What kind of gas do motorcycles use?

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When it comes to fueling up your motorcycle, it can be a little confusing once you’re at the pump and left to decide which button you should push to start dispensing gas into the tank. It doesn’t matter what you put into your gas tank, as you likely know.

Any gas will get you where you want to be. But the wrong kind of gas can eventually cause a few problems down the road that you likely don’t want to deal with.

What kind of gasoline do motorcycles use then? Motorcycles should only use ethanol-free, higher octane gasoline with a rating of 91. Motorcycles have high compression engines, which means they require high octane. Ethanol can be used in gasoline to boost the octane, but it can also clog up motorcycle carburetors.

As a mechanical engineer that works for an oil company, I’ve been able to get a good idea about how gasoline works and the effects it has on a motorcycle. I’ve compiled a helpful guide that will assist you in making the right decision when it comes to putting gas in your motorcycle.

What kind of gas a motorcycle needs

If you’re reading this, you’re probably stuck wondering what the best type of gas is needed for your motorcycle and if it really matters if you choose the right one. Most people assume that as long as the motorcycle has some type of gas, it’ll get them from point A to point B and that’s all the really matters.

Some additives are added to oil to improve the fuel’s long-term performance. Sometimes, however, these additives can cause damage to our motorcycles. It’s important you know exactly what you’re putting into your motorcycle so you can better care for it so it will better care for you.

For motorcycles, you need to use an ethanol-free, higher octane gasoline. A motorcycle with a carburetor needs to use ethanol-free gasoline. Ethanol is a gasoline additive that increases the octane. But when it’s in small tight places, such as your carburetor, it can gum up a lot faster than gas that has no ethanol in it.

Around 90% of gas stations use Ethanol in their gasoline. That’s why you see a sign at the pump that states “May Contain Up To 10% Ethanol.” The catalyzing effect ethanol has on octane helps it to maintain it’s burning efficiency.

It’s a type of hydrocarbon that oil refineries use to bump up their octane numbers so they can meet government regulations on gas emissions. Lower octane fuels aren’t going to burn as well and they’re going to burn off more noxious gases.

Motorcyclists should be very specific about where they fill up their gas tank. That’s not to say that if you are left with no choice but to use gas with ethanol your carburetor will gum up immediately, just make it a habit of normally using ethanol-free gas. Because it contains a higher-value product, ethanol-free gas can be a bit more expensive.

While you’re at the pump, you need to choose the highest octane rating available, meaning choosing the highest number. You might be offered Regular gas with an octane ratings of 87, Plus gas with an octane ranking of 89 and Premium gas which could have a rating of 95. In this case, you’ll want to choose the Premium gas because it has the highest octane rating.

Motorcycles with fuel injection tend not to get gummed up as much as motorcycles with carburetor. However, it is important to be careful about what fuel you use as most motorcycles that are new have been fuel-injected. They also still have a high compression rate. Manufacturers will usually specify that premium non-ethanol gasoline should be used if you have a high compression rate.

So no matter what type of motorcycle you have whether it be carbureted or fuel injected, it’s better to use a higher octane (91 or higher) fuel that is ethanol-free for all motorcycles.

What is Octane and Why is it Important?

Now that we’ve covered the best type of gas needed for your motorcycle, you may be wondering about the octane we discussed and why it’s an important factor in the way you choose your fuel.

The measurement of the performance of a particular type of gasoline is called octane. Octane doesn’t necessarily increase horsepower, torque, or fuel efficiency. Rather, octane assists with the engine’s performance and the fuel’s resistance to knocking. Because most motorcycles have high compression engines, it is important to use high octane gas.

Knocking happens when your engine has a high RPM. The engine will make a loud knocking sound. That’s the sound of the piston either touching a valve or the bottom skirt of the engine is touching the cylinder wall. A higher octane is more resistant to knocking than a lower one.

Octane, as mentioned above, is the number you see at gas pumps such as 85, 91 and 83. During certain seasons, you’re going to see different numbers. Winter may mean that you won’t have as many options for high-octane fuels.

There are many apps you can download to your smartphone, including gasbuddy. This app will tell you where the nearest station is and who has the lowest prices. It also tells you whether the gas contains ethanol.

What happens when you use the wrong kind of gas?

The price of gas can vary widely depending on where you live. It doesn’t matter where you live, it could be the same. Either way, we’re all trying to save a buck in any place that lets us. Most people, motorcyclists included, fill their gas tank with the lowest possible octane rating. This is because it’s usually the most expensive.

Trust me, I’ve done this way too many times myself, especially when I was a poor college student where literally every dollar counted. But keep in mind that if you don’t use the right gas in your motorcycle, that can actually cause some expensive problems in the future.

When using a lower octane rating on a motorcycle, you may notice the performance of our engine isn’t as good as it used to be. As mentioned, a higher octane rating helps to prevent engine knocking. using a lower octane level won’t protect your engine near as much.

You risk the health of your motorcycle’s engine using a lower octane gas. Motorbike engines need protection against the knocking caused at high RPM by pistons. The knocking of pistons at high RPM will eventually wear the valves and pistons. That’s a lot more expensive to fix compared to paying an extra $4-$5 dollars every time you fill up.

How do fuel additives affect gas?

There are many fuel additives available that riders can add to their motorcycle’s gas. The most common type of additive is a stabilizer to help maintain the gasoline that’s inside the tank and fuel system during long-term or winter storage.

I’ve often wondered if adding such additives impacts the ethanol or octane that is contained within the gasoline already (if ethanol is even present). A fuel additive actually has it’s own octane number so technically it would change the octane number of the gasoline that’s already in the tank.

So yes, additives do change the chemistry within gasoline slightly, but the change is so small that it doesn’t really matter or change the way your motorcycle or gasoline functions. It won’t cause any negative effects.

If you need to add fuel additives to prolong the life of gasoline, then rest assured. Some situations can have far worse consequences than worrying about how the gasoline octane level will change.

Similar Questions

What is the average time it takes for motorcycle gas to go bad? In 30 days, unstabilized gas can cause a motorcycle to go bad. Oxygen can eventually change the chemical composition of gas, leading to varnish and gum deposits. It is best to not use gas if it has sat for more than 6 months. See my other article for more information on the life expectancy of gasoline.

Is there a diesel motorbike? There are also diesel motorcycles. This is a motorcycle with a gasoline engine. They are rare and difficult to find because this concept has never been a success.

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