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  #1  
Old 23 Feb 2007
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European fuel Qs: Price, Availablilty, Ethanol added?

In the UK/Western Europe, we'll be riding a Honda ST1300 that runs okay on normal unleaded petrol (ULP = 87-91 octane), but we prefer Premium (PULP = 95-98 octane) which is recommended.

In early threads, I've read comments by beddhist and Steve Pickford, about difficulties getting petrol on Sundays in rural France and other places, and about using plastic to pay for it. This got me thinking about fuelling-up and raised other questions:
  1. Is Premium easliy accessible?
  2. Is fuel generally clean? (i.e. even in the back blocks?)
  3. What is the current price per litre for ULP, and how much extra cost for Premium?
  4. How much does price vary? (i.e. like in Australia it varies significantly: between States because of local taxes, from city to outback because of freight and competition, and on different days of the week!)
  5. How common is ethanol an additive? (e.g. e-10). Honda does not recommend ethanol in the ST1300. If it is common, is it only in ULP, or has it been added now also to PULP?
I'd appreciate any advice. Thanks
John
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  #2  
Old 23 Feb 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John-DownUnder View Post
In the UK/Western Europe, we'll be riding a Honda ST1300 that runs okay on normal unleaded petrol (ULP = 87-91 octane), but we prefer Premium (PULP = 95-98 octane) which is recommended.

In early threads, I've read comments by beddhist and Steve Pickford, about difficulties getting petrol on Sundays in rural France and other places, and
about using plastic to pay for it. This got me thinking about fuelling-up and raised other questions:
  1. Is Premium easliy accessible?
  2. Is fuel generally clean? (i.e. even in the back blocks?)
  3. What is the current price per litre for ULP, and how much extra cost for Premium?
  4. How much does price vary? (i.e. like in Australia it varies significantly: between States because of local taxes, from city to outback because of freight and competition, and on different days of the week!)
  5. How common is ethanol an additive? (e.g. e-10). Honda does not recommend ethanol in the ST1300. If it is common, is it only in ULP, or has it been added now also to PULP?
I'd appreciate any advice. Thanks
John
This not as big an issue as it used to be IME. More and more French self service at supermarkets take the UK card. If really in doubt, make yiur path cross a motorway and use a stretch to get to a service station.

French people are always happy to swop cash for fuel on their cards.

To answer Q's

1) Yes
2) Yes, Europe is highly civilised
3) UK=85-90p, France similar, cheapest in Lichenstein/Luxembourg
4) Not greatly, highest prices are in motorway services
5) Pass, but most stations in UK and France have both, but our rating starts at 95 anyway.

Check out
About Fuel - Octane Ratings and RON - PetrolPrices.com
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  #3  
Old 25 Feb 2007
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Hi John:

I keep a ST1100 in Switzerland, I've ridden it 60,000 miles all over the place in the last 5 years.

I pretty much agree with what Bruce has said. I can't remember ever seeing a gas station in an EC country that didn't sell premium grade fuel. Maybe in rural Poland or Romania, perhaps, but certainly you won't have any concerns about getting premium fuel in Western or Central Europe.

Buying fuel after-hours (nights and weekends) can be a PITA in France, but as Bruce mentioned, all you have to do is wait until a local comes along to fill up their car (using a credit card), and swap them cash. Just be sure to have a few 10 or 20 Euro notes on you (you can't expect someone to have change). I have never had any difficulty doing this, as soon as the locals see you are from out of the country they instinctively comprehend your problem. Heck, my Swiss credit card doesn't work in most French gas stations! That notwithstanding, France is a great place, don't miss it. However, if you ever need to buy (for example) a can of Coke, a pack of cigarettes, and a newspaper, just be aware that you are going to have to visit three separate shops to accomplish that task.

Ethanol doesn't seem to have caught on in Europe. It's big in North America because there are huge swaths of land available to grow the corn. In Europe, farms are not so big, and the farmers can make more money growing other stuff. I would not be too concerned at all about the ethanol.

Although Luxembourg does have cheap fuel, Switzerland has even cheaper fuel. Netherlands and the UK have the highest prices.
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  #4  
Old 25 Feb 2007
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Originally Posted by PanEuropean View Post
Hi John:
Although Luxembourg does have cheap fuel, Switzerland has even cheaper fuel. Netherlands and the UK have the highest prices.
Austria the cheapest AFAIK.

Lars
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  #5  
Old 25 Feb 2007
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You won't find anything lower than 95 in Europe, so you can just fill up anywhere. Some stations sell a 97 or 98 premium or super unleaded, which is a bit more expensive.

Full european prices canbe found here:
AA Roadwatch : European Petrol Prices

General tips and legal requirements:

The AA: European Driving

As others have said the only place where fuel availability can be a problem is rural france during the weekend. Most places are closed saturday afternoon and sunday, and if they have an automated pump it won't accept foreign credit cards. The large service stations on major routes will still be open, so make sure you fill up before heading onto the smaller roads.
Petrol quality is never a problem - most of the stations are operated by the major oil companies, eg Esso, BP, Elf, Fina, Repsol, etc
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  #6  
Old 25 Feb 2007
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Originally Posted by MarkLG View Post
You won't find anything lower than 95 in Europe, so you can just fill up anywhere. Some stations sell a 97 or 98 premium or super unleaded, which is a bit more expensive.

