The TCE Product Deep Dive is back with some killer information on a huge necessity for us racers and riders. We got the chance to chat with John Light of Evans Power Coolant, a company specializing in waterless coolant for the hardest working engines in motorsports. Give it a read and learn more about coolant, the Evans brand, and how we can keep our bikes running strong and cool!
Hey John! Tell us a bit about yourself and your role with Evans?
Hi TCE, before I start, I'd just like to say what a great program you've developed, there's really nothing like it out there.
I grew up in a motorcycle centered family, my parents ride and the extended family on my Mom's side have been into bikes since the 1920s or maybe earlier. I've got one of my Grandmother's bikes on display in the living room.
Evans is a family business; my father developed the first waterless coolant in the mid-1980s. I started working for the company in 2009 after racing motorcycles for over a decade and we came out with the Powersports Coolant in the fall of 2011. I run the Powersports Division at Evans.
Where did Evans get its start?
I remember a day back in the 1980s when my father was excited about finding that Propylene Glycol would work as a coolant. We were the first to use PG and all the non-toxic antifreeze brands grew out of that development. My father's partner at the time, Jack Evans, had a team that raced cars and Jack had designed a number of technologies for that industry like spin-on oil filters, oil pans, a device that would hold oil pressure in a bottle so it would be able to lubricate the turbo before a cold start, and other products. The company went through a number of name changes and structural reformations until it became Evans Cooling Systems, Inc in 1994.
What is one thing that separates Evans from other brands out there in the motorsports industry?
The easy answer is that nobody else has a waterless coolant, but I think what really sets us apart is the independent work that we do in development. There have been numerous times where we've questioned the established answers and found that the accepted knowledge is actually wrong. Recently we came out with a track legal water with corrosion protection and surface tension reduction. I know, the waterless guys are selling a half gallon of water, ironic huh? It's for pavement racing where no glycol is allowed. We received a recipe from a well respected chemist in the industry, but my father wasn't happy with how it blended and the test results so he went back and started the process at the beginning. Our TrackWater Coolant tests better for both corrosion and surface tension than anything else we've sent to the lab, in fact some of the well known brands do rather poorly. I think some companies out there just take development for granted.
Why is a waterless base to coolants so effective and beneficial for engines?
There are a lot of benefits, but the one thing that stands out is that our coolant doesn't make vapor. People will compare the heat transfer quality of water to glycol and say that water is clearly a better conductor, but that's a static viewpoint. Water boils and it expands over 1,200 times in size as a vapor. This huge expansion is great for running a steam engine, but it basically empties out a cooling passage. To be liquid cooled, an engine must have liquid flowing through it and waterless coolant stays liquid instead of boiling so it keeps functioning even at higher temperatures.
Why is coolant so important for racers and motorsports enthusiasts?
Coolant is actually more important than most people think, but all water-based antifreeze has pretty much the same performance parameters. The presence of water defines the performance in terms of boiling point, vapor pressure, freeze point and expansion, and corrosion. You can play a little with glycol to water ratio and corrosion inhibitors, but in the end the big picture is the same; antifreeze will boil and when it does you get hot spots and detonation. There's not a company out there that has a way to make a water-based antifreeze perform much differently from any other. The coolant is a critical component in a cooling system.
What are some common misconceptions about coolant that most people/riders have?
People tend to think that the steam coming out of the vent is a warning that they're getting too hot. Some people think that our coolant will just get hotter and hotter until the engine melts down. This is something we only hear from people who haven't used our coolant or who are invested in water-based technology. Your antifreeze will boil, create vapor in the head, and cause detonation before you see any steam. When you see steam, it's late in the process that leads to engine damage; the metal temperatures around the exhaust valves are already up by hundreds of degrees and the big difference in temperature between the intake and exhaust side can warp the head. Evans Coolant is able to continue moving heat out of the engine even if you see a higher coolant temperature. The temperature you see on a gauge is coolant, not metal temperature and the antifreeze must overheat before the engine can.
We've been doing a few write-ups on the fact that a lot more riders are sticking with their older bikes for a lot longer. What are some things that these riders can do to preserve their bikes and keep them running smooth from a coolant standpoint?
Today's four strokes are definitely more maintenance intensive than the smokers are, there's no way around that. Where our coolant really helps is on a bad day, say a mud race. When a bike overheats, there's a list of problems that can happen right then or can build up over time. Our racers tell us about racing in tough conditions and then finding that things are in good shape when they pull an engine down. On the preservation side, our coolant is really effective. It doesn't go bad over time and so a bike can sit for years without needing coolant maintenance. Magnesium is so reactive with water that it's a real challenge to keep it from getting eaten away. People with 1980s Hondas that have magnesium pump covers love our coolant; you just can't get those parts anymore. As our coolant doesn't go bad, you can just save it from one rebuild to the next; I pour it through a paint strainer before putting it back into the rebuilt engine.
One of the coolest things about Evans is that a lot of the support staff are dedicated riders and motorsports enthusiasts. Tell us a bit about the company culture at Evans.
We've been involved in racing from the start, it's really driven so much of the company's direction. My father built race cars back in the 50's and 60's, our new COO came from a large corporation and he ran their sponsorship program with the NHRA, almost all our staff at the distribution warehouse raced cars or have built muscle cars and hot rods, our Powersports Rep Chris has been racing at the events he attends since we hired him, I raced pavement and dirt bikes for 15 years, pretty much we're all motorheads.
We've seen a lot more riders in the pits (at all levels) using your products. How has the growth been and what have the reviews from riders been like?
We've been very successful in the racing community because performance is so important. Most of the people who start using Evans are doing it because a friend told them about it; our growth is almost all word of mouth. When you see a big team using our coolant like HRC Honda, AmPro Yamaha, UXC Polaris, factory Indian flat track, factory Beta, and so many others, it's because of the performance, not anything we're able to give them. The response has been so positive that it's really humbling.
What are some goals that the Evans company wants to achieve in the motorsports industry?
We need to reach the consumer better. People today are almost immune to advertising, they've heard so many wild claims. I want waterless coolant to become the norm (of course because we're selling it, but on a personal level, it frustrates me to see riders overheating when there's such an easy solution). I really want to get our sales to a point where we can put funds back into the industry. Racing is so expensive, but it can be such a great influence, especially at the youth level, I'd like to be able to help more with that.
What are some things that Evans has coming in the future?
We're working on some projects that may lead to production bikes coming out with our coolant in them. The Indian FTR750 flat track bike came off the line last year with our coolant in it and that has been a great experience. It really helped Travis Pastrana's bike survive the 106F day in Vegas and the guys at Roland Sands Design were great to work with. We'd work with any manufacturer, but I'd like to see the American production machines get out front with it. Co-branding with other companies in the coolant industry is a viable option.
Where can people find out more about Evans and stay up to date with all of your ventures and products?
Of course, our website is the first option, but our social media is so much more relevant with how quickly things move. Evans has partners around the world, so you'll find a lot of social pages, but I run the powersports sites here in the USA. If you message us there, you're coming directly to me. David, I really like the connection that your program has created between us, the fans, and the racers. A lot of the privateers you're helping have been using our coolant for years and the fact that people can support those riders by buying products through TCE is a great synergy. There's no single path to knowledge anymore and we're trying to be available across the board. The best source of knowledge may simply be asking the riders who use Evans.
Facebook: Evans Powersports Coolant
IG and Twitter: @evanspowersport
Tech and phone orders: (888) 990-2665
Stay tuned for more insights and details behind some of the raddest products in the pits!