ethanol
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Member
Joined: 23 Nov 2005
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Location: Palm Springs, CA
Fri Apr 07, 2006 7:35 am quote
Can a modern scooter run on ethanol?
Hooked
2005 GT200-Vintage Green, 2004 BMW R1150RT-Biarritz Blue, 9' 4wt G Loomis
Joined: 10 Feb 2006
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Location: St Louis MO
Fri Apr 07, 2006 8:27 am quote
Around here all the higher grades of gas 92+ octane are a blend of gas and ethanol.
Hooked
Joined: 11 Nov 2005
Posts: 447

Fri Apr 07, 2006 9:54 am quote
If by Ethanol you mean E-85, the answer is yes it will run but it will very quickly damage your fuel system.

E85 attracts moisture, big time, and is kept separate from regular gasoline and mixed at the pump just before it enters your tank. Running E85 requires a special lined tank, special lines, filters, etc that are not reactive to Ethanol. Car/truck fuel systems can sometimes handle blends, but basic fuel systems like that on the Vespa products are not capable of handling much blended Ethanol without problems. I personally avoid it at all costs.

A good resource is the Ethanol special interest group's site at www.E85fuel.com (corrected site name error)

Even though it's run by advocates and backers of E85 (i.e. big agribusiness which makes a fortune off the profuct and is trying to convince us all that it's a "renewable" energy), it's actually a pretty good and informative site IMO.
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2005 Silver Vespa ET4, 2007 Burnt Orange Kawasaki Versys
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Fri Apr 07, 2006 1:10 pm quote
10% in Canada
Sunoco is 10% Ethanol for their 91 and 94 octane. E85 is 105 octane and 85% ethanol. I haven't seen E85 in Canada, sounds like a neat idea if the cars can be built to last while using it.

One of the problems now is all the pumps are single hose for multi choices. This means if the previous driver used 87, 2 litres of 87 may go in your tank before the 91. On a car it is no big deal but on a small tank scooter 30% of your fill may be the wrong octance. The 94 Octane Sunoco is the only local pump that isn't a multi-octane choice through a common hose. At 10% ethanol I'll risk it. (In Ontario it is one of the lower sulpher fuels sold.)
Hooked
Joined: 11 Nov 2005
Posts: 447

Fri Apr 07, 2006 1:56 pm quote
We may not be talking about the same thing, but I hope the following information is helpful.

High octane fuel is not better than regular fuel. It is not "the good stuff", as someone described it a while back. It is different, and different does not always mean better. If an engine isn't designed to run high octane fuel, it shouldn't go in the tank unless it's all that's available.

Vespa recommends (R+M/2) for the GTS of 91. If fuel which exceeds that can be found, running it will have no beneficial effect. And that fuel will also contain less energy (lower BTU) so both mileage and performance may suffer slightly.

High octane fuel burns slowly/evenly but contains less energy. In a race application, an engine has high compression and thus volatile combustion issues. High octane fuel (or gas mixed with Ethanol, which is by definition a high octane fuel) can tolerate the high pressure of a race engine environment without suffering pre-ignition (knocking). Engine designers specify more fuel for each stroke to compensate for the fuel's lower energy content. The net result is more power but higher consumption. If that fuel is put in a regular engine with no knock sensor, a set amount of fuel is injected. So it just burns slower and produces less power.

It's no big deal, however. Probably the worst thing that will happen if you run racing fuel in your Vespa would be that it would "throw a code" and the "check engine" light would come on because the readings on the oxygen sensor would be off the map.
Hooked
2005 GT200-Vintage Green, 2004 BMW R1150RT-Biarritz Blue, 9' 4wt G Loomis
Joined: 10 Feb 2006
Posts: 465
Location: St Louis MO
Fri Apr 07, 2006 5:17 pm quote
WOW, Bzzz that is a whole bunch of stuff I didn't know. Thanks for the education.

So I should run 91 and not much more. But what if I would run 87, lets say? What would happen then?
Ossessionato
None! I sold it :(
Joined: 01 Nov 2005
Posts: 3247
Location: Burlington NC
Fri Apr 07, 2006 5:37 pm quote
stldon wrote:
WOW, Bzzz that is a whole bunch of stuff I didn't know. Thanks for the education.

So I should run 91 and not much more. But what if I would run 87, lets say? What would happen then?
Hey Stldon, I ran 87 for a while last summer. Gas was $3.00 a gallon and I ride alot, so? Anything happen, no not really. I now run 97 Amaco most of the time? I just figgured at 55-60 mpgs it just really did not matter, I was only saving like maybe a $1.50 per 120 miles? I did no notice any ill effects though, Beale.
Hooked
2005 GT200-Vintage Green, 2004 BMW R1150RT-Biarritz Blue, 9' 4wt G Loomis
Joined: 10 Feb 2006
Posts: 465
Location: St Louis MO
Fri Apr 07, 2006 5:58 pm quote
Thanks Beale,
Ossessionato
Joined: 24 Oct 2005
Posts: 2666
Location: Brookfield, WI
Fri Apr 07, 2006 6:13 pm quote
Something I've read that the E85 advocates aren't telling you: It produces approximately half the power and half the mpg.

