10% Ethanol in petrol in the UK and plastic tanks - BMW F800 Riders Forum & Registry



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  1. #1
    Womble's Avatar
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    Petrol at UK pumps will be up to 10% ethanol from this summer. I've been reading that this can be an issue with older bikes due to fibreglass in repaired tanks, but also an issue in plastic tanks - Guzzi V7's having stretched tanks due to the ethanol. As our F series tanks are plastic any information about on whether this may become an issue?

    I have no idea, but expect other parts of the world inc US have 10% plus?

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    I think the tanks should be ok, as they're used in bikes worldwide & ethanol fuel has been in US fuel for years.

    The bigger concern will be the rubber pipes that supply fuel - more likely to have 'damage'/ long lasting effects on the natural rubber elements, potentially making them brittle and prone to cracking.
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    10% Ethanol in fuel...
    You can check on the the UK Government web site if your vehicles can use E10 fuel.... link below (not sure about other countries)
    Bennetts and MCN also published articles about E10 fuel...links below

    However; I am of the understanding that all fuel injected BMW motorcycles can use E10 fuel with the proviso that the Octane level is suitable for your machine. All information is in the handbook, and there should be a label on or near the fuel filler. Mine has a both E5 and E10 labeling.


    https://www.gov.uk/guidance/e10-petrol-explained
    https://www.bennetts.co.uk/bikesocia...and-is-it-safe
    https://www.motorcyclenews.com/advic...etrol-ethanol/
    https://bikerrated.com/bikes/running...18%2F05%2F2007
    Last edited by pigmy; 1 Week Ago at 03:17 PM.

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    90% of the gas here in my state is 10% ethanol. Have used it in my 2012 ST and 2016/2018 GT's, as well as my '17RR with no issues. I do occasionally pour some Startron fuel treatment in my tanks, and have always used premium fuel, as BMW specifies. Don't think it's a problem for our bikes.

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    About the only negative to 10% ethanol fuel here in the states is that it goes stale pretty fast and when it does, it turns to jelly. If you have vehicles that only see the road occasionally, you should consider an additive to offset the ethanol issue. I did have problems with my old style clear fuel lines going bad. They cracked, leaked all the fuel out and when I went to replace them, they literally fell apart. Most all the newer fuel lines are now compatible. Have not had any issues with plastic tanks or performance though and when I've ran premium non-ethanol in the F800GT, I get about the same mileage as the 10% stuff. Long term storage is the only problem I'm seeing.

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    The ethanol affects tanks that are made from "nylon" as the plastic. My Sherco had an issue and the tank would "grow" in size. I bought a replacement tank and never used it - as I discovered that when I dumped out the fuel with ethanol and let the tank air out for a couple of weeks it returned to normal size. I then would go to a Marina that sells fuel without ethanol....you can do that with a trials bike as a 5 gallon can of fuel lasts a very long time.

    I have a friend with a Ducati Multistrada. He has replaced several fuel level senders in the tank - evidently the ethanol causes them to malfunction and it triggers a lot of dash lights and is impossible to ignore. Ducati replaced a few senders under warranty - but now he is on his own......he installed a resistor and now the tank reads 1/2 all the time (but the lights don't get triggered).

    There is no issue with the F800GT that I am aware of....the black plastic tank is likely made from ABS and it is not affected by ethanol.

    In the US we have been battling the nasty issues that ethanol causes for a very long time - it is doesn't store well and it can start to cause trouble in a couple of months when it sits dormant. On my motorcycles with carbs I turn off the petcock about a mile from my house so I can run the float bowl dry.....the bike stops running about half way down my driveway (that way there is very little fuel in the float bowl to cause problems.

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    My 2007 F800S has had nothing but E10 its entire life. When one can find E0 here it is 50% more expensive than E10.

    EPA doesn't directly force 10% ethanol, found they didn't have legal authority. But did find they could require proof of having sold 1 gallon of ethanol as a motor fuel for permission to sell 9 gallons of gasoline. This means those who are using E85 are creating credits for the fuel vendor to sell ethanol-free to others.

    The first push to "gasohol" I know of was during the gas crisis of the 1970s. A lot of gas stations had water in the bottom of their storage tanks which didn't bother gasoline so long as a floating pickup was used. Once ethanol was added the water was picked up and ruined the gasoline. Ethanol rightly earned a bad reputation.

    To this day those who have been F.U.D.ed still religiously purchase and use "ethanol treatments" and "stabilizers" which if they would read the contents and use a bit of High School Chemistry to understand they would know the "fixes" are more of the same kind of problem as ethanol. Might as well use more ethanol to solve the perceived problem because that is what they are doing. No treatment can remove or neutralize the ethanol, can only increase the capacity to dissolve water in solution. No matter what increased capacity to carry water in solution is not a solution.

