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Thread: Minimum octane fuel for 2020 K 1600

  1. #1

    Question Minimum octane fuel for 2020 K 1600

    I sent the following message directly to BMW Motorrad technical support:

    ”I am the proud new owner of a 2020 BMW K 1600 GTL.
    I have a question for an actual engineer (as opposed to my dealer’s salesman) about the recommended fuel octane rating required in the owner’s manual vs. the BMW web site.
    Specifically, on page 126, column 3 of my Rider’s Manual, as well as page 197 under Technical data, and even the back page it says:
    ‘Recommended fuel quality
    Regular unleaded (max. 15%
    ethanol, E15)
    min 87 AKI (min 91 ROZ/RON)
    87 AKI’.
    But the the BMWMotorcycles.com web site, under K 1600GTL Data & Equipment, states “Fuel Type: Premium Unleaded”
    My dealer also recommends and delivered the bike with premium fuel.
    This is important to me for two reasons: 1) Obviously, regular fuel is cheaper. But at today’s prices that is only a quibble.
    2) The big reason I feel I need to know what fuel is acceptable is that running a higher octane fuel than necessary in an engine will REDUCE performance and possibly cause the engine to run hotter than it would with lower octane fuel. Fuel with an octane rating lower than the engine was designed for will probably lead to REDUCED performance as well (as the brain box compensates for sensed knock).
    And then there is the warranty to consider. I haven’t scrutinized it for a required minimum fuel octane, but what would happen if I damaged my engine by running it on the inappropriate fuel? Could they deny a claim based on that?
    So please forward this (long, sorry) message to someone who actually KNOWS, not just has an opinion.
    Thank you for your time,”

    For the uninitiated, ROZ/RON is the European knock rating and you can translate between the US AKI (Anti Knock Index, commonly displayed on US pumps as “(R+M)/2”)) by subtracting about 4 from the Euro index. Therefore, the requirement for 91 ROZ/RON equates to 87 AKI, which is what’s specified.
    For those of you that believe you can choose your fuel base on the static compression rating, the K 1600’ check in at 12.2:1!

  2. #2
    Kawa Afterthought weschmann's Avatar
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    . Probable Answer. My R NineT also states the same information in the owners manual for my 18 Urban 1200 oil/air cooled engine. I actually find my MPG suffers when using premium so have pretty much run 87 regular for 13000 miles now. I haven't compared engine heat between the two mixes, but then my engine always runs hot (it seems to me) running between 240f to 250f at 65 mph on interstate.
    I'd be interested in their reply.

  3. #3
    Left Coast Rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by j.jay.forbes@gmail.com View Post
    I sent the following message directly to BMW Motorrad technical support:......
    I am willing to bet my annual salary that you wouldn't feel any reduced performance using either 87 or 91 octane.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by BC1100S View Post
    I am willing to bet my annual salary that you wouldn't feel any reduced performance using either 87 or 91 octane.
    AKI is Anti Knock Index which is Research Octane (RON) plus Motor Octane (MON) divided by two (2) or in formula AKI = (Ron+MON)/2. It is what is on the pump labels in the United States. So AKI 87 is Regular at any station in the United States except in high altitude areas where AKI 86 or 85 might be sold and displayed. In the US what is on the pump is AKI.
    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
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  5. #5
    Nick Kennedy
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    Weschmann
    Thread drift light on
    Those temps your bike runs at while cruising seem very high to me.
    Have you spoke with other owners? Is this normal?
    Going up a long pass with a strong tailwind could be a problem IMHO
    Nick

  6. #6
    Debbie's Servant Lee's Avatar
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    When I look at a manual for a 2019 and on K1600GTL it shows 90 AKI.
    Screenshot (21).png
    Lee
    2016 R1200RS
    MOA # 30878
    Past BMW Bikes: 2011 K1300S, 2003 K1200RS, 1991 K75S, 1987 K75T, 1984 R100RT

  7. #7
    Registered User lkchris's Avatar
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    If your bike has any kind of compression at all, it requires premium.