At half the cost of dino-fuel, this is a fair trade-off for a greener, renewable fuel source.

Last edited by Grind on Fri Apr 07, 2006 6:55 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Joined: 27 Mar 2006
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Fri Apr 07, 2006 6:53 pm quote
Bzzz wrote:
it will run but it will very quickly damage your fuel system. E85 attracts moisture, big time, and is kept separate from regular gasoline and mixed at the pump just before it enters your tank.
If foam carburetor floats, natural rubber gaskets, hard metal fuel lines or a terne-steel tank is used, then there would be cause for concern; I don't believe any of these to be common on a modern scooter. Moisture is a non-issue with a lined-HDPE (plastic) fuel tank. These, and most black fuel hose (Buna-n or neoprene) are ethanol-compatible. Many clear fuel hoses are not (e.g. vinyls). I would not recommend trying E-85, unless you personally inspect and maintain your fuel hoses and carburetor.

I have been running E-85 daily in a motorcycle for over two years, with no trouble. The biggest inconvenience is a 25% drop in MPG, which makes fill-ups frequent (and only possible at E-85 filling stations).

See http://E85forum.com for a discussion with E-85 modders, hot-rodders, retailers and a few skeptics. See http://e85forum.com/about6.html for some notes on motorcycle carbutetor adjustment.
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Fri Apr 07, 2006 8:33 pm quote
One other note about octane. Bzzz is right when he says higher octanes burn slower.

Using low octane (87-89) fuels in engines that need (91) high octane will cause knock, especially under load. My old pickup needed only 87, but would ping in the mountains going uphill if I didn't use 89. City, or flat highways it ran all day on 87 without concern.

My last car had a turbo and needed 91. The engine would in fact automatically retard the timing if 87 was pumped in to ease the knocking that would result. (You needed to get it back to the shop to get it advanced again.) Guys in the car club that used 87 ended up spending the same in the end since their milage fell off significantly and their cars performed under its potential.

Putting 94 in a Vespa won't give you any performance advantage imho. For us, the only reason is none of the stations except one have a 91 pump with its own dedicated hose. If a car using 87 filled up last, you can expect the first two litres of fuel to be 87 even if you select 91. It is only that reason why we plan on using the 94, because the 94 hose doesn't share with the other fuel grades. If I could find a station with an individual 91 only hose we would buy 91 instead.

Putting 87 in the Vespa isn't likely a great idea if the Piaggio calls for 91. 10 cents a litre is the wrong place to cheap out unless you are desperate and the station doesn't offer the higher grade. Putting 87 in a Vespa is like feeding an Olympic runner spam. He isn't hungry and he won't die, but is it the best thing he can have before the race?
Hooked
2005 GT200-Vintage Green, 2004 BMW R1150RT-Biarritz Blue, 9' 4wt G Loomis
Joined: 10 Feb 2006
Posts: 465
Location: St Louis MO
Sat Apr 08, 2006 4:38 am quote
You guys know some stuff! Thanks Splitmind, Bzzz. What an education, this will change how and where I refuel. I must past 20 gas stations a day so changing habbits won't be a big deal, but I certainly will be more selective.

Gotta love MVF, a real information center.
Hooked
Joined: 11 Nov 2005
Posts: 447

Sat Apr 08, 2006 5:38 am quote
Splitmind wrote:
If a car using 87 filled up last, you can expect the first two litres of fuel to be 87 even if you select 91.
Is this a fact? I used to believe this, as well, and 've heard people say this but I've never heard any proof. Besides, even if it was possible, 2 liters of regular mixed with 5 liters of premium (GTS holds 9.2L and will usually take about 7) still yields on overall rating of 90. A Vespa would run fine on that.

However, I changed my mind when Road and Track examined the leftover-fuel-in-the-hose theory in their "Technical" section and debunked it as a myth. I do not recall when (it might be archived at their site) but it was in response to a letter from someone who, like me, believed there was fuel left in the hose at shutoff.

They found that evaporative emission regulations have led to pump designs which prevent this from happening very much. The amount of fuel left in the hose on most pumps was basically zero. On certain pump designs it was possible, but in their research they found that it amounted to perhaps a few ounces.

Maybe we should call Mythbusters on this one!
Enthusiast
2005 Silver Vespa ET4, 2007 Burnt Orange Kawasaki Versys
Joined: 04 Apr 2006
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Location: 20 Km west of the centre of the universe
Sat Apr 08, 2006 5:47 am quote
Wow,

I'd love to learn that I'm wrong on the hose issue. It would make life easier out here for sure. My concern was validated by the previous owner who also went out of his way for a single 91 or better hose, versus the multi hose. If only filling up at a half tank, several visits would put you around 89-90.

That mythbusters thing is a great idea.

Cheers,

Mark
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Joined: 24 Oct 2005
Posts: 2666
Location: Brookfield, WI
Sat Apr 08, 2006 5:55 am quote
Another fuel hose bit of trivia:

When the pump "clicks" and automatically shuts off, don't give it another squeeze to "top it off". The evaporative system just sucks that little bit of extra back up. I tried it when I first heard about not "topping it off", and found that my fuel economy improved ever so slightly because I wasn't adding an extra gallon or so (in my van and truck) to the total that never went into the tank.
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