Motorcycle Gas Mileage: How to Increase Your Fuel Economy
If you’re in search of better gas mileage, opting for a motorcycle instead of a car is already a great decision. Unless you’re comparing a supersport track bike and a hybrid smart car, it’s safe to say that just about any motorcycle will have better gas mileage than just about any passenger vehicle.
But if you ride a more fuel-hungry bike model, or you want to save even more on gas, there are some tips you can use to improve your motorcycle gas mileage. Below are seven tips and tricks for improving motorcycle gas mileage so you can reduce your carbon footprint and save a little extra at the pump.
1. Skip the fuel additives and fancy tricks.
First, a tip that will help you avoid being ripped off: There are fuel additives and other gadgets that say they’ll help improve your gas mileage. Unfortunately, almost none of them provide any noticeable benefit. A fuel conditioner can be useful if you’re storing your bike for a while, but it’s a waste of money in terms of gas mileage.
Instead, the most efficient ways of improving fuel economy are all about altering your riding behavior, style and kit. Fortunately, some of these things are stuff you should be doing anyway that will also help you ride more safely—so they’re a win-win all around.
2. Pick more efficient routes.
Surface streets and heavy traffic will kill your motorcycle gas mileage every time, which means that effective route planning is a big part of improving mileage. Opt for highways over surface streets when possible and check the traffic before you head out.
Spending time in stop-and-go traffic isn’t just bad for your gas mileage, either. It’s also a great way to get rear-ended by an inattentive driver, so avoid it whenever possible. If you ride with a group, it’s recommended to use a motorcycle communication system to make it easy to reroute your group around traffic jams when necessary.
3. Choose the right motorcycle for your environment.
Lugging a Honda Gold Wing around your urban neighborhood is a sure way to burn way more fuel than necessary. If most of your daily transportation needs involve short trips on surface streets, consider getting a small, nimble street bike that’s built for efficient transportation. The Honda Grom and Kawasaki Versys®-X 300 are both good choices for riders who want a fuel-efficient urban motorcycle.
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4. Smooth out your riding style.
Hard braking and acceleration will bring down your motorcycle gas mileage. Of course, most of us love laying down the throttle on a clear straightaway, but it’s going to eat through your gas much more quickly. Save the blast-offs for the times and roads that allow you to really appreciate it. Improving fundamentals such as use of the rear brake is also important for a smooth ride, so make sure you’ve mastered these techniques. It’ll make your ride safer, too.
5. Make sure your tires aren’t riding low.
Keeping your tires inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended PSI is an important part of improving motorcycle gas mileage. Underinflated tires can reduce a vehicle’s gas mileage, as well as causing uneven tire wear and hindering a motorcycle’s handling. For some riders, very slightly underinflating the tires is part of how to ride a motorcycle with a passenger, but under those circumstances, you should realize that riding two-up will hurt your gas mileage anyway.
It takes about two minutes to check your tire pressure, so make it a habit to perform a pressure check during your standard pre-ride motorcycle inspection. (You do do a pre-ride inspection, right?) You’ll find the recommended PSI both in your owner’s manual and (usually) printed on the outside of your motorcycle’s tires.
6. Choose your accessories carefully.
A lot of us love customizing our motorcycles with cool mods, but some of those mods can weigh you down when it comes to motorcycle gas mileage. Just about anything that makes the motorcycle heavier and/or less aerodynamic will negatively affect your motorcycle gas mileage. From panniers and saddlebags to the brawny exhausts many of us love so much, always consider the fuel efficiency tradeoff when adding mods to your motorcycle.
7. Keep your engine in great shape.
An improperly maintained engine has to work harder to keep the wheels turning, and that means less fuel efficiency. That’s why it’s crucial for every rider to keep key engine components like the chain clean and lubricated. Use high-quality fuel and commit to changing your motorcycle’s engine oil on the schedule that your bike’s manufacturer recommends.
Stay Linked Up with Motorcycle Communication Systems
To learn about the other maintenance that your motorcycle needs to keep running in top condition, see our ultimate guide to motorcycle maintenance. And before you get back on the road, don’t forget to check out our motorcycle intercom systems that can help keep you connected with your riding group—and your world.