If, like me, you have a penchant for classic motorcycles and / or cars, you will know that most of them were designed in a time when petrol had no ethanol in it, but did have a small amount of lead. The lead was there to lubricate things like valve stems and other critical engine components. It improved fuel economy and the longevity of engines too.

Lucas Lead Replacer

Leaded petrol was banned in the UK in 2000, but in practice was being phased out since the 1980s when its terrible impact on public health became clear. Leaded fuel has been linked to heart disease, cancer, strokes and brain development problems in children, yet it has taken almost 100 years to rid the world of it.

Many old engines are fine without it, or at least they are for the mileages most classic vehicle owners cover.

That said, there are a number of ‘lead replacement’ products on the market; companies such as Redex and Lucas are but two. I came across a one litre bottle of Lucas Lead Replacer in local car accessory supplier AV Taylor and thought I’d give it a try. I have five bikes that were new in the early 70s, mid 60s and mainly the 50s.

The Lucas Lead Replacer one litre bottle treats 450 litres of unleaded and premium unleaded petrol. That works out at 10ml per gallon of petrol (1 gallon is around 4.5 litres = 100th of a bottle). Most petrol cans nowadays are 5 litres so you can always make it 15ml; it won’t do any harm.

There are many places that sell it; most seem to be around £12 a bottle at the time of writing. Buy it locally if you can and keep a shop or garage going…obviously not because of just the bottle you buy!

Does it make a difference? Well the bike seems to run better, but it will be Spring 2023 before I really get a chance to try it properly. Even if the performance and economy are unchanged, if the hot, oily bits last a bit longer…that will be enough for me.