Motorcycles are very fuel-efficient machines. When compared to cars, motorcycles are able to get 2 to 4 times the amount of kilometers on one liter of fuel. Large displacement motorcycles average about 18km/L to 25 km/L, while small-displacement motorcycles can go as high as 45 km/L in real-world testing. Despite this, racking up thousands of kilometers on the saddle, however, can sometimes be quite a pinch on the wallet.
In the motorcycle community, there is often a lot of hearsay on what exactly can improve fuel economy. Some recommend using specific types of engine oils, others recommend specific service procedures, while a few might swear by certain rider habits. To clear the room of any vagueness on this important topic, we’ve put together a list of 7 guaranteed ways to improve your fuel economy, in small or large ways. Here’s what you can do to improve your motorcycle’s fuel efficiency.
Inflate your tires
Your motorcycle tire is one of the largest factors to how efficient your motorcycle can perform. When a tire is underinflated, there is a larger amount of rubber that meets the ground, which creates a larger amount of rolling resistance – your engine will have to work harder to bring you up to speed because of the added friction.
By adding air pressure to your tires, you are decreasing the amount of rubber that hits the ground, which benefits fuel economy. Remember to inflate your tires to the recommended specification of the owner’s manual. If you decide to inflate your tires beyond this, remember to never go beyond 2 to 3 psi above the recommendation in order to avoid severe loss of grip.
Clean and lubricate your chain
Friction is the enemy of fuel economy – this is why inflating your tires will benefit your mileage. Another way to decrease friction among the moving parts of your motorcycle is to clean and lubricate your chain. Mud, dirt, and dust particles that are stuck to your chain can cause a large amount of unneeded friction to be generated, which means that your engine will have to pump out more power just to send the same amount of force to the rear tire. By cleaning and lubricating your chain, you are ensuring that your drivetrain can move freely and smoothly, which will minimize drivetrain power loss and improve your fuel economy.
Use fresh fluids
If you thought changing your engine, coolant, and transmission oil was only for preventive maintenance, you will be happy to know that these changes will also be able to improve fuel economy. Fresh oils provide optimal lubrication for the engine and transmission, and will allow your engine to spin smoothly without unnecessary friction. Fresh coolant, on the other hand, is able to keep your engine in it’s optimal operating temperature, which will make the combustion process more efficient. All of these changes will help in improving your fuel economy by keeping your engine in tip-top shape for your next ride out.
Use the recommended fuel
Contrary to popular opinion, high octane fuels don’t always provide more power. In fact, using fuel with octane that is above the recommended octane level of your owner’s manual can result in poor fuel economy. High octane fuels are designed to create cooler combustion temperatures when compared to low octane fuels – if your combustion temperature is too cool, you will suffer from poor fuel economy. While high octane gas may be good for high performance engines, most motorcycles in the market don’t actually benefit from using the most premium fuel you can find. Stick to the recommended fuel on the owner’s manual and you should be able to maintain optimal fuel economy.
Clean the fuel system
When the fuel system performs poorly, combustion quality suffers and so does your fuel economy. Electronic fuel injected (EFI) motorcycles can benefit from a full cleaning of the fuel injectors, which will optimize fuel spray and fuel delivery. Carbureted motorcycles, on the other hand, can benefit from a full carburetor cleaning service and a proper tune right after. By doing so, fuel economy is improved because fuel delivery is brought back to ideal specifications.
Replace your air filter
A dirty air filter will produce similar results to a dirty fuel system – poor combustion resulting in poor fuel economy. Inspect your air filter to assess if lightly cleaning with a brush or a full replacement will be necessary. Regardless of the option chosen, a fresh air filter will allow your motorcycle to combust an optimal ratio and volume of air and fuel, which will result in better power and better fuel economy.
The last tip on our list would be to reduce the amount of weight your motorcycle carries. A few additional pounds of unnecessary luggage may not seem like much for a short ride, but will surely have an effect on your fuel economy when carried over hundreds of kilometers. Reducing weight will reduce the amount of power required to accelerate, and will therefore use less fuel and improve fuel economy. Riders looking to shave off a bit of weight can start with unneeded accessories, lighter tires, and unnecessary luggage.