|Dare I disagree with the Gordon Jennings's and Kevin Cameron's
the world??? Well, I'm feeling a bit cocky today...
There IS a difference in fuels - aside from the octane
Different fuel blends burn at different rates under the same temperatures and pressures.
Peak cylinder pressure, for best power output, MUST be timed to occur just
after the top of
To tune for maximum power, you would like to use a fuel that burns at the quickest possible rate -
without "knock" (there - that covers pre-ignition and detonation) so you can
initiate burning at the latest possible time and still produce peak cylinder pressure at
around TDC. That way, the rising cylinder pressure pushes back down on the top of the
rising piston for the shortest period of time - decreasing power lost there.
A more specific location for peak cylinder pressure would be ~15 degrees
after TDC. There is some variance from that figure - but not more than a
degree or so in an engine using gasoline. When the ignition timing
is correct, power output will be highest for that rpm and throttle
(thanks, Al Cline!)
If you look at the octane rating as only an indicator of what the fuel
was designed for, you'd guess that a 120 octane fuel was probably designed for an engine
that was prone to "knock" - like an older American V8 with relatively poor cooling and
high compression. That fuel will be blended to burn at controllable rate
that matches the high pressures and temperatures present AND
resist "knock". A good match for those V8 engine conditions.
Burn Rates- That's the ticket!!
If you take that same fuel that worked well in the above V8, and run it in an engine, like
a cbr900, with it's lower cranking compression and lower combustion chamber temps, it will, without a doubt, burn
much too slowly
at those lower temps and pressures and reach maximum cylinder pressure too
far after TDC for best power.
Things generally burn slower when they are cooler and
vice versa. Peak cylinder pressure will occur much past TDC - decreasing the power
produced if you keep the same ignition timing.
You can advance ignition timing to try to recover power, but that will cause
the air/fuel mixture to burn earlier in the crank stroke and spend,
percentage wise, more of the energy produced by the expanding, burning
mixture, pushing back down, trying to prevent the piston from rising up to
the power stroke - robbing power.
If you MUST use a slow burning fuel, which USUALLY has a high
octane rating, advancing the ignition timing will lessen the power loss,
but the best results are usually obtained with the quickest burning fuel
obtainable, that, of course, doesn't "knock".
All other factors being the same, except for burn rate - use the quickest burning fuel
that doesn't "knock", light the spark in the middle of the combustion chamber,
adjust ignition timing to reach peak cylinder pressure ~TDC and keep your mixture correct.
When the ignition timing is correct, the engine will make best power for that fuel.
There is a difference in the burn rates of different brands of fuels that are available.
Some compliment one engine and some compliment the existing tuning of a different type of
engine. Our Supersport YZF750 was really responsive to different pump fuels and liked a
different type of race fuel (same brand of fuel) than our gsxr750 Supersport bike.
Something on the order of 1%-2% power difference.
Generally, the cbr900's are extremely power sensitive to different fuels. It has to do
with the basic combustion design.
Does using a fuel with higher octane numbers automatically make more power?
Not unless they are preventing
My vehicle runs fine and doesn't "ping" on
"regular" fuel, but, it's a little "peppier" with
"premium" fuel. What should I use?
If you are wanting the extra power - use "premium" fuel - if you
are saving money? Use "regular" fuel.
As long as it doesn't "ping" all is well, as far as generally
Is there a difference in standard street pump premiums?
Yes. ~1%-2% power
output. Try a few and use the brand that works best in your bike. Or, you
can bring your bike in and I can charge you a lot of money to test fuels
Is there a difference in additive
packages between different brands of fuel - even if they have the same
Yep! There actually is. Some of the detergent packages are patented. I know for a fact that Chevron's Techron (techroline?) was
patented. Years ago, when they first released it, they really loaded up
the fuel with it. If your 4 stroke motorcycle jetting was too rich - it
would actually, as an "oily solvent" with a flashpoint of
~1500f, build up on the insulator of the spark plug, unless you cleared it
out every once in a while - it would actually foul!
That was many years ago and all is well now!
Oh - it really would remove minor fuel injector deposits, too!
There is a really SMALL difference in different pump premiums - depending
on the fuel recipe - I'd suspect a insignificant difference - like
.01% power difference. Relative importance between different standard
fuels? Much less than being off by 1/4 main jet.
If they prevent "knock" in you vehicle, they
WILL help produce
more power, but if the engine is NOT knocking? No significant / cost
effective, happy results. "Not a "buy" at this time."
There ARE compounds that will improve power, yes, but they weren't
down at Pep Boys and Grand Auto when we bought all of them in 1999.
If you make a compound that works, we are available to do confidential
testing. (As far as testing, I dearly wish that there was an available,
cost effective fuel compound that did work!)
Is there a difference in 100-105 octane race fuels as compared to street pump premium when
used in a motorcycle engine?
Yes. Some of the best WILL ADD, without a doubt,
repeatably, no question about it, 3%-4% power improvement (under 2.6% oxygen content and
without nitrobenzene or related compounds). Some of the 100-105 octane race fuels that
were not designed for high revving, low compression engines don't work very well at all -
making roughly the same power as pump premium.
Now.... that was 2002 info -
2004? Even more power from fuels - and still at the ever popular USA $17
to $22 a gallon range!
Have a doubt? Get some Nutec or Elf race fuel. You will feel it.
And yes, there are some odd compounds in race fuels. One of the above fuels left a brown carb deposit.
Wouldn't wash out with gasoline, solvent, carb cleaner, 409, Simple Green, Fantastic or
soap and water. Weird. Weirdest - it DID dissolve and drip away in liquid form after being
doused with an aerosol can of "Off" mosquito repellant that we had left over
from the Brainerd AMA National. It was a waxy deposit.......
Factory Pro in one of the only motorcycle Fuel Injection AND
Injector matching facilities in the US - We do both and more design
dynamometers that deliver .2 hp meaningful resolution and repeatability.
We can supply matched sets
of injectors for better fuel control and increased power. We can
supply up to 1% tolerance injector sets when available.
As far as what GJ and KC write, I've grew up reading and rereading everything that they
both wrote. I ported an SR500 cylinder head just like GJ did in a magazine project. As I
was doing it, I just knew I could spend more time and be more careful and end up with a
small port that flowed more than his did. But, that's another
"experience" (experience is what you get when you don't get what
you want.) Actually, it did work OK. Ask some day. I think that it's still
in my home garage, next to the Suzuki Rotary engine oil.....
I just wish they would tell you what did work, rather that explaining why something
they didn't actually test themselves (like
octane rating) doesn't work. It gets perpetuated throughout the industry - causing some
nut (me) to spend hours explaining how things work today!!
Best wishes and happy 2001!
PS - MTBE is a disagreeable compound. Think about what it does to that nice flexible organic rubber
(melts) - It is bad
for rubber and bad for you. Keep your hands out of gas.
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