There are multiple ways to improve your motorcycle gas mileage. Interestingly enough, saving yourself a few bucks in fuel costs isn’t the only benefit of doing so. In this article I summarize the reasons WHY you should care about your motorcycle mpg, and HOW you can lower it with some nifty tips for both driving around, and taking care of your bike.
Why care about your motorcycle gas mileage?
Improving your motorcycle MPG has quite a few benefits. Aside from the very obvious fuel expenses, there are three more major upsides to lowering your motorcycle gas mileage.
It’s better for nature
Firstly, keeping your motorcycle gas mileage in check is good for the environment. Personally, I like riding through nature a lot more than through cities, and I doubt many people will say the opposite. Together we can at least make an effort to protect the nature we love as much as possible. One way is by reducing your motorcycle fuel consumption.
It’s better for your motorcycle
Secondly, if you improve your motorcycle gas mileage you will also improve the miles you will get out of your bike. Almost all the things that are bad for your fuel consumption are also bad for your motorcycle. Wasted fuel = unnecessary strain on your bike. Besides that, most of what you can do to improve your MPG is good for your motorcycle in various ways anyway.
It’s better for your health
Lastly, improving your MPG is good for your health. This might sound a bit far-fetched, but it really isn’t. All the factors that go into improving your motorcycle fuel efficiency will either make you drive safer, or it will make your motorcycle perform more efficiently. And efficient motorcycles are easier to handle. Of course, the difference is just a split second, but at high speeds, a split second can make quite a difference.
How to drive your motorcycle more fuel efficiently
Your driving style (and route) has a major influence on your gas mileage. Even when on the same bike, some people need just over half the amount of petrol others use. Although this is, of course, an extreme example, awareness of these factors can for most people reduce their motorcycle MPG by 10% or more.
Traffic jams are pretty bad
Seriously. Besides being extremely annoying, they cost so much petrol. If possible, always avoid traffic jams. Even a longer route will often use less fuel than a shorter route with a traffic jam.
If you must go through a traffic jam, don’t try riding in between the lanes (if you are in the USA). Although it is legal in California (and all of Europe and Asia), it is illegal in all the other states. To make it worse, most car drivers think it is illegal in California as well, just like quite some cops. Best case scenario you will just create a major hassle for yourself.
What you should do is stay in your lane and accelerate and decelerate slowly. Simply try to never use your brake in a traffic jam. That way you will both reduce the fuel cost and stay as safe as you can possibly be.
Hills should be avoided as well
If you are regularly driving a route with a lot of hills, it might be worth it to look for some alternatives. Frequently going up and down can decrease your miles per gallon quite a bit. If you have no alternatives, then it is still possible to adapt to driving through hills a bit.
Try to drive as smooth as possible. The best way to go downhill is by simply waiting and not spending any fuel at all. the slope isn’t steep enough to get you up to a decent speed, accelerate a bit, but not much. As for when driving up a slope, try to go a bit slower than you would on a flat road. Not only is it safer, but the most fuel efficient speed is lower when driving through hills than when riding on a flat road.
Switch to higher gears when possible
Higher gears improve your motorcycle gas mileage. A lot of bikers like staying in lower gears, whether it is because of the sound or the feel. But when it comes to gas mileage, it is often better to have a moderate RPM in a higher gear than a high RPM in a lower gear. Especially on higher speeds can this make a big difference.
The two most important factors here are braking as rarely as possible, and keeping your speed at a normal steady pace. When accelerating it also helps to accelerate normally instead of as fast as possible, but the difference in fuel consumption isn’t that big.
It all comes down to driving smoothly. Don’t wobble around, instead, flow over the road like you are the most experienced rider on earth. As if you’ve been riding for ages and ages. Not only does it decrease your fuel consumption, it is also very good for your bike.
How to improve your motorcycle for better gas mileage
Besides changing your driving style for the better, there is still a lot more you can do in order to improve your motorcycle MPG. Quite a few parts of your motorcycle have an impact on your gas mileage, and the impact can be substantial.
Keep your tire pressure up
Your tire pressure directly influences your gas mileage. Besides the big benefit of well-pressured tires when it comes to fuel consumption, it also makes your tires last longer. And you will have better control over your bike, which can make the difference between an accident and no accident. Seriously, keep your tire pressure up. Don’t be lazy.
Besides the tire pressure, using the best motorcycle tires available can make quite a difference as well. Which tires are best for your motorcycle depends mainly on your model, but usually, the more expensive tires earn themselves back in extra miles.
Keep your engine clean
Dirty engines will lead to more fuel being wasted while driving. The best way to keep your engines clean is by changing your motorcycle oil on time, and by using high-quality motorcycle oil made for your motorcycle.
One thing to keep in mind when changing your motorcycle oil is whether you should use 10w40 or 20w50 oil. If your motorcycle works fine with either, the 10w40 will improve your gas mileage a bit.
Take care of your motorcycle chain
Your motorcycle chain delivers the power of the engine to the wheels. Because of that, the forces it has to endure are very high. Even the best motorcycle chains stretch out slightly when used for a long time.
The reason that this is important is because stretched motorcycle chains cause more friction, which is a useless loss of energy. Increased friction then leads to a worse gas mileage.
Aside from the friction, the type of motorcycle chain also has an impact on your MPG. Motorcycle chains usually come in 520 and 530 variants, and both fit on most motorcycles. When it comes to fuel economy, the 530 is the better of the two.
Overall it may seem as if a chain wouldn’t matter much, but in the end, it can still matter a percent, depending on your motorcycle. Basically free money savings!
Also, make sure you regularly clean and lube your chain. While the impact on your MPG is pretty minor, it will make sure the motorcycle chain will last a lot longer. We reviewed some chain lubes in our best motorcycle chain lube guide.
Aerodynamics become more important the faster you go. Because the drag from air resistance scales quadratically with speed, especially at higher speeds it matters a lot.
The biggest impact on your air resistance is most likely the type of helmet you wear. If you want to drive fast, wear a full face helmet. You should be wearing a full face helmet anyway because of its greatly improved safety, but even just for your fuel consumption, it is worth wearing one. If you currently don’t have a helmet or are using a cheap half-face helmet, get a good full face helmet as soon as possible.
Secondly, get rid of random things attached to your bike. Phone mounts, GPS mounts, spare honks, and whatever else some people put on their motorcycles these days are all fine. As long as you use them that is. If you are driving around with an old phone mount from 5 years ago, you’re paying for it in extra petrol. And that’s just a waste.