Posts Tagged ‘Fuel’

Every time that a gallon of gasoline starts to approach or break the $4 a gallon mark, you see an increase in the number of news stories about people running out of gas.

I’m not sure why that is, but the device that most of us interact with every few days was first unveiled this week in 1905 — the gas pump.  Sylvanus Bowser of Fort Wayne, Indiana made the pump for a customer, basing it on an earlier design for pumping kerosene. And according to the Census Bureau, in 1997 there were about 127,000 gas stations in the U.S. and that dropped to 121,000 in 2002, and to 114,000 by 2008 of which the majority now also have convenience stores.

But, if you’re like me, you hate to admit that you’ve ever run out of gas on a motorcycle ride, right?

Well my time occurred last year in route to the Laughlin River Run.  The posse had a fun night in Las Vegas and the next day we had a leisurely mid-day departure heading toward Laughlin on Hwy 95.  At the Boulder City/Laughlin exit we did a quick inventory of fuel at the stop sign thinking we could make Searchlight without any issues.  What we hadn’t planned on was the fierce and gusting headwind which resulted in the ‘ol Road King running out of fuel about 7 miles to soon!

There we were… the posse was pulled over on the shoulder of the road.  We removed a siphon tube from one of the tool kits, sucked the air out of the tube and nearly choked on a mouthful of fuel.  Finally with the gas flowing into a small water bottle we transferred some fuel from one of the newer bikes which had 6+ gallon fuel tank.  Not a great experience!  You can read a full accounting of that road trip HERE.

However, the point of this post is to inform you about a device called the Fuel Tool (MSRP: $99.99) which takes all the pain out of this type issue.  One of the riding buddies purchased a Fuel Tool before our epic summer ride this year and was telling us how handy the device seemed to be.  Then when we were in Sturgis we received a personal demo from the company owner and got a chance to use it on the demo tanks.

The tool is one of those products that when you see it in action you go why didn’t I think of that? It’s designed to work with all fuel-injected Harley-Davidson motorcycles that come with a quick-connect check valve at the bottom of the tank.  With the exception of the V-Rod, most made after 2001 have this type check valve.  You connect it to the host motorcycle (the one that has the most fuel!) then you use the nozzle to pour fuel into the empty bike.  It’s a one piece design that features an aluminum/brass constructed fuel nozzle wrapped in rubber.  It has 54 inches of high-pressure chemical-resistance fuel line and a nickel-plated, solid brass fuel line adapter and fuel release tool.  All of it coils up inside the included pouch and can easily store in a saddlebag using very little space.

Not only is the device great for helping stranded bikers, but it’s useful if you plan to winterize your motorcycle and drain the fuel tank.

Fuel pump photo taken by author on Arizona – Route 66.  Fuel Tool photo courtesy of company web site.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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We’re less than a week into the NFL lockout where billionaires are arguing with millionaires about compensation and now there’s whining reports from players who say they can’t afford health insurance premiums.  Normally, teams pay for that but during a work stoppage each player is responsible for their own coverage.  And under the federal COBRA law it allows employees to continue coverage at their own expense where the average monthly fee for a family policy is about $2400.

So we have a group of players whose average salary is approaching $2M and where a minimum rookie salary was $320K last season… is “worried” they can’t pay COBRA over a long term?!  This is utterly preposterous.  Many of us are worried about paying for the next tank of gas so welcome to the real world NFL players!

And speaking of fuel prices, are you ready to pull out larger bills from your wallet for even higher prices due to the imminent delivery of boutique fuel called E15?

Here’s the background:  Growth Energy, an ethanol industry trade group, petitioned the EPA in March 2009 to raise the limit on ethanol in gasoline from 10 to 15 percent. Several engine product and auto manufacturers as well as others urged EPA to be deliberative in its review process, and do adequate testing to assure that E15 would not harm existing products or pose safety risks. Despite the fact that E-15 blends were proven to cause engine failures from overheating as well as emission increases and emission (durability) impacts and material compatibility issues, in October, 2010, the EPA approve higher levels of ethanol (E-15 or 15% ethanol) in gasoline for use in only 2007 and newer automobiles. It seems that scientific facts were ignored.  Not the first time the EPA has ignored facts.  Remember the Uniroyal/Alar truth?

At any rate, motorcycles are exempt from E15 use, but there is significant risk that consumers will unknowingly or mistakenly put E15 in motorcycles (“misfueling”).  Since we’re all smart and would never knowingly misfuel our precious ride, the more likely case is where fuel retailers are not prepared to offer both E10 and E15 at their stations, and given the choice, will likely opt to offer E15 only.  I don’t know about you, but in my motorcycle travels across Canada and the western U.S., there were many stations ill equipped to accommodate an additional fuel.  This would then lead any business to choose between E15 and E10 fuels – and E15 will win out since it’s more profitable for them to carry for automobiles and motorcyclists will have no choice but to fuel with E15 and suffer the mechanical consequences.

