The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

E15 + Your Motorcycle = ‘Chopper Clunker’

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted July 16, 2015

Motorcycles aren’t designed to use higher ethanol-blend fuels like E15, and the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) warns that using E15 in a motorcycle can void its warranty. There’s serious concern about inadvertent misfueling, as well as the possibility that the push for more E15 in the fuel supply could out E0 (gasoline containing zero ethanol).

Those are some of the underlying issues represented in a new API cartoon below, one of three new illustrations that humorously throw the yellow flag at potential problems with E15 fuel

E15 Motorcycle cartoon 

The push by some for more E15 in the nation’s fuel supply stems from requirements for ever-increasing ethanol use under the flawed Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). A wide variety of interests have expressed concern about the E15 push, particularly manufacturers and owners of motorcycles, outdoor power equipment and boats. AMA:

100 percent of the 22 million motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles on the road and trail in the U.S. today are not designed to run ethanol blends higher than 10 percent, and many older machines favored by vintage enthusiasts have problems with any ethanol in the fuel. And yet the opportunity to misfuel and damage an engine with higher ethanol blends such as E15 is very real. … The AMA’s concerns has always been that riders might unintentionally put E15 in their fuel tanks due to confusing and/or unmonitored implementation of the EPA Misfueling Mitigation Plan and the possibility of residual E15 fuel left in a fuel hose, which could be as much as one-third of a gallon.

Motorcycle enthusiasts are part of a significant group of American consumers who want to buy ethanol-free gasoline. Wayne Allard, AMA vice president for government relations:

“Anything over E10 absolutely is against any of our interests, because we’re afraid stations will cease to offer anything with E10 or less. Right now you can hardly ever find just plain gasoline without any ethanol in it, which is a concern with a lot of our riders. If you push to these higher blends we’re afraid there won’t be anything on the market where the motorcyclist or other small engine operators can access in order to stay within the warranties on their engines.”

As the RFS debate continues, policymakers must acknowledge the real-world harms that could result as government tries to dictate market behavior, pushing fuels about which there are valid and wide concerns – potentially limiting consumer access to fuels they actually want to buy.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.