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Many people start riding motorcycles because they are much more fuel efficient than other vehicles. Because motorcycles are much smaller, it doesn’t take much fuel to power them up and take them to wherever you need to go.
Sometimes, a motorcycle can get poor gas mileage. This is very frustrating. That’s one of the biggest pros of having a motorcycle in the first place, so bad gas mileage on a vehicle like this almost makes the ride seem pointless.
Why does my motorcycle get bad gas mileage There are many reasons that could cause a motorcycle to get bad gas mileage, but the most common and obvious reasons could be that it’s running rich, there is a gas leak, the brakes are too tight, continuous high revs, and mostly riding your motorcycle on city roads rather than highways or freeways.
Though motorcycles are a little more simple compared to other vehicles, that doesn’t mean they’re immune to mechanical issues such as poor gas mileage. I’ve run into this problem many times myself and have been able to fix it through these troubleshooting skills I’ve learned.
Bad Gas Mileage
It is possible for a motorcycle to have poor gas mileage because it is running high. This means that your fuel delivery system is delivering too many gas and not enough oxygen to the engine’s combustion chamber. Your motorcycle could end up wasting a lot of fuel.
If you suspect that your motorcycle is running hot, there are a few things you can do. An engine running rich could cause your motorcycle to sputter, backfire, or run poorly. Another sign is a strong odor of gas when the engine is running, an overheated engine, and gas being spewed from the exhaust pipes.
A motorcycle that is running in this manner could have many causes. There could be sticking floats in your carburetor, stuck throttle needles, or defective spark plugs. My other article explains how to fix a motorcycle that is running rich.
If you know your motorcycle isn’t running rich but is still getting poor gas mileage, you’ll want to check for any gas leaks. Gas leaks can be a little tricky to detect because some of them only happen while the motorcycle is on and you’re not necessarily paying attention to it.
Motorcycles with older models can suffer from gas leaks. Gas leaks usually happen when a fuel line isn’t on tight enough or is brittle or when there is a faulty gasket somewhere in the carburetor.
Also, don’t discount the possibility of a small pin-hole that may have formed in the gas tank due to rust. Take your bike out for a ride and turn it on. If you smell gas or see any leaks, take a look around. Click here to view my complete list on why a motorcycle may be leaking.
A tight set of brakes could be another reason your motorcycle is getting poor mileage. Although it may not be common, if you’ve recently replaced brake pads or altered the braking system and you are experiencing poor gas mileage, you should check the brakes again.
If the brakes are too tight, that’s putting a lot of back force on the engine which in turn has to work harder to get up to speed which uses more gas. It is easy to tell if your problem is by going on a motorcycle ride, getting up to speed and then letting go of the throttle. There shouldn’t be much of a lag or resistance.
Pay attention to the way you ride your motorcycle. You can get low gas mileage by revving your motorcycle at high speeds. If you like to show off and rev your motorcycle multiple times during your ride, you may want to back off a bit if you’re wanting to save some money on gas.
You can also cause high revs by changing the gears. Shifting gears too late means you’re waiting for a high RPM to shift and that can cause bad gas mileage. You can try shifting gears at lower RPM to see how your bike reacts.
Poor gas mileage is caused by city driving. Motorcycles achieve optimal mileage on freeways or highways. They can travel between 50-60 miles an hour and don’t have to stop often. Driving on city roads can greatly diminish your mileage because you’re constantly stopping and going at stop signs and red lights.
The Average Gas Mileage A Motorbike Should Get
Your understanding of the gas mileage that your motorcycle should get is key to determining if your motorcycle gets good gas mileage. A motorcycle averages between 35-40 mpg.
It’s no wonder people resort to motorcycles for transportation with mileage like that. Anything less than that could simply mean that’s normal for the type of motorcycle you have and vice versa. There could be an underlying issue.
Motorbikes typically average 35-40 mpg. Touring motorcycles, which are larger than regular bikes, will have worse gas mileage. This is because they have more equipment to make the rider more comfortable.
Tips for Increasing Gas Mileage
You can save some money on fuel by fixing any issues that could be causing poor gas mileage.
It’s always a good idea to do regular maintenance on your motorcycle. This maintenance could include regular oil changes or checking the tire pressure at regular intervals. Maintaining engine health will result in better mileage.
Your mileage can be improved by regularly checking your tire PSI. Having too low of a tire pressure means there’s more surface area touching the road which can lead to lagging. See my article on the frequency you should have your motorcycle serviced.
High quality gas can also improve your gas mileage. It may seem like you’re defeating the purpose of good gas mileage by getting the “expensive” Gas is expensive, but you will save a lot over time.
It is true that some more expensive gas stations, such as Techron, have additives that increase the engine’s performance. And when the engine improves it’s performance, that means you get better gas mileage.
You can also be as aerodynamic and agile as you possibly can. This allows the wind to have a smaller chance of fighting against the motorcycle. If there are any heavy accessories on your motorcycle that you don’t need, think about taking those off. A full-face helmet, which is more aerodynamic, can be a good option to increase gas mileage.
How to Calculate Motorcycle MPG
Low gas mileage on a motorcycle usually doesn’t require an equation to figure it out. If something is going on with your motorcycle, you’ll likely be able to tell because of how much more frequently you’ll need to fill up.
However, it is always good to have something to trust in case your mileage starts to drop. You can calculate your gas mileage with a simple, but trustable formula.
The equation goes like this: miles driven ÷ gallons fueled = gas mileage. For example, if you drove 130 miles since your last fill-up and you put in 3.8 gallons of gas into your tank, your gas mileage would be about 34.2 miles per gallon (130÷3.8=34.2).
This only works if you’re aware of how many miles you ride between filling up your tank. If this is something you’d like to consistently keep track of (which I recommend), carry a little notebook around with you and fill it out every time you go to a gas station. This is the best method to find out if your motorcycle is low on mileage.