Motorcycling Newsletter - Autumn 2004
Fuel Issues; Vale Squid; Ride Days at Philip Island
|Premium grade fuel - Science and myth's
Which fuel should I be using? I wouldn't mind a dollar for every time I've been asked that question. Since the introduction of all those new high octane fuels it has become more complex than ever. The answer as I will attempt to explain in this short 2 page article is not a simple one because one fuel is not going to suit every application.
I'll start with leaded pump fuel. Contrary to what you think, this fuel is actually a modified unleaded fuel with additives mixed in, to accommodate older vehicles using internal engine components that require lubrication in the valve and seat area. In actual fact very few Japanese engines require this form of fuel. To my knowledge there is only a handful of very early model Japanese motorcycles that ever required it.
So why were our fuel tanks labeled leaded fuel only in the early days. Without getting into the science of it all the answer is quite simple, octane rating! Unleaded fuel back then had a very low rating about 89 I think, so therefore they had to run leaded fuel because it had a higher rating. And yes you can run your bike on leaded fuel even though it's recommend you run unleaded but you won't get away with trying it the other way around unless you have replaced your old valves and valve seats with materials that can deal with it.
Ok, lets move onto unleaded fuel; by now anyone who has a modern motorcycle and is not using unleaded fuel is I'm sorry a dickhead, unleaded fuel is now a far better fuel than leaded. For one it burns cleaner so the environment is a better place for all of us. Regular unleaded fuel is quite safe to use in most modern motorcycles. My own bike an Aprilia RSV1000 gets std unleaded on a regular basis without any problem. Lets face it, when your out in the sticks what choice do you have anyway and the manufactures are very aware of this. European bikes generally have a Ron rating stamped on the fuel tank, this rating is in no way comparable to Octane rating and the test's that are performed are looking at totally different aspects in the fuel. In other words there is no conversion factor.
Standard unleaded fuel does not generate as much energy when it is burnt so it will not produce as much power as high octane fuel, that is fairly simple. It is also more prone to pinging and detonation problems, but for most fairly standard bikes this is only at low speeds when the engine is laboured, you can fix that easily, use a different gear or less throttle.
Some people believe that putting in an octane booster will magically increase the octane rating and boost power output, cheating the petrol supplier out of making another sale on high octane fuel. Well flocks, this is a myth. Fuel suppliers spend billions of dollars working out which additives to mix in the fuel to give us the best all round results, keeping within the guide lines of Government regulations. If it really was that simple everyone would be doing it. The amount that these additives increases the octane rating is so insignificant its not worth bothering with, and any fuel consumption improvements are negated by the cost of the additive. For my money keep it simple and save yourself the dollars.
Premium grade pump fuel is with out doubt a better fuel than standard unleaded. It has better anti knock characteristics and generates more energy when burnt, thus producing more power. This is great news, so why are we having so many problems with it? Some bikes will actually run well on it, my RSV included, especially at the low end of the rev range, (I'll come back to that later). Carbureted bikes on the other hand are far more sensitive to it than injected bikes though both need to be tuned for it before any advantage can be gained.
High octane fuel is a much denser fuel than regular unleaded and therefore your engine runs richer. If your bike is marginally lean to begin with it's fair to say that performance would be improved, but if it is already a faction on the rich side, which most bikes with a few km's up are due to wear and tear, it's probably going to cause some problems. In most situations riding around town at low speeds and small throttle openings it will run excessively rich and in many cases that we have seen the air fuel meter on our dyno is off the scale it's so rich. You wont notice too much of a problem for a few days but it will gradually start to misfire and run really rough down low until the weekend when a blast up the highway and into the hills for the day blows all the carbon deposits off the spark plugs and you believe that that was all it needed. By the end of the next week though, it's running even worse and you are forced to bring it in for what you think it just a tune up. So you get it tuned and new plugs go in and it's great for about a week until it starts all over again. Does this sound familiar to anyone? Well I know it will be because we see it a lot.
Here's what's going on. As I said premium fuel is much denser than regular unleaded. At low speeds this dense fuel is drawn up through the carburetor jets and mixed with what little air there is because the throttle is almost closed, thus the rich mixture is exaggerated more so than when the throttle is wide open, to the point where it fouls plugs and often will just stop going. Ride days at the race track are much less of a problem, even though the mixtures are still way too rich it's not bad enough for the bike to start misbehaving.
