Choosing the right motorbike oil: What does JASO and JASO MA2 mean?

What does Jaso mean?

What does the JASO MA and JASO MA2 Motorcycle Oil Standard Mean?

In 1998 the Japanese Automotive Standards Organization (or JASO for short) developed a grading system for motorcycle oils.

The grading system measured (amongst other things) an oils ability to resist clutch friction (or slippage), protection offered against engine wear and pitting in the gear box.

Up to 1998 car oils had been used as the base for many motorcycle oils. As car technology evolved over the years the oils that cars needed changed and additives were added that weren’t good for motorcycle engines (especially motorbike clutches and gearboxes, mainly due to the fact that, unlike most motorcycles, cars use a separate oil for the gearbox).

Car oils had been blended using more and more friction modifiers, which, although good for cars, wasn’t too good for motorcycles as these modifiers can cause clutches to slip at higher revs and gearbox pitting.

JASO introduced 2 ratings for 4 stroke motorcycle oils:

JASO MA – This was the standard for single unit engines where the wet clutch, gearbox and engine used the same oil. JASO-MA oils don’t contain friction modifiers.

JASO MB – This lower standard was for bikes that use separate oils for the engine, clutch and gearbox (e.g Harley Davidson’s and BMW’s).

Then in 2006 JASO introduced…..

JASO-MA2 – This specification was introduced in 2006 for  modern motorcycle engines. As well as being a higher standard of oil the JASO-MA2 approval means the oil is suitable for use in bikes with catalytic converts in the exhaust system.

JASO also introduced a rating system for 2 stroke oils. Modern 2 stroke bike and scooter engines have much finer tolerances and low ash burn (which means less smoke) and need a higher specification 2T oil.

JASO 2 stroke oil classifications (JASO-FA is the lowest spec, JASO-FD is the highest):

JASO FA – This is the lowest 2 stroke oil spec that tests lubricating capability, detergents, initial torque and exhaust smoke.

JASO FB – This spec tests the same things as JASO FA but is a slightly higher standard.

JASO FC – This spec has the same level of tests as JASO-FB for lubricating capability and initial torque. But it has much higher standards for detergents and exhaust smoke.

JASO FD – This spec is almost the same as the JASO-FC spec but with much higher detergent capabilities.

The JASO specifications are the Japanese equivalent to the American API standard and were introduced partly because the API standards used for oils weren’t up to the job for modern engines.

Where to find the JASO information on an oil bottle…..

Normally the JASO and other oil specification information will be printed on the back label.

Silkolene Motorcycle Oil JASO information (4 stroke):
Silkolene 4T Jaso info

Rock Oil JASO information (4 stroke):
Rock Oil 4T Jaso info

Silkolene Motorcycle Oil JASO information (2 stroke):
Silkolene 2T Jaso info

Rock Oil 2 Stroke Oil JASO information:
Rock Oil 2T Jaso info

A few point’s to consider when selecting a JASO approved oil…..

Engine oil is an amazingly complex subject and (unsurprisingly!) the approvals that are used to rate the oil are complex (and vague!). There are a few point’s to consider before you part with your hard earned cash when buying oil.

1) You get what you pay for!

When buying oil (with only a few exceptions!), you get what you pay for. So if you are offered 4 litres of ‘fully synthetic’ 10w40 ‘JASO MA2’ approved motorcycle oil for £25, you can bet all your ££ that it WON’T be fully synthetic and would be very unlikely to pass the JASO MA2 test!

2) Cheap/workshop/etc 10w40 oils aren’t suitable for all bikes!

If you’ve got the latest Ducati/Honda/Yamaha/KTM/etc Muchofasti bike, there is a chance you may need to bite the bullet and buy a more expensive oil for it (when you see up close the very fine tolerances modern engines work to you begin to understand why, sometimes, the cheapest oils just aren’t worth the risk!)

41 thoughts on “Choosing the right motorbike oil: What does JASO and JASO MA2 mean?”

