Ethanol Gas

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by Callisto224, Jun 3, 2013.

  1. Callisto224

    Callisto224 Long timer

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    So I've been catching up with my Motorcycle Consumer News mags (I usually get about 6 months behind) and I keep reading about how bad ethanol gas is for our bikes (i.e.; the 3 or 4 fuel strips I've had replaced on my 12GS). I get that the ethanol (a type of alcohol) separates from the gas and soaks up water which damages the fuel strips and other parts of the fuel system but here's my question. Why can the auto manufacturers make their cars safe for use with E-85 (my son drives a Dodge truck that says Flex Fuel and E-85 on it) but motorcycles (and other small engines) can't handle E-10 or E-15? :huh

    What's the deal?
    #1
  2. cjack

    cjack Been here awhile

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    The ethanol is being blamed for the fuel strip failure, but I have never seen any effect on the strip itself. The strip resistance is just as it way when it was new. The strips I have seen fail, fail at the junction of the wire connection to the strip inside an epoxy block. I can only assume that it is a design or quality control issue.
    #2
  3. Marki_GSA

    Marki_GSA Been here awhile

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    Yes I don't think ethanol has anything to do with it in this case. They fail just as frequently in countries with little to no ethanol in the fuel.
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  4. markjenn

    markjenn Long timer

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    E85 vehicles have extensive modifications to handle this level of ethanol. It could be done with bikes, but hasn't to date because there is little or no demand for E85 bikes.

    Most modern bikes have no issues whatsoever with E10. There are some exceptions, but ethanol is sorta the whipping-boy for whatever problem a bike has.

    - Mark
    #4
  5. marchyman

    marchyman Cam Killer

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    Blame ethanol.

    Octane too low? Blame ethanol (even though ethanol is an octane booster).

    Gas goes stale too fast? Blame ethanol (even though some have let ethanol gas sit for over a year and had no issues with subsequent use).

    Fuel strip breaks? Blame ethanol (even though fuel strip also break where ethanol isn't used).

    Worse gas mileage? Blame ethanol... well OK, that one is true :evil

    If you are getting good quality gas from dry tanks and not putting it in fiberglass fuel tanks then ethanol is pretty much a non-issue (except for the politics, but that is for CSM, not the GSpot).
    #5
  6. mattjw916

    mattjw916 never wears lip balm

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    well it does in fact wreck fuel tanks (Ducatis come to mind), cause up to a 10% hit in fuel mileage (based on my own experiences), doesn't like to be left sitting for long (more pronounced in humid areas), drives up the prices of corn which in turn makes essentially everything more expensive due to rising input costs, and since ethanol is more akin to a solvent it reduces the lubricating effect of the fuel itself (not as bad as the switch from leaded to unleaded but we'll see as time passes)...

    the AMA is right to push back on E10 and especially E15... my newish cars could care less about E10 but my classic cars, old bikes, and just about every power tool on earth is not happy about it

    E10 is all about politics, nothing more... corn lobby and a swing state

    I don't even really care if the gov't wants to encourage E10 but what I don't like is that I don't have a way to opt out of it (even if I had to pay more for fuel)

    Buying racing fuel by the drum really isn't a practical option either.
    #6
  7. RomaDakota

    RomaDakota Illuminatus!

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    A small local airport may have MOGAS (auto fuel) and it will be ethanol free. Problem is that it will generally be 87 octane.
    Ethanol in fuel is stupid and evil. (And period)
    #7
  8. marchyman

    marchyman Cam Killer

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    Thus the "not putting it into fiberglass fuel tanks..." part of my comment. Just ask any member of the power boating community.
    #8
  9. mwood7800

    mwood7800 Banned

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    Ethanol killed a few thousand outboards just in fl. Finally our Gov signed a law this month that repeals the ethanol mandate in Fl. You can't tell me no one here hasn't lost a weed eater or chain saw to separated fuel. Gas with ethanol turns to brown muck when any moisture is present.
    #9
  10. fred flintstone

    fred flintstone Been here awhile

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    +1 This.

    BTW hot rodders run e85 in modern cars all the time. It turns out the octane level of e85 is off the chart. However it takes more volume of fuel to reach correct mixtures, so the main limiting factor is the max flow capacity of the various fuel system components.

    There are N54 BMW cars (twin turbo) running around pushing 600 WHP running straight e85, no mods to the fuel system except for a low pressure pump. Stock internals and head. These are direct injection engines (3k psi fuel systems). These cars have low and high pressure fuel pumps. No failures due to ethanol. No one even thinks about this anymore. This is more than double stock HP/TQ levels out of some teeny tiny turbos.

