Motorcycles And ATV’s. The Ethanol Fuel Debate.

The fight over increasing ethanol in gasoline from E10 to E15 is raging again. For more than 3 years the AMA (American Motorcycle Association) has been opposing increases in the ethanol level allowed in gasoline until studies show that an increase won’t damage motorcycle or all-terrain vehicle (ATV) engines, and won’t make motorcycles emit more nitrogen oxides than are allowed by the EPA.

 The AMA supports the use of cleaner-burning fuels but is concerned that gasoline containing more than 10 percent ethanol could result in premature engine damage,  degradation in performance and even failure.

Until now, motorcycle manufacturers only certify their machines to run on gasoline or blend with up to 10 percent ethanol, which is known as E10. Using the 15 percent blend in a motorcycle could void the bike’s warranty.

Instead of continuing the fight to stop the increase to 15% ethanol, the new strategy is to obtain from the government that E10 remain available at all local gas stations. Misfueling is a prime concern and consumers could be forced to fuel with E15 unless EPA requires stations to carry both legacy E10 and new E15 fuels

32 Responses to “Motorcycles And ATV’s. The Ethanol Fuel Debate.”

  1. 1 Richard Mar 26th, 2011 at 10:53 am

    I am not a ethanol advocate. However, I am aware that it does have some positives e.g. it ability to displace water, cleaner burning (reduced engine deposites) and exhaust emmissions. I also know that it reduces mpg and has hidden production costs; and has negative environmental consequences in the production process. Is there anyone/anyplace one can find an objective explanation as to the truth about ethanol? I have one question…SPECIFICALLY, what kind of potential harm is there to engines as refered to above as “could result in premature engine damage, degradation in performance and even failure”. Anyone like to comment/help?

  2. 2 Ronnie Mar 26th, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Bike manufacturers voiding warranty if E15 is used? Really? any of them want to comment on this?

  3. 3 Mike Greenwald Mar 26th, 2011 at 11:20 am

    The waste of agricultural land to produce an inefficient fuel to artificially inflate the retail price of gasoline or diesel fuel is proof positive that we have successfully lowered the standards of wisdom and intelligence. Any and all morons that ascribe to lunacy should be banned from operating any and all machinery, government or life itself.

  4. 4 zyon Mar 26th, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Luckily we I can still get good ol’ plain unleaded gas without the corn in it. When I make my twice yearly trip down I95 I have to use that crap and I hate it. I lose performance and milage. I’ve yet to put it into my motorcycle and I hope I never have to but I know it’s coming. I can understand how this hurts older motorcycles but I can’t understand how newer bikes cannot use it. Manufacturers have had plenty of time to gear up for it.

    Also, why hasn’t anyone come up with an additive to strip that corn syrup out of the gas? Whoever does it will be a rich person.

  5. 5 Manhattan Choppers Mar 26th, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    Varies from station to station, I know of one test that came back @ 18% !!!! Most around 12..

  6. 6 Grayhawk Mar 26th, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    This referenced from a bit back on good ole E-15

    Ethanol content may now go up to 15% as a stated percentage even though the government itself says it could be bad for motorcycle engines.

    AMA take on it

    Gov Rev

    Scroll down to what engines may not use e-15

  7. 7 David Mar 26th, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    And just why are we using this crap in our fuel anyway…..because of govt. subsidies….If you get a chance and watch John Stossel this weekend on Fox News and you’ll see the guy that is making Millions off the subsidies and he says he couldn’t give a crap what anyone thinks ….He’s getting paid and basically screw you…..Watch John Stossels as he talks about Freeloaders you will be amazed….. and besides that people are going hungry so we can put this crap in our tanks !!

    SSDD; David

  8. 8 Jack Mar 26th, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    People ar enot going hungry because of ethanol and farm land is not being wasted. A very small percentage of the corn produced has changed since ethanol was mandated. The corn price is traded on the exchange and cannot be traced to ethanol use. The reason that I wanted to say this is that farmers are taking a bad rap for ethanol and there is no reason for that. Not saying that anyone is here but you may be surprised at some of the backlash.

    There are a lot of subsidies for ethanol as well as oil and gas. No argument there but it’s better than using MTBE for the environment and a little less $ headed to the middle east.

    I’ve ran E10 for years in bikes, cars, boats, lawn mowers, and 2-stroke stuff with no issues.

  9. 9 David Mar 26th, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    Jack…it’s not the farmers fault but is the govt. fault. I agree that there are lots of things that are subsidised and it’s not a good thing…why wouldn’t it be better to have a open market. Since there is a bigger demand( and dont say there’s not) I have seen whole areas plowed up and turned in farm land to grow Irrigated corn and that is since the Ethanol thing started….Why would they do that if they didnt get subsidies…..They have to drill water wells, use some type of power(electricity or natural gas)to power the pumps and are using up lots of underground water supplies……if this keeps going you’ll have to drink that ethanol instead of water….

    SSDD; David

  10. 10 Mar 26th, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    What Mike said. peace

  11. 11 Jack Mar 26th, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    My family farmed and I am in Agribusiness. The subsidies have nothing to do with hay ground or pasture going into cropland. Low hay prices, a struggling dairy industry, unpredictable beef prices, and strong grain prices have all led to this. A farmer can make more money on grain than grass. A very small percentage of corn is turned into ethanol. Corn, soybeans, wheat, and cotton are at unseen prices based on worldwide demand and lower production elsewhere in the world

    Ethanol uses field corn which we only eat 5% of (starch, sweetener, cereal). Field corn is used in to animals for meat production or milk. The unused corn from ethanol is called “distillers grain” and is still fed to livestock. This is what most folks don’t understand. We still finish every year with a sur in grain.

    My opinion: The subsidies on ethanol production should scale back to 0 over time as well as subsidies to oil companies.

    Back to ethanol and engines. Ethanol has a lot of good qualities as already stated. A lot of urban legend and folklore as to the negatives as well.

    Carry on boys.

  12. 12 David Mar 26th, 2011 at 11:48 pm

    Jack….your on top of it and thats great . I agree with you more and more but I still dont like ethanol or subsidies.

    SSDD; David

  13. 13 DJ Mar 27th, 2011 at 6:15 am

    This is what happens when you have a disconnected president who give a bureaucracy(EPA) the power to legislate. He is in bed with all these so called “green” people and is regulating everyone out of jobs. Hows that hope/change thing doin for ya know??

  14. 14 Hondo Cat Mar 27th, 2011 at 9:08 am

    “disconnected” is an understatement, DJ. Don’t need no stinkin’ corn in my gas. No beef with the farmers. Gov’t, on the other hand….

  15. 15 Mar 27th, 2011 at 10:09 am

    Not an expert by any means, I do think it’s great that there is a debate. Henry Ford actually invented his automobile to run on alcohol, there were simply no gas stations around at the time. All farms had distilleries to create the fermented produce as it was very useful, including running farm machinery (not to mention the obvious medicating effects). Henry Ford(a hero of mine) then came head to head against the likes of John D Rockefeller, who decided his waste product gasoline could be used and multiply his profits. Having the political backing he beat Henry by pushing for Prohibition which sealed the internal combustion engines fate to the black gold until now. There are many urban myths about the use of the ancient biofuel most could be traced to misinformation from the oil companies. I was convinced of the benefits after reading a book called “Alcohol can be a gas” by David Blume.
    I know one thing, I am VERY tired of the majority of money in this country leaving the communities and going into the Middle east or Geneva or the Caiman Islands. I would love to support the local folks again and would pay more to do so. I could also tolerate a little less fuel efficiency.
    In May I will go to hang out in the pits again at Indy Speedway, those cars have engines that develop 700hp and will do well over 200mph and they would never put anything other than alcohol in them, from what I understand it has no carbon by products to wear grind away at the pistons. It has a huge octane content and not much pollution to speak of.
    If this country decided to put it’s unified efforts on developing the efficiency of the alcohol burning engine, I think we could do wonders for the Intense hollowing out of our country, especially the dire condition of the small rural towns which were all based on the family farm. Brazil did it!

  16. 16 Hondo Cat Mar 27th, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    When I think of corn of thinks of for livestock, a staple for humans, and Corn Squeezin’s (whiskey).

  17. 17 Mar 27th, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    Brazil doesn’t do it with corn, which has some of the lowest energy yield of any type of crop when you factor in the energy needed to produce it.