  1. “you get what you pay for”
    I bought Repsol 4T sintetico 10W40 for usd 8 @1 liter which state in the label as fully synthetic which meet JASO MA2 -API SJ.
    is it to good to be true consider the brand name so well known.

  2. The botle color and label exactly identical ,except one said”fully synthetic” under 10W-40 with JASO MA2 and the other not stated the oil type and only meet JASO MA.quite deceiptive I think.
    Because of that I accidently mixed those oil in my motorcycle.

  3. It’s important to note that only JASO MA & MA2 certified motor oils have the JASO box ( on the back of the bottle ) and individual certification number located on the top of the MA or MA2 logo.
    SILKOLENE and ROCK motorcycle oils only state that they ” meet or exceed” JASO MA or MA2 requirements – not tested or certified JASO ( Japanese Automotive Standards Organization ) performance.

    1. Yes, if the oil has been tested and passed the relevant JASO spec, it should have a box with the appropriate JASO number on it.

      Just for your info though, nearly all Silkolene motorcycle oils have the JASO box and relevant number on the back (where the oil needs to be JASO approved).
      Some higher level Rock Oil motorcycle oils USED to display the JASO box and number on the back (I know Guardian used to have the JASO box). But, as Rock are a fairly small company, they haven’t kept up with getting their oils tested by JASO due to the cost of getting the oil tested once a year (to use a direct quote from Rock Oil: ‘It isn’t mandatory and is very expensive without adding anything meaningful‘).
      However, Rock Oil do have their own, in house testing facilities to make sure the oil meets the spec and, after a recent email from them, they are in the process of having some of their Guardian Motorcycle, XRP and Synthesis Motorcycle ranges tested and approved.

  4. Hello. I just got a kawasaki genuine oil witch says on the label and it’s graded 20W50 JASO MA2 API SG. Is this a good oil for my rouser 135ls?

  5. i just bought a rouser ns 200 and i could not find the oil that the maker recommend which is sae 20-50 / jaso ma2 /api sl can i use the sae 20-50 /jaso ma/api sl

    1. JASO MA2 is a higher/stricter standard and means the oil is safe to use in bikes with catalytic converters in the exhaust.
      Some good 20w50 oils will pass the JASO MA2 standard (even though they only state JASO MA on the label).
      You would be better off checking with the bikes manufacturer or an official dealer to make sure.

  6. My scooters’ recommended specification in engine oil is JASO MB. My question is, can I use JASO MA/MA2 on my scooter? Thanks!

  7. I had a z50 in 1970 that i rode for 10 years… back then , we had can oil, quarker state 10 w 40.. motor oil…not motorcycle oil just motor oil.. over 100000 miles , I did change every 6 months.. I did a rebuild in 1980…It showed normal wear. I thick that this rating system , and oils being made cheaper like gas,,, is why you need to pay 9.95 qt.. it was only 65 cents in 1970~better qualiy by far

    1. Yes, back in the day there was normally only 1 oil available for both cars and bikes.
      However, engine technology has moved on alot since then and modern car and bike engines are machined to much finer tolerances (hence the need to add additives to the oils that weren’t available in the 1970’s).
      Modern oils are (generally!) much better quality now compared to the older counterparts, mainly due to better blending processes and additives that are available.

      Modern oils are more expensive, yes, but part of the price is due to inflation (nothing stays at 65 cents forever!).
      Also, the actual cost of the oil has very little bearing on the price of modern oils, most of the cost of the oil is made up of processing, additive and packaging costs (which is why retail oil prices tend to stay the same whether oil is going up or down in price).

      As to the the same oil being used in both cars and bikes (as happened in the 1970’s and 80’s), modern engines need additives to keep the metal parts running correctly and not all these additives are suitable for all engine types (which is the main reason we have different car, bike, truck etc oils now).

      In short, modern oils are more expensive by comparison, yes, but they are much better quality…..

  8. sir my bike is wind 125 and riding it for almost 12 yrs now. can i use castrol 10w-40 4t api sl jaso ma2 ? i used the api sg jaso ma 20w-40.