    Cars have upgraded turbo internals, intercooler, flash tune, and so forth but the e85 is not the problem. It is the solution for running big boost on high compression engines.
    #10
  11. ACD

    ACD old nOOb

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    Brazilians were lab rats for ethanol in the 70`s. Fuel crisis sent petrol prices thru the roof so government created a program to substitute gas for ethanol from sugar cane.

    First cars were plagued by corrosion, needed a small gas tank to make it fire in cold mornings and regular carburetor tune-ups. About 75% of the fleet were running 100% ethanol when petrol prices began to fall and sugar prices went up. It was the end of an era but ethanol has always been part of the equation since then.

    At the gas stations we have diesel, gas and ethanol pumps. The gas (countrywide) used to be E20 but last month government changed it to E25, even for the 98 octanes premium gas I use to feed my piGS. Over 90% of new cars sold in Brazil are "flex", meaning they can run on gas, ethanol or any proportion of the two.

    As far as I know our GS´s do not have a special mod to run E25. Fact is that modern fuel injection can adapt to a wide range of conditions, including altitude, temperature, octane levels, fuel quality, etc.) I believe we will survive.
    #11
  12. Pampero

    Pampero Verbose Adventurer

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    I'm afraid I agree. And if by "fiberglass" one of the posters here means "fiberglass and plastic" then he would be right but that's not what he said. Several plastic formulations expand when in prolonged contact with alcohol and water. The alcohol makes the tanks susceptible to osmotic absorption of water, and generally it is a one way trip. Acerbis is the company that is the big manufacturer to the OEMs and they have not as yet delivered a fully reliable product as far as I know....and they are not spun from glass. It's a problem in bikes when tanks are closely form fitted to frames and cosmetic panels, less so for cars (and some bike designs) if there is room to expand a bit. Some bikes, like Ducatis, are styled to wrap around their tanks and that's when it gets to be a real problem.

    Of course, one solution there is to return to steel tanks, but water doesn't work well in them at all. So you could go to aluminum. Or just hope Acerbis figures this shit out, which by the way, I hear they may have done lately. Of course, it's not a problem in Europe, and that's why it is a problem here; manufacturers hate making two versions of something. Also,maybe (though it seems increasingly unlikely) the dumbies didn't know it would be a problem until too late. But point is, it has been a big problem for Ducati, Aprilia and even Harley among others.

    Also, most rubber bits, pump seals and the like hate it. Don't believe this? Pick up a copy of this month's Cycle World and see what Kevin Cameron has to say about E10 and E15, coming soon to a pump near you.

    I appreciate the effort to make us independent of foreign oil sources, but don't pretend ethanol is good for most bikes. Its problems could probably be solved (and probably need to be if we keep on our course) but as it stands the stuff has issues and the older the bike, the more the problems. Monsanto loves it though; more fertilizer and even greater reliance on corn as a mono crop. What a mess.
    #12
  13. KMC1

    KMC1 There is no spoon.

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    Yeah, but just think of all the rum you guys are depriving us of!!

    Save rum, burn dinosaurs...... :lol3 :1drink
    #13
  14. guitarin

    guitarin Been here awhile

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    I'm still reeling from the addition of methyl tertiary butyl ether. Where will it end!
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  15. ACD

    ACD old nOOb

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    Our rum from sugar cane is called "cachaça". I was very concerned about cachaça production levels ´til I read somewhere that Brazil produces more cachaça than beer! Even though per capita consumption of beer is not huge (about half what folks in England drink), we are still talking about north of 10 billion liters a year!!! Fear not, we still have some in inventory.
    #15
  16. TuefelHunden

    TuefelHunden Been here awhile

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    It is a far cry from highly modified cars to street cars and bikes. Yes, octane can be off the chart, but octane hase to do with the rate at which a fuel burns, NOT the amount of power you can get out of it. Bottom line, some isomer of pentane (gasoline) has way more energy than alcohol.
    #16
  17. slipknot

    slipknot Been here awhile

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    #17
  18. stevie88

    stevie88 That's gotta hurt

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    Well it doesn't take a rocket surgeon to figure that out.
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  19. mike cummins

    mike cummins OUTBACK RIDER

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    Vast areas of pristine rainforest is slashed and burned each year in order to make way for oil palm plantations. Many orangutans and other wildlife are killed in the process, so that this one vegetable oil can be used in many of our everyday foods and products. This large-scale deforestation is pushing orangutans to extinction, along with many other native species of Borneo and Sumatra.

    The one thing i cant stand is ignorance :)
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  20. Anorak

    Anorak Woolf Barnato

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    Well, you can tune an engine for greater power from oxygenated fuel like ethanol because they carry oxygen. So you can introduce more oxygen into then engine than would normally be brought in from the atmosphere without using some sort of pump like a supercharger to force more air into the engine. More fuel is added to mix with the air. This doesn't really have bearing on oem tuning but I wanted to address your mention of octane.
    #20