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Tips for motorcycle fuel savings

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Even filling the relatively small tank on a motorcycle can create pain in the hip pocket. Here are eight tips to make those petrol dollars go further.

Maintenance

A well-maintained motorcycle is not only more reliable, it can also save fuel. If the filters, spark plugs, and oil are all operating at their best, then the engine isn’t working harder to make up for it. Follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule, and if there’s an option, choose fully synthetic oil, which offers superior lubrication.

Chain Gang

Don’t forget to lubricate the chain regularly – a poorly lubricated chain adds drag to the system, wearing the chain out faster and requiring more energy to drive, and thus requiring more fuel. Chain lube is usually oil- or wax-based. The latter doesn’t fly off as easily as the former, so in theory should last longer between applications, but it needs to be allowed to dry before riding. Lubricant specifically designed for chains is recommended – some chains have rubber O-rings than can be damaged by solvents. Riding on wet or dirty roads necessitates more frequent applications of lubricant. Some (lucky) riders have shaft or belt final drive, and don’t have to engage in messy chain lubrication.

Tyres

Ensure your tyres are inflated to recommended pressures. Under-inflated tyres have more rolling resistance, so you’re using more fuel by riding on them, and the heat generated can damage the tyre’s structure. Don’t be tempted to over-inflate – yes, the rolling resistance may decrease further, but the grip levels can be adversely affected.

Airflow

Motorcycles aren’t the most aerodynamic vehicles, but you can help by gripping the tank with your knees, particularly at highway speeds. Having your knees flapping in the breeze is akin to towing a parachute – don’t do it! You can reduce wind resistance at highway speeds by ducking behind the windscreen if you have one, though this can be tiring over long distances. Ensure you can see what’s going on in the rearview mirrors if you adopt this posture. Luggage – panniers and top-boxes – also reduce your fuel efficiency, so remove them if they’re not necessary.

Limit Speeds

Wind resistance increases exponentially with speed – the faster you travel, the more energy you use to push through the air, requiring more fuel, so slow down where appropriate. You may also save money on speeding tickets! Check out the latest speeding penalties here.

Rat Race

Racing from one red light to the next is the fastest way…to burn fuel. Accelerating hard is the least fuel-efficient thing you can do, and heavy braking only converts your kinetic energy into heat. Gentle acceleration and changing up gears as soon as feasible is the most fuel-efficient way to get moving. Anticipating traffic lights, rather than charging up to red lights and jamming on the brakes, can also help save fuel. Once you’re up to speed, a steady throttle is the most economical – don’t believe the taxi drivers who reckon they save fuel by jabbing the throttle on and off. They don’t.

Fuel Grades

There is little to be gained by purchasing high-octane fuel if your motorcycle specifications don’t require it. Check your owner’s manual, but the majority of motorcycles on the roads here run just fine on standard RON 92 fuel, which is more than $0.40 a litre cheaper than RON 98. Be aware that some high-performance bikes specify higher-grade fuels. In general, modern motorcycles with high-tech electronic engine management units can handle any grade of fuel, but filling a high-performance motorcycle with low grade fuel could result in ‘pinging’ and possible engine damage. High-octane fuel in a motorcycle that doesn’t require it is a recipe for spending money for no benefit.

Buy Discounted Fuel

Keep an eye on Petrol Watch Singapore for any fuel deals. Some credit cards offer discounts on fuel and other benefits. Check Value Champion to see whether there’s a card that suits your requirements.

If using less fuel is a motivating factor to purchase a motorcycle in the first instance, then look for a machine that is more fuel efficient to begin with.

Look for a bike that doesn’t need to be revved hard – it will probably have less horsepower than fancier sports bikes, but it might have more torque at lower engine speeds, which is ideal in city streets.

Logic suggests that smaller-capacity machines will be more economical on fuel – accelerating 100kg to 60km/h requires less effort than doing so with a 200kg motorcycle, for instance.

There is a caveat, however: If you intend to use the motorcycle for touring, then a larger capacity machine running at low revs may be more economical than a smaller-capacity bike that has to be revved hard to run at highway speeds. Add in a more aerodynamic fairing (and comfort), and the larger machine may actually make more sense.

Wherever you go, whatever you do, it’s vital to have good motorcycle insurance.
Check out Budget Direct Insurance for your best deal

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