    Ethanol is a popular way for government to look like they are "doing something about it" while actually making the situation worse. If ethanol helped the fuel supply in any way then it would not require a mandate for its use. If it didn't consume more resources than it replaced then the free market would demand its use.
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    I concur with N4HHE's comments. I will also add that my F650GS has been running E10 for the past 12 years and 48K miles without a fuel tank or plumbing problem.
    Richard - Current bikes: 2016 BMW R1200RS, 2018 16.6 kWh Zero S, 2011 Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Classic, 2009 BMW F650GS, 2020 KTM 390 Duke, 2002 Yamaha FZ1 (FZS1000N) and a 1978 Honda Kick 'N Go Senior. 

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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard230 View Post
    I concur with N4HHE's comments. I will also add that my F650GS has been running E10 for the past 12 years and 48K miles without a fuel tank or plumbing problem.
    Fuel injected engines that are used regularly have no issues with using ethanol. (Provided the fuel tanks and other products are compatible with ethanol).

    Engines with carbs that stay dormant for long periods are the ones that suffer. Ethanol fuel has a very short "shelf life" and begins to decompose quickly when it is not in a sealed container. Vented float bowls and vented fuel tanks allow moisture in the air to be absorbed into the ethanol portion of the fuel and before long the ethanol/water mixture settles to the bottom and begins to rust or corrode the metal. This is especially true if storage is in a car port or garage where larger temperature and humidity changes occur......storage in an insulated building reduces the changes significantly.

    If you are not going to use the engine for a couple of months it is recommended that you dump the fuel out of the tank and run the engine until it stops so that all the fuel is out of the plumbing and carb.
    At the end of the mowing season get all the fuel out of your mowers and leaf blowers.....same for your snow blower when winter is over.

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  16. #10
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    I've stored 10% ethanol gas for my leaf blower over winter with no problem, by using an ounce of Startron in the 1-gallon gas can every time I fill it (plastic gas can, by the way). Never a problem. Startron in the bikes, too...and they always start immediately on pushing the "start" button in spring, after 4 months of inactivity.

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    Quote Originally Posted by flyrider View Post
    I've stored 10% ethanol gas for my leaf blower over winter with no problem, by using an ounce of Startron in the 1-gallon gas can every time I fill it (plastic gas can, by the way). Never a problem. Startron in the bikes, too...and they always start immediately on pushing the "start" button in spring, after 4 months of inactivity.
    Or you could buy a one gallon can of special yard tool E0 stabilized gasoline at your local hardware store for between $25 and $30, depending upon the brand.
    Richard - Current bikes: 2016 BMW R1200RS, 2018 16.6 kWh Zero S, 2011 Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Classic, 2009 BMW F650GS, 2020 KTM 390 Duke, 2002 Yamaha FZ1 (FZS1000N) and a 1978 Honda Kick 'N Go Senior. 

  18. #12
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    I also concure wit N4HHE’s comments. To add to that, ethanol is not the only problem, as there are other chemicals in E10 in greater quantities than in regular gas. I read an article a few years ago that said the EPA sets levels for the amount of pollutants that gas can contain. With non ethanol gas, the oil companies must refine these pollutants out, the addition of alcohol makes the overall level of pollutants less so there is less refining required and less hazardous waste byproduct from the refining process. Instead of the oil companies having to remove the pollutants, we consumers get to pay to dispose of them for the oil companies by burning them in our vehicles. E10 suposedly has higher levels of benzine, xylene, tolulene and other non fuel chemicals in it than regular gas. These are the chemicals that can really cause problems with the non metallic parts of a fuel system.

  19. #13
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    Womble, I suspect you won't have any problems using 10% ethanol gas in your F800GT.

    In 1994, I bought an R100GS (the last air head GS) and used E10 fuel almost exclusively. I worried about it once I learned about the ethanol controversies, but when I drained and inspected the tank and carbs 20 years later I didn't find any significant corrosion or problems. The fuel lines were 22 years old when I sold the bike to buy a 2008 Multistrada 1100 (one of the models with the plastic tank).

    I did some research and came to believe the ethanol in humid climates absorbed water which was then absorbed by the plastic tank, causing swelling, sometimes to the point that it could not be removed from the bike until the fuel was drained and the tank allowed to dry out again and shrink back to normal.

    There was a class-action lawsuit that was settled when Ducati agreed to replace a tank once - using the same plastic!!! A company called CA Cycleworks produced a replica tank using plastic that did NOT absorb water (why didn't Ducati do that?).

    I live in a pretty arid part of Southern Oregon in the US where we have access to non-ethanol premium gasoline. I use the non-ethanol fuel whenever I can, especially as winter approaches and I know the bike will sit for a month or two. I've never had any problems with the tank swelling.

    Your bike should be unfazed by 10% ethanol. Fifteen or 20%? That's to be determined, but I would guess not. Just don't let it sit in the tank for months at a time.

  20. #14
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    Thanks all for the replies

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