Saturday, June 21, 2008

How To Calculate Your Motorcycle MPG

-(Kano goes Gonzo on this one!)

My Sportster doesn't have a gas gauge so every time I fill up I reset the trip odometer and I know that my 4.5 gal. tank is running on fumes by the time I hit the 140 mile mark.

One time I forgot to reset though and that was the beginning of an adventure I'll soon not forget involving 3 overly-aggressive members of the Chamber of Commerce in an SUV, an empty tank o' gas and a full case of Michelob Light...Let's just say that those guys were all business, they got away with my wallet and left me their calling card which was a cut above my left eye and some cracked ribs...but that's a story for another day...

So anyway, to get back to the subject at hand here which is calculating gas mileage...

To tell the truth I didn't pay much attention to how many miles I was getting to a gallon until recently. I just figured I'm doing better than a car and that's good enough for me. But inspired by the hypermiler car techno geeks, I've been easing up on the throttle a bit lately.

I used the trip odometer method on my last tank of gas and figured I'm getting about 35.15 MPG in a combination of highway and city riding for my commute to work.

So what kind of gas mileage is your motorcycle really getting? Here's two ways to easily calculate how much of that liquid gold your burning:

Calculating MPG
Odometer Method

MPG can be calculated in four easy steps:
Step 1. Filling the gas tank completely and writing down the odometer reading (mileage). Example: The last time the tank was filled, the odometer reading was 2,645.1 miles.

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Step 2. When it's time to refuel, filling the tank completely and writing down the number of gallons it took to fill the tank and the new odometer reading. Once two odometer readings are taken, MPG can be calculated. Example: The next time the tank was filled, the odometer reading was 2,785.3. It took 3.3 gallons to fill the tank.

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Step 3. Calculating the distance driven by subtracting the previous odometer reading from the new one. Example: The distance driven would be 2,785.3 minus 2,645.1, or 140.2 miles.

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Step 4. Dividing the number of miles rode by the number of gallons it took to fill the tank. The result is the MPG for that riding period. Example: 140.2 miles divided by 3.3 gallons equals 42.48 miles per gallon.

The MPG for that riding period would be 42.48


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Alternate Method


If you use your motorcycle trip odometer, MPG can be calculated by:
Step 1. Filling the bike's gas tank completely and re-setting the trip odometer.

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Step 2. When it's time to re-fuel

Filling the tank completely
Writing down the number of gallons it took to fill the tank
Writing down the mileage on the trip odometer
Re-setting the trip odometer
Example: It took 3.3 gallons to completely fill the tank, and the trip odometer reads 140.2 miles.

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Step 3. Dividing the number of miles ridden by the number of gallons it took to fill the tank. The result is the bikes MPG for that driving period. Example: 140.2 miles divided by 3.3 gallons equals 42.48 miles per gallon.

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I used to feel kind of smug about the whole thing, me riding a motorcycle and getting great gas mileage while the cagers are paying a much higher cost for getting from point A to point B. Not anymore, a lot of those guys are getting as good or better fuel economy than I am. -Well, I'm having a lot more fun than they are!

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20 comments:

Earl Thomas said...

My tripmeter has been an effective and often times a much more accurate fuel gauge than my bikes that have actually had them, provided that you remeber to reset them of course! Fortunately, I'm an obsessive creature of habit and when I take the key out of the ignition to unlock the fuel cap, I thumb the reset at the same time.

Currently my XS1100 gets 30 M.P.G. which is a number that I feel confident will improve by freshening up a couple of things on the 29 year old engine.

I can pretty much set a clock to the mileage on my KLR650. Currently I have been getting 56 M.P.G. (Not much city riding) and she's barely broken in. With my 6 gallon fuel tank, I usually don't bother filling up until I hit 250-260 miles.

Honda Motorcycles blog said...

It's probably not very relevant as my Honda CBF600 is way different from a Sportster, but I do get around 50 MPG highway and around 35 MPG in town.

Heinz & Frenchie said...

We think our Vespa scooters get around 60 mpg. but we have not really checked. Now with your advice, we are motivated to see what we actually get. Our little tanks only hold 2 1/2 gallons and when we refill, we usually put one gallon in each so we don't spill gas everywhere. Seems like we ride forever on very little gas.

Conchscooter said...

I get 43 mpg on my Bonneville, and varies very little even if I try to go lightly on the gas, but it seems avergae for modern Bonnevilles. 35mpg seems outlandishly low. Glad you are back!Even with your low mileage...

Kano said...

earl thomas-I've heard tales of KLRs getting up to 90 mpg. Maybe that's downhill, in neutral with a tailwind I don't know but even 56 mpg is envious!

Kano said...

honda motorcycles blog- 50 mpg is excellent! Especially helpful I imagine with those even higher fuel costs you have in Europe.

Kano said...

heinz & frenchie-I'll be interested in the results you get on the Vespa's. I've been thinking a lot lately about getting a Yamaha Zuma 125 scooter and they supposedly get around 88 mpg.

Kano said...

conchshooter-Thanks and glad to be back! Yep, I don't know why my gas mileage is slow low especially since I've been riding like a grandma lately!

Steve Johnson said...

Kano, my Electra Glide is getting between 40-45 MPG, depending on the riding style. I think your sporty can do better.

Kano said...

steve johnson- It probably would do better but the thing is I calculated a tankful of commuting. And my commute is short, hardly enough time to get the engine warmed-up to peak efficiency.

Phil said...

Just got a Zuma 125
Seems to be getting over 85mpg.

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