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Please note: below is an article posted in the Baltimore Sun in 2001. I do NOT own or sell Diesel Harleys!

Harold says,"I built a diesel Harley Fat Boy in 2000 and have had many inquiries since so I started my own company to produce diesel scooters in 2004. I have developed a new "square tube" frame. There are pictures on the website. I want to create an awareness for the diesel motorcycle enthusiast. I am using 3 engine packages: 2 cylinder V-Twin 750 cc, 2 cylinder inline 500 cc and a 3 cylinder 700 cc inline.

.: Interview with Harold Benich :.

Inventor: Harold Benich shows off his soybean oil-burning diesel Harley-Davidson Fat Boy motorcycle at his home in Albion, Pa. Benich spent over two years and $15,000 to build the motorcycle from mail-order parts and an old diesel engine. It is believed to be the nation's first motorcycle to run entirely on soybean oil, according to the National Biodiesel Board in Jefferson City, Mo.

Fuel: Benich pours soybean oil into the fuel tank of his 100 mpg diesel motorcycle. Diesel engines can run on very clean vegetable oil, with no animal fats, and smell like french fries when running.

ALBION, Pa. - Harold Benich's favorite recipe calls for a couple of gallons of soybean oil.

It may sound greasy, but then again, it will take him 200 miles on his modified Harley-Davidson Fat Boy.

From mail-order parts and an old diesel engine, Benich has assembled what is believed to be the nation's first motorcycle that runs entirely on soybean oil, according to the National Biodiesel Board in Jefferson City, Mo.

"I'm just a goober who makes things in his garage. I'm a nobody," said Benich, 39. "But if you think about it, a lot of great ideas started in people's garages."

Trucks, cars and even a plane already run on food oils, but the motorcycle crowd may be reluctant to install diesel motors on their bikes as Benich has because they lack power.

Soldiers rode such bikes during the World Wars to save fuel, but since then they've gone the way of the Edsel, said Jenna Higgins, a spokeswoman for the Biodiesel Board, a trade group that promotes food oils as gasoline alternatives.

Still, a few other garage inventors are experimenting with food oils in motorcycles. In Holland, Mich., Hugh Gerhardt is trying to make custom bikes that would use one 12-gallon tank of soybean oil "to get from San Diego to Corpus Christi, Texas" - a trip of 1,200 miles.

Benich's bike already gets 100 miles per gallon, roars like a jackhammer and smells like a fresh batch of McDonald's fries.

"People wonder whether you have come to mow the lawn," said Benich, who runs the auto-body shop at the state prison in Albion, about 25 miles south of Erie.

He fashioned his bike over two years for $15,000 from Harley parts and an engine that was rescued from a construction site.

He admits that the oil-powered cycle won't accelerate like a factory-made Harley at speeds above 70 mph, and it costs about a third more to run - 4 cents a mile compared to 3 cents for a factory Fat Boy. But, he said, his fuel won't catch fire and is so clean "even the fish will eat it."

One longtime Harley-Davidson rider was skeptical that an oil-powered bike would ever be popular, even if the fuel someday cost less.

"To the average rider, the cost of fuel doesn't mean diddly," said John Wargo, owner of the Voodoo Lounge biker bar in Pittsburgh's warehouse district. "It's like, 'If you have to ask, then you can't afford it.' If you have a bike, you want to be a daredevil, and 70 mph is where most people just get going."

To be sure, the idea is not new. Inventor Rudolph Diesel ran the first diesel engines on peanut oil in the 1890s, and Erwin Rommel, the crafty German general, put cooking oil in tanks when they ran out of gas in the Sahara Desert during World War II.

Usually, though, food oils are combined with diesel fuel, rather than used pure, as Benich is doing. The best mix for an old engine is no more than one-fifth vegetable oil, said Joe Loveshe, a fuel salesman at Columbus Foods.

For Benich, the appeal is in trying something new.

"You ride a regular Fat Boy, you're just like everybody else. You ride this, and people stop you in the street," he said.

Copyright © 2001, The Baltimore Sun

More info: Bikes Using Harley Davidson Parts

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