    To run low octane fuel in a high compression engine requires ignition retardation ... which creates less than optimal efficiency. Bike may have capability to automatically retard, but that doesn't mean its a good thing to use it. It's basically for emergencies.

    For best power then, plus best fuel economy (both associated with maximum ignition advance), you'll run premium fuel. "More than it needs" is not relevant to this discussion.

    There really are two different cultures at work here.

    Europeans for many years faced very high fuel prices and lots of regulation. Their response was smaller, higher compression, higher revving optimally efficient engines.

    For many years Americans used gigantic displacement, low state of tune, low revving engines that happily ran on about any fuel. Good thing it was cheap, because they used a lot.

    Nothing about this history makes low test fuel use a better thing ... just a habit. In fact, it's negative, as the USA auto industry stagnated for so many years they may never catch up ... but that veers off topic.

    There were, btw, crazies in our government that wanted to regulate everything, who proposed banning or maybe artificially pricing regular gas in order to stimulate higher compressions and consequent fuel savings.
    Kent Christensen
    21482
    '12 R1200RT, '02 R1100S

  8. #8
    Kawa Afterthought weschmann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nickrides View Post
    Weschmann
    Thread drift light on
    Those temps your bike runs at while cruising seem very high to me.
    Have you spoke with other owners? Is this normal?
    Going up a long pass with a strong tailwind could be a problem IMHO
    Nick
    Yes, for the nine t it seems that they are right at normal. I've never had the heat warning light come on yet in my current 13000 miles and have kind of stopped worrying about it. Posts from all over the world, especially hotter climates than Midwestern Missouri suggest the heat hasent been a problem.

  9. #9
    Fortis Fortuna Adiuvat Omega Man's Avatar
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    They mostly blend at the pump. Best to take a sample to have it tested before a fill up.
    OM
    "You can do good or you can do well. Sooner or later they make you choose." MI5
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  10. #10
    Registered User 36654's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BC1100S View Post
    I am willing to bet my annual salary that you wouldn't feel any reduced performance using either 87 or 91 octane.
    Didn't you recently retire????
    Cave contents: 16 R12RS, 13 Toyota Tacoma, 03 Simplicity Legacy, 97 Stihl FS75, Dewalt DW625 & SawStop PCS175
    1) My expectations are never low enough & 2) Incompetence is infinite ........David Brooks

  11. #11
    Registered User 36654's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by j.jay.forbes@gmail.com View Post
    I sent the following message directly to BMW Motorrad technical support:

    ”I am the proud new owner of a 2020 BMW K 1600 GTL.
    I have a question for an actual engineer (as opposed to my dealer’s salesman) about the recommended fuel octane rating required in the owner’s manual vs. the BMW web site.
    Specifically, on page 126, column 3 of my Rider’s Manual, as well as page 197 under Technical data, and even the back page it says:
    ‘Recommended fuel quality
    Regular unleaded (max. 15%
    ethanol, E15)
    min 87 AKI (min 91 ROZ/RON)
    87 AKI’.
    But the the BMWMotorcycles.com web site, under K 1600GTL Data & Equipment, states “Fuel Type: Premium Unleaded”
    My dealer also recommends and delivered the bike with premium fuel.
    This is important to me for two reasons: 1) Obviously, regular fuel is cheaper. But at today’s prices that is only a quibble.
    2) The big reason I feel I need to know what fuel is acceptable is that running a higher octane fuel than necessary in an engine will REDUCE performance and possibly cause the engine to run hotter than it would with lower octane fuel. Fuel with an octane rating lower than the engine was designed for will probably lead to REDUCED performance as well (as the brain box compensates for sensed knock).
    And then there is the warranty to consider. I haven’t scrutinized it for a required minimum fuel octane, but what would happen if I damaged my engine by running it on the inappropriate fuel? Could they deny a claim based on that?
    So please forward this (long, sorry) message to someone who actually KNOWS, not just has an opinion.
    Thank you for your time,”