You might think the EPAs got your global warming back, but the agencies prior experience with fuel transitions isn’t stellar.  In 1974, as the EPA led the transition to unleaded fuels, the Agency reported a misfueling rate of 15 percent over ten years after the introduction of unleaded gasoline.  We’ve all seen the reports of station attendants fueling diesel in non-diesel automobiles which resulted in huge expense so it happens.

It turns out the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) has recently filed an E-15 Partial Waiver Legal Challenge to request that the EPA, consistent with prior precedent, ensure continued consumer choice by requiring the continued sale of gasoline blends of no greater than E10 fuel.  Clearly the potential of reduced volume of E10 fuel in the marketplace will likely result in the elimination of supply, and/or increase the price of what little there is available for motorcycle fueling.

Photo courtesy of Growth Energy.

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dynaHarley-Davidson is recalling the 2009 models; FXDB, FXDC, FXDF and FXDL motorcycles.  Fewer than 400 motorcycles are affected. 

The fuel tank vent tube assembly may have been produced with a defective ultrasonic weld on the anti-slosh valve.  If the valve separates and the motorcycle is tipped over, it might leak fuel and in the presence of an ignition source could catch fire. Dealers are inspecting and/or replacing the part as required.

More information is located HERE or owners can contact Harley at: (414)343-4056.

Photo courtesy of HD web site.


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If you’re considering a switch to a two-wheeler – even if to augment your vehicle inventory – apparently you are not alone.

The Motorcycle Industry Council recently reported that sales of scooters and economical motorcycles are at their highest levels in 20 years.  Name-brand scooters in the first quarter of 2008 were up 24 percent over a year earlier, and sales of small and medium-size motorcycles rose 7.5 percent. Sales of “heavy-weights” or large cruiser bikes were down 11 percent.

A couple days ago I received a scooter flyer in the mail evangelizing the “greenness” and fuel efficiency of the 2009 Yamaha C3 (available in October).  It look all too familiar and then I realized….hey, Harley did one of these back in the early ‘60s.  The “Coker” (period-correct) tires even finished off the copy design.

And speaking of green that flyer would have done Al Gore proud with planet friendly subtle shades of green color background intermixed with black ink displayed on 80% post-processed recycle paper…if they’d have made it smell like kiwi fruit I would have just ate the advertisement to save the land fill!

Before you bust me about my recycled paper eating habits, let’s review this Yamaha bad boy (Cubed 3) features.

  • Harley-Davidson retro “box” design scooter appeals to the “Boomer” generation.
  • C3 name accentuates “chunky” cubic space
  • High-function features include big bob tires on cast aluminum wheels, a motorcycle-type fork and handlebar.
  • Side-hinged, locking storage compartment swallows up to nine gallons of gear.
  • The C3 achieves fuel economy up to an estimated 115 mpg with a fuel tank that holds 1.2 gallons of gas.
  • Liquid-cooled three-valve, four-stroke engine is powerful, quiet and low-maintenance.
  • Electronic fuel injection: a 19mm Mikuni throttle body provides optimal mixture in all conditions.
  • Fully automatic, V-belt transmission provides easy, twist-the-throttle-and-go operation.
  • Pushbutton electric starting (with backup kick-starter) for ease of operation.
  • The air-induction system and exhaust catalyst technology reduce air pollution.

Clearly, the overall economic hardship and senseless fuel-inefficient cruiser monsters as gas prices spike would warrant a discussion in Wisconsin about bringing back the Harley Topper to stake a claim in the scooter space, right?

You might recall that the Topper was the only scooter that the Harley-Davidson ever produced and they were manufactured between 1960 and 1965.  They produced less than 3000.  It utilized a CVT transmission called “Scootaway Drive”, like most scooters produced today and the engine was a 165cc single-cylinder (9HP) two-stroke that required premixed gas/oil. The starter was a rope-recoil type similar to a Honda lawnmower.  The front body, fender and floorboards were made of stamped steel, and the engine cover and body were made of chopper gun-sprayed fiberglass.  Harley even rolled out the two-tone Hi-Fi Red and Desert Sand colors which looks very similar to the copy-cat Yamaha C3!

Shouldn’t Wisconsin have a Harley Scooter on the R&D drawing board?  Couldn’t Harley become as prominent in the scooter space as it is in motorcycles?


Topper photo courtesy of Motorcycle Museum.

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