Ethanol And Motorcycles

June 19, 2015

All Posts, News

Ethanol And Motorcycles

Pardon the bureaucrat speak, but on May 29 the Environmental Protection Agency:

“announced proposed volume requirements under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016, and also proposed volume requirements for biomass-based diesel for 2017. The proposal would boost renewable fuel production and provide for ambitious yet responsible growth over multiple years, supporting future expansion of the biofuels industry.” That’s how your government speaks to you; Like they are Foghorn Leghorn and your name is “Boy.”

“’This proposal marks an important step forward in making sure the Renewable Fuel Standard program delivers on the Congressional intent to increase biofuel use, lower greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy security,’ said Janet McCabe, the acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air. ‘We believe these proposed volume requirements will provide a strong incentive for continued investment and growth in biofuels.’”

In Other Words

What the EPA is talking about is increasing the amount of alcohol, or ethanol, in the nation’s gasoline. Specifically, the government wants to increase how much gasoline is actually a mix of 85 percent gas and 15 percent alcohol.

Ethanol presents well known problems for motorcyclists. Because alcohol has less energy than gasoline, so-called “E15” dangerously leans out the fuel air mixture. Harley-Davidson cautions riders about using gasoline blends that contain 10 percent ethanol. “You may find that some ethanol gasoline blends affect the starting, driveability, or fuel efficiency of your motorcycle. If you experience one or more of these problems, it is recommended you operate your motorcycle on straight unleaded gasoline,” the Motor Company says.”

Ethanol also corrodes metal, plastic and rubber parts and absorbs water from the atmosphere which can cause numerous engine problems. The E15 blend is actually illegal to use in motorcycles. The EPA thinks the E15 blend will only be pumped from blender pumps that carry a warning label that reads, “Passenger vehicles only. Use in other vehicles, engines and equipment may violate Federal law.”

AMA Petition

Opponents of the increase are skeptical of that safeguard and among the opponents is the venerable American Motorcyclist Association which distributed its own press release yesterday. The release correctly states that the distribution of gasoline blends that are 16 percent ethanol “increase the risk of misfueling for motorcyclists.”

The AMA has published an online petition “that urges the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency not to increase the proposed renewable fuel volumes this year…The EPA opened a comment period to allow the public to voice its opinion on the proposed rule. The AMA plans to submit every name and address with its comments to the EPA on July 26.”

Wayne Allard, the AMA vice president for government relations said, “Our goal is to present more than 10,000 signatures supporting our stance against the wrongheaded policies of the EPA and the USDA on this matter.”

It is not a sexy issue. You will not hear about this on television but the amount of ethanol in gasoline is peculiarly important to bikers. If you are so inclined, whether you are an AMA member or not, you can sign the AMA’s petition here.


19 Responses to “Ethanol And Motorcycles”

  1. Outside it all. Says:

    I’m glad this was brought back up. We had a 2000 ford ranger that was supposed to be able to burn ethanol/gas, it did reluctantly. Never got more than 17 mpg. no matter what we put in it. It mostly ran like a gutless POS., Talked to several other Ranger owners? Same thing.
    The wife has a Chevy Aveo now, Bought it almost brand new, it would run a little better than the ranger on E-85 or E-87, but not great. It runs best on regular 87, but most of the time can only find ‘Premium 89,” and it runs okay but not great.
    The bike only likes regular 87 nothing else.
    So I started looking for real, pure or non-blended gas. has lists of “Ethanol – free gas stations in the U.S. and Canada.” I put that in Quotations because I know from experience that some of these stations sell both the Ethanol gas and the “Premium grade 89.” Not Regular 87. A lot of bikes don’t run real well on the premium grade. Premium grade 89 costs anywhere from 20cents to about a dollar more a gallon. BANG! Soooooooo! These lists need to be further pared down. {That is if you ride a lot across the U.S., you’d need to really plan your trip according to what you find or haul part of your fuel.} Locally, I have found that some stations that do have Regular 87 aren’t listed and some from the same Co. have only Ethanol 87, but you wouldn’t know it unless you were local. What a freaking mess. I’ve never used Sta-bil, but I have heard both good and bad things about it. Mostly bad.?????…..?

  2. litesong Says:

    Ethanol needs high 114 octane, high compression ratio(16:1) ethanol engines to extract its energy efficiently. Used(not burned efficiently) in low 87 octane, low compression ratio(9:1 to 11:1) gasoline engines, just 10% ethanol blends lose 8%, 8%, 7%-8%, 7% & 5% in my 5 cars. Motorcycle engines are designed for higher octane gasoline, but not 114 octane gasoline. You still have to lose more than 3% mpg.

