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post #1 of 72 Old Apr 3rd, 2015, 8:37 am Thread Starter
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What octane should one use

Just purchased a 2014 R1200 RT. It states that unleaded gas can be used. Had a 2002 RT and used the 91 octane gas, could one use 89 octane on the so14 R1200?
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post #2 of 72 Old Apr 3rd, 2015, 9:01 am
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Re: What octane should one use

My manual indicates octane number. They state it will operate on a minimum 89 octane, but most folks on this Forum will say use higher because that 89, is only the the minimum recommended. Higher altitudes don't require as high a number as we lowlanders. I typically use premium fuel, but even my dealership says that's a waste. Whatever you feel comfortable with that doesn't cause....Knocking (also called knock, detonation, spark knock, pinging or pinking) in spark-ignition internal combustion engines occurs when combustion of the air/fuel mixture in the cylinder does not start off correctly in response to ignition by the spark plug, but one or more pockets of air/fuel mixture explode outside the envelope of the normal combustion front. (Thank you Wikipedia.)


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post #3 of 72 Old Apr 3rd, 2015, 10:18 am
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Re: What octane should one use

It's always surprising to me when folks spend $20k (more or less) for an RT, and then wonder about whether to spend the extra pennies/tank on premium fuel. With the very high compression ratio of modern boxer engines, it absolutely makes sense to run the highest octane available.

Also, in MO, we still have some sources of premium fuel with NO ethanol -- which is always my choice when I can get it. However, ALL regular and mid-grade gasoline in this state is E10.
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post #4 of 72 Old Apr 3rd, 2015, 11:10 am
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Re: What octane should one use

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Originally Posted by gregcm View Post
It's always surprising to me when folks spend $20k (more or less) for an RT, and then wonder about whether to spend the extra pennies/tank on premium fuel. With the very high compression ratio of modern boxer engines, it absolutely makes sense to run the highest octane available.

Also, in MO, we still have some sources of premium fuel with NO ethanol -- which is always my choice when I can get it. However, ALL regular and mid-grade gasoline in this state is E10.
I guess they wonder because on '13 and newer LC RT's BMW suggest it is okay to use 89 octane, therefore indicating the bike will run healthy and long on said grade. I do believe your "older" model had a 91 minimum octane recommendation. There are numerous modern high compression engines out these days where 87/89 octane is recommended...technology is always changing.


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post #5 of 72 Old Apr 3rd, 2015, 2:35 pm
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Re: What octane should one use

I am not going to get into one of those discussion....again.....but, I run 89 on mine! If 89 works, running 91 or higher doesn't gain you anything. It is correct that logically, the higher compression engine (12.5 :1 vs. 12 : 1 for older models) should require higher octane, but the big variable is the precision water cooling of the WCRT (look at the color of the pipes and compare it to the color on the older models). That is the main reason why BMW was able to lower their recommended octane specification.

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post #6 of 72 Old Apr 3rd, 2015, 2:51 pm
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Re: What octane should one use

To ask the obvious - would "RTFM" be a proper response here?

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post #7 of 72 Old Apr 3rd, 2015, 2:55 pm
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Re: What octane should one use

Quote:
Originally Posted by JayJay View Post
To ask the obvious - would "RTFM" be a proper response here?

JayJay
Very much so, JayJay!!

I suspect that the OP was questioning the manual though.

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post #8 of 72 Old Apr 3rd, 2015, 3:12 pm
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Re: What octane should one use

While there are some very valid reasons to question BMW engineering (e.g., headlight bulb retention, fuel sensor strips, final drive bearings) I'm pretty confident that for fuel and lubricants, the manufacturer's specifications are probably adequate.

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post #9 of 72 Old Apr 3rd, 2015, 4:12 pm
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Re: What octane should one use

knock knock
who's there?
low octane gas

Seriously though, I too thought the RTW needed 91 octane. Feeling stupid now. 89 it shall be!