Full european prices canbe found here:
AA Roadwatch : European Petrol Prices

General tips and legal requirements:

The AA: European Driving

As others have said the only place where fuel availability can be a problem is rural france during the weekend. Most places are closed saturday afternoon and sunday, and if they have an automated pump it won't accept foreign credit cards. The large service stations on major routes will still be open, so make sure you fill up before heading onto the smaller roads.
Petrol quality is never a problem - most of the stations are operated by the major oil companies, eg Esso, BP, Elf, Fina, Repsol, etc
Just remembered the worst time to look for petrol, or anything , in France.... Aug 15th, some religious day :-) And don't ever break down that day :-)
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  #7  
Old 25 Feb 2007
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France

most fuel stations except those on major RN's and Autoroutes are closed on Sundays and holidays. On july 14th ( bastille day). Many little roads are closed at small towns and villages many do a big free firework displays on their municipal grounds often allowing camping free or very cheap. So check french holidays before planning a transit.

The weekday holidays ( fetes) can really catch you out as they dont often coincide with UK ones.

My advice is to fuel up sometime before your crossing, as it is often very busy near the entry points. This applies either into or out of france.
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  #8  
Old 4 Mar 2007
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Originally Posted by MarkLG View Post
You won't find anything lower than 95 in Europe...
Uh, I'm not so sure about that. I was not paying attention when I filled my VW Golf up with 91 octane in the Czech Republic two years ago - a mile or so down the road, the poor car started coughing, the CEL (Check Engine Light) came on, and the car went into "Limp Home" mode. I happened to have a VW diagnostic scan tool with me, so I scanned the engine controller, and found misfire problems on all cylinders.

Although it is possible that the Middle European countries may have phased out the really low octane gasoline by now, it is also possible that really low octane fuel may still be sold in countries where there are a lot of old Eastern Bloc cars that don't need higher octane. So, do pay attention to the octane number on the pump.

I think Mark's observation that "95 is the lowest you can find" is probably quite true for Western Europe.

Michael
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  #9  
Old 4 Mar 2007
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Prices June of 2006:

Germany (on the Autobahn): €1.414/liter for Super Plus 98

Northern Italy (Dolomites-Garda): €1.338/liter for 95 to as high as €1.522/liter for Shell V Power 100.

You'll find some gas stations in Italy are automated which means you slip a €10 note into the pump and it'll dispense €10 worth of gas. Larger towns and cities, that isn't an issue. So carry a bunch of €10 note with you.
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  #10  
Old 5 Mar 2007
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Thank you everyone for your information, especially MarkLG as I found the AA web site particularly useful for budgeting my 20,000+km travels throughout the EU and on lots of other road use issues
Cheers
John

Last edited by John-DownUnder; 15 Apr 2007 at 10:08.
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  #11  
Old 7 Mar 2007
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in General the further south and / or east you go, the cheaper the fuel gets ... starting at UK / NL which is the expensive part ... Croatia, Bosnia et al are all cheaper still (around 90 euro cents) . Russia is about 20 rubles a litre for 95 (60 euro cents a lire)

The big exception to this generalisation is Turkey ... where fuel is taxed to the max ... and is about EUR 1.50 a litre
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  #12  
Old 14 Apr 2007
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Originally Posted by MarkLG View Post
You won't find anything lower than 95 in Europe, so you can just fill up anywhere.
That's is not true - it depends on the country. For example, you won't be able to get anything lower than 95 on Corsica, you'll have quite some trouble in Italy and France. Yet every gas station in Germany, Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic and several other countries sells all of'em - 91, 95, 98 and in some cases 100.

PS: I find it quite amusing that you're asking this question... sounds like people outside of Europe think of us as uncivilized blobs
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  #13  
Old 15 Apr 2007
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Originally Posted by MJungowski View Post
PS: I find it quite amusing that you're asking this question... sounds like people outside of Europe think of us as uncivilized blobs
The basis for my original post was availability in out-of-the-way places on Sundays (e.g. France), use of plastic for payment, and wheter ethanol was a common additive. Some state governments here in Australia have legislated its progressive inclusion as an additive (much to my disgust). It can ruin the inner workings of bikes and cars not designed for it, especially some plastics. Honda Australia has said it will not guarantee warranty claims where ethanol in petrol causes problems.

So I never intended MJungowski (sorry) that my queries be taken as a slur on Europeans.
John
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  #14  
Old 16 Apr 2007
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John,

I plan to carry a small bottle of octane booster (STP power booster) for the eastern portion of my trip (Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary), so thats a reaonably good guarantee, should you get stuck somewhere that doesn't sell a high enough octane for your needs. Mind you, I'm riding a KLR650 this time around, so I reckon I could put diesel in there, and it would still plod along.

As for ethanol.. thats a new one on me.. I've never heard of it being added in European fuel. I brought my BMW R1150RT to rural France 2 years ago, and filled up in a couple of one-horse towns without paying too much attention to octane (as long as I avoided "gazole"- diesel) , with no noticeable ill effects, then or since, so I guess it was clean as well.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the issue with payment in late night (or unattended) fuel stations in France is down to using a credit card that doesn't have chip-and-pin (ie, if you try to use a card that just has the old magnetic stripe on the back).. France was one the first countries to introduce chip and pin credit cards wholesale, so their infrastructure tends not to accept the old-stylee cards. All new cards in the UK and Ireland (for example) are now chip and pin, so they should work. Not so sure about cards from other countries though.. I'm sure someone else can shed some light there.

Colm
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  #15  
Old 22 Apr 2007
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A friend of mine from Polan told me that some "local brand" gas stations in Poland may sell fuel of lesser quality, but then it's usualy at a lower price. Here in Denmark you might find fuel with 5% ethanol in it (Statoil stations) don't know about the rest of europe. It might be a coincidence but I had some trouble with a throtleslide geting stuck after using fuel with etanol in it, it happens with other fuel too (in cold and moist weather and it's an old bike...) , but more often when I used the ethanol fuel.
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