  3. Johnny D Says:

    “But the EPA also admits that it is out of compliance with the levels set by Congress, largely because current fuel infrastructure and automobiles are unable to use gasoline that includes more than 10 percent ethanol. The inability to get beyond the 10-percent figure commonly is referred to as the “blend wall” and represents a serious hurdle for the ethanol industry.”

    Read more:
    Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

  4. rollinnorth Says:

    A Red Green reference while reading at Rebel’s; this is a good day. Thanks, Wolfenlover.

    Thank you, Rebel. Always good reading here.


  5. Wolfenlover Says:

    They start using the corn for fuel, and besides it not being as economically
    sound, it raises the price of meat. They had a plant near where I live & I
    haven’t heard about it for years, but the farmers here were raising hell about
    it. It had raised the cost of corn to BUY for feed, but lowered it to SELL
    at the elevator! This BS only helps the big conglomerates & not the small
    farmer.Of course Govt. doesn’t care about the small guy. If they would just
    get their “collective heads out of their asses”, fuel could be made from
    HEMP seeds/oil. JSMFH at those in power.
    I for sure check to see that there is NO high-fructose corn syrup in
    any product I buy. I haven’t had a soda-pop in years! That shit will give
    you diabetes quicker than anything & isn’t too terribly good for yer heart
    @ Phuquehed, maybe you had gotten a bad batch. I’ve used the stuff for many
    years with no problems.Of course I usually use the gas up before a 6mth period
    has passed. When I worked at a truck stop about 40 yrs ago, there was a
    product called SILO that would remove the water from your fuel & seemed to
    keep fuel “fresh” for extended lengths of time. BUT if you don’t have a need
    for anything like that, as the old saying goes,”If it ain’t broke…”
    But then there is also Red Green’s saying”If it isn’t broke…You aren’t
    really trying.” hehehe

    RESPECTS Rebel & to the regulars

  6. Phuquehed Says:

    My generator has a 5 gallon tank. I think it was maybe half-full when I put the Sta-bil in it. The following fall (maybe 9 months later) we had need of the generator but when I tried to fire it up (it’s a pull start, no electric start for us poor people, heh heh) it just wouldn’t. Fuckin’ wore my ass out trying.

    Got to looking into parts and stuff and found that everything in any ‘tube’, the whole carb, and about half the tank had turned into gel (don’t know why I didn’t think of trying to keep as much of it as possible for napalm…unless napalm is actually something else altogether…I had some ant hills that were way too big and giving me hell eradicating them).

    Had to take everything apart, clean the thing, replace some parts, etc.

    I followed the instructions on the can of Sta-bil because I’d only heard of it and a friend said to try it because he knew I try to keep at least a couple 5 gallon gas cans full over the winter and the generator and such (this was about 6 or 7 years ago IIRR, so I don’t remember what the instructions on the can said, I just know I read and followed them). I was pretty disappointed, but as I said, I’ve heard and read of it doing well also, so I’m not putting the stuff down, just saying that I personally won’t ever use it (or any fuel stabilizers) ever again as I’ve not ever had problems with gas going bad in anything without it that *I* own before.

  7. Meh Says:

    Ethanol-diluted fuel gets lower MPG because it has less energy than petroleum gasoline.

    I’ve used STA-BIL for many years in Southern humidity. Not sure how it could fuck up fuel (details?) as I’ve ignored the directions routinely and use lots of it. Beats dealing with stuck fuel injectors. I also use two-stroke oil sometimes (not more than 100-1!) on small engine fuel.

    Here’s a nasty ethanol destruction example. By now every engine maker SHOULD use flex-fuel compliant “rubber” parts on everything for longevity alone since they are superior to cheapshit that ethanol happens to eat, but they don’t:

    Passing cornohol costs to the customer is taxation to give handouts to big agra. There are no little family farms who matter in the cornohol landscape, and rich farming dynasties should COMPETE instead of getting massive welfare.

  8. Phuquehed Says:

    I’ve heard/read good and bad about Sta-bil. Unfortunately, it was a ‘bad’ for me when I used it once in the gas tank of our generator. I’ve had no problems whatsoever just leaving gas alone – no additives – in tanks and gas containers over the winter or years. Not saying it doesn’t work, it just didn’t for me.

