Ethanol in fuel

I was reading in the March /April Gamalunga an article by Jonathon Nicholas regarding the secret tank destroyer - Ethanol. As Jonathon points out Ethanol is really quite bad to plastic tanks, rubber seals and internal parts in older fuel pumps, carbs etc so for those with older bikes, plastic tanks and or Carbed fueled motors Non ethanol fuel is what you really need.Â

For information at the pumps alongside the fuel octane designation ie 95, 97 Â or 98 you should see numbers and letter E0, E5 or E10 this shows the fuels Ethanol content. 0, 5% or 10%.

It may be of interest that not all fuels contain Ethanol - Most super unleaded fuels are Ethanol free, Ethenol affects fuel quality and makes it harder for the fuel to meet octane and quality levels.

Your cheap Supermarket fuel is just that - poor with few additives and often a high level of ethanol. Branded fuels are different as are super unleaded - even though many like to think they are just expensive - well so is a new tank, or a rebuild of you complete fuel system.Â

Some ethanol additives are available on the market but i can find no evidence these protect plastic or rubber parts. They do however protect most aluminium and other metals components  used in older bikes fuel systems.

I am sure  that as we move into the future that Ethanol will be added to all fuels at some time - but maybe that also depends on cost / demand etc to justify the use of Ethanol in to super unleaded.

This information was up to date in February 2015.Â

BP Fuel - Â Ethanol is added at 5% to unleaded petrol at all sites across the UK.
BP Ultimate (super unleaded petrol) does not have Ethanol added, except in the South West of England.Â

Esso - Â Ethanol is added at 5% to unleaded petrol at most sites in the UK.
Esso Super Unleaded petrol does not contain Ethanol, except in the South West of England (Devon & Cornwall)

Shell  Shell gives no information to the question. It is therefore an assumption only, that all Shell petrol should be considered to contain 5% Ethanol. Â

Texaco   Ethanol is added at 5% to unleaded petrol.
Texaco Super Unleaded petrol does not contain Ethanol.Â

Total - Â Ethanol is not added to any Total fuel (including standard unleaded petrol). Except in the North West and South East of England.Â

Hope this helps a few people with worries about fuel and its affects on our older bikes.Â

Jake Northumberland.

Good on yer Jake…

Cheers  for that !, just trying to keep folk up and running along. Jake.

When I lay me V11 up I always run with Super for a couple of fill up s prior. On the continent last year and the year prior, they were showing E10 on the pumps. When ever I saw that I avoided it on the Breva 750.

Just out of interest I have posted enquries regarding the use of Ethanol in fuel to Murco fuels, Jet Fuels and Gulf fuels. Lets see if they reply.


A timely opportunity for me to repeat this link ~

I left the Guzzi standing since around end of Oct last year with this stuff in a nearly full tank, dropped off a float bowl nut just a couple of dsays ago to check contents and colour of main jet, OK!

Mike H - good link, the only problem none of the additives i have found so far protect plastics and rubber components so seals,washers, some fuel tanks and fuel lines all start to dissolve.

But its certainly better than the metal stuff going as well.

Cheers Jake.

Having read this I think I will switch from Shell fuel to one of the ones that don’t use ethanol for my Guzzi.Â

I have recently added these tin tablets to my tank which claim

  • to last 10 years / 100,000 miles
  • stop fuel going off if left standing over the winter
  • raise octane / allow old engines to use modern fuels

No idea if it works or not, Â but it was recommended to me by someone I trust in the classic bike business. Â

It doesn’t say anything about protecting non metalic partsÂ



I use ethanol compatible hose, but never yet had any problems with the standard Dell-Orto O-rings and gaskets etc., or floats even ~ and the tank isn’t plastic …

what I normally got was the hard-as-concrete green and brown crud…

Why are we in the South West being made a dumping ground for ethanol? There is a big petition in the US against ethanol at the moment.

I had an e mail from jet today they use ethanol in all of their fuel. They say the area logistics comes down to the main storage and mixing plants which are regional, so if your petroleum supply depot adds ethanol to the mix its almost across the board to all fuels from that particular depot. Jet say that they would suspect / expect by the end of this year all fuel in the UK will contain ethanol.

Great thread and useful information.
All the best

If you want to really start worrying there are now Euro 4 legislation being put through various governments wanting to ban bikes (initially - as they are the easy target) that are over 15 year old from city centre’s in Germany and apparently similar legislation is being looked at in Paris and voiced by green’s in London.Â

This is a link to the German petition against the euro 4 legislation - that is bringing in this idea 5-jahre-alten-motorradern-in-europaischen-stadten

When you read it (its in german by the way) the actual petition states 15 year old bikes not 5 as in the link above.

Here is a bit of the Nitty gritty i have re written from the German - link / petition.

Over the next two years, a ban on motorcycles  that are older than fifteen years old - will be introduced in several European cities.
As part of the Euro 4 standard some European capitals planned to introduce the legislation in the next 24 months : So it could be that soon motorcycles that are older than fifteen years old will be banned to drive in certain cities . This reports the " International Dealer News" ( IDN) and the German trade magazine Bike & Business , from which we quote here .

sort of makes the Ethanol argument fairly redundant - if this kind of legislation comes in - you simply wont be able to ride places.

Tchus   (German = Cheers)  JakeÂ

Boris already has the 15 year old ban for London in the pipeline.
About as non joined up thinking as you can get envoirement wise but great for capitalism, you have to keep buying newr vehicles all the time.

It’s looking like a bit of a pincer movement they are coming from both sides, time for bayonet’s on stand by for the onslaught  -  Unless of course you have a cunning plan !


I have found a liquid sealant that fixes to most tanks and protects them from Ethanol its called Caswell GTS 1750, it can be bought as a home applied kit or there are a number of companies in the UK who apply it - I have sent an enquiry to one of them just to get an idea on price.

This link gives information on the kit, the product and the UK companies.


Thanks Jake, that’s a must-have when the seemingly inevitable replacement becomes necessary for mine.


My Veefer requires the use of high octane, and hence that is all it gets. I have found that it is consuming its tank liner - so presumably must be imbibing ethanol at times.

I got a reply from the company in Hartlepool who do the tank lining as a business they want about £150. They need to see the tank first to check it can be done (certain tank shapes cannot be done as the sealant will not flow into some parts of the tank. I have spoken to a lad who has done his own tank he says its quite an easy job but you need a very hot (30 degree) environment to keep the very thick sealant moving so it can run and coat the tanks insides.

As ii’s also difficult to get it into odd shaped tanks - the cagiva elefant tank is pretty odd shaped if you try to think of pouring this stuff down into the bottom edges etc.