You’ve probably noticed it by now: gasoline prices are climbing steadily, with no end in sight. Recent reports, in fact, suggest that we could be in for even bigger price increases in the weeks and months to come. Of course, to blame is the volatile global oil market, particularly thanks to the growing tensions in some of the world’s biggest oil producing countries. That being said, we could certainly use the savings, no matter how small.
As such, today’s topic is rather relevant, as it tackles the highly controversial debate as to whether or not premium, high-octane gasoline is indeed worth the added cash, and if it really gives your motorcycle engine a boost in performance and efficiency. As it would turn out, the answer varies on an array of factors. Today, let’s take a closer look at whether or not you really need to use premium gasoline, or if you can get by with the cheaper, regular stuff.
Difference between regular and premium gasoline
Modern-day gasoline is usually unleaded, and already contains key additives, depending on the manufacturer. It doesn’t matter if it’s premium or regular, all fuels available at the pumps are unleaded. So don’t get confused in thinking that unleaded gasoline is the same as premium gasoline. In the global market, premium gasolines are considered as those carrying octane ratings of 95 and up. Some examples of which include Shell’s V-Power gasoline rated at 95 octane, and the even more premium V-Power Racing with a 97 octane rating. Regular gasoline, on the other hand, are typically rated at around 91 octane, an example would be Petron’s Xtra Unleaded gasoline.
So, do you really need it?
It's as simple as looking for a label behind your bike's fuel cap or owner's manual to see if you need premium gas. Premium gasoline is only required for vehicles that have "Premium Fuel Required" written in the owner's manual or on the fuel cap. In certain cases, the owner's manual will even specify the exact octane level that your engine requires. That means your vehicle's maker has conducted tests and found that premium gasoline's octane level is required to prevent early detonation, usually manifested by a knocking noise, in the engine, something you want to avoid at all costs.
What happens if you use regular fuel on a motorcycle that requires premium fuel?
If you use standard gasoline in a vehicle that specifically specifies that premium fuel is required, you'll notice a loss of power, poor fuel economy, likely engine pinging, and possibly the Check Engine Light (CEL) turning on. This can result in a multitude of troubles on modern motorcycles, including limp mode, numerous error codes, and possibly difficulty starting the engine. Furthermore, some manufacturers, particularly those with high-performance machines, may be very picky about the sort of fuel you use, and you may have trouble claiming warranty if any problems emerge.
Can you use premium fuel even if it isn’t required?
That isn't to say that there isn't an advantage for other users; it just means that it isn't required in others. If your owner's handbook indicates premium gasoline is suggested but not necessary, premium gasoline will provide you somewhat greater performance than normal gasoline, but regular gasoline will still run your engine properly and effectively.
If your bike's owner's handbook specifies "Regular Unleaded Only," you're usually better off saving a few additional pesos per liter than wasting money on gasoline that is more expensive but won't improve your engine's performance or economy.