In today's world of $3.00/gal fuel, gas mileage is on most everyone's mind. I get questions about fuel mileage on almost a weekly basis. To help customers understand the issue, I offer a bit of an explanation.
First of all, it's important to remember that the manufacturer's stated mileage may not reflect your specific set of riding conditions. Tested bikes are operated in a controlled environment. On the road, the unique combination of environment and your personal riding style will produce varying figures.
The following is a list of factors that affect mileage, usually in a negative manner:
Topping the list is the operator's throttle hand. This is without a doubt the factor that affects mileage the most. The farther and faster you twist the grip, the more fuel will be used. A heavy throttle hand will use a lot of fuel.
Wind is also a major factor in mileage. A headwind will cost mileage and a tail wind will increase mileage.
Along with wind comes drag. Certain accessories act as a wind barrier, producing drag. A big touring windshield, while a necessity in reducing rider wind fatigue, has all the aerodynamics of a brick.
If available for your bikes, consider a detachable windshield. Remove it when riding shorter distances or at slower speeds to increase your average fuel economy. If gas mileage is high on your list, keep drag in mind when choosing handlebars for your bike.
Tall ape-hanger bars make the rider into a sail, contributing to your wind drag. Another factor that affects your bike's gas mileage is weight. Bikes that are fully loaded - rider, passenger, and luggage - will suffer a reduction in mileage. Your route. Stop-and-go traffic is less efficient than steady highway speeds. Steep grades will use more fuel than flat roads.
Most performance modifications will reduce mileage a bit. However, installing an overdrive 6 speed gear set will get you more miles per gallon as well as less wear on your motor.
Proper maintenance is important as well. A bike that is well maintained operates with greater efficiency, which will improve mileage. A dirty air filter, fouled plugs, or clogged fuel filter will all reduce your gas mileage.
Lastly, you must check your mileage correctly. Fill your tank up. Record the odometer reading and ride until you need fuel. Again, fill the tank and record the amount of fuel needed. Divide the miles by the gallons and there's your answer. To obtain a reasonable average, you'll need to average five or six tanks.
All in all, consider yourself fortunate to own a motorcycle. On average, bikes still get as much as two times the mileage of the average family sedan.