In short yes. Synthetic and conventional oils are extremely different compounds and when it comes to your shock absorbers, the main issue isn’t lubrication, it’s safety.
Why do Motorcycle Forks Have Shock Oil?
Shock absorbers all have oil in them, but that usually isn’t part of the catchy name. We hear about nitrogen-charged shocks being top of the line but no one ever talks about the oil inside. Don’t take that to mean it doesn’t matter, just know that in most shocks you can’t change the oil. In your motorcycle, you can! The important thing to know is that the purpose of the oil in your shocks isn’t for lubrication, it’s to create resistance. There is a plunger that travels up and down with the shock rod through the oil inside your shock. This plunger has a valve or passenger on the end of it for the oil in your shock to pass through. The design of that valve and the viscosity of the oil passing through it will determine the amount of resistance to motion the shock gives you.
Why Does the Type of Oil Matter?
The type of oil you put into your shocks matters for 3 reasons. First, as we talked about above, the viscosity of the oil has a lot to do with how your shocks perform. For more information on that, check out our article on shock tuning. The second reason is that the brilliant engineers that designed your shocks created them to work in a certain environment. Besides the viscosity, shock oil may have additives to reduce wear on bushings or used certain seals that are only compatible with certain chemicals.
The last reason it’s important to use the right type of shock oil is for your safety. The best way to be safe on a motorcycle, on or off-road, is to know what to expect from it. The longer you ride a bike the safer you are and closer to the edge you can safely push it. You know just how hard the power band will hit or how much front brake you can apply before the front tire starts to skip. You know how far to lean into a turn and when you can grab a handful of throttle without the back end getting too loose. Knowing how your shocks will react to that landing or to a rough shoulder is equally important to your safety.
Using a high-quality synthetic shock oil like PJ1 Pro Cartridge Oil is the best way to make sure you know exactly what to expect from your shocks. Unlike poor quality oils or conventional fork oil, PJ1 Pro Cartridge Oil is designed to be thermally stable meaning it will not fade or change viscosity. That means no longer how long your ride or how many whoops you hit you will know exactly what to expect from your front shocks keeping you safe and fast.