    As for the whole corn-gas thing…in this part of the coutry (or maybe just this state?), non-corn gas isn’t too hard to find. If I use the non-corn gas my bike gets me 47 mpg, but if I use the other shit it drops down to 43 – consistantly. That alone tells me there ain’t something right with that corn shit. I tell everyone I meet about it too, in hopes it’ll wake the fucking sheeple up some. 4 mpg difference makes one fuck of a difference in the long run.

  9. Meh Says:

    Crafty use of SERT!

    Corrosion won’t be much of an issue for recent fuel systems but owners of older motorcycles already have issues with new fuels. Ethanol-resistant fuel line is also good oil line and you can order it cut to length quite reasonably via Ebay.

    Modern fuel deteriorates rapidly in storage so I disregard the label and use ample amounts of STA-BIL. Shit works even for a few years of storage. Run engine until enough mix has passed through the system to coat it.

  10. Docb Says:

    Politics being what they are we’re left with a problem. There’s a way around it if you have the Screaming Eagle Tuner installed.

    In the fuel ratio table window there is a drop down box that allows you to tune for a 5% or 10% ethanol mixture, or the default values for straight gasoline. You simply select the alcohol content you expect to be using.
    The 5% drop down richens the mixture to keep your mixture right across the entire fuel curve from Idle to Rev limit. The 10% drop down does the same thing if you expect to be running on that mixture.

    First thing comes to mind is the cost of the tuner. Second thing that comes to mind is I don’t have a clue which state has what percent alcohol and if you travel like a club biker you’ll be exposed to all of them.

    I use straight gasoline all the time enless it’s not available. I set mine on the 5% alcohol mixture. It richens the mixture up about .5 points on the entire fuel table no matter what kind of fuel I use. End result is on gasoline I run richer enough to cool the cylinders some and put a little more shit in my roll on. Gas mileage from New England to KY at 80-85 mph last Sunday was 37 point something. If I’m ever stuck with nothing but ethanol added gas I won’t run as lean as I would have.

    There’s still the problem af corrosive alcohol in the system.

    I know most of you don’t have the Screamin Eagle Race Tuner installed but for those that do ……. just say’n


  11. VikingTrotter Says:

    Might be time to start using 110LL aviation gas. Since it’s unleaded and contains no ethanol. The prices are about equal to regular unleaded

  12. The Kraut Says:

    More oligarchic-plutocratic greed engineering!

    Ethanol costs more to make and uses more energy to make…rip-off.

    More capitalist fleecing of the masses…sheeple.

    I believe scooter folks take on the truth and our practice of it are why we are earmarked for extermination by the oligarchs through their bought and paid for government and the badges…the cops are simply the ‘useful idiots’ for the oligarchs for the time being.

    Once the badges outlive their usefulness (and a reliable source of muscle can be bought and paid for) the pigs and abc’ers will join the rest of the outlawed peoples of Amerika.

    Fuck the oligarchs…be ready to kill all who support them…a holocaust for the moneyed and affluent.

    Respects to those who warrant respect

    The Kraut

  13. Road Whore Says:

    When one is so FUCKED in the head as to grow food–that substance without which every person on this planet DIES–for use as FUEL instead of for EATING, it shows you how IGNERNT and GREEDY the self-righteous bastardfucks on this planet have become…they will pervert a common and basic need, twisting it into something else with which to make another (for them) unnecessary buck, while telling us all how good it is for us and lying to their own evil fucking selves. They either don’t recognize that this shit will destroy them in the end too, or else they just figure they will have died and left the planet and it won’t matter.

    Ride Free

  14. Ol'LadyRider Says:

    Good lookin’ out, Rebel. I wouldn’t have been aware of this otherwise. Thanks.

  15. Enlightened One Says:

    Acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air…. Office of air? Where is this office of air? We’re fucked…

  16. Meh Says:

    BOTH parties suck Big Agra anus and don’t ever, ever forget it.

    They want to funnel money to their buddies even though the US exports oil.

  17. FF Says:

    Good ol’ bastard barry, the communists and vichy regime! Looking ot for the folks!

  18. old & stoned Says:

    Operative words “energy security” translates to ‘done deal’

  19. popeye Says:

    First the corn lobby got food manufactures to put corn sweetener into everything we eat to ruin our health then the corn lobby talked congress into buying into the ethanol lie. Who says congress isnt a puppet of corporate america and its lobbyists .The US is a net exporter of oil and has unlimited gas and coal reserves. There is no reason to put ethanol in your tank unless to use it as a paint stripper

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