Fuel for thought

One of the great things about riding a motorbike, moped or scooter is that, unlike your car driving mates, you are not as concerned by rising fuel prices as they are.

After all, when your moped is returning up to 100mpg, a few pence on a litre of fuel won’t break the bank.

But with cash tight for most people at the moment, it always makes sense to save it when you can.

So if you are looking to save a few quid on your regular rides, read on for some fuel-saving tips…

The best way to guarantee better fuel consumption is slowing down. Every time you twist the throttle you burn more fuel, so maintaining a steady speed is always the best – and most fuel efficient – way to ride.

Slower riding also has the huge advantage of being safer for everyone.

But you can also save fuel by learning how to ride more efficiently – and that means thinking about how you use your throttle, clutch, gears and brakes.

For instance, some riders get into top gear as quickly as possible, accelerating hard to get there, and stick there, thinking that cruising at that speed is the best way to ride. Others think better fuel consumption comes from keeping in lower gears but at higher revs, and continually giving the engine smaller bursts of throttle.

The fact is neither is right. Using the engine in either extreme – fast acceleration, or low gear, high revving, hurts fuel consumption. The answer is not to do anything in excess: don’t use a lot of throttle, but don’t let the engine play in higher revs in too low a gear. Use mid-throttle in the right gear at mid-revs. Here’s a bit of luck: that’s roughly where peak engine torque is – the point at which the engine is running at its most efficient. It’s also around the national speed limit in top gear for most bikes.

A quick guide is that if you are doing 30mph around town, your engine will thank you if you ride in fourth at around 4,000 rpm.

Just doing that could save you cash on fuel.

Think about your braking

Every time you brake you lose momentum, and all that hard work done by your engine goes to waste. That’s not to say we don’t like braking -  we love it, it keeps us safe. But a better approach is to use your reading of the road to avoid braking and allow the bike to slow down more gradually where safe to do so.

For instance, racing up to a set of traffic lights, only to slam on the brakes at the last minute to stop is not only an unsafe way to ride but tough on the wallet, too; you are throwing away fuel. A better way to ride is to constantly look ahead and anticipate what actions you need to take in the near future. If the lights have been on green a long time, you know they are going to change so anticipate that by coming off the throttle and gliding to a halt as they switch to red, with a touch on the brakes at the end to cut the last of your momentum

Similarly, a lot of riders are ‘ragged’ into corners. They hurtle in to the bend, jump on the brakes harshly to cut their speed halfway round and then bang on the throttle to accelerate out.

That’s not the way to ride. Check out the bend and plot a smoother speed into and out that requires less bike twitching and more serene gliding.

Take a smoother, slower approach, with an easy curve around the bend and a gentle acceleration on exit; it will not only keep you safe but save you money, too.

Planing your cornering is another simple way to improve mpg.

Other top tips: think about how you sit and what you wear. Manufacturers spend millions every year trying to make their bikes as aerodynamic as possible – and then you go and sit on top like a giant windbreak. What we wear on a bike, and how we sit on it, have big implications for fuel consumption.

We’re not saying full rider’s crouch here but getting down a little lower in your riding position will reduce the drag you create. Skin tight leathers might not be your thing but baggy clothes and open, flailing jackets are not only a nuisance but a perfect air trap that holds you back and makes your engine work harder for the same result.

One test by a bike magazine found that a rider in one-piece leathers in a racing crouch, compared to one sat more upright in baggy waterproofs, returned 8-9mpg more; for an average rider that is a saving of £150-200 a year.

So next time you ride, think about your fuel consumption. Going easy on the throttle, less dramatic revving and ditching the harsh braking will all improve your fuel consumption and save you cash. It’s safer riding, too.




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