  9. I think you are wrong telling scooter owners to use JASO MA oils when JASO MB has been specified by the manufacturer. Most scooters are dry clutch and thats what the different rating is about clutch slippage. Most cruisers/sportsbikes/tourer bikes use the same oil for engine and gearbox. Others like Harley,s have seperate engine and gearbox oils.

    1. A JASO MA oil is a higher spec then a JASO MB oil, which means it should be a better quality oil.

      Although, unlike JASO MB oils, JASO MA oils have clutch tests as part of the testing there are many other areas that are tested (including lubricity, detergents etc etc), this means that a JASO MA oil has to pass a higher standard then a JASO MB oil, effectively meaning it should be a better oil as it has passed a higher specification.


  11. Hi, I have just obtained a Peugeot 50cc 2 stroke motorcycle with added ‘big bore kit’ and ‘advanced ignition’. The Haynes manual states “JASO FC, SAE 20 semi-synthetic” is the appropriate 2 stock oil, could you tell me if that is still sufficient, bearing in mind the changes that have been made? The closest that I could get at my local service station was ‘Q8 Scooter Daily Super JASO FC, API TC ++, TISI 1040’ (I am assuming the TISI 1040 is the same as 10w-40?).

    It says “Daily Super – Advanced Performance – Synthetic Based – 2T Motor Oil” on the bottle.

    Best regards,

    1. If you running a performance/modified engine you should use a good quality, fully synthetic 2 stroke oil.
      If your unsure what to use, ask your local motorbike shop what they recommend as they should have good knowledge about oils and stock a good quality 2 stroke oil.

  12. Is it good that I use motul 3000 gold 20 w 50 JASO MA2 in my bike…? In My bike recommended oil is SAE 20 W50 API ‘SL’ OR JASO ‘MA’

  13. Its tiring to explain to people that jaso ma2 is best for your bike & scooter. Just as tiring to convince that fully synthetics are best. Regular & part syn are scams. You agree?

    1. No, mineral and semi synthetic oils are NOT scams or ‘bad’ oils (depending on the manufacturer!)…..

      They have there uses, and they are fine when used in the correct engines, the problems come when people try to cut costs by using mineral oils in engines that need a fully synthetic oil!

  14. I haVe a suzuki address scooter 2016. I have been using semi sin oil jaso mb rated because the manual said so. But every time ride it the first 30min was.good but any longer it starts becoming lethargically slow unspirited ride because of overheating. I am guessing it needs fully sin oil .will there be any side effects if i use jaso ma2 fully sin oil on my suzuki? Since this oil do not have friction modifiers that dry clutch scooters need for fuel efficiency. What are your recommendations?

    1. If your bike is getting that hot that it is slowing down it may not be the oil that’s causing the problems?

      A better oil (like a fully synthetic) will protect your engine better, but you may need to allow time for the engine to cool down a bit if it’s overheating too much.

      The recommendations in the handbook are the minimum specs required, you can use a better oil (like a JASO MA2 oil).

  15. Prior to this i did use various oils from various labels there were noticeable differences in ride quality. I know scooters and air cooled bikes need fully synthetics. Just when it comes to scooters they mention always molybdenum disulfite as a key substance to scooter fuel economy. it had confused me greatly. But maxi scooters require jaso ma , so you were right about the oil standards. Jaso mb is not a different kind of oil its just A lower grade oil with lower performance for less demanding invironment.(do tell if i am wrong).
    I also found out that the oil filter was warped out. it was a counterfeit part. After swap to new originals the bike improved dramatically smoothe spirited ride has been restored.again you were right about the oil not being the culprit. You are very skilfull mechanic, i commend you highly! Thanks.
    Do you know any steel oil filter for my bike ?suzuki address 2016? Recommendations on good brands? I will not risk another collapse filter again

    1. A fully synthetic oil is better for scooters as it’s able to cope with heat better (basically it doesn’t break down when hot as easily as mineral and semi synth oils).
      Because most scooters are wrapped in fairings, they can run a bit hot.

      I’ve used Hiflo filters and the quality is good, so would recommend them. Steel covered filters aren’t always the best option as the steel can limit the flow of oil through the filter?

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