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Thread: Ethanol in fuel

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Carol Stream, IL

    Ethanol in fuel

    E-mailed BMW Motorrad USA "Customer Service" with this question and got the standard big corporation no response response. Thought perhaps one of our technologically or scientifically qualified members could offer an explanation. The question is this; how would increasing the amount of ethanol in gasoline affect our BMW motorcycles? Is it simply a question of tuning, or is it something about the chemistry itself akin to gasoline that used to have lead in it. For some time lead was necessary for proper valve "lubrication" and engines that needed it would be damaged if run on lead-free. If higher ethanol content would be bad for BMW engines is there a fix, or is the government simply going to screw up people's stuff? You can trust the Government, just ask any Native American!

  2. #2
    Riding where it's hot! AZ-J's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Scottsdale, AZ
    Andy, our state increases ethanol during the summer, and has done so for years. It greatly affects my car and my bike. It is awful.
    My bike shown here
    Jordan M, MOA #24434
    My Blog

  3. #3
    Registered User mpmarty's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Camas Valley Oregon
    I don't use fuel with booze in it. We here in Oregon have a choice.
    Marty - in the western Oregon mountains.'06RT, (gone '04RT, '86 Venture Royal, '81 Yamaha Virago920, '82Suzuki GS1100GK, '76 Suzuki GT750, Triumph 750 Bonneville, BSA Road Rocket 650, 61" Harley knucklehead)

  4. #4
    I only get gas that has no ethonal. If I have to use ethonal I use on of the stabilizers on the market. Ethonal absorbs water, which causes it to separate from the gas like oil and vineger. The pure separated ethonal is hard on your seals, gasket, anything plastic or rubber. Water causes rust and other problems. Adding corn ethonal to gas was the most ill conceived thing the government has done in ages and once they start something they form beurocracy that can't be stopped.

    I get about 39mpg on pure gas and 36 on ethonal 10%.

  5. #5
    No appeasable effects have been found in any scientific study to date.

    I've been running E10 for years in my 78 airhead and modern bike and car with no ill effects and this study (just one on several) indicate that there will be none with E15 done by the Oak Ridge Labs and has been peer-reviewed by scientists.

    Please note in the above who contributed to the study, such as engine manufactures, universities etc.
    "Research Sponsors
    This research was a cooperative effort by the State of Minnesota, The Minnesota Corn Growers, The Council of
    Great Lakes Governors, Minnesota State University Mankato, University of Minnesota, and the Renewable
    Fuels Association with input from fuel refiners, automakers and small engine manufactures"

    so I guess it boils down to what you want to believe, scientist doing scientific studies or dis-information mongers on the net funded by the oil industry.
    this topic has just about been beaten to depth already..

    isn't it spring YET?????


  6. #6
    Dick Bush 167702's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Pocono's Pennsylvania/ Ft Lauderdale Fl

    Hate Ethanol


    It most certainly changes my MPG by about 5 miles. I have an R1200 Gs and those tanks are plastic. so Having the gas sit in it is not as harmful as a metal tank because it doesn't rust. I have been using an additive to combat it. But anytime I am in the Keys I always fill-up at the non-Ethanol station for the ride home.

    Ps E15 will be very harmful
    This article helped me decide.,en/

    "Price is what you pay, Value is what you get" Warren Buffet

  7. #7
    Registered User DENKAR55's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    I have a R1200RT and I have used Startron ETOH stabilizer which has been nothing less than perfect running engine and no problems related to alcohol in fuel. It is reasonably priced and really really works. I do not fear the alcohol in fuel, I fear the crap they may put in it without letting us know due to "WE CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH"!! Haha
    Dennis and Karin Trovato
    2009 BMW R1200RT (In Europe) //// 2015 BMW R1200GS Adventure (In USA)

  8. #8
    Registered User tourunigo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Larry's River, Nova Scotia, Canada
    No ethanol in Nova Scotia. Some talk but that's all as far as I know. However, be prepared to pay more for fuel here than just about any place in the U.S. We are currently $4.50 a U.S. Gal. and rising (damn speculators!). But we do have 87 (tractor fuel ) to 91 octane only. I do know that my /5 suffers a bit when I get fuel with ethanol though. - Bob
    Bob Weber
    Larry's River, Nova Scotia, CANADA

  9. #9
    Rally Rat
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Sheboygan, WI

    Thumbs down

    I don't go on a long tour without an ethonol stabilizer aboard.