Getting back to my RSV in that low speed and low throttle area, it was a significant improvement, the harshness disappeared and it became a lot smoother and easier to control. Because my air fuel ratio was way too lean the denser higher octane fuel was a big help in richening up the air fuel ratio. Fitting a power commander and tuning it also had the same effect and I found I could then use the regular fuel without any recurring symptoms in this low speed area.
I did say it is a better fuel and yes I stand by that, the point is you â€ťmust rejet or remapâ€Ł, which ever the case may be, to get any advantage from using it. One other thing I have found in my studies of all this is that high octane fuel has from 1-5% benzene in it, depending on the Company selling it, which is a very nasty component. If your going to start your bike in an enclosed area make sure all the doors are open or better still go out side. It also has the effect of washing all the oil off the cylinder bores which we really don't want either. Government legislation has regulated the allowable amounts and within the next few years it will be removed totally.
There is one other fuel that I will mention and that is
ELF racing fuel. It is available in 98 octane and can be used on your road
bike or race bike. Though I don't recommend using it on the road as it
is very expensive, over $4 a ltr. How come it's so expensive?
In memory of "Squid"
What a year 2003 has been; my mate and business partner had been struggling with leukemia for a number of years now and sadly passed away in October. At 44 years of age we all think that it's too young but bear a thought for this. He never stopped unless he was sleeping. Squid was always busy and every venture was at 100 miles an hour because the next one was crying out for attention. Myself and others were always telling him to slow down which would be met with the same response as always. â€ťHey could be dead tomorrowâ€Ł. Even when it required every ounce of energy he had left to get out of bed it was this thought which was his driving force to get up and get going, and often not for â€ťhisâ€Ł cause but for that of his children and family.
Two months before his death he was still pushing the limits, coming on our annual trip to Sydney for the Bledisloe Cup and ending up in Hospital as a result. But he never complained instead he was concerned that he was missing out on spending time with his family, and quite angry because being in Hospital meant that next MX meeting his son was racing in would be missed as a result.
I remember one day when he did let his guard down, describing
the effort it required to take the wheelie bin up his driveway to the road,
comparing it to running a marathon, and feeling so exhausted that he would
need to rest for up to an hour afterwards.
Yes his life was short, but he had great value, achieving more in his life time than many of us will do in 70-80 years.
As you go through your own lives remember this. Life is
short no matter how long it is, take nothing for granted, chase down those
dreams and goals as if it is your last day and most of all enjoy every
minute of it because guess what... one day it will be.
Ride days and Day ride
Due to popular demand not only by you guy's but by new staff member DJ we are going to start doing some organized rides days at Phillip Island and some weekend day trips. If it all goes smoothly we might even do some over night trips later in the year. The ride days at Phillip Island will be a little different to the way we used to run them in that they wont be an official Dynobike day. What we are doing is inviting our loyal customers to come along with us in a small group to a ride day run by another Company, e.g. Australian Superbike School. We will be picking out days that we feel are suitable and are run by professional companies who are well established, booking between 10-15 spot for our customers. Some guys or girls may be thinking that they would be out of there league, not so because as always the ride days are split into groups from beginners to the experienced riders, so please don't feel intimidated and come along for a great social day. If this is of interest then all you need do is give us a phone call and DJ will add your name to his already growing numbers to be invited as dates become available. Please note that VIP members will get priority so fill in the form on the back page to ensure you are one of them. The next available day is Monday May 3rd.
Day Trips. The first of many day trips is coming up soon and will kick off from the workshop 8am Sunday 25th April Dynobike's shop in Moorabbin. Riders of all levels are welcome, it will be just a causal ride for about 4-5 hours stopping along the way for a bite to eat. This is not a race and anyone who thinks it is won't be with the group for long. If the weather is not kind to us we will cancel the ride, so keep in touch closer to the day and watch the weather forecast on the Saturday. We will be leaving the shop at 8.30am sharp so if you're late you'll miss out. Numbers are not limited but you should phone and make your self known before the date just so we have a rough idea of how many to expect. If this one doesn't suit you then the next one is May 16th, same meeting point 7am start. this will be a full day stopping at Winton race way to catch some of the action from the Australian Superbike
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