Ethanol Mileage Data Reporting - Star Motorcycle Forums: Star Raider, V-Max, V-Star, Road-Star Forum
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-24-2018, 12:12 PM Thread Starter
KCW
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Ethanol Mileage Data Reporting

I searched and found several threads going back many years debating the merits and issues of using ethanol blend fuel in motorcycles

but I did not find any where riders tested their own bikes and reported their measured results and data.

Reading in some recent threads tracking Vstar bikes fuel efficiency there were comments being tossed about on 10% ethanol (E10) causing a significant reduction in mpg performance, engine performance, and whether regular vs hi octane fuel offers any difference if your bike does not require hi octane fuel.

This sparked my curiosity and I decided to test my 2005 Vstar 650. I have been running E10 (as far as I know) since I got the bike 5 years and 30,000 miles ago. Its fully stock and typically gets 58 or 59mpg when I check it. On a few longer trips at 50 to 60mph it has bumped up to 61 to 63mpg, but that has been difficult to duplicate.

So... last week I found two gas stations in my entire county that have 87 octane ethanol free gas, using this website: https://www.pure-gas.org/index.jsp?stateprov=NY

there are many that have 91 or 92 ethanol free, but only two that sell 87 "E0".

Filled the bike up with the good stuff last monday, the mileage on the trip odo and the fillup registered 58.5 mpg for the previous tank of E10 fuel. It cost $3.50 per gallon and E10 in my area is selling for $3.00 this week. So it costs 17% more to get 10% more gasoline and no ethanol. I dont understand that at all!

Guess I should mention that GPS shows my speedo is accurate to within 1 mph - but since I was looking for percent change, not absolute mpg performance, that is not an issue.

I will try to keep subjective information to a minimum, since it cannot be measured or documented. To me it seemed like the bike was running better on the pure gas. The motor seemed to run smoother when acceleration and shifting up, it seems like its popping and snapping less when fully compression braking at the lower engine rpm. It seems like the fuel/air mixture has been slightly increase to the richer side, which is what you would expect if gasoline has more energy per gallon than ethanol.

After a week I pulled into the same station with 245 miles on the trip odo (a new record for me) and it took 4.19 gallons of gas to fill the tank up click click click to where it stopped settling back down the filler tube in the tank.

That is 58.5 mpg. Exactly the same as the E10. That was disappointing.

Also interesting to note the tank on the 650 is 4.2 gallons, so I had 0.01 gallons of gas left in the tank when I pulled up to the pump. Thats 1.3 ounces, less than 2 tablespoons. I got lucky!

Since my bike has carbs I dont expect the engine to tune or change to the ethanol free gas like a car with fuel injection and a fully closed mixture adjustment loop on the O2 sensor.

I will track my mpgs on this 2nd tank, but I have no reason to expect it to be any different than the first.

Im not really interested in hearing antsy-dote stories about the evils or merits of putting ethanol in fuel - there are plenty of threads on that going back 6 years or more, and its all been beaten to death. If you test your bike on ethanol blend and free gas then post your results.

I think I might also try running the bike on premium gas (ethanol free) since it is more widely available, and see if that has any effect. Since my bike has carbs I expect I might get lower mpgs on hi octane, because the bike as no ability to adjust the fuel / air mixture, or to change the spark timing to take advantage of the higher octane fuel.
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Last edited by KCW; 07-24-2018 at 12:15 PM.
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-24-2018, 12:24 PM
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First of all, I have never seen that kind of mileage out of my '09 650 and I never drive over 60mph. Most of the time i cruise around 50 or 55mph. I do however run E0 89 octane exclusively. I have done the AIS mod, I have cobra pipes, and I have saddle bags and a Mustang seat with sissy bar. Also, about half of the time I have a passenger - about 300lbs on the bike including me. I have ran the ethanol vs. non-ethanol test with my truck (F150 5.4L) and while there is a significant difference in the MPGs (better with non-ethanol), but it's not enough to justify the price difference in the fuel. I run the E0 in the bike because I know the ethanol fuel is bad on the fuel system (carbs, filter, etc). The best mileage I've ever seen is slightly over 50mpgs. I'd like to know what might be the difference in your bike vs. mine besides weight perhaps. Thanks.
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Last edited by rn2god; 07-24-2018 at 12:31 PM.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-24-2018, 12:40 PM Thread Starter
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My bike is fully stock (big photo in garage page). I have a windshield and it really sucks the life and mpgs out of the bike at highway speeds. I only put it on the bike for highway trips or mornings below 50F.

Instead of saddle bags I have a trunk that acts like a back rest, and its fully out of the air stream.

When you put the cobra pipes on the bike I assume you had to adjust the jets to run richer? That is the great thing about a fully stock bike - they can adjust the carbs at the factory with their exhaust sniffer and get the mixture / PMS spot on. When you modify the bike you have to err on the rich side to be safe (if you leave it run lean it can burn holes thru the top of your pistons).

