Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Gas’

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
Advertisements

Read Full Post »

This past weekend I rolled the bike out of the garage to enjoy the blue sky and 59 degree weather.  Wow, it doesn’t get much better in the northwest for an early spring day!  Never mind that it snowed the very next day!

I headed to the local Shell station and as I topped off the gas tank I tried to recall which of the political candidates detailed how the oversupply in natural gas had caused its price to crash, and then, just when you thought they were about to blame Obama for destroying the income of all those poor natural gas folks, pivoted on a dime and used it as a supporting argument for why $2.50 a gallon gas is very do-able… right, just as the average price of gasoline has increased by 42 cents, from $3.36 to $3.78 per gallon since the beginning of the year.  And that’s from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and it’s an average of all grades, all formulations, across all regions of the country.

Yet, somehow, the politicians know where there’s enough oil to cause a world oversupply, or something to drive the price down.   Huh?  All I know is that $4 a gallon “creates some very real challenges” for average American families and their household budgets.

The “drill baby drill” makes for a nice bumper sticker. But, the real answer, is there’s no quick fix.  Gasoline prices are linked very tightly to crude oil prices.  The rule of thumb is that a $1 increase in the price of crude produces a 2½-cent increase in the price of gasoline. Lately, gasoline prices have been linked most closely to the price of Brent crude, and since the beginning of the year Brent has gone up from $107 to $123, a $16 increase.   Clearly some of the price difference is also related to oil speculators on Wall Street. Sanctions on Iran may be hurting their ability to ship crude. Additionally, some analysts think that some of the price increase is driven by fear that Iran might cut off oil shipments entirely, or else slow or close the Strait of Hormuz. In other words, some of the pricing might be driven by fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD).

Clearly demand for oil is pushing up against supply limits, and that’s a permanent condition.  And when supply and demand are tightly constrained, any small bump in demand or disruption in supply causes a big swing in prices for you and I. Last year it was the war in Libya that caused a price spike. This month it’s Iran. But it’s always something and it doesn’t take much anymore to produce a $30 swing in oil prices.

We need to change the conversation.

Yeah, I’ve read about the new shale oil finds in North Dakota too.  It might increase global supplies a bit, but probably not enough to make up for increasing demand from China and other emerging economies. Basically, prices are going to stay high for the foreseeable future.  Like it or not, this is our future.

I recommend buying a motorcycle!

Photo courtesy of Shell

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

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.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

I want to do my part and help fill our highways with motorcycles in route to Street Vibrations, but it got me thinking about fuel prices especially after hearing reports of price gouging from Hurricane Ike.

As Reno readies the welcome mat and bikers roll into town from all over the Northwest for the 14th year of this four-day event – crammed with just about anything for a motorcycle enthusiast – and has events spread all over Humboldt and Lander county – I wonder how many people will pass on the event because of fuel prices?

Reports state we consume 400 million gallons of gasoline every day in the U.S. and the demand for gas has pushed gas prices to record highs.  My trip to the 105th Anniversary celebration consumed approx $270.00 worth of fuel as Premium fuel averaged a little over $4 a gallon which is less than the current west coast prices. 

I don’t know about you, but I subscribe to the theory that market speculators have fueled the run-up of gas.  Reminiscent of the Enron debacle the commodity trading of large index investors and “swap” traders who trade on behalf of banks or wealthy individuals got into the futures markets which includes crude oil.  Large investors poured $60B into the oil market during the first 5 months of this year then by the end of July pulled out $39B as oil prices declined.  Is it coincidental that the speculation had such a dramatic effect on prices?  I think not!

And speaking of Nevada even the brothel business is down 25 percent which depends on truckers and they have felt the pinch of high diesel prices more so than anyone. So bad is the business that the Shady Lady Ranch is offering gas cards to lure truckers in, and even the Moonlite Bunny Ranch has offered up a deal called “double your stimulus” for those folks who have yet to cash their federal tax rebate checks.  Clearly the price of fuel has had an impact…

I’m not going to let gas prices stop me from getting a bit more “seat time” on the way to Reno, but this sign pretty much sums up my feelings on prices…

Photo courtesy of Flickr/Casey Helbing

Read Full Post »

Driving to work, whether at a factory, an office or a retail outlet, happens 10 times a week…assuming you drive home after ward.  Let’s say your commute is 20 miles, 200 miles a week, 50 weeks a year, for a total of 10,000 miles.  Now let’s do the math. Your trusty Chevy SUV delivers a snappy V8 performance of 16 mpg, which means you pumped 625 gallons into the tank over the last year. At $3.65 a gallon, that equals $2,281 ($190/month). If your motorcycle is getting 40 mpg, that means 250 gallons, or $912 ($76/month).

In the Northwest the cold and rain limits the number of months a person can drive unless you’re really into wet weather riding.  So, the above numbers are not an exact apple to apple comparison, but you get the point.  A motorcycle can save you money while putting a smile on your face!

On July 16th it’s the annual Ride to Work sponsored by the organization with the same name.  This ride is to demonstrate to elected officials and the public that the motorcycle community represents a significant percentage of the population, that riders are from all occupations and walks of life, that motorcycle styles may vary from “blinged-out” choppers to fuel efficient scooters, that riding on two-wheels helps reduce traffic and we ride for transportation as well as recreation.

See you out there!

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: