Use ethanol in your motorcycle

The fight over converting the national supply of gasoline from a maximum 10-percent ethanol blend (known as E10) to E15 have quieted down somewhat when it comes to passenger cars. For other applications - like "motorcycles and nonroad products" - the struggle continues.

Enter, once again, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA), which is highlighting documents submitted by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Those documents make it clear that the agency is aware of the potential damage E15 can do to some internal combustion engines. The EPA told the FTC that ethanol increases the amount of oxygen in the fuel, "which can lead to increased exhaust gas temperatures and potentially increase incremental deterioration of emission control hardware and performance over time, possibly causing catalyst failure."

The AMA rallied riders to Washington, DC last year to protest E15. Ethanol advocate group Fuels America said that event was absurd because the fuel was not intended for motorcycles anyway. The AMA says that it "is concerned about the continued availability of E10 blends and E0 fuels - gasoline with zero ethanol content - if E15 is allowed to permeate the marketplace." The EPA approved E15 for sale in the US back in June, 2012 and pretty much immediately had to make adjustments to the rule to take concerns from owners of small-engine products into account. A "Look Before You Pump" campaign is in effect to prevent these owners from putting high-ethanol blends into their engines.
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EPA acknowledges that ethanol damages engines

PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has publicly acknowledged that ethanol in gasoline can damage internal combustion engines by increasing exhaust temperatures and indirectly causing component failures, the American Motorcyclist Association reports.

The EPA statements are found in a rule proposal issued by the Federal Trade Commission regarding a new label for pumps that supply fuel blends high in ethanol.

According to the EPA, "[e]thanol impacts motor vehicles in two primary ways. First ... ethanol enleans the [air/fuel] ratio (increases the proportion of oxygen relative to hydrocarbons) which can lead to increased exhaust gas temperatures and potentially increase incremental deterioration of emission control hardware and performance over time, possibly causing catalyst failure. Second, ethanol can cause materials compatibility issues, which may lead to other component failures.

"In motorcycles and nonroad products [using E15 and higher ethanol blends], EPA raised engine-failure concerns from overheating."

These EPA statements, contained in the FTC document, back the long-held position of the AMA.

"The American Motorcyclist Association has fought the distribution of E15 fuel blends in an effort to protect motorcycle and all-terrain vehicles from the damage that ethanol causes," said Wayne Allard, AMA vice president for government relations. "Now the EPA acknowledges that ethanol itself is harmful to emissions hardware and other components on all motor vehicles. It is time for the federal government to pause, take a hard look at this product and change its entire approach to ethanol in fuels."

E15 is a gasoline formulation that contains up to 15 percent ethanol by volume.

None of the estimated 22 million motorcycles and ATVs currently in operation can use fuels with blends higher than 10 percent ethanol. Doing so could void the manufacturer's warranty, in addition to causing damage to the vehicle.

The AMA applauded the EPA's decision in its proposed rule to roll back the requirement for wider distribution and use of E15 under its Renewable Fuel Standard.

The AMA also is concerned about the continued availability of E10 blends and E0 fuels -- gasoline with zero ethanol content -- if E15 is allowed to permeate the marketplace.

About the American Motorcyclist Association

Founded in 1924, the AMA is a not-for-profit member-based association whose mission is to promote the motorcycle lifestyle and protect the future of motorcycling. As the world's largest motorcycling rights and event sanctioning organization, the AMA advocates for riders' interests at all levels of government and sanctions thousands of competition and recreational events every year. The AMA also provides money-saving discounts on products and services for its members. Through the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in Pickerington, Ohio, the AMA honors the heroes and heritage of motorcycling. For more information, visit www.americanmotorcyclist.com.