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DC Insider: E15 boosters attempt to mischaracterize the AMA’s ethanol position

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You have heard the old adage before: When you don’t have the facts that support your position, you attack the messenger.

Well, this is exactly what the boosters of the untested-for-motorcycles E15 fuel blend (15 percent ethanol by volume) are doing. They are trying to mischaracterize the American Motorcyclist Association’s position as blanket opposition to ethanol.

For example, a group promoting ethanol recently gave away free E10 gasoline to motorcyclists at Sturgis with a sign that read “Why is the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) calling out just one [E15 fuel]? Read what else is wrong with AMA’s claims on E15.”

The latest attempt is to use the motorcycle racing community to further their agenda to get E15 into retailers across the country. The pro-E15 website provides an example of how a racing team uses E85 (85 percent ethanol by volume) in a “stock” motorcycle with a modified fueling system and that, everything works fine – which we applaud. After all, the top-speed bike was designed to operate on a high-percentage ethanol blend – and alcohol-burning racing motorcycles have been around for a long time.

The suggestion -- that if race bikes can run on E85, why worry about E15? – is quite disingenuous because competition machines are purpose-built and do not have to conform to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency emissions standards or satisfy the durability demands of  everyday riders. Certainly an engine's internals and cooling and fuel systems can be designed to operate on high(er) levels of ethanol. But that really misses the criticism coming from the motorcycling community.

Which is this:  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.

It is time to set the record straight.

1)    The AMA recognizes ethanol is one of many possible fuels. The key is that when our engines and fuel systems are designed for one type of fuel, we can't just put anything in the tank and expect there will be no problems. There has to be a ready supply of safe fuels for all motorcycles and ATVs.
2)    The EPA has not tested E15 on motorcycle and ATV engines and does not approve of E15 for their use.
3)    Use of E15 can void a manufacturer’s warranty.
4)    The AMA wants an independent, scientific study on the effects of E15 on motorcycle and ATVs engines.
5)    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.

The bottom line for the AMA is this: Motorcyclists simply want safe fuels available at all fuel retailers and measures employed by retailers to ensure they cannot inadvertently put unsafe fuels in their tanks.

Get the facts on this important issue with the AMA’s E15 and Motorcycles Q&A.

Please be sure to share this with your fellow motorcyclists to counter the spin coming from the E15 lobby group that does not have your best interests at heart. The AMA is your voice.

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Comments  45

  • Jim Hannon 22 Aug

    If the general public knew that oil companies are compensated by the government to use ethanol in gasoline, and that the ethanol plants are subsidized by the government and otherwise wouldn't be profitable then the ethanol madness would end, the public would be outraged. 
  • Larry Baldwin 22 Aug

    I have a 2005 Harley and I do not and will not run any kind ethanol blend  gas in it or anything else that I owned.they have said it saves gas it don't and I have talk to a lot of people who say's the same thing.i belive who is trying to push this stuff. until they are honest and quit trying to Bully people I will not use it.if it is so good then tell the truth. in my book lying will not get you any where.
  • Brett Jones 22 Aug

    I have lost considerable Mileage from using the E10 Fuel, I cannot fathom how much worse my fuel economy will be if I use this E15 garbage. Also if I could ever afford a new vehicle my warranty will be Void if I use this E15 Fuel, Yet EPA still wants to implement it and FORCE US to use it.
    Im not just concerned with my Motorcycle but also my classic car which isnt even close to being designed for E10 fuel.
  • R.White 22 Aug

    Since I hosted the promotion in Sturgis, I thought I would fill-in what you left out about our event. The sign that is quoted was for two purposes. First, to show the 6 fuels that were available around Sturgis that are not approved for use in motorcycles and to make sure riders knew what fuel they could and couldn't use, which included E15. Second, AMA's position is to stop E15 so it can be tested in motorcycles. Why? Even if the tests revealed that it was good or bad for motorcycles, it would still remain illegal for them to use it. We at the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) decided it was better to spend our time educating riders on what they can and cannot use versus scaring them on all things ethanol when sometimes they simply will not have a choice but to use ethanol-blended fuels. Why not make sure they use the right one in that situation?! We did that at Sturgis this year, and the previous four years. The comments on E85 in a motorcycle were not by a racing team, it is my personal 2009 Harley Road King. It is not to show that E15 is good for motorcycles, nor have we ever said that. It is to show the manufacturers that the capability is there for future models. As always, we remain open to working with organizations like AMA.
  • Turk 22 Aug

    I'm from TN and WANT E15 for my pickup, but can't find it around here. Question: Are you equally concerned about motorcyclists putting kerosene, diesel, or E85 in our bikes?! We're not stupid. If the pump says "don't put this in a motorcycle," we won't. Looks like you are trying to make a mountain out of a molehill to drum up funding and support for the AMA. You ain't foolin' me.
  • joe roth 22 Aug

    mr white - that story about the e85 race team is on big ethanols website by holly jessen. she sez the bike leaves ethanol critics in the dust, then fesses up at the end and sez the bike was designed to run on alcohol. duh. mr turk that e15 or e85 (e-anything messes up my mower big time) would create big problems for my bike unless I change it like that racer did. same for you. you willing to chance it? go for it. not me and fyi the diesel nozzle won't fit in my bikes tank. 
  • R. White 23 Aug

    If you are hopping websites and blaming one entity, it makes this even more of a stretch. This went from blaming the RFA for half truths to needing a magazine and a consumer website to put it together. As for the motorcycle, so what? Mine wasn't. It has now logged 13,000 miles on E85. Again, not advocating that people use E15, E85 or anything else other than E10, but just how does one Harley operate on E85, and the next one supposedly won't run on E10? Every small engine introduced in last decade, most are more than two, have approved E10 for use. If you are having problems with your mower and you are following the guidance in your owner's manual for storage & you have problems - why blame the fuel? If the piece of equipment cannot actually handle E10, seems it is operator error or the engineering. I have been using E10 in every small engine I own for more than two decades, no issues and no, it is not some sort of miracle. BTW, only high flow diesel dispenser have a different sized nozzle, check any retailer. The one that goes into a diesel passenger car will easily fit into any motorcycle on the market. If you don't want to use ethanol-blended fuels, and you have that option, so be it, but many do. 
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