Ethanol: Treat The Symptoms, Not The Disease

Article And Photos By: Jason Hallman

Originally Published In The August-September 2020 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine

Since this will be my first foray as a member of the Cycle Source family, I would like to take a moment to introduce myself. I am Jason Hallman, and together with my family, we own Cycle Stop USA in Lakeland, Florida. We are a full-service motorcycle repair and customization shop, also the largest shop of this type in our area, and I am a second-generation bike builder. My father Rick (who passed in September of 2018) was a custom bike builder in the ’70s & ’80s. His motorcycles were shown in the Midwest and [mostly] Detroit. In 2003 we opened our first professional shop. 2010 saw us make the move to Florida and start our current enterprise Cycle Stop USA in April of that same year.

I told you all of that so that I could tell you this; the motorcycle business is very different here in Florida. Due to the different climate (ahem’ humidity), we had to make some quick adjustments to learn those changes. The most significant change was the humidity. Sounds simple right? Well, I have to tell you that we didn’t see the type of fuel contamination in Michigan that we saw upon our arrival in the Sunshine State. Somehow, the humidity and the Ethanol in the gasoline didn’t play well together. Ethanol can be a bitch, and we learned immediately that motorcycles left sitting for too long were damaged as a result of this silent fuel contaminant. With no real knowledge of what Ethanol is and the damage it can do to your fuel system, it is nearly impossible to prevent future damage even when prudent  is “hygroscopic,” which means that it absorbs water from the atmosphere. Our pump-gasoline contains up to 10% (or more) of this compound. Why is this a big deal, you ask? Well, the fuel systems on motorcycles are vented to the atmosphere, so there is plenty of moisture in the air to absorb.

Have you ever sat down at a nice Italian restaurant and noticed the bottle of vinegar and oil contents separated? This is a phenomenon called “phase separation.” Before you pour a little on your plate and “pepper” in some herbs (who here doesn’t like a little oregano?) and dip your bread in, what do you do? You shake it, right? Well, gasoline and Ethanol are similar in that they too will separate. When that happens, the Ethanol goes to work absorbing water in the atmosphere and contaminates our fuel systems. For decades there have been fuel stabilizers on the market. Most all of them worked as expected prior to the introduction of Ethanol to our fuels. Now that Ethanol is so prevalent we have three problems: 1-Ethanol is “hygroscopic.” 2-Our fuel systems are vented to the atmosphere 3-Phase separation occurs when Ethanol is in your fuel.

When you are riding your motorcycle every day or even every week, you are typically using fuel at a rate faster than Ethanol can contaminate it. Even the small bit of moisture in your fuel tank when it gets low is really of no consequence when you ride often. Therefore those of us that ride often do not have the issue of phase separation, creating an ideal environment for fuel to contaminate from phase separation. I love the phrase “treat the symptoms, not the disease.” I hear it on the nightly news all the time. It is almost a catchphrase these days. What does it mean? It means, in short, to treat the outcome of a problem rather than cause. In our case, it would mean…treat the water in the fuel, not the cause of the water in the fuel. Since most fuel treatments that we grew up using (effectively I might add) are petroleum-distillate based, they do nothing to prevent phase separation or the cause of the water in the fuel (Ethanol). Also, since in-ground fuel tanks at fuel stations are just giant versions of our motorcycle fuel tanks, it is only logical that the same issues can occur in the storage of the fuel long before we purchase it.

What we need is something that prevents Phase-separation altogether. To do that, we have to start fresh with a product that isn’t petroleumdistillate based like the most popular fuel system treatments we’ve always used. When we first moved to Florida, we relied on the old stand-by’s, you know, the ones we all grew up with that worked fine in the “good ol’ days.” The issue was that unless our customers knew where to acquire Ethanolfree fuel, the problem kept recurring over and over. More than once, we rebuilt a carburetor, flush, and line a fuel tank, only to have the motorcycle brought back six-months later with the same fuel it left our shop with in the tank, and only 25 or so miles on the clock since the repair. We needed something and fast. Enter Sentry fuel treatment.

Sentry is non-petroleum distillate-based fuel treatment product made right here in Florida about 45-minutes from our shop. We have relied on this product to not only increase effective octane ratings and prevent phase separation completely but it also burns super clean and leaves behind a lubricant as a byproduct of combustion that not only lubricates your valves and guides… but also burns clean! Here is the best part, aside from preventing phase separation, Sentry also turns water into a combustible fuel. By emulsifying water particulates in the fuel, any small amounts of water that would normally be in your system are turned into fuel and burned with the other gasoline in the tank. Sentry offers its fuel treatment in 8 ounce and 32-ounce bottles. The 8-ounce bottle treats 20-gallons, and the 32-ounce bottle treats up to 200 gallons, so a little treatment goes a long way.

 

Cycle-Resources:

Sentry Fuel Treatment

4442 Morris St N

St. Petersburg, FL 33714

727-521-6131

www.buysentry.com

 

Cycle Stop USA

835 Creative Dr

Lakeland, FL 33813

813-754-2959

www.cyclestopusa.com

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