  18. 18 DJ Mar 27th, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    When you start growing corn for fuel you will increase the price of corn til it is so expensive it could not be purchased for things like cereal and anything else with corn in it. Then the for hogs, chickens and cows will be so high you will pay $30.00 per pound for hamburger. I work in the energy industry and I have had many dealings with some very smart petroleum engineers for BP, Contico, Vallero, Shell and many others and was told that if we used every kernel for fuel that was grown in this country it would not be 1/10 of 1% of our need. If you have read your owners manual for your TC 88 or 96 you will see it says IMINENT damage over 10% but they were not ever built to run ANY ethenol. Sooo everyone put your foot down and don’t forget WE are in control of this country or suffer with your $30.00 burger

  19. 19 David Mar 27th, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    DJ …right again….Woody they may not use corn but they do use Sugar cane and beets and are cutting down the rain forrest to do it…Now I’m not a tree hugger but….this is as bad as polution pouring out of Chinas factories aand it hinders the cleaning of the oxygen we breathe.

    SSDD; David

  20. 20 Mar 27th, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    Thanks Uhl, I’m going to google and start researching.

  21. 21 Mar 28th, 2011 at 9:10 am

    Ethanol sucks! Corn is 6.89 a bushel as of this morning, and has been as high as 7.15. Gov’t footing the bill on this one cause it makes no sense any other way. Food cost is going up, and will continue as long as this gov’t sham continues. Besides that it SUCKS as a fuel blend. All my buddies with hot road outboard boats, will tell you that it will eat fuel lines, absorb water, etc.

  22. 22 Chief Waldo Mar 28th, 2011 at 9:52 am

    Ethanol blends should be available only as an option. They are GASOLINE stations. They should be offering 100% gasoline. Do you want ethanol blended in? Pay extra and get it. The pumps already blend gasoline to give you mid unleaded, so it’s nothing new.

  23. 23 Richard Mar 28th, 2011 at 10:20 am

    FYI….I just checked out my owners manual received with my 2011 Road King. It says that it’s OK to run ethanhol as long as it does not exceed 10%.

  24. 24 Mar 28th, 2011 at 10:53 am

    Woody your right, Sugar cane is one of the best. Actually just about any plants that have a starch will do, One of the best ideas I have heard of is using cat tails. They clean the pollution out of the water and grow wild with no cultivation. Another great idea is to use kelp grown in the gulf out between the old abandoned oil platforms. the amount of fertilizer is so intense it kills 500 miles around the mouth of the mississippi. It grows a foot a day, and you could just give it a haircut. The gulf would come back to life where it has been dead for many years and the gross energy numbers from this type of endeavor would run the entire country. Whether any of this actually works or it’s just theory, I like thinking out of the box like this, I think we really need it now.
    By the way Brazil has already done the damage to the forests, they do not grow back. If you actually rotate the most efficient starch producing crops the soil becomes healthy again.

  25. 25 TPEvans Mar 28th, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    Jack, Al Gore and the UN disagree with you. I am not normally one to agree with either, but the facts are so damn pesky that even these knuckleheads had to “believe their lying eyes” instead of swallowing the green koolaid anymore.

    A few paragraphs from a report on the UN statement:

    As a result, the production of biofuels made from crops that could also be used for food increased more than threefold from 2000 to 2007, the Food and Agriculture Organization said. Support to encourage biofuel production in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries amounted to more than $10 billion in 2006, the organization said.

    But a host of studies in the past year concluded that the rush to biofuels had some disastrous, if unintended, consequences for food security and the environment. Less food is available to eat in poor countries, global grain prices have skyrocketed and precious forests have been lost as farmers have created fields to join the biofuel boom, the studies said.

    Worse still, specialists say, so much energy is required to convert many plants into fuel that the process does not result in a savings of carbon emissions. The O.E.C.D.’s report said only two food-based fuels were clearly environmentally better than fossil fuels when considering the entire “life cycle” of their production: used cooking oil and sugar cane from Brazil.

  26. 26 Mar 28th, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    A few things for folks that are interested: One things for sure, the human race knows how to make this stuff, been doing it since the big bang. Taking away the corn/oil subsidies and putting them towards making this process efficient has some large picture benefits.

