We’ve all had that sinking feeling as our motorcycle starts to sputter unexpectedly, triggering a quick glance to the fuel gauge or low fuel light. Have you ever noticed how much quicker a bike seems to slow down when it runs out of gas compared to when you just chop the throttle? It probably has something to do with the complete lack of control you have over the throttle at this moment. Still, even in the best of circumstances, running out of gas on a bike is a pain. You’ll either have to push the bike if a station is in sight or go get a container of gas.

When we first read about Magic Tank, we thought the idea of a container of gas that is so non-flammable that it could be shipped through a parcel service was too good to be true. How could a fuel that is stable enough to pose no transport risk actually run an internal combustion engine?

How Do I Carry Extra Fuel On My Motorcycle?

Modern gasoline is made up of several components. One group of them is extremely volatile and is responsible for helping an engine start when it’s cold and/or acts as a solvent to prevent build-up in fuel systems. These components include volatile butanes, pentane, hexanes or heptanes which can be flammable, toxic, or both. Either way, transporting these in a sealed environment (like a car trunk) is not a good idea. The other problem with modern gasoline is that it will break down over time, as these more volatile components evaporate. Again, this does not bode well for transporting or storing for emergency use.

The folks who created Magic Tank set out to create an emergency fuel that will be stable for long-term storage, be less flammable (meaning less likely to explode or burn in storage), and still be capable of powering an internal combustion engine. The result is a fuel that, unlike gasoline, which has a flash point of approximately -40°F (the minimum temperature where it will catch fire if exposed to a spark or flame), has a flash point of 104°F, making it safer to transport and store.

The resulting Magic Tank product that is safe enough to be bought online and shipped or displayed in Target stores. Magic Tank has a claimed 10-year usable storage life and will, according to its manufacturer, start any four-stroke internal combustion gasoline engine – with one caveat that will be addressed in a minute. The emergency fuel has been certified by a variety of organizations. Magic Tanks has been tested and approved by the EPA and the DOT and will not harm catalytic converters. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has approved of Magic Tank and rated it “combustable” – as opposed to the “flammable” rating of gasoline.

Magic Tank even ships with a convenient paper funnel.

Magic Tank even ships with a convenient paper funnel.

We’ve had a sample of Magic Tank kicking around the subterranean garage of the MO Towers complex for a little under a year. We carried a half-gallon container on our 2015 Ultimate Sports-Adventure-Touring Shootout, and although we didn’t need it (like we did the Dynaplug tire repair kit and the MotoPumps Mini Pro Inflator), we knew that, if we ran out of gas just east of nowhere, we’d be able to get to a station. Well, that is, if the creators of Magic Tank were telling the truth. So, we decided to test a container-full.

When you’ve got a plan in place, running out of gas is kind of fun. The Spyder F3-T Limited cranked happily along at 80 mph until it began to suck wind. Once we were certain that it would absolutely would not start on the fumes in the tank, a container of Magic Tank was poured into the filler. Turning on the ignition and thumbing the starter resulted in the engine instantly chugging to life (well, after letting it sit for about 20 seconds so the fuel pump could charge the system). Performance was exactly the same as with regular fuel.

Still, we needed to test the caveat. Magic Tank stresses that the emergency fuel should be used on a warm engine because the components not included in the mix are partly responsible for cold engine starting. After sitting for an hour, the Spyder’s engine was still slightly warm to the touch, but it struggled to start with the Magic Tank. Finally, it grumpily settled into a rough idle, gradually smoothing out as the engine warmed. Once warmed up, it ran exactly as normal. So, we let it sit overnight. You can guess what happened – or didn’t – the next morning. No amount of cranking delivered even a single explosion. Pouring in fresh fuel from a gas can allowed the engine to start once it worked its way through the fuel lines.

Magic Tank delivers on its promise of starting a warm engine. Unfortunately, the size of the container might make it impractical for all riders to carry with them. Still, it should be considered by any rider who is venturing off into parts unknown. Motorcycles get very heavy when you have to push them.

While the $19.95 price for a half-gallon may put some people off, what you’re paying for is safety and long-term storage. As someone who has caught on fire from sliding through burning gasoline and luckily escaped unscathed (which is why E-i-C Duke calls me Fireball), this safety consideration isn’t as esoteric as it sounds. If you tour on your bike a couple times a year, the container can safely sit, neglected in your garage between trips while maintaining its functionality when you actually need it. To learn more about Magic Tank, visit the company’s website.

  • DickRuble

    Evans, had you paid attention in chemistry class you would know that butane is a gas..you don’t find it in gasoline. Ever wondered what the Octane number stood for? Hint, it has to do with the detonation the octane, liquid alkane, produces when ignited.
    Another thing; no car or motorcycle runs on “would not start on the fumes in the tank

    • Evans Brasfield

      Thanks for the tip, Dick.

      Still, I think you might want to check out this link about gasoline blending and butane:

      http://eprinc.org/2009/06/a-primer-on-gasoline-blending/

      • DickRuble

        Either butane is soluble in heavier alkanes (unlikely at 100F, but I don’t really know, maybe) or the mention in the article refers to trimethylbutane (also called triptane) which is a fuel additive and is actually a heptane, hence liquid.

        • Ted

          I’m proud of you DR. You actually admit to being wrong, like a real man. Unlike the trolls that would argue to hell freezes over, because they could never be wrong about anything. Experience has taught me that I am usually wrong. That’s what my wife says anyway. :-)

  • JMDonald

    Somehow while riding through the Mojave I ended up with a lot less fuel than I had anticipated. Twice. Luckily I was able to make it to a gas station. Lesson learned. Having an alternative backup like this is appealing. A friend of mine carries a one gallon can of gas with him just in case. This option apart from proper planning may be the better option.

  • Chuck Tate

    I have a one gallon can of gas strapped to my bike, and to prevent it from going bad I use it once in a while… Who would have thought?