Ford Motor Company has been making a lot of announcements recently about how it is pushing development of flexible fuel vehicles and building a flexible fuel infrastructure so those vehicles can fill up, which primarily means with E85, so I started to wonder about motorcycles. What fuel options does a biker have?
If you’re not familiar with the term “flexible fuel,” it means a gasoline engine with the ability to run on more than one fuel. Although natural gas is sometimes the other option, the usual secondary fuel is ethanol in varying concentrations. The amount of ethanol is indicated by a number which is the percentage of ethanol in the gas/ethanol mix. Ethanol is usually offered in either of two concentrations, E10 or E85. E10, 10% ethanol, is widely available and most vehicles built after 1980 can just use it like gasoline without any modifications. Mileage will drop slightly but everything else will be normal. Motorcycles can also use E10 without any changes, but check your owner’s manual to be sure. There may be a company that does not allow it.
E85 is a different animal. At that concentration, the fuel becomes corrosive to regular fuel lines and adjustments must be made to the ignition timing and fuel injection to be sure the fuel burns properly. All of the auto manufacturers are producing a lot more of these vehicles and sensors in the exhaust automatically pick up the presence of E85 and adjust accordingly.
Every manufacturer building this capability into its vehicles seems to tout the fact but I haven’t heard of any motorcycle manufacturers producing these vehicles yet. Doing some digging I came up empty but that doesn’t mean E85 capable motorcycles do not exist. I’m not sure there is any real demand for them but it would be good to know if they are out there. Do any of you know?