The talking heads are ablaze with chatter of how rising gas prices are putting a crimp on America’s summer travel plans. What’s that you say? Not you? Your plans are intact because you ride a motorcycle? Hey, that’s a great start — but riding alone may not be all you can do to conserve. Believe it or not, even on a motorcycle there are plenty of ways to maximize your fuel economy, and minimize the amount you spend at the pump. Listed below is a sampling of methods any rider can use to keep from squandering valuable resources — and dollars. How do you save gas? Share your ideas with your fellow RoadBikers on our Facebook page.
1. If you use your bike primarily in-city, consider a smaller motorcycle, a scooter, or how about an electric vehicle? Respected brands like Zero and Brammo are now available from a variety of dealers, and their relatively low price and miniscule operating costs make them a great option for urban riders.
2. Low tire pressure creates an undue amount of drag on your bike. Check your tire pressure regularly, and maintain it to proper specs. Plus, you didn’t hear it from us, but some riders have been known to ever-so-slightly overinflate their tires for better mileage. Two or three psi should do it.
3. Wind resistance increases at a rate equal to the square of the speed at which you’re traveling; that means, at 75 mph your wind resistance is double what it is at 50 mph. That’s a mileage-killer. Make yourself as aerodynamic as possible; lessen drag by minimizing weight, luggage, and accessories.
4. “Giving it gas” means precisely that: more throttle means more fuel is leaving the gas tank. Avoid abrupt or heavy throttle-twisting. Instead, whenever possible, you should keep your revs in a low, steady range on the powerband. If you need more power, don’t throttle — downshift.
5. At the pump: fill up in the morning. Fuel is more condensed when it’s cold, so you’ll get more for your money; and avoid the station when the tanker is replenishing their supply — it could be stirring up years’ worth of sludge and condensation at the bottoms of the stations’ tanks.
6. Admittedly it’s not as much fun, but ride highways whenever possible. Flat stretches of road are much better for fuel efficiency than curvy, hilly, or in-city riding. And (unless you live in LA) you’re also more likely to avoid stop-and-go traffic, which is murder on fuel efficiency.
7. Make like Jimmie Johnson, and draft the guy in front of you, particularly larger vehicles; find the sweet spot behind a tractor-trailer (not too close, please), and let the wind pull you along. It will reduce strain on your engine, your wallet, and your right wrist.
8. Some estimates say that each 5 mph above 60 mph is like paying an additional $.10/gallon for gas. By increasing your highway cruising speed from 60 mph to 75 mph, you increase your fuel consumption by about 20 percent! Riding at 55 mph will garner 17 percent better mileage than at 70.
9. Check and replace air and fuel filters regularly. Change them more often than specified if you live in a dusty climate, ride on dirt or gravel roads, or if you ride off road for fun. Replacing a clogged air filter can improve your gas mileage by as much as 10 percent.
10. Combining errands saves time and gas — and money. Multiple short trips starting from a cold engine can use twice as much fuel as a multipurpose trip on a warmed-up one. With a little planning, you can avoid traffic, backtracking, and wear and tear on your ride. RB