Types of Petrol and Octane Ratings

All of you know about so many types of petrol available in the market for your bikes, but why do you pay more for the higher octane petrol? You probably know about various octane ratings in petrol, but do you know what this octane is all about? Let me take you through a knowledge trip on Octane rating.

Octane Does Matter: Octane rating reflects the quality, purity, refinement, efficiency and heat bearing capacity of petrol. Hence we have different grades of Petrol for different uses ranging for your bikes to spacecrafts.

You see crude oil is the raw material for petrol and from it, various derivatives are extracted. The finer and refined the derivative, the better the quality and efficiency of the fuel. So from crude oil there are various stages of refining extraction done that results in so many varieties of fuels with higher Octane ratings.

The various Octane ratings of petrol are 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 93 and 97, which symbolize purity and refinement in increasing order. On one end we have 87 octane which you use for your bike as unleaded and on the other extreme we have 97 octane which fuels the super bikes sold in India as Speed 97. So High Octane fuels are expensive because of high levels of refinement.

Leaded & Unleaded Petrol: If you guys can rewind back to the year 2000 you will remember we were using leaded fuel which had 0.15 gms of lead per litre. Lead had distinct advantages which helped the engine to enjoy a long and durable life. But the presence of lead in petrol meant more emission of CO (carbon monoxide) which is the reason why the government introduced compulsary use of unleaded petrol in 2000. The unleaded petrol is much ‘greener’ petrol and the emission of CO is much less and with honeycomb catalytic converters in the exhausts of cars and bikes, the pollution levels are very low.

The Right Petrol for Your Bike: In India, companies like BPCL, IOC, HPCL, IBP red and Shell etc supply you with varieties of fuel to power your bike. The high octane fuels have additives like friction busters which may not suit your bike, plus higher octane rating means more heat is developed in the engine which is not good for your bike’s engine. So the next time you think of filling your bike with Xtrapremium or Speed consult your dealer if it is advisable to use higher-octane petrol. Due to the additives there could be clutch slippage or slow damage to your bike’s engine over repeated usage, so enquire properly before you fill fuel the next time.

For those having super bikes and super cars Speed 97 is the only super fuel available in India and costs around 65-70 rupees a litre. In my opinion the premium that you pay for every liter of higher-octane petrol is justified if you have a high performance machine.