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Thread: Fuel cells

  1. #1

    Fuel cells

    I'm a newbie her and pretty new to long distance riding (I just sent off my first Saddlesore documentation for certification. I ride a HD Roadglide with a 5 gal tank & 40 mpg which has me looking for fuel at about the 150 mi mark.

    I've been considering a fuel cell but one topic keeps on bugging me - namely "the man" i.e. what does the CHP think if they see someone ride by with one? Are there CA emissions requirements that need to be met? I can't say that I've ever seen anyone ride by with one.

    I'm also always looking for someone to ride distance with (mostly without luck). Too bad for me that I'll be out of state during this years 24, I'd love to at least see the start...

  2. #2
    Interesting question! Can't find anything about it in the 2010 CA DMV Motorcycle handbook, it's just not mentioned.
    If Poker's a sport, so's this.

  3. #3
    I've found write-ups by people from CA who have added fuel cells but I just got to thinking with all of our "CA only" emissions regs that there might be some things to consider. I'd really like to get 250-300 mi range, at least some of the time

  4. #4
    cal24.com member
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    I do believe the only thing they would be able to get you for is operating an unsafe vehicle. Not properly mounted, vented and what not. I would not worry about it! Ride on, rock out out with your......well you get the idea.....LOL
    "......an imperfect plan implemented immediately and violently will always succeed better than a perfect plan." General George S. Patton
    jafo@jafosadventures.com

  5. #5
    CA doesn't inspect motorcycles annually like some states. I've been running fuel cells for quite a few years and have never had an issue. Don't sweat it. Mount your cell securely, vent it, ground it, and ride.

    Then again, I think my only police encounters in CA have been the Cal 24 Police.

  6. #6

  7. #7
    RallyBastard for life Cal24Master's Avatar
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    Smile

    Quote Originally Posted by peterinsj View Post
    I've found write-ups by people from CA who have added fuel cells but I just got to thinking with all of our "CA only" emissions regs that there might be some things to consider. I'd really like to get 250-300 mi range, at least some of the time
    There has never been an issue with having a fuel cell. I have had many occasion to have casual chats on the side of the road with friendly LEO's. Never has any of them ever mentioned the issue of the fuel cell. I have even had a couple of officers pull me over just to ask about the bike.

    I have it found it kind of humorous when other people come up and question the safety of carrying 5 gallons for gasoline on the back of the bike. I have just got to the point that I just say: "Do you think having 5 gallons of gas behind me is more dangerous than the 6.6 gallons between my legs?"

    That usually ends the questions......

    Tom
    If you think things are going well, you're just not paying attention......

  8. #8
    Same here, numerous roadside chats and never a problem. Most rallies follow a fairly specific set of rules about how the cell is mounted, vented, grounded, etc. so if you do it right it's just not an issue.

    The only time I was ever "officially" asked about my fuel cell was when I was heading into underground parking at LAX to catch a flight. It just never occurred to me that the security checkpoint might be a bit concerned about a huge black tank, two gallon bottles, and hoses running all over the back of the bike . . .
    Ken
    SoCal
    '07 Dark Graphite GT
    '02 Mauve LTC
    IBA# 16150, MOA# 111996

  9. #9
    RallyBastard for life Cal24Master's Avatar
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    You have a lot more guts than me leaving your bike at LAX. I left my car at the Oakland airport once. Got back and the window was busted, stereo gone, but the friendly police had taken the time to write me a ticket for my registration being expired by one day.

    Here is the story, as I remember it, of when Jan Cutler put one of the first fuel cells on a bike. It was when He was co-owner of Reno BMW. He mounted the cell on his K100LT. He used a plastic hose connector to T the cell into the overflow tube. He ran it around Reno for a few days, and everything seemed to be fine. So one day he decides to check it out in Rally conditions. He fills up both the main and cell, and heads out of Reno on Hwy 50 to Austin NV. Then went south towards Tonopah. About halfway to Tonopah, he looks in the mirror and sees smoke. He stops to investigate, and finds that the plastic connector has cracked and is leaking gas onto the exhaust pipe creating the smoke.

    Now he didn't think that was a big problem because the fuel was evaporating as soon as it hit the hot pipe, and was not creating a flame. He didn't have another connector with him, so he figured he could make it the remaining 50 miles or so to Tonopah and get it fixed. Well, while he was stopped, the pipe cooled down enough to let the fuel accumulate on the pipe. When he started up and again, and rode a couple miles, enough to heat up the pipe, it ignited the fuel and burst into flames. He realized this and pulled over. Now he is in the middle of nowhere in Nevada, which is itself the definition of the middle of nowhere. He puts the bike on the ground and tries to put out the flames by throwing gravel and sand on it, but to no avail. He did however take the time to look at his watch and determine that it took almost exactly 20 minutes for his BMW to turn into a puddle of melted aluminum on the side of the road.

