X-1R Octane Booster helps when the petrol station has run out of higher octane petrol
Or when you’ve filled in petrol with lower RON or if you can’t trust what you’ve filled.
Always carry a bottle or two when you go touring be it in Malaysia or across the border.
As we toured for eight days in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam during the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017 (click here for our coverage), we had to stop regularly for fuel. Both Cambodia and Vietnam has RON 95 fuel these days and modern service stations in their major cities but out there in the countryside, some of the stations were downright dodgy-looking. I asked the station attendants for RON 95 or 95 octane and they replied, “What is octane?”
While we do not want to doubt the quality of their fuel, since no one would bring along a fuel quality tester during tours, but how could we be certain? But how about if the wrong fuel was filled?
We filled up at one station just before descending the mountain at Bokor, Cambodia and the Versys 650 I was on started to stumble and sputtered everytime I opened the throttle. It would also back fire through the exhaust or spat through the throttle bodies when I shut the throttle, right before the engine flamed out. I needed to shift down everytime I wanted to overtake or speed up.
Adding further to the confusion was the mix of different bikes during the tour. There were Kawasaki Versys 650s, Suzuki DL1000 and DL650 V-Stroms, Honda CRF1000 Africa Twins, a BMR F 800 GS and a BMW R 1200 GS.
The Suzukis have been reprogrammed to run on the minimum of RON 91 (despite the compression ratio remaining unchanged), the Hondas and BMWs on a minimum of RON 93 and the Kawasaki… well, no one’s sure about the Kawasaki’s minimum RON requirement so we could only assume it’s RON 95, as what’s recommended in Malaysia.
But we hand over our bikes to the marshals for a group refueling – meaning all bikes were refueled from the same pump – everytime we stopped, so while one fuel works for certain bikes, it may not for the others. The fuel type was all written in Khmer so I wouldn’t know what went into the tank.
There was also speculation that water may have entered the tank since we rode under the rain for hours for a few days in a row, or water was present in the fuel at the station. But the engine was still misbehaving everytime after filling up.
Using a fuel with too low octane (RON) is bad for the engine, as it could lead to the phenomenon known as “knocking” or “pinging.”
How does that happen?
Let’s first consider a low octane fuel. A hot combustion chamber in an engine will have “local hotspots,” usually on the cylinder wall or piston top. As the piston rises, the fuel-air mixture is compressed causing the latter to heat up, leading to the mixture detonating in more than one location as the spark plug emits a spark. The soundwave from this detonation bounces throughout the combustion chamber, causing a loud pinging or knocking sound that’s audible to the rider, hence the name knocking or pinging.
Knocking is bad, because combustion at those hotspots will erode the metal. Also, imagine the pressure from the combustion trying to push down on the piston, connecting rod and crankshaft while the piston is still rising.
A higher octane fuel combats pre-detonation, until the fuel-air meets the correct temperature administered by the spark plug.
Thankfully, there’s a simple solution.
I’ve been on many long-distance tours and I never failed to bring along X-1R’s Octane Booster for assurance. The main ingredient of the Octane Booster is nitroglycerine, the fuel used in pure from in Top Fuel dragsters. The product was a companion not only during rides across the border but also on any trip within Malaysia, by the way.
I dropped some Octane Booster into an almost full tank when we stopped for pictures. One bottle treats up to 75 litres of fuel, thus a third of a bottle is enough for a 22-litre tank.
The ticking noises from the engine disappeared within a few kilometres. As I was assigned as an assistant marshal, quick blasts of speed wass necessary and I was thankful that I could now do so without the engine sputtering and cutting out.
From then on, the engine ran smoother than before. Besides that, fuel mileage picked up from below 300km per tank to close to 320km per tank.
I’ll share another experience.
I rode with the Aprilia Riders Group to Phuket two years ago.
During a stop, an RSV4 rider and another on a Tuono V4 had mistakenly filled RON 91. These are high performance machines so they require petrol with higher RON rating.
Again, the X-1R Octance Booster came to the rescue! They didn’t suffer any problem after adding the product.
So, the lesson is this. Always bring along a bottle wherever you go.