    Many people have concerns about food shortages because crops are grown for fuel instead of food. One of the greatest misconceptions about alcohol is that it will use up land that could be used to grow food. This belief is based on the use of corn to produce ethanol, which is very inefficient. There are other crops that can produce 3 times as much ethanol and those crops need not be grown on prime cropland, but can be grown on farmland that is not as level and has more shallow soil. Most of this farmland is arid and mesquite trees could passively grow there. Blume says, “mesquite harvested seedpods would generate 33 billion gallons of alcohol, without irrigation, fertilization or annual planting. That is another 21% of our annual gasoline needs from only 7.45% of our farmland.”
    Lowlands, swamps and wetlands can be used to cultivate high yielding plants like cattails, whicn are considered a weed. Cattails can be used inexpensively to treat sewage and that the “yields of starch and cellulose from cattails can easily top 10,000 gallons per acre. If all the sewage in the US were sent to constructed marshes, the 3141 counties would need only 6360 acres each to fulfill all of our foreseeable transportation fuel needs, both gasoline and diesel, at 200 billion gallons per year. This equals 1.4% of our agricultural land”. No irrigation or chemical fertilizers would be needed. Additionally, they provide a profitable way to clean up rivers, streams and oceans by detoxifying chemicals and removing heavy metals like mercury which is evaporated out through the leaves.

    Cellulose can be used as a fuel source and that the US has 30 million acres of lawn (this is about 40% of the total acreage used for corn), and it isn’t counted as cropland or farmland. Grass clippings alone could generate over 11 billion gallons of fuel per year. This doesn’t even include green waste from landscaping that could be added to the cellulose totals in each county.

    The US uses 87% of its corn crop as animal ; when alcohol is made from the corn, which removes the starch, the protein, fat, some of the cellulose, vitamins and minerals along with the yeast from fermentation remains. The remaining substance is called distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and is about one third of the volume of the original corn after the starch is removed. DDGS is a far superior animal that eliminates huge health problems in cattle because they cannot digest the starch in corn.

  27. 27 poppymann Mar 28th, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    I grew up in Iowa and they had corn juice back during the oil embargo of the seventies. The reason it stays around is that so many in Iowa beneift from the subsidy and guess where the first presidential primary is? No candidate of either party will touch the subsidy. They are nothing but pander bears.

  28. 28 DJ Mar 28th, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    Here is food for thought… When I got out of farming in 1995 I was over the moon when corn was at $3.27 p/bush… Fast foward to the “Al Gore” era and corn is over $7.00 p/bush

  29. 29 vince Mar 28th, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    for all of you who didn’t bother going to the epa link, but still argue in favor of E15:

    What Vehicles and Engines May Not Use E15?
    All motorcycles.
    All vehicles with heavy-duty engines, such as school buses, transit buses, and delivery trucks.
    All off-road vehicles, such as boats and snowmobiles.
    All engines in off-road equipment, such as lawnmowers and chain saws.
    All MY2000 and older cars, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty passenger vehicles (SUVs).

    that is from the epa, folks. can’t argue with the people trying to push this on us. i’m screwed on two counts. my truck is an 83. my GF’s car is a 97. and, i built my chopper around a 1978 Honda CB750 motor. gee, ain’t government grand?

  30. 30 Mar 28th, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    I hear ya Vince. A boondoggle is bad enough, but messin’ with my bikes is worth. I don’t think any of my CB750’s, my BSA or my ’94 CBR will agree with subsidizing gasohol 😉

  31. 31 Mar 28th, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    “but messin’ with my bikes is worth”
    Pass the bourbon, I meant, “worse”. Gueth I’m lisping on the keyboardth 🙂

  32. 32 Apr 2nd, 2011 at 5:02 am

    Treehuggers are the most gullible people on the planet. If you want to sell any worthless product to them, all you have to do is use the word “green” somewhere in your advertising.

    It would be funny if the rest of us didn’t have to suffer as a result of their shortsighted idiocy. Adding ethanol to gasoline not only doesn’t help the environment, it isn’t cost effective and is definitely harmful to many vehicles.

    Already numerous boaters and snowmobilers have been stranded when ethanol caused their motors to stop. Countless thousands of owners of older Harleys are dealing with ongoing damage to their fuel systems due to ethanol.

    E10 has a very short shelf life unless a fuel stabilizer is added. It absorbs water and begins to break down and separate in as little as six weeks. It’s not even fit for use in a lawnmower.

    But all that aside, the undisputable loss of performance caused by using ethanol in fuel should be all the common-sense information needed to illustrate that ethanol in fuel is a bad idea. It takes more E10 to go the same distance you can go with pure gasoline, therefore you consume more fuel.

    E10 doesn’t save any gasoline, doesn’t help the environment, destroys motors and makes all vehicles slower. What idiot would support its use? Only a treehugger.

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