    So the lesson here is, and always has been, never, ever use any plastic connections when installing a fuel cell. The get brittle over time, and crack and leak. Not a good thing.
    If you think things are going well, you're just not paying attention......

  10. #10
    Honestly, I much prefer to ride than fly, even for business trips. But this was an instant-emergency. And it was LAX, not Oakland.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cal24Master View Post
    So the lesson here is, and always has been, never, ever use any plastic connections when installing a fuel cell. The get brittle over time, and crack and leak. Not a good thing.
    And never design a factory fuel system with plastic fittings.

    I've replaced quite a few of the factory ones with their metal counterparts. And my fuel cell connection is brass from end to end. As it should be.
    Ken
    SoCal
    '07 Dark Graphite GT
    '02 Mauve LTC
    IBA# 16150, MOA# 111996

  11. #11
    cal24.com newbie BrianR's Avatar
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    I have an aux fuel cell on my Vstrom and before I put a cover over the whole thing I had a Pro Oiler attached to the side of it . Complete with small oil container, pump, and little computer LED readout and tubes leading down out of it. That thing looked just like some sort of IED or 2 part bomb you might see on any actiion movie.

    I got a couple of sideways looks at the checkpoint going over Hoover Dam. But that is the extent of it.....

    Brian R.
    Ride it like you stole it.
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  12. #12
    cal24.com newbie
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cal24Master View Post
    There has never been an issue with having a fuel cell. I have had many occasion to have casual chats on the side of the road with friendly LEO's. Never has any of them ever mentioned the issue of the fuel cell. I have even had a couple of officers pull me over just to ask about the bike.

    I have it found it kind of humorous when other people come up and question the safety of carrying 5 gallons for gasoline on the back of the bike. I have just got to the point that I just say: "Do you think having 5 gallons of gas behind me is more dangerous than the 6.6 gallons between my legs?"

    That usually ends the questions......

    Tom
    Just trying to confirm...

    A fuel cell by nature is plumbed into the fuel system. Does that mean that extra fuel in a seperate tank is not okay? Trying to clear the "extra fuel" question. I dont have a fuel cell but I do have a 2 gallon fuel can.

    Miguel

  13. #13
    For Cal24 Rally purposes, it needs to be reasonably safe. If it is attached securely, unlikely to leak, and seems reasonably sturdy, the tech inspectors will be OK with it. There isn't a requirement that it be plumbed directly into the main fuel system. But putting a jerry can underneath 2 bungie cords on the rear seat might not pass muster if it seems shaky.
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  14. #14
    RallyBastard for life Cal24Master's Avatar
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    We are a lot more lax than some other rallies. The Utah 1088 requires that it be a NASCAR cell or equal. It also has to have a bottle to catch overflow. The Iron Butt requires you to have foam in cell. If you want to strap a 2 gallon fuel container to the passenger seat with tie-downs, that is cool with us. It has to be secure though, no bungee cords, rope etc.

    However, as I noted different rallies have different requirements. If you plan on rider several different rallies, as many riders do, it will be worthwhile for you to check out each rallies requirements. It is usually safe to use the IBR or 1088 requirements. If you meet either or both of those rules you can pretty much count on using it for any rally. Keep in mind that each rallymaster makes his/her own rules, and you have to follow them. Going to any rally and arguing that because carrying a gas container was OK on the Cal 24 means that it should be OK at the 1088 is not going to fly well. You would likely end up carrying a rock around, which is not generally considered a good thing.....

    Tom
    If you think things are going well, you're just not paying attention......

  15. #15
    Stacy Trotter
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    Quote Originally Posted by cal24admin View Post
    For Cal24 Rally purposes, it needs to be reasonably safe. If it is attached securely, unlikely to leak, and seems reasonably sturdy, the tech inspectors will be OK with it. There isn't a requirement that it be plumbed directly into the main fuel system. But putting a jerry can underneath 2 bungie cords on the rear seat might not pass muster if it seems shaky.
    I know this is a few years old..... I planning on doing the cal24 this year. Are these still the basic rules for aux fuel tanks for the cal24?

  16. #16
    I would assume so, yes.
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