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Thunderbird Twin - Technical Talk Technical talk for the big Thunderbird twin

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Old 05-16-2012, 08:53 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Gasoline octane rating

What grade of gasoline do you other Thunderbird riders use? I believe the manual says 87 octane which would be regular unleaded. I would appreciate feedback from you experienced owners.

Last edited by Wolfe; 05-16-2012 at 08:54 PM. Reason: Incorrect punctuation
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Old 05-16-2012, 11:23 PM   #2 (permalink)
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91 or 93 only....
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Old 05-16-2012, 11:53 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I run 93 octane and non ethanol if I can get it.
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Old 05-17-2012, 01:57 AM   #4 (permalink)
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92 (Premium unleaded). That's what the dealer said to use and I believe the manual affirms that. There was another thread either here or elsewhere that discussed the topic, and while there were some who were using 87 or 89, it seemed to me the consensus was to indeed use the 92 Premium. So with all being said and for better or worse (it's certainly more spendy), I use 92.
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Old 05-17-2012, 05:32 AM   #5 (permalink)
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The Bird 1600 service manual spec says: Unleaded 91RON (US-87RON/MON) verbatim. It is not a good idea to run higher octane fuels in an engine that isn't spec'd for it. I run US-89 all year round and have no performance issues at all. Some states like CA reformulate in summer/winter so you may need to change in those cases but here I run the same fuel regardless. The stock 1600 doesn't have the compression to require high octane fuels. The 1700 may be different, don't know.
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Old 05-17-2012, 12:20 PM   #6 (permalink)
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My manual states 87. Thats U.S. rating. I use mid grade 89 octane tho because the bike actually runs noticeably stronger. I always thought that the lowest octane fuel you can use without pinging would give you the best performance. This experience has enlightened me ! I started using mid grade and after a while i decided to try a tank of regular again. Sure enough on a day long ride it was very obvious. Not placebo effect or anything that subtle. It really ran stronger to probably a degree of improvement close to what i got with TORs and the TORs tune. I'd say easily 1/2 of that, maybe even as much. Surprised the heck outa me. So i no longer will run regular. Could be the ethanol content maybe. I have heard premium has no or at least less ethanol than regular, and in Ca at least the stations only carry 2 grades of fuel, regular and premium and the pump mixes those two when you choose mid grade. So could be the better running is due to a smaller percentage of ethanol.
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Old 05-17-2012, 01:21 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RC65 View Post
92 (Premium unleaded). That's what the dealer said to use and I believe the manual affirms that. There was another thread either here or elsewhere that discussed the topic, and while there were some who were using 87 or 89, it seemed to me the consensus was to indeed use the 92 Premium. So with all being said and for better or worse (it's certainly more spendy), I use 92.
I stand corrected. My manual states on pg. 31 to use "87 or higher" -- though of course that does not rule out 89 or 92. I'm still staying away from 87 as I've not read good comments on that grade but may give 89 a shot in my next fillup.

Last edited by RC65; 05-17-2012 at 10:09 PM.
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Old 05-17-2012, 07:43 PM   #8 (permalink)
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89 octane for me as well. Runs noticeably better...
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Old 05-17-2012, 10:55 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I see not point in 92 or higher octane fuel since the engine doesn't have high enough compression for that. The octane rating is nothing more than a measurement of the fuel's resistance to ignition. Using too high of an octane is actually bad for an engine. That said I have noticed that at certain times of the year at certain gas stations the 87 octane fuel runs like crap in my bike. When this happens I have used 89 octane with better results. As others have stated this could be the result of higher amounts of ethanol. Who really knows. All I know is when I get a bad tank I'll run it half way down, and then fill it with 92 to balance it out.
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Old 05-18-2012, 07:30 PM   #10 (permalink)
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In Australia our fuel octane ratings are:

Unleaded (ULP) 91
Premium Unleaded (PULP) 95
High Performance Unleaded (typically BP Ultimate, Shell Optimax, Vortex 98) 98

I personally run BP Ultimate which is 98 octane. It is a cleaner burning fuel and lays down less deposits inside the combustion chamber for not that much extra cost.

Some comments here about higher octane fuels causing harm to the Thunderbird engine are wrong. The higher the octane number the higher the fuels resistance is to detonation which is an uncontrolled ignition or pre-ignition of the fuel before the controlled ignition from that of the spark plug. In actual fact running higher octane fuel in an engine designed for lower only hurts you in the back pocket because of the higher cost. The reverse is true though in using lower octane fuels in an engine designed for high octane but using low octane instead. That is when real engine damage occurs. And that is because the low octane fuel will ignite prematurely as the generally higher compression (and therefore higher heat) ignites the fuel while the piston is still on it's compression or up stroke causing the ignited fuel to push back against the still rising piston. This will cause detonation or pinging in most engines but in worst cases things like push rods bend and sometimes pistons fail etc. To correct Lantesh with his comment on octane rating it is not the fuels resistance to ignition but rather the fuels resistance to detonation. The spark from the spark plugs will ignite both standard and higher grade octanes on queue. It is no more difficult to make the ignition of the fuel to happen for the engine with either octane but the higher octane will resist the uncontrolled pre-ignition when it is not meant to happen.

So in summary the higher octane fuel is better for the engine and not harmful. If the Storm or the big bore 1700 engine has indeed a higher compression than the 1600 engine then it will benefit more so than the standard bike but trust me the 1600 (like mine) will still burn all the fuel injected into it's chamber when the spark plug tells it to but will do it with less deposits left behind by using 98 octane fuel.

Cheers,

Glen
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