature Idle Management System.. Pretty much covers all the info on the system in layman terms. We just did a bunch of riding through some pretty hot city driving. And you sure can tell when the ETIMS kicks in... The bike motor sound like it's huffing and puffing but the temp does stay manageable.

    URL is: />
    Good luck.
    • Moderator
    • 16453 posts
    October 19, 2009 8:20 AM PDT
    After reading this it sure makes me glad Rex still has a Carb. I have been wanting to install an oil temp gauge for some time and I have just put it on the top of my winter work list. It will be interesting to see how cool he really is (pun intended). The carb is jetted pretty rich and the idle is down low so if I have to guess I would think the temp is lower than any of the injected bikes.A riding buddy of mine has an injected nightster and when it is warm bordering on hot his idle speed is annoying to say the least.
  • November 6, 2009 6:39 PM PST
    Normal Operating Temp is 260 degrees, the Twin Cam has an amazing high temp tolerance... I've measured mine up to 348 degrees on the cylinders using a external temp gauge.
  • November 29, 2009 11:06 AM PST
    I run the synthetic in mine I stayed around 225 to 235 on hot days. I just added an oil cooler to my bike and it dropped the temp another 10 degrees I run 215 to 225 even on the hot summer day in the houston traffic. I have heard there is a lot of conterversy of running oil coolers but I kinda think the cooler I keep it during the summer the better off I am.
  • November 16, 2010 7:20 AM PST
    An operating temp of 200- 210 degrees will extend the life of any V twin engine. If aircraft engines ran as hot as Harleys the FAA. would ground them.
  • March 26, 2011 1:16 PM PDT
    I still ride an ironhead sporty. That's why 60 weight oil gets used during summer and 20-50 gets used when it's cold. While stationed in Hawaii I learned about the Harley Davidson Chopper Oil Cooler. This link shows mine and how it works in hot big big cities like Honolulu. This summer good luck. good luck.
    • Moderator
    • 14255 posts
    March 28, 2011 5:48 AM PDT
    I've had a few Iron Head Sportys, I'm working on one now, my second 1979 (the bastard child).
    They have a reputation for the transmission blowing apart and making a nice hole in the case.
    This was caused because AMF tried to save money by removing aluminum from the "trap door", this did nothing but weaken it making it a time bomb.
    To fix this you find a non 1979 "trap door" repair the case and replace the gears and such that are damaged.
    What I'm getting at here is unlike the "big twins" the sportster's engine and transmission share the same oil.
    Neither of these 1979's came with even a screen in the oil system, I strongly suggest adding an external oil filter, an oil cooler, and rejet your carb when adding performance exhaust pipes or mufflers.
  • March 28, 2011 5:56 PM PDT
    Full Synthetic oil works for me and I ride all summer thru the deserts on the way to our friends house in 29 Palms. I'm using Mobil 1 20w50 right now and have for years. I'm only catching fire on the legs anymore when were at Sturgis walking the bike thru town. I'm gonna try Amsoil on my next oil change to see how the their oil works.
    • 27 posts
    March 29, 2011 1:01 PM PDT
    my runs between 150 and 200
  • April 11, 2011 6:21 AM PDT
    Heat is not the enemy of your engine as much as dirty oil and improper shift positions... if you're riding around town and your RPMs are below 2,000 then you're wrong, you need to shift down and ride in a lower gear. I have seen many do this and I wonder to myself, why don't these big fancy MoCo dealerships clue their customers in? Anyway, change your oil regularly, ride in the proper gear ranges and stay on top of your maints schedule.
  • May 7, 2011 10:04 AM PDT
    Run some Amsoil in your bike to cool it down some and protect your engine better.
  • May 8, 2011 4:20 AM PDT
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  • May 9, 2011 11:20 AM PDT
    I use AMS oil too:-) Guilty!
  • May 27, 2011 10:55 AM PDT

    Last august i bought a 2002 fat boy with 800 miles  
    I had all the fluids change.
    i got 2500 miles on the bike now  i also put a harley oil cooler on it being that i live in south fl
     i want to put synthetic oil but harley said to wait until i have 5000 miles
    what are your thought on this should i wait?.