How to Get Better Fuel Economy for Bike Riders

With petrol costing more and more every day, we need to know how to get better fuel economy for bike riders, which will result in more miles for our money. By practising fuel efficient driving, you can make a significant difference to your petrol consumption.

There are 3 main factors which govern how fuel efficient we are.

1. How we ride, in short, how we use the throttle and the gears.
2. How we conserve momentum.
3. How streamlined the vehicle and rider are.
Looking at these in turn, consider the extremes of how you can treat your gearbox. You can ride in high gears using low revs, in the lower gears using high revs or use all the gears in a logical progression using mid revs. Tests have shown that a significant difference in petrol consumption can be made by using the third option. It's common sense. By using all the gears in turn, you are placing less stress on the engine, inducing less wear and tear and, it turns out, using less fuel.
Imagine you are leaving a 30mph zone and preparing to accelerate. It's easy to simply open the throttle, build up the revs and let it go. Most of today's bikes can cope with this. Would you get better fuel economy if you were to change down a gear and use less throttle? Yes you would. It's good economics to change down when you want to speed up, keeping the revs in the mid-range. It can make a difference to how fuel efficient your motorbike is.
Conserving momentum is about holding onto the speed you've built up. Every time you brake, you kill off speed and then you have to use more petrol to get back up to speed. By using brakes sparingly you can get more miles per gallon from your fuel. By riding smoothly, at a middling speed which allows you to take that corner without slamming on the brakes, you are conserving your momentum. Look ahead, plan ahead and brake less. Moving away from a binary 'speed-up' followed by a 'slow down' style of riding, is not only good for you, it's good for your bike and for your petrol consumption.
Then there's your shape as you, and your motorcycle, slice your way through the air. As for the bike, there's not a lot you can do. A full faring may keep the wind off your face, but does it present, overall, a more streamlined shape? I would imagine so, just as logic dictates that having smaller, or fewer side-panniers or top-boxes will reduce your surface-area and therefore reduce drag.
Of course, what you wear can also make a difference. Tight-fitting leathers will offer less air resistance than a big, flappy parka and bell bottoms. A full-face helmet with the visor down is more streamlined than an open-faced helmet with your mouth open.
Then there's the position you sit in. I'm not a great one for lying on the tank, but tests have shown that a rider in a 'sit up and beg' position is more likely to run out of fuel before his prone counterpart. A recent test with the rider crouched forward, almost lying on the tank of a Honda Fireblade, boasted a 20% improvement in fuel consumption, but at what a cost to comfort! Perhaps this is one for the 'desperately short of petrol' amongst you.
How to get better fuel economy for bike riders? If you put all of the above considerations together, it can make a significant difference to your fuel consumption. Using the gears and throttle to make the most of the mid-range is sound economics. Adopting a smoother style of riding which allows you to arrive at a corner at such a speed that you don't have to brake violently, is not only good for your pocket, but it's safer. Wearing motorcycle leathers will help your aerodynamics and reduce drag. It is estimated that it is possible to gain an increase of at least 15% mpg. This could mean a saving of about £100 per year. Make small changes to how you ride your motorcycle and you can be a better biker, a safer biker, improve fuel efficiency and be financially better off.