FA was on hand to promote ethanol use and educate riders as hundreds of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts graced the Black Hills area last week for the 2014 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
RFA has been a proud sponsor of the rally for six years and once again sponsored a local charity event, the Legends Ride, which supports the Black Hills Special Olympics and the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum. All riders were given an RFA “Fueled with Pride” koozie and a Legends Ride t-shirt that highlighted RFA’s sponsorship. Hundreds of riders turned out, including Kristy Swanson (TV’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) and R. Lee Ermey (“Full Metal Jacket”). I am proud to report that the Legends ride raised more than $50,000 for these local charities.
The most popular part of RFA’s annual sponsorship is without a doubt the Free Fuel Happy Hours. More than 500 motorcyclists took advantage of the free tank of 93 octane E10 at the Buffalo Chip Campground. This three-day event attracted all types of riders including the owner of the Buffalo Chip Campground, Rod “Woody” Woodruff (pictured at right with RFA’s summer intern, Evan). Rod and the Buffalo Chip Campground were proud to host one of the most unique promotions of the annual rally. Domestic Fuel interviewed Rod about the humble beginnings of the Buffalo Chip and his partnership with RFA.
Speaking of the Free Fuel Happy Hours, we were happy to see riders educating other riders. We had a motorcycle owner who had previously participated in our free fuel promotion visit us again explaining that he caused quite the “ruckus” in his camp area the night before. He told friends he would be late to their daily ride because he was going to stop and get some free ethanol. They told him that ethanol was bad for his Harley, but he countered quickly by saying that he had been convinced to try it last year at RFA’s Free Fuel Happy Hours and has been using it ever since without issue.
Another story from the Free Fuel Happy Hours is of a Harley owner that had just purchased a new bike. His Harley dealer told him to avoid ethanol. This was a prime example of our ability to educate riders. I got the point across that the dealer had not designed, engineered and built the bike, nor does the dealer provide the warranty on the Harley. We then examined his owner’s manual together and found the section that states up to 10% ethanol is approved for use in his engine. I encouraged him to follow the guidance of his owner’s manual instead of the misguided opinion of the dealer. The rider filled up with our E10 93 octane fuel minutes later.
We also had a gentleman from Florida stop by who had to replace the fuel lines on his last Harley. The dealership told him that if he had avoided ethanol-blended fuel, he wouldn’t have experienced the issue. The Harley in question was new and had been driven less than 1,200 miles. It should have been covered by his warranty. I explained to him that a fuel line should not degrade that quickly with any fuel available today, especially a fuel for which it is approved. We reviewed the owner’s manual on his new Harley and he eventually came back to a Free Fuel Happy Hour and filled up on E10.
We also made waves on a larger scale. The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA), a strong anti-E15 group, took notice of RFA’s efforts. They issued a press release encouraging riders to take advantage of our free fuel promotion and deemed E10 “AMA-approved.” But, they cautioned riders to beware and falsely suggested that our efforts were not about education, but secretly about E15. RFA took special care to ensure riders knew the proper blends of ethanol for each type of engines they own, not just their motorcycles. RFA also had signage (pictured at right) to talk about AMA’s efforts, and show visuals of the fuels that are not approved for motorcycles. I then reached out to AMA via Twitter, challenging their comments and encouraging them to stop by the free fuel event. Interestingly, the press release was pulled from AMA’s website the next day. One publication released it before AMA could pull it down.
These are just some of the many ways that RFA positively countered the negative misconceptions about ethanol use in motorcycle engines. RFA’s presence extended further than the popular Legends Ride and Free Fuel Happy Hours. We were everywhere from the radio to the jumbotron. We had traditional banners hung throughout the rally and I was able to participate in numerous radio interviews promoting ethanol and dispelling misconceptions.
Next year is expected to be a record breaker with the 75th anniversary of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Early predictors suggest between 1.2 and 1.5 million riders will crash the small town of Sturgis. RFA is always looking for new and innovative ways to reach consumers. Sturgis, along with our partnership with the Buffalo Chip, continues to be a key part in promoting our message of “Drive Safe, Fuel Right.”
For more coverage of this year’s rally check out:
- Domestic Fuel coverage:
- South Dakota Corn – Ride Safe, Fuel Right with Ethanol in Sturgis
- The Examiner – Ethanol fuels Sturgis Motorcycle Rally 2014
- Motorcycle USA – Group to Promote Ethanol Fuel at Sturgis
- Robert White’s live tweets from the rally