Ridin’ Green: E85 Promotion

By Paige McFarland, Intern

If you are familiar with the Kansas Corn Commission, you know there has been a multitude of cars and trucks used to promote ethanol over the last 20 or 30 years. Some of you may be having flashbacks of the Chevy Silverado, the Ford Mustang convertible from the 1980s, or the more recent corn cars engulfed with green and yellow ears of corn.

So what’s next for Kansas Corn? Here’s a hint: the familiar face you see in the current corn car, will most likely not be the same face you see on the new and improved Harley! Kansas Corn Growers Executive Director, Jere White recently took his motorcycle to Comb’s Custom Cycles of Lawrence, Kansas to have a few cosmetic changes made after converting it to run on e85.

Jere had his motorcycle converted in Rapid City, South Dakota in the spring of 2011. In order to convert this bike to run on E85 they had to replace the computer and injectors. A bike like his normally runs on 91 octane, which is a higher octane than a normal car would run on, and is roughly a dollar more in cost than E85. E85 fuel is naturally high in octane, and costs less than regular unleaded. This is one of the many benefits of converting the bike to run on American ethanol.

The question has surfaced time and time again, are ethanol blends safe to use in our vehicles? The sole purpose of the eye catching corn cars is to promote the use of ethanol as a renewable fuel. By using E85, we are showing that it used safely. Nothing is more American than a Harley Davidson motorcycle, so it makes sense to use American-made ethanol. The bike is the next step in demonstrating the benefits of American ethanol.

“Over the years we have utilized different vehicles and ideas to engage discussion in what we are promoting. The presence of ethanol has definitely increased,” Jere said. “We have to branch out to engage others. If we are going to be successful we have to promote ethanol to a variety of audiences. The bike will offer us the traditional audience at the 3i Farm Show in Dodge City, and also the non-traditional audience at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota.”

The flex fuel motorcycle is accented with a glossy green environmentally sound paint. 

On the tank is an eagle holding an ear of corn. This image represents the foundation in which American ethanol originates from.

The front fender holds more of a whimsical theme. There is a skeleton farmer (skeletons are popular with the bike crowd) sitting on an old John Deere tractor with a jar of moonshine. Ethanol is an alcohol fuel–essentially moonshine. Ethanol has been used to fuel vehicles since before the moonshine days. (In fact, the first Flex Fuel vehicle was Henry Ford’s Model T.) This part of the bike ties the farming industry and biker imagery into one.

Over the years, we’ve put ethanol in just about everything—pickups, cars, airplanes, and now motorcycles. Kansas Corn staffers have driven hundreds of thousands of miles using ethanol blended fuels as they’ve crisscrossed the state over several years. They can definitely answer any questions you might have about ethanol’s performance in a variety of vehicles.

 “Probably the most important thing is that we are using fuel that is made right here in our state,” Jere said. “When you are using 85 percent ethanol, that’s 85 percent fuel made right here in several small Kansas communities and not imported from the Middle East.”

The bike will make its first appearance at the 3i Farm Show in Dodge City July 12th-14th. Come take a look!


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