The difference between 50mpg and 58mpg is only about 2 quarts of gas in a full tank: $1.50. With the windshield on the bike running 75 on the highway it has dropped down to 48mpg on me. Running at 80mph with the windshield on, the throttle only has about 1" left to rotate to hit full throttle.

How you ride the bike makes a big difference. I only crank the throttle WFO a few times a week when I feel inspired to get the hell away from someone. Most of the time Im riding with the traffic and there is no where to go except into the bumper of the car infront of me.

Half the joy of owning a motorcycle is that its just fun to ride. There is nothing wrong with lighting up those cobra pipes and letting them sing when you feel like it. But its not free.

Last edited by KCW; 07-24-2018 at 12:47 PM.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-24-2018, 12:44 PM
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So the numbers you're getting are without the windshield I assume. Also, I can see the saddlebags making a lot more drag than the trunk. The pipes were on it when I bought it, so I have no way to know if the jets were adjusted. Thanks for the info.

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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-24-2018, 01:21 PM Thread Starter
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Yes, the 58mpg is with the Memphis Shades Fats windshield and fork deflectors safely stored in the garage.

If the only mod on the bike is after market exhaust, you dont necessarily have to change the jets, but most people do because they put the exhaust on to get more power, and that requires more gas. Also you tend to ride the bike harder with modified exhaust, because you like the way it sounds and you want to hear it. Riding with a passenger also requires more fuel to accelerate up to speed - not a lot, just a few percent compared to the total weight of the bike (about 600 pounds).
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-24-2018, 01:23 PM
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Gotcha. Thanks KCW. Again as many others have said, you are a wealth of knowledge.

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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-24-2018, 02:26 PM
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Sadly where you can find ethanol free fuel they charge considerably more for it making any gains in fuel mileage a wash if you are lucky.

Ethanol in fuel is just stupid and a waste of good food to boot. I can comment on the dangers of ethanol laced fuel, I lost a 20,000 dollar boat engine to ethanol laced fuel.

Government wants to push for better fuel mileage then they force a fuel on us that gets worse fuel mileage. Don't think that was not done by design, the better fuel mileage you get the less tax dollars the government gets to waste.

So along came Ethanol laced fuel to save the day, you get worse fuel economy and have to fuel up more often thereby giving the government more tax money to waste.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-29-2018, 08:11 PM Thread Starter
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filled up my tank today at 206 miles on the trippy odo. Had not yet stumbled on the main tank.

The mileage came out to 58.3mpg - almost the same as the last tank of ethanol free gas, and no different from running 10% ethanol for the last 5 years. So far all the tests Im running are on 87 octane.

Unless the gas station is really selling 10% ethanol and charging 50 cents per gallon more under the false pretense of it being ethanol free 87, I have to call bunk on the claim that e10 fuel gets worse mileage than pure gasoline.

Im seeing no measurable difference.

I dont know if there is an easy way to tell if gas has ethanol in it? Can you smell the difference? There is only one other station in my county that is listed as selling ethanol free 87 octane.

I filled the tank up with e10. I will see if I notice any difference in how the bike runs over the next week.

Maybe after this tank I will run the bike on premium gas, and see if that has any effect on the mpgs.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-29-2018, 08:32 PM
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everystation I have ever used is normally E15, it is rare to locate an E10, and almost impossible to locate free. There is one near me now that has E0, but the price difference isn't worth it to me, except if I plan to store the gas, put it in a fuel bottle, or something, since E0 lasts longer, twice as long if I remember right. I really should use E0 in the dirt bikes, as I have to clean the carb every time, if I forget to turn the gas off in it.

When the bike was stock, with E15, I got the reported 47mpg on the 950, and I think I got 48mpg a few times, looks like even 49mpg once.
I normally accell quickly, and am not very fuel friendly, so only highways are my friends, or if I'm just in a lazy mood taking some back roads. Normal mpg before changes where 42-46mpg.

After air filter, exhaust, ecu I'm doing:
40 to 45mpg in maryland.

Since moving to florida, I'm constantly in the 34 to 37mph range, but I have no highways to drive (no reason), and lots of stop and go. I have a single fillup that got me 44mpg in this state.
I haven't done anything to the bike since two months before moving, due to all my tools being in storage. I blame the very high humidity down here.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-31-2018, 10:42 AM
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There is a check for ethanol that involves a tall skinny bottle. You put a small amount of water in it and mark the water level. Then fill with the suspect gas , shake to mix , then wait for it to settle out. Any ethanol will mix with the water and the larger volume will be above the mark. You could even measure the amount above the mark and calculate how much ethanol is in it. I have used this method before and it really works!
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