    See one of the Touring Tips I included for the May ON issue when it comes out, or just get some stabilizer now and be ready.

    My cage mechanic has skeletonal remains of parts from autos that have been eaten from within because of that corn-crap.

    No more than 10% recommended by BMW themselves!

  10. #10
    Merlin III
    Like it or not, it is coming and will help stop our dependence on foreign oil. Just get in the habit of using the stabilizer now and enjoy your riding without worry.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by denkar55 View Post
    I have a R1200RT and I have used Startron ETOH stabilizer which has been nothing less than perfect running engine and no problems related to alcohol in fuel.
    Counterpoint: I have an '05 GS ridden about 10-12K/year. It has lived on California gas with ethanol its entire life. I do NOT use any after market fuel additives. And like you, I've had zero problems related to alcohol in fuel. My other bike is only ridden 2-3K/year so gas has a chance to sit in its metal tank. No fuel issues with that bike, either. I suspect that the vast majority of California drivers (and there are a lot of them) have had no fuel related issues since the MTBE was removed.

    Maybe our gas is just better than that found other places. I'd guess weather in the form of low relative humidity helps, too. And it's possible that any damage being done is happening slow enough that the problems won't show up for another 10 years.

  12. #12
    BMW FanBoi drw2ge's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Voorhees, NJ
    Only thing I have heard of, is the Ducati issue with the tanks swelling due to ethanol... I remember when ethanol was first introduced back in the early 80's after one of the gas "crisis"... I always thought my car ran "faster"on it... but that was seat of pants in an Datsun 280Z... "What did I know?"
    Phil W2GE
    2010 R1200RT 2011 Husqvarna TE310 'Woods-Weapon'
    New Sweden BMW Riders
    iPhone5-> Zumo 660->SENA SMH10, Nuvi 500,

  13. #13
    Airheads suffer carburetor float deterioration and fuel line deterioration. Thus for a couple of decades Bing has sold retrofit float kits in two varieties and alcohol resistant fuel line. Most but not all fuel line now available at an auto parts store is OK too.

    K75 and K100 bikes suffer damage when the fuel pump mount cushion turns to mush in ethanol fuels. If left unattended and not replaced every year or so this little $300 part turns first to mush and then to syrup, resulting in the need to replace the fuel pump and maybe the pressure regulator and maybe the injectors. The $1,000 fix for the $2,000 bike in some cases. BMW still supplies the part after 15 to 25 years but has not changed the formulation of the "rubber" it is made from.

    I have not observed any specific damage to Oilheads or later bikes that can be attributed to ethanol in fuels. I did notice however that E15 fuels are approved for cars and trucks manufactured after 2001, but not for cars and trucks built earlier than that, nor for motorcycles, where the EPA has stated that testing has not been done to show that it is safe in these vehicles. Always read the fine print.

    I actually prefer to follow the advice in my K75/K100 Haynes Manual which states that I should "avoid the use of fuels adulterated with alcohol."
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell

  14. #14
    Registered marching ant Antaeas's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Columbus, Wisconsin

    Fuel additives

    Jay Leno talked about fuel and additives with a pitchman from VP Racing Fuels on his site

    Additives aren't cheap. I haven't used them, but I might try some this summer. Once last summer, I filled up with Shell 98 octane near Mosport Ontario, and really felt the difference.

    2005 R1200RT (Artie)

    "Can I move? I'm better when I move." - Sundance Kid (by Wm. Goldman)

  15. #15
    Enjoy The Ride saddleman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Huntersville N.C.
    Just about every station around here has it in there fuel. I'm not sure if it makes any differance but I go thru at least two tanks of fuel a week & sometimes as much as 15 tanks in a week. My bike runs almost every single day so the fuel never sits very long.
    Dave Selvig
    2008 Black LT
    2004 Black LT
    2000 Canyon Red LT

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