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post #10 of 72 Old Apr 3rd, 2015, 4:47 pm
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Re: What octane should one use

Quote:
Originally Posted by gregcm View Post
It's always surprising to me when folks spend $20k (more or less) for an RT, and then wonder about whether to spend the extra pennies/tank on premium fuel.

mMmm weirdly i get better gas mileage and less rattling in my bike with 89 than 91...

could be weird butt dyno and me loosing my mind... but i've stuck with 89 for the sake of it and pretend that the universe is working in my favor by doing that.
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post #11 of 72 Old Apr 3rd, 2015, 5:47 pm
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Re: What octane should one use

What is RTFM? I use what the factory recommends - 89. I have tried higher but it made no difference. However, you have that absolute right to spend as much as you want on gas that makes you feel good. The bike doesn't care.

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post #12 of 72 Old Apr 3rd, 2015, 5:58 pm
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Re: What octane should one use

Quote:
Originally Posted by PadG View Post
I am not going to get into one of those discussion....again.....but, I run 89 on mine! If 89 works, running 91 or higher doesn't gain you anything. It is correct that logically, the higher compression engine (12.5 :1 vs. 12 : 1 for older models) should require higher octane, but the big variable is the precision water cooling of the WCRT (look at the color of the pipes and compare it to the color on the older models). That is the main reason why BMW was able to lower their recommended octane specification.
That's not necessarily true. If an engine can run more advance because it uses a higher octane fuel, it'll make more power, or to put it another way, if lower octane fuel causes ping, the engine management will retard timing. I know my owner's manual for my Suburban says that the engine will make more power on E85. My guess is that at 12:1 and higher, 93-94 would make more power than 89. May be that doesn't matter to you and that's fine, but as usual, it all depends.

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post #13 of 72 Old Apr 3rd, 2015, 5:59 pm
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Re: What octane should one use

Quote:
Originally Posted by Corvallis View Post
What is RTFM? I use what the factory recommends - 89. I have tried higher but it made no difference. However, you have that absolute right to spend as much as you want on gas that makes you feel good. The bike doesn't care.
I had to run 87 once. Not the best idea, but I had no choice. It didn't run as peppy.

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post #14 of 72 Old Apr 3rd, 2015, 6:13 pm
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Re: What octane should one use

Quote:
Originally Posted by Corvallis View Post
What is RTFM? I use what the factory recommends - 89. I have tried higher but it made no difference. However, you have that absolute right to spend as much as you want on gas that makes you feel good. The bike doesn't care.
Corvallis - RTFM

My 2009 specifies "Super Plus unleaded" but also "Super unleaded can be used with reduced performance and consumption". I generally use whatever is highest octane. But I've had to run lower octane than recommended on occasion due to availability. The engine management system will compensate, but performance suffers. But just because low = worse does not necessarily mean high = better. Manufacturer will specify what he thinks is best for that engine. That's a good place to be.

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post #15 of 72 Old Apr 3rd, 2015, 6:14 pm
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Re: What octane should one use

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Originally Posted by Corvallis View Post
What is RTFM?
Read The Fine Manual

or something like that...

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post #16 of 72 Old Apr 3rd, 2015, 7:11 pm
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Re: What octane should one use

The Octane rating for the wet heads is lower than the Camheads or earlier 1200. That is according to the manual.


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post #17 of 72 Old Apr 3rd, 2015, 7:17 pm
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Re: What octane should one use

Are we sure that the RTW has a knock sensor?
I looked at tech specs on the BMW site for the current bike and the previous generation.

the previous model says:
Fuel type Unleaded super and premium, octane number 95-98 (RON)
(knock sensor; rated output at 98 RON)

The current model says:
Fuel type Unleaded super, octane number 95 (RON)

No mention of a knock sensor on the RTW...


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post #18 of 72 Old Apr 3rd, 2015, 7:29 pm
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Re: What octane should one use

Quote:
Originally Posted by gregcm View Post
It's always surprising to me when folks spend $20k (more or less) for an RT, and then wonder about whether to spend the extra pennies/tank on premium fuel. With the very high compression ratio of modern boxer engines, it absolutely makes sense to run the highest octane available.

Also, in MO, we still have some sources of premium fuel with NO ethanol -- which is always my choice when I can get it. However, ALL regular and mid-grade gasoline in this state is E10.
My opinion is if you can afford 22-23K on a new bike surely you can afford a few cents more for premium gas......that's a no brainer.....
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Re: What octane should one use

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Originally Posted by Hoghead View Post
My opinion is if you can afford 22-23K on a new bike surely you can afford a few cents more for premium gas......that's a no brainer.....
Just because you can afford something doesn't mean you should do it.
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post #20 of 72 Old Apr 4th, 2015, 1:02 am
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Re: What octane should one use

I suppose the answer to the OP is that the riders manual for your bike specifies the minimum octane rating. Hex heads and Camheads specified one grade up from the Wethead. Using a higher grade of commercially available fuel will not hurt anything but the jury is out on perceived benefits. Using lower grade than the riders manual says long term is not recommended. Simple really.


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post #21 of 72 Old Apr 4th, 2015, 8:31 am
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Re: What octane should one use

Quote:
Originally Posted by PadG View Post
I am not going to get into one of those discussion....again.....but, I run 89 on mine! If 89 works, running 91 or higher doesn't gain you anything. It is correct that logically, the higher compression engine (12.5 :1 vs. 12 : 1 for older models) should require higher octane, but the big variable is the precision water cooling of the WCRT (look at the color of the pipes and compare it to the color on the older models). That is the main reason why BMW was able to lower their recommended octane specification.
Please note the highlighted quote above, Ponch!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ponch View Post
That's not necessarily true. If an engine can run more advance because it uses a higher octane fuel, it'll make more power, or to put it another way, if lower octane fuel causes ping, the engine management will retard timing. I know my owner's manual for my Suburban says that the engine will make more power on E85. My guess is that at 12:1 and higher, 93-94 would make more power than 89. May be that doesn't matter to you and that's fine, but as usual, it all depends.
I think that you are just being a contrarian (even if there isn't such a word)! If the engine knock, it doesn't "work"!!

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post #22 of 72 Old Apr 4th, 2015, 8:34 am
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Re: What octane should one use

Quote:
Originally Posted by lkraus View Post
Read The Fine Manual

or something like that...
You are being polite!

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post #23 of 72 Old Apr 4th, 2015, 8:36 am
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Can't understand BMW's thought process in selling GS type bikes that need high test gas. Rode to Alaska we had to run 87 / regular a lot so we squeezed in as much high test when we could get it. 89 octane pings with off idle stumbling . With the slow speed limits MPG went up to 55+.

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post #24 of 72 Old Apr 4th, 2015, 8:37 am
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Re: What octane should one use

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ponch View Post
I had to run 87 once. Not the best idea, but I had no choice. It didn't run as peppy.
I also experimented with my '07, and ran a couple of tankful of 89. No knocks, but it was clear that the computer retarded the timing and I can document the lower mpg for those 2 tankful along with the less snappy performance.

Oh, BTW, I thought I had seen somewhere that the WC RT doesn't have knock-detectors! Nothing in an official document, just a statement from somebody. Hard to believe.
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Re: What octane should one use

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoghead View Post
My opinion is if you can afford 22-23K on a new bike surely you can afford a few cents more for premium gas......that's a no brainer.....
I don't use a $5 bill to light my Cuban cigar either! It's a waste, if you don't need to pay for the higher octane, unless your riding mileage is so low that it doesn't matter!

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Re: What octane should one use

Quote:
Originally Posted by PadG View Post
Please note the highlighted quote above, Ponch!


I think that you are just being a contrarian (even if there isn't such a word)! If the engine knock, it doesn't "work"!!
I get ping sometimes with 91.

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post #27 of 72 Old Apr 4th, 2015, 8:45 am
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Re: What octane should one use

For what it's worth, here is my personal experience not based on manuals just my own experience.

Here in the UK we are offered two grades for unleaded, ordinary/regular and super/premium grade. For my previous 2012 RT I always used the regular until I first went over to Europe on it. As soon as you fill up in France for example you are often faced with the lower grade labelled 'e' with a % of ethanol. To avoid this I always took to higher grade. Then I noticed a marked increase in performance which might have been psychological and a marked improvement in mpg which was real.

From then onwards I have always used the higher octane - even now on the WCRT although I have yet to take it to Europe. I have to admit to compromising with regular the other day when over in rural Wales but it was not enough to notice.
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Re: What octane should one use

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ponch View Post
I get ping sometimes with 91.
But, have you ever got a "pong"?


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Re: What octane should one use

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But, have you ever got a "pong"?
Not in a very long time.

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post #30 of 72 Old Apr 4th, 2015, 9:58 am
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Re: What octane should one use

On my 2012RT I use REC 90. I am fortunate enough to have several fueling stations that sell it a competitive price. I have used Super at 93 octane and noticed a drop in fuel economy. There was no noticeable difference in performance between the two grades. I rather run REC 90 since it has no ethanol in the fuel and it falls in the range of recommended octane by the manufacturer.

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post #31 of 72 Old Apr 4th, 2015, 11:49 am
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Re: What octane should one use

In the USA we come from a culture where if more horsepower is required, we make the engine bigger.

In Europe the culture is to obtain more horsepower by making the engine more efficient, which almost always includes higher compression.

I recently tried to find horsepower figures on the HD website and they're not there. Motorcycle Consumer News dyno'd the HD 1700 cc engine at 75 horsepower. That's compared to the 1200 cc Wethead at 125.

Yeah, you ought to use premium.

I mean, how can you keep them down on the farm once they've seen Paris?

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post #32 of 72 Old Apr 4th, 2015, 7:38 pm
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Re: What octane should one use

Quote:
Originally Posted by Corvallis View Post
Just because you can afford something doesn't mean you should do it.
I use what fuel runs the best in my vehicles and Motorcycles and that is premium fuel.....Use what you want....
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post #33 of 72 Old Apr 8th, 2015, 11:34 am
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Re: What octane should one use

Quote:
Originally Posted by gregcm View Post
It's always surprising to me when folks spend $20k (more or less) for an RT, and then wonder about whether to spend the extra pennies/tank on premium fuel. With the very high compression ratio of modern boxer engines, it absolutely makes sense to run the highest octane available.
Actually, the opposite is true.

Running octane higher than you need is a waste of money. Octane is just a rating of anti-knock properties of the fuel. Once you reach the level required by the engine, a higher level does you absolutely no good. Otherwise, the manual would say to use the highest octane available.

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post #34 of 72 Old Apr 8th, 2015, 11:51 am
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Re: What octane should one use

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Actually, the opposite is true.

Running octane higher than you need is a waste of money. Octane is just a rating of anti-knock properties of the fuel. Once you reach the level required by the engine, a higher level does you absolutely no good. Otherwise, the manual would say to use the highest octane available.
Do whatever you want for your bike, but I don't like the idea of running around on 87 octane with the knock sensors having to retard the ignition in compensation (and reducing performance accordingly).

I won't talk you out of running regular grade fuel, and you won't convince me it's a waste to run premium. At least we can agree on something you posted a while back: warming up the engine for a minute or two before riding away is a really good idea. Every time.

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post #35 of 72 Old Apr 8th, 2015, 12:53 pm
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Re: What octane should one use

Well, when you're only running one motor, that doesn't waste as much as if you were running as many as we are. It saves us a LOT of money to use what we're supposed to use instead of Premium.

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post #36 of 72 Old Apr 8th, 2015, 12:54 pm
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Re: What octane should one use

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Actually, the opposite is true.

Running octane higher than you need is a waste of money. Octane is just a rating of anti-knock properties of the fuel. Once you reach the level required by the engine, a higher level does you absolutely no good. Otherwise, the manual would say to use the highest octane available.
I disagree with modern computer engine management which will retard timing if ping is detected. So you could run lower octane fuel at a performance and possibly mileage penalty and it will run ok. If you put higher octane fuel in, the engine can run more advance and therefore make more power. I will qualify this with it depends on the vehicle. An engine with 12+:1 compression ration probably will run better with the higher octane stuff. In fact, it kind of says that in my owners manual. There is a minimum recommended. On the other hand, a car with 9:1-10:1 compression, not so much. I can also tell you that the 1600 Nomad I owned would ping on 89. The ECM didn't have a knock or O2 sensor and I had to run 91 to avoid it. The solution for many was disabling the air injection and running a fuel spoofer like a PCIII or something like that. The newer vehicles with direct injection and better computer management can get away with running lower octane fuel for a give compression ratio too. Back in the carburetor days, any engine with 12:1 compression would need VP gas. We've come a long way.

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post #37 of 72 Old Apr 8th, 2015, 12:56 pm
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Re: What octane should one use

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Well, when you're only running one motor, that doesn't waste as much as if you were running as many as we are. It saves us a LOT of money to use what we're supposed to use instead of Premium.
The fuel down here sucks. I get ping when it's hot (over 90) with 91 octane. Never did get ping in Iowa at any temp.

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post #38 of 72 Old Apr 8th, 2015, 1:04 pm
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Re: What octane should one use

We've noticed no performance difference between the cheap stuff, Premium and even aviation gas.

Higher octane fuels produce no more power than lower octane. All they do is allow higher compression without knocking. Once you have enough to prevent knocking, there is no more advantage in boosting octane than there is in using a drill bit a foot longer than what you're drilling into.

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post #39 of 72 Old Apr 8th, 2015, 1:09 pm
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Re: What octane should one use

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The fuel down here sucks. I get ping when it's hot (over 90) with 91 octane. Never did get ping in Iowa at any temp.
Try to find corn-free gas. Alcohol evaporates at a low temp, and a lot of your octane in oxygenated fuel is alcohol. When it wafts away, you are left with the low-octane gas they had to boost.

Check with the gas distributors in your area, tell them you have a homebuilt airplane with an old motor that wants unleaded gas but you can't use alcohol. Some may sell corn-free gas right there at their tank farm.

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post #40 of 72 Old Apr 8th, 2015, 1:10 pm
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Re: What octane should one use

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We've noticed no performance difference between the cheap stuff, Premium and even aviation gas.

Higher octane fuels produce no more power than lower octane. All they do is allow higher compression without knocking. Once you have enough to prevent knocking, there is no more advantage in boosting octane than there is in using a drill bit a foot longer than what you're drilling into.
It will allow more power to be made with higher compression engines that suitable engine management. Without that engine management, you'd never be able to run 87 or 89 octane in the 1200 Boxer and using higher octane in such an engine will make more power. It'll run on both, so you have to choose. I don't know as far as mileage goes, as I've only run 87 once and it wasn't as peppy. I don't recall the mileage on that tankful either. May be someone can chime in. I do know that winter gas, particularly the crap sold this year, dropped my mileage to the 37 range, which is the lowest I've gotten for general riding. I normally get 40-42. I wouldn't surprised if the ethanol content was above 10%.

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post #41 of 72 Old Apr 8th, 2015, 1:17 pm
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Re: What octane should one use

The more alcohol, the less mileage, because there's less energy per gallon in alcohol than in petroleum.

Think about all of those monster movies. Have you ever seen Tokyo get flattened by a 50-foot-tall EAR OF CORN?

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post #42 of 72 Old Apr 8th, 2015, 1:19 pm
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Re: What octane should one use

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Well, when you're only running one motor, that doesn't waste as much as if you were running as many as we are. It saves us a LOT of money to use what we're supposed to use instead of Premium.
Look at your owner's manual or the sticker on your tank. You're "supposed" to use premium fuel in these bikes. Geez. You'll argue with anything.

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post #43 of 72 Old Apr 8th, 2015, 1:34 pm
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Re: What octane should one use

The octane rating will depend on where you live as to what it means. There are 3 separate rating standards. RON( research octane number), MON ( motor octane number) and AKI ( anti knock index). Your manual will likely state a number based on RON stating 91 or 93 or whatever. This is the most common listing in places other than the USA and Canada and pumps may be branded with both RON and MON with RON headlined.

If however, you live in the USA like I do, you get to see the AKI rating posted on the pumps which is an average of the two ( RON + MON )/2 so USA gets an average number which is actually lower than the RON rating specified in your manual. this means that an 87 AKI rating is closer to a RON of 92 and AKI 91 would be RON 95.

The rating your bike needs will depend on a number of things. Altitude, humidity, temperature, carbon build up, the condition of your air filter and such things that will directly effect the peak compression of your engine so what works for one may not work for another in a different location. The higher the octane rating, the more long chain molecules there are in the fuel so it takes more energy to ignite it. Knocking is more simply put, dieseling. the fuel is ignited by the compression rather than the spark so it ignites prior to the required number of degrees before top dead center and places a reverse thrust in the wrong direction on the crank and bearings causing additional wear and stress. Running a higher octane rating than required may actually reduce performance as the fuel starts to burn more slowly and you may get less power overall out of the burn so higher is not always better. Use only the highest rating that will allow you to run without detonation ( knocking ) so you are not beating the crank bearings out of it. As I said, this will vary on a great number of things and you can only hope that what is on the pump is what you are getting in actuality.

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post #44 of 72 Old Apr 8th, 2015, 1:47 pm
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Re: What octane should one use

The manual I have says "91 AKI."

Around here, that's not Premium, and according to the tech rep, that's for all conditions and oxygenated fuel.

The manual also says that 89 AKI is acceptable. In tests we do periodically, nobody has ever been able to tell the difference between fuel grades in either the motors or the radio cars. Even our stealthed sports cars run that grade, and nobody has ever told me they had any trouble keeping up with the guys running racing fuel.

The drill bit analogy came from our contract mechanic, who races hot rods, motors, ATVs boats and airplanes for a hobby. And wins.

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post #45 of 72 Old Apr 8th, 2015, 2:14 pm
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Re: What octane should one use

I figure over the course of a year the fuel I put in the RT and my car is a pretty small part of my budget so I always put in the best available, if I end up spending $200 or $300 more over the course of a year that's ok.
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post #46 of 72 Old Apr 8th, 2015, 2:22 pm
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Re: What octane should one use

From my 2012 Rider's Manual:

Recommended fuel grade: Premium plus unleaded 98 ROZ/RON; 91 AKI.

It also states: Premium unleaded (fuel grade, usable with slight power and consumption-related restrictions) 95 ROZ/RON 89 AKI

From my 2015 Rider's Manual:

Recommended fuel quality: Super unleaded (max 10% ethanol, E10) 89 AKI (95 ROZ/RON)

Appears that BMW lowered their AKI recommendation with the liquid-cooled engine.

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post #47 of 72 Old Apr 8th, 2015, 3:00 pm
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Re: What octane should one use

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The manual I have says "91 AKI."

Around here, that's not Premium, and according to the tech rep, that's for all conditions and oxygenated fuel.

The manual also says that 89 AKI is acceptable. In tests we do periodically, nobody has ever been able to tell the difference between fuel grades in either the motors or the radio cars. Even our stealthed sports cars run that grade, and nobody has ever told me they had any trouble keeping up with the guys running racing fuel.

The drill bit analogy came from our contract mechanic, who races hot rods, motors, ATVs boats and airplanes for a hobby. And wins.
91 is top dog here unless there is a gas station with VP gas or something like that. Back east, I could get 94 from Sonoco, but I think 93 is tops now.

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post #48 of 72 Old Apr 8th, 2015, 3:02 pm
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Re: What octane should one use

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The more alcohol, the less mileage, because there's less energy per gallon in alcohol than in petroleum.

Think about all of those monster movies. Have you ever seen Tokyo get flattened by a 50-foot-tall EAR OF CORN?
No, but Stephen King wrote a book called Children of the Corn.

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post #49 of 72 Old Apr 9th, 2015, 7:57 am
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Re: What octane should one use

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Do whatever you want for your bike, but I don't like the idea of running around on 87 octane with the knock sensors having to retard the ignition in compensation (and reducing performance accordingly).

I won't talk you out of running regular grade fuel, and you won't convince me it's a waste to run premium. At least we can agree on something you posted a while back: warming up the engine for a minute or two before riding away is a really good idea. Every time.
We have a lot of assumptions here!!! Who is talking about 87 octane? Since you don't have a WC RT, I will assume that you don't know that the manual calls for 89 AKI! I would run premium too, if I was riding your camhead, BUT if 93 octane is available to you, it would be a waste of money!

I am not trying to convince you, but I did take offense to your original comment!

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post #50 of 72 Old Apr 9th, 2015, 8:00 am
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Re: What octane should one use

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The fuel down here sucks. I get ping when it's hot (over 90) with 91 octane. Never did get ping in Iowa at any temp.
Ponch.....as you may remember from prior thread on this, there are TWO reasons for "pinging", and one of them will not be solved with higher octane!

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