Tomás Pérez, a researcher at the Repsol Technology Lab, tells us about the process through which motorcycle lubricants are developed, starting out on the MotoGP World Championship circuits and ending up in the motorbikes we all ride.
What is the process of manufacturing a lubricant?
The first thing we need to know about a lubricant are its main functions: to remove dirt, to clean the engine, to lubricate parts that come into contact with each other, and to minimise friction in order to prevent wear. All lubricants are formulated with base oils and additives; depending on the mixture of these components, different properties can be provided to the engine.
At the Repsol Technology Lab, we select the best additives: anti-wear, detergent, dispersant, etc. They allow us to obtain top performance. Our goal is to offer a product with a long useful life that’s resistant to temperature and has anti-oxidant additives which increase the engine service life. Ultimately, the key is to improve the efficiency of the engine.
Another aspect to take into account is that you should be very familiar with the engine that the product is designed for. Developing oil for motorcycles is very different to developing oil for cars. We must follow the manufacturer’s specifications for the engine in question, with the goal of exceeding expectations. We seek a lubricant that not only meets the minimum requirements but also provides great added value so that we can compete with the leading brands on the market.
How are lubricants tested before being released into the market?
Once we get a mixture that we’re satisfied with, we start the testing process in our engine lab. We test the oil in different engines in order to check how the power and friction generated vary, and we check contact surfaces under a microscope. In the engine lab, we also have a cell with a single-cylinder engine that has the same characteristics as the Honda competition engine, the one used by Marc Márquez and Dani Pedrosa in the RCV213.
Based on these tests, we select the best products and use the best technology and, once the commercial product is ready, we perform field tests. We did some follow-up studies at the University of Valencia to see how motorcycles were performing with the new oil. With this idea in mind, we selected a series of riders and offered them the opportunity to test our lubricant. There were motorcycles of all sorts with different displacements: scooters, street motorcycles, different brands, etc. The students and university staff used the lubricant for an entire year and we were able to see the effect it had on the engine.
Riders felt better on the bike and reported less noise and vibrations, in addition to greater “fluidity” in the engine.
We also performed an analysis of the used oil in order to measure engine wear, the effects of fuel dilution, and how Repsol’s lubricant fights this. This analysis confirmed that the range of lubricants was successful across the board, with exceptional results in all motorbikes and no signs of engine wear.
Which guidelines should we follow when choosing a good lubricant for our bikes?
First and foremost, users must follow their vehicle’s manual, which will specify the recommended quality level of the oil. For motorcycles, the oil needs to lubricate the transmission and clutch as well, so the product used is very different from the one found in cars. It’s also very important to check the viscosity range specified by the manufacturer. Viscosity determines the fluidity of the oil; the higher the viscosity, the lower the fluidity. Low-viscosity oils that reduce fuel consumption have been gaining popularity of late.
For trial bikes, where the engine will be used in a completely different way, we need an oil with a high degree of viscosity in order to get the most from our machines. Our range of lubricants covers all market needs, from products designed for use in the most severe conditions to others that offer greater efficiency and a better use of the engine.
What does a competition like MotoGP contribute to lubricant manufacturing?
Competition is the testing bench for the development of lubricants. Every component that is currently used in commercial oils has been previously tested during competitions. In MotoGP, riders use lubricants with friction-modifying additives or base oils that provide increased performance but are not used in commercial products.
Due to their cost, it would be very difficult to use these components in commercial oils, but in the case of competition oils, the priority is to obtain the best performance. In MotoGP, it’s essential to find improvements that enable us to get every last bit of power from the engine. Many of the components used in circuits are also used in commercial oils.
We’ve been asked: “Where can I buy Marc Márquez’s oil?”. The answer is that it’s not for sale, it’s a specific product for Marc and Dani’s motorcycles. Besides, many of its components are experimental and they are not designed to last long since the oil is changed for each race. In competition, the most important thing is to lower friction, and that allows us to use different additives that we would otherwise not use. Commercial oils, in addition to improving performance, should improve the engine’s service life.
The Repsol Moto lubricants that most closely resemble those used in competitions are the Racing lubricants.
Why do you think that customers should choose Repsol Lubricants?
The main advantage of using a well-known brand like Repsol is the guarantee of a high-quality product. We can rely on and trust in these lubricants, safe in the knowledge that they meet all of the manufacturer’s requirements. In order to achieve this performance, we use the best components and conduct tests both in the lab and on actual engines. At the Repsol Technology Lab, we ensure that the end product complies with the highest standards and has been certified to meet manufacturer requirements.
All of the experience, dedication, and knowledge of Repsol Technology Lab researchers is combined with MotoGP breakthroughs in Repsol’s Racing lubricants. These lubricants offer all of the guarantees of a brand like Repsol and ensure top performance, so that you can experience the power of MotoGP in your own engine.