    For the uninitiated, ROZ/RON is the European knock rating and you can translate between the US AKI (Anti Knock Index, commonly displayed on US pumps as “(R+M)/2”)) by subtracting about 4 from the Euro index. Therefore, the requirement for 91 ROZ/RON equates to 87 AKI, which is what’s specified.
    For those of you that believe you can choose your fuel base on the static compression rating, the K 1600’ check in at 12.2:1!
    Go to https://www.bmw-motorrad.com/en/serv...er-manual.html and read the evolution of fuel specs for the K1600 GTL from 2017 to 2020. While 89AKI E10 was specified in 2017 with the possibility of dealer re-programming to handle 87AKI E10, the 2020 manual specs 87AKI E15.

    There's a similar "evolution" of fuel specs for the R1200RS and R1250RS.

    I'm guessing this is just software/programming changes in the FI and ignition systems.
    Cave contents: 16 R12RS, 13 Toyota Tacoma, 03 Simplicity Legacy, 97 Stihl FS75, Dewalt DW625 & SawStop PCS175
    1) My expectations are never low enough & 2) Incompetence is infinite ........David Brooks

  12. #12
    Registered User RIDERR1150GSADV's Avatar
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    Go with what is in the manual and you should be fine. To throw a curve ball in here, try to find non-ethanol fuel and see how you like that. It is more $$ but your mileage will go up too. it is also know as REC90.
    Recently because of the high temps here I started using premium unleaded if I can't find non-ethanol.
    I find that the engine runs better... At least I keep telling myself that YMMV
    MOA # 108516
    Current ride 2018 R1200 GSA Triple Black
    Past rides '04 R1150RT, '05 K1200LT, '06 R1150GSA, ‘17 R1200RT

  13. #13
    wanderer
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    The current generation of engines certainly seem much less sensitive to low Octane fuels. My point of reference was my old 1966 427 Vet. If I used anything less than Sunoco 94, the knocking, and bucking was VERY clear!!

    While there are many engines now that have similar compression ratios, and more aggressive valve timing (variable) the effect are a lot less noticable to me.

    I suspect, but do not know for sure, that the modern ECU uses multiple techniques simultaneously to minimize effects. Ignition time adjustment is but one. I suspect fueling is modulated (limited) so the cyclinder charging is not allowed to be as rich as it would be otherwise. Engine with dymancic Adjustable Valve timing (not our RS's) could also be modified.

    Also even our RS's are so over powered that we veery seldom load the engine (WOT) so the cylinder charge is quite lean (harder for knock to happen) almost all of the time.

    I am very confident there is no chance of doing any engine damage using lower octane fuel for normal riding and also pretty confident there is very little touring performance loss. I certainly can not notice it during the few time when I put low octane fuels in my RS.

    I lose no sleep if I can not get high octane fuel.

    ps Low Octane fuel actually has slightly more energy per unit volume than High Octane fuels!

  14. #14
    Debbie's Servant Lee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RIDERR1150GSADV View Post
    Go with what is in the manual and you should be fine.
    I would like to know why his paper manual is different than the PDF manual BMW provides.
    Lee
    2016 R1200RS
    MOA # 30878
    Past BMW Bikes: 2011 K1300S, 2003 K1200RS, 1991 K75S, 1987 K75T, 1984 R100RT

  15. #15
    Registered User dimsum07's Avatar
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    I find this amusing as well.

    Different bike, same confusing guidance from BMW...if its guidance at all.

    Top photo is BMW's USA website. Premium fuel "required".

    Bottom photo is out of the BMW repair manual specifications section. Notice how its very much NOT premium fuel.

    I've only been running premium b/c I don't want to throw in 7 gallons of regular to find out I get pre detonation. I think I'm going to try it for the next tank. I have this sneaky suspicion that maybe the website is wrong. Is this just to make people think they have a "premium" bike?

    My repair manual is the most updated version that downloads from BMW...

    Fuel Requirements.jpg
    -Steve
    2019 F850 GSA Rallye
    or
    2017 F-250

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