On my recent trip to the Lake District I had breakfast in The Filling Station cafe. It’s a lovely little cafe with nice food and a classic soft rock playlist that could shock you.

  • Jack and Diane(John C-M)
  • Jump (Van Halen)
  • New Sensation (Inxs)
  • I come from a land down under (Men at work)
  • Stuck with you (Huey Lewis and the news)
  • Alive and kicking (simple minds)
  • Manic Monday (the bangles)
  • I died in your arms tonight (the cutting crew)

At that point I stopped recording what played. It’s almost the same content as my Hits 4 album from 1986. There is also Now That’s What I Call Music 6. These were my first foray into compilation albums. I expect I recorded them onto tape to listen to on a “walkman”.

So, in the cafe they have a free motorbike magazine and as an ex-biker I perused this rather than spend time staring at the mess and disaster on my phone twitter account. Nothing in the magazine was a particular surprise, it looks as though bike technology has moved on quite a bit since my 2001 Super Blackbird and bikes now seem pretty expensive. They are definitely a middle-class weekend thing. It’s not sensible to have one that is your only form of transport as mine was. Racking up over 12,000 miles a year on a motorbike is expensive in terms of servicing, tyres and depreciation. I digress.

So, in this magazine I spotted an advert for TankChip. It struck me as bullshit almost straight away but I am willing to see what evidence there is. Here’s the advert:

TankChip Bullshit
TankChip Bullshit

The advert seems to claim that by adding this device to the petrol tank you get more power, performance and acceleration along with an improvement in economy. Now these are some pretty impressive claims. I mean, a device that is cheap and can be added to any petrol tank and improves most characteristics of your engine? It’s almost as if it worked then manufacturers would be adding it to your tank anyway. It’d be a pretty impressive device. IF IT WORKED.

It doesn’t.

On the web page about the technology involved there are zero specific claims about the tankchip. There are plenty of claims and sciency sounding things but not one single claim about the chip itself. go and read it and see if it actually says anything about the chip. There are no testable claims.

So, here’s what happens. You see this advert, believe it, and purchase a crappy piece of plastic. Then you put it in your tank. From that point onward you are pre-disposed to see an improvement. You have paid money. You expect it to work. It will work, in your observation. What happens in reality is that it doesn’t work.

It’s like buying a nice wine. You look at the bottles and decide which one will taste nice. Then you pay plenty of money for that and, surprise!, it tastes nice. More expensive wines taste better than cheap ones. Expensive TVs look better than cheap ones because you are bought in to them.

So, riding your motorbike you expect results and so, unconsciously, drive a little more restrained but also it’ll feel like you are accelerating at a better rate, your engine will feel smoother, because you expect it to. You end up believing that this tankchip has made a difference when in reality nothing has changed. Expectation is a powerful thing.

Another clue that this is a scam is that they offer a money back guarantee. So, you buy this thing. Two things probably happen. You convince yourself it does work or you decide it doesn’t work but either forget about it or are a bit embarrassed you bought it in the first place. Either way, it’s quite likely you won’t bother to get your money back.

I have emailed the company for some information about the testing they performed and here is the response.

Can send you a some extracts from recent tank.chip customer emails when in the office.
As far as testing documents I’m not sure what you are looking for exactly.

So, I explained what I wanted. Testimonials don’t tell me shit. People’s thoughts are the worst way of collecting data because of all the biases of the human brain! That’s why we have science.

Since adding a tank.chip to my Royal Enfield 500 Bullet, performance wise it is more responsive and most importantly the engine has much less vibration at speed, which can be an annoyance when riding a single cylinder retro machine. I don’t know what or how it does it, but wow it sure does. An excellent product.
Barry H, Lincolnshire

I have purchased a tank chip, it seemed a small price to gamble! I am pleasantly surprised. Touring Wales on my Street Triple R ABS my average mpg has gone from its usual 56-58 mpg (at touring speeds) to 64.4 mpg (readout from the dash). That gives me at least an extra 20 miles from my 3gallon tank. Many thanks for a product that really works.
Clive T-B, Essex

Here’s what I asked for:

I was after a more serious test, such as some dyno testing or third party test of the product. Maybe something by a magazine?

Here’s the response I got back. It is a bank holiday weekend here so I expected to wait a little while:

Fast Bikes were setting up a dyno test but not heard anything.
Quite a few bike dealers and tuners repeat buy so I guess they have tested.
We won’t send out our data just yet for a number of reasons but will put something on line in the coming months.

I’m happy to wait for the details and if they get sent to me I will amend this communication. I doubt that any serious testing of this device will give any information or evidence that it works. If it did, then all manufacturers would already fit it. I did see one thread that it may actually include some lead which used to be added to petrol in the olden days to help with combustion and reduce “pinking”. Then we knew that lead poisoned people and campaigners worked to get it removed from petrol.

This device is very similar to the fuel magnets my father gave me about 13 years ago and they secured my descent into skepticism and you can read about that in this communication from six years ago!