Ethanol does damage engines, EPA admits


For a few years now, we’ve been burning gasoline mixed with ethanol, in a supposed effort to save the environment. Now, the Environmental Protection Agency has admitted it’s bad for your motorcycle engine, says the American Motorcycle Association.

The AMA has issued a press release saying the EPA has said ““[e]thanol impacts motor vehicles in two primary ways. First … ethanol enleans the [air/fuel] ratio (increases the proportion of oxygen relative to hydrocarbons) which can lead to increased exhaust gas temperatures and potentially increase incremental deterioration of emission control hardware and performance over time, possibly causing catalyst failure. Second, ethanol can cause materials compatibility issues, which may lead to other component failures.

“In motorcycles and non-road products [using E15 and higher ethanol blends], EPA raised engine-failure concerns from overheating.”

And why did this all come to light? It’s because the US’s Federal Trade Commission is trying to make fuel retailers proliferate the use and sale of E15 (gasoline with 15 per cent ethanol blend). If you want to read more about this issue (and you should), click here. The FTC is actually trying to have ethanol-blended gasoline labelled to the “nearest 10”; ie., an E14-blend (14 per cent ethanol) would actually be labeled E10.

Now, maybe it’s just us, but to CMG staffers, it seems that if you ruin your motorcycle due to ethanol fuel, and have to purchase a new one, that you’ve actually created a whole lot of waste and pollution … and isn’t that what the EPA is fighting? To be fair, the EPA isn’t keen on forcing motorcyclists to burn E15. Also, they don’t control Canadian policy directly (you can find Environment Canada’s information on ethanol in fuel here), but US policy does have a big impact on our market.




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