Wondering how far can a motorcycle go on a tank of gas? Below we have prepared a list of the factors that influence fuel consumption, the formula that you can use to calculate the average miles per gallon of your bike, as well as additional tips on how to improve fuel economy.
Mileage can vary
It is hard to tell how far a motorcycle can go on a full tank since there are many factors to consider. The average bike can go anywhere between 120 to 200 miles on a tank of gas depending on the tank size, riding style, engine size, fuel habits, and more.
If you want to calculate the average miles per gallon you can expect to get from your motorcycle, you should start with a full tank. Next, you should set the odometer to zero or write down the miles on the main odometer, and ride the bike normally until the tank is empty. Fill the tank again and write down how many gallons it took to fill it up.
Next, take the number of miles you have ridden and divide it by the number of gallons it took to fill the tank. This should get your bike’s average miles per gallon. For example, if you’ve traveled 150 miles on a 4.2-gallon tank, this means that your bike has a fuel consumption of around 47,6mpg. If you want to get a more accurate number, you should repeat the steps 3 to 4 times.
To make it easier for you to get an idea of what you can expect from your bike, as well as the ways that you can use to improve motorcycle fuel economy, below, we will explore all the factors that can influence your motorcycle mileage.
The size of the tank on your motorcycle is the primary factor that influences mileage since, generally, the larger it is, the more miles you’ll get out of it. With a 2.1 gallon tank, most motorcycles can go for an average of 110 miles, give or take. A 4.6-gallon tank can take you twice the distance, namely over 200 miles.
There are also motorcycles designed specifically for long-distance rides, and they come with larger tanks of 6 gallons or more. These can take you as long as 300-400 miles depending on factors such as engine size, the weight of the passenger(s), and the riding style.
What’s more, most bikes also come with a reserve tank that can expand the mileage to give you enough time to find a gas station. The reserve tank comes with a switch that needs to be turned on to allow the fuel to be used by the motorcycle.
However, don’t expect to get a lot of mileage out of the reserve tank since most carry enough fuel to take you an extra 10 to 20 miles. It is not a lot, but it is enough for you to find a gas station. Before going on a trip, you should try to look up the capacity of your reserve tank so that you can know how long you can expect the bike to travel on it.
The next factor that determines the distance that your motorcycle can cover on a tank of gas is the size of the engine. Just as is the case with cars, the bigger that the engine on your bike is, the more gas it will use.
However, engine size is less of an issue since most manufacturers equip their bikes with the right fuel tank capacity needed to accommodate the size of the engine. We can take, for example, one of the biggest motorcycle engines available in the Triumph Rocket III Roadster, which boasts a huge 2,294cc engine.
Triumph has taken this into account and has equipped the Roadster with a 6.3-gallon gas tank. This allows the bike to have a fuel consumption of around 35mpg, which translates into roughly 220 miles on a full tank. Considering the size of the engine, these numbers are very good.
However, if we take a look at motorcycles that come equipped with smaller engines, such as the Kawasaki Ninja 300, which comes fitted with a 296cc engine, the numbers are even more impressive. This bike has a 4.3-gallon gas tank, but the smaller engine tank allows it to achieve an average fuel consumption of around 75mpg.
This means that with the Kawasaki Ninja 300, you can easily travel over 300 miles before you need to fill up. Thus, if you’re looking for a motorcycle that’s built for long-distance travel, you’ll need to keep both the tank size and the engine size in mind.
Just because a bike has a bigger tank than the other, it doesn’t mean that it will deliver better mileage if it has a larger engine powering it.
The way you ride your bike can influence the mileage since if you ride aggressively, at high speed, this can lower the miles per gallon considerably by as much as 50%. As such, you will need to consider that if you do a lot of fast and aggressive riding, your bike’s fuel efficiency will go down.
Not every ride is a race, and riding smoothly and keeping the RPMs low will help increase the fuel economy of your bike. If you want to get more miles out of your tank, you should avoid revving the engine when it is not necessary and only downshift when you have to.
Equipping yourself with the right riding gear can also improve fuel efficiency since a full-face helmet has a more aerodynamic design compared to a half-face helmet, and this makes it more efficient. You can also remove some of the unnecessary saddlebags that you may have on the bike to remove some of the drag that can put a strain on the engine.
Speaking of drag, riding at high speeds won’t just make your engine work harder but will also increase wind resistance. For example, the wind resistance when riding at 60 mph is double the wind resistance you get when riding at 40 mph. Thus, try to ride more slowly since not only is it safer, but it can also save you fuel.
What’s more, planning your rides carefully can make a difference in fuel economy as well since multiple short trips will use more fuel than a long trip since the engine will need to warm up each time. When you have multiple errands, try to do them all in one trip if it’s possible.
The fuel quality is very important, and even though it may seem a bit counterintuitive, if your main goal is to save money, choosing a higher grade fuel can lead to fuel savings in the long run. Poor-quality fuel can lead to bent valves, valve pinging, and engine knocking.
The carb can also get clogged up, which reduces fuel economy considerably, not to mention that it can lead to some very expensive repairs. Some tips that can help improve your fuel habits include not overfilling the tank, since too much fuel can cause issues. Most gas pumps will cut off automatically once you’ve reached the right fuel level.
If possible, you should also try to fill your bike in the mornings or when it is cold since fuel is more condensed during this time, and it can give your bike a slight boost.
Check the tires
Make sure to keep the tires at the correct PSI pressure when riding since if the pressure gets low, the tire will have a larger footprint, and this will increase drag, leading to poorer fuel efficiency.
It is a good idea to have a tire gauge in your tool kit so that you can quickly and easily check and see if the tires are within the manufacturer’s recommended PSI. If you intend to ride in areas where services are not easily available, you should also carry a compact air compressor so that you can correct the air pressure if needed.
Keep your bike well maintained
Lastly, one of the most important things you can do if you want to reduce fuel consumption is to make sure that your motorcycle is always in tip-top condition. The engine, in particular, needs to be maintained correctly since this is the main part of the motorcycle that contributes to poor mileage numbers.
You should also check the spark plug gaps and valve seat clearances regularly, change the oil at the right time, and change the air and fuel filters regularly. A simple replacement of an air filter can improve the efficiency of the engine by up to 10%.
Another factor that will influence how long a bike will go on a tank of gas is its age since modern motorcycles have the benefit of improved technology that allows them to have better fuel consumption. Older bikes will tend to get fewer miles on one tank. For older motorcycles, maintenance is even more important.