Tips for Maximizing Your Motorcycle’s Fuel Efficiency

Jake Robison - November 17, 2021

People ride motorcycles for numerous reasons. One of the most popular is their power to provide effective stress relief. It’s no secret that enjoying the open road and the feel of the wind on your face gives you a level of freedom to which standard passenger vehicles can’t compare. Reduced maintenance needs and expenses and cheaper insurance are a couple of additional noteworthy benefits.


Of course, the improved gas mileage of motorcycles over vehicles with at least four wheels can’t be ignored, either. Bikes certainly get better fuel economy than cars, trucks, and SUVs. Having said that, if you’re using your motorcycle to help save money on gas, you can maximize this benefit by following a few simple tips.


Improve Your Aerodynamics


One of the most significant factors that can detract from even the most fuel-efficient motorcycle is aerodynamics. Bikes are naturally built to be streamlined, but not all of them are created equally. At the same time, some added features can greatly reduce your fuel efficiency. Even something as simple and sometimes necessary as a windscreen will increase drag and cause you to use more fuel on the road.


Saddlebags can decrease your miles per gallon as well. This is especially true of those that are big and bulky. They tend to catch the wind and hold you back a bit. Though saddlebags are a necessity for keeping all your tools and accessories close at hand while riding, consider equipping your bike with smaller, lighter, more streamlined versions. If you don’t necessarily need the windscreen, there’s no harm in removing it. Both those measures can improve your gas mileage considerably.


Lighten the Load


Weight will definitely affect motorcycle fuel economy, too. Motorcycles are designed to carry specific amounts of weight depending on the size of their engine and other aspects. Though the weight of the bike itself factors into the equation, other variables can make a difference as well.


Accessories add weight to your bike, so it’s important to either keep those at a minimum or stick with lightweight options that don’t force your motorcycle to carry any more than necessary. Your weight and that of your passengers affect gas mileage as well. Be sure you understand just how much weight the bike can handle before loading it down. Doing so will not only give you better fuel economy but protect your bike and all its components. It’ll help keep you safer on the road as well.


If your passengers, gear, and other accessories place too much strain on the bike you have, consider upgrading to a larger model with a more powerful engine. Though larger bikes weigh more and bigger engines consume more fuel, you may find that upgrading can save you more money at the pump in the long run. Having a bike that’s capable of handling the load you place on it will essentially balance the scales.


Keep up with Routine Maintenance


Maintenance is the key to efficiency with any type of vehicle, and motorcycles certainly aren’t exceptions to the rule. Keeping the oil, filters, spark plugs, and other components in good condition and changing them out as needed will go a long way toward getting the best gas mileage from a motorcycle. Make sure the spark plugs are set to the proper gap and all the moving parts are in good repair, too.


Routine maintenance will undoubtedly help you get better gas mileage from your bike. It’ll also improve its performance to help you get more enjoyment out of every trip. At the same time, it’ll make your bike and all its components last longer, so you’ll get the most use and life out of your investment.


Pay Attention to the Tires


Your bike’s tires are also an essential factor in safety and fuel economy. Adequate air pressure will boost your gas mileage. When the tires aren’t properly inflated, they basically flatten out. That means they’re less aerodynamic, and they create more drag than when they’re filled to the correct PSI. In turn, they’ll detract from your fuel economy.


Be sure your tires are in good shape as well. Don’t ride them until they’re slick or the wires are showing. Replacing the tires is an extra expense, but it’ll save you a great deal of money in the long run. Having good, properly inflated tires will also help keep you safer and reduce the risk of a blowout. Blowouts are dangerous in any type of vehicle, but they can be particularly hazardous when you’re on a motorcycle.


If you’ve never experienced a situation like that on a motorcycle, rest assured it’s not a pleasant one. Keeping the bike under control is a hurdle in its own right. If it goes down, feeling your body rolling and sliding across the pavement is traumatic from both a physical and mental perspective.


Modify Your Riding Habits


Several common riding habits can negatively affect fuel economy on a motorcycle. While the need to rev up when taking off is a natural part of the riding experience, try to keep it at a minimum. Accelerating relatively slowly and gently will use less gas. Try not to over-ride the clutch, too. Staying on the clutch too much when you’re riding consumes more fuel than most people realize.


You may also need to alter the way you change gears. Don’t draw out the process more than you have to no matter how nice it sounds when you’re breezing through traffic or careening along a curvy mountain road. If you’re heading into a steep incline, pick up speed beforehand rather than waiting until the bike is struggling in the middle of the uphill climb. Switch gears smoothly and quickly and at the right times to help reduce the amount of fuel you’ll use when doing so. This will also help extend the life of the engine and other components.


Picking up speed is an incredible feeling when you’re on a bike, but that, too, can detract from a motorcycle’s fuel efficiency. Remember, the faster you go, the more wind resistance you’ll create. Sometimes, you’ve got to give in to the need for speed. Still, it’s important to keep that aspect in moderation for your own safety as well as your fuel economy. Try to maintain a constant speed when possible, and let the lay of the land work with you rather than against you.


Change Your Approach to Refueling


Many people fail to realize the importance of not over-filling a fuel tank. Instinct generally tells us to try to cram every possible drop of fuel into the tank while we’re at the pump, but this isn’t necessarily a good idea. Fuel will expand in your tank while you’re riding and as the bike gets hotter. This can actually hamper fuel economy with even the most fuel-efficient motorcycles.


Consider using a higher grade of fuel as well. It’s more expensive, so it may not feel like you’re saving anything at the pump. Still, high-grade fuel is a bit more refined, and it poses less risk of getting trash or other potentially harmful substances in your fuel tank. It’ll help prevent detrimental buildup in your engine as well. Of course, high-grade fuel tends to provide better gas mileage overall than chapter alternatives. Switching to a high-quality of fuel will ultimately save you money all around.


Try not to let the fuel level in the tank get too low, either. No matter what type of fuel you use or how well you maintain your bike, trash and other types of sediment are bound to accumulate at the bottom of the tank. When you’re essentially running on fumes, all that debris will make its way to the fuel filter.


In turn, it may clog the filter and greatly detract from the bike’s fuel efficiency and performance. Using fuel additives can help keep your injectors or carburetor clean and give you a nice efficiency boost as well.


Choose Your Routes Carefully


We’ve already pointed out that how you ride can significantly impact your fuel economy for better or worse. Keep in mind, where you ride is equally important. Stop-and-go traffic is notorious for consuming massive amounts of fuel and increasing wear and tear on your bike.


On the other hand, the open road can have the opposite effect. Though you may have to battle traffic jams to get out of the city in the first place, taking the highway and less crowded back roads as much as possible can take you farther on less fuel.


Getting the Most for Your Money at the Pump


Being able to save money on gas is one of the most well-known benefits of owning a motorcycle. Fuel economy varies from one brand and model to the next, so choosing the right bike from the beginning can help you take advantage of this aspect. Of course, several additional measures will allow you to make the most of every fill-up.


Alter the way you ride as well as the way you refuel. Keep up with routine maintenance, and don’t overlook the importance of tire condition and proper inflation. Don’t overload the bike, and try to keep it as streamlined as possible. All these tips can help you save even more on fuel without having to sacrifice all those much-needed road trips.



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