Classic Motorcycles and Cornoline Fuel
Aside from the obvious economic and political reasons for mixing ethanol in gasoline, one benefit of that mixture is to diminish engine “knock” or “ping.” Ethanol mixtures also allow motors to run at a higher compression ratio thus producing more output.
So why did ethanol end up in gasoline at all?
In the US, the “fuel crisis” during the 1970s led politicians and consumers to reconsider our near complete reliance on imported fossil fuel. The idea that you could essential grow your fuel was suddenly a hot idea, and from it came “gasohol,” a blend of gasoline and bio-produced ethanol. Then end of the fuel crisis also spelled the beginning of a decline in interest for that idea; as crude oil prices tumbled, it became less cost-effective to seek out blended fuel alternatives.
Producing ethanol consumes lots of electricity and water, and the current system of producing ethanol from corn crops ends up being a zero or negative-sum process by the time the it’s all said and done and you put it in your tank. The upshot of the original idea was that a number of changes to vehicles have made it possible for them to operate with up to a 20 per cent alcohol content or slightly more.
If you ride a motorcycle, here’s the problem with that.
It just so happens that ethanol is a mighty effective solvent. Used undiluted with additives, ethanol can wreak havoc on fuel system components which include zinc and galvanized metals, copper, brass, aluminum alloys, some rubber and plastic seals and hoses, cork and perhaps most troubling – certain epoxy resin formulations. Those just happen to represent nearly a complete list of the materials made to construct motorcycles made a couple of decades ago and before.
If you’ve worked on motorcycles, you’ve heard of tank liner formulations? They hate some ethanol formulations as well and using them in your tank can leave you standing on the side of the road in a puddle of bio-sludge with a gasoline-slick chaser.
Here’s the critical information you need to know about ethanol-mixture fossil fuel products, particularly if you ride an older or classic motorcycle – don’t use them in your bike. You’re only courting trouble even as you try to be kinder to the environment.