Ducati 748, 916, 996, 998 Oil Weight and Other Considerations

For recommendations on specific brands of oil to use on the Ducati 996 in Canada and the USA, please see:
2001 Ducati 996 Biposto – Maintenance and Stock Specifications

When it comes to oils, Ducati are strange motorcycles. (Come to think of it, they’re strange in other ways too!)

Most motorcycles utilize a wet clutch: the clutch is inside the engine case, bathed in the same oil that lubricates the engine and transmission. Normal automotive oil is “too slippery” for the clutch plates to provide sufficient bite, so motorcycle-specific oil has special “friction modifiers” to compensate.

Most Ducatis, including the 748/916/996/998 series of Superbikes, use a dry clutch, similar to those used in cars. The clutch is on the outside of the engine (which is why it’s so darn loud!). For this reason, it is theoretically possible to use easy-to-find automotive oil in the 996’s engine instead of expensive motorcycle oil. For oil changes, some 996 owners have used Mobil 1 15w50 synthetic automotive oil, which is readily available at just about any big box store in Canada or the USA.

Additionally, many Ducati 916/996/998 owners have reportedly used 10w40 oil in their engine, and swear that they haven’t had any major oil burning issues. 10w40 motorcycle oil is popular for use in air-cooled Harleys, and is likely to be in stock at your local box store.

However, if you’re like me, and you want to follow the manufacturer’s official recommendation, there is only one choice:




I have a printed copy of the official Ducati 996 shop manual, and it prescribes 20w50 as the preferred viscosity of oil. 20w50 oil is not nearly as popular as 10w40, and is more difficult to find on the shelf at your local box store. And, yes, the chart in the manual also shows that other weights are acceptable over the range of temperatures that you’re likely to encounter in North America, but I believe that it’s worth the extra time and money to acquire the preferred viscosity of oil.

If you live in Canada and want to know where to find 50 weight oil for your bike, please see:
2001 Ducati 996 Biposto – Maintenance and Stock Specifications