9 Factors That Affect Motorcycle Fuel Efficiency And Mileage

Motorcycle with low fuel efficiency

Motorcycle fuel efficiency and mileage is one of the major parameters for the bike rider to gauge the motorcycle performance.

With rising fuel prices, it is always important to understand the factors that brings down the fuel efficiency and mileage of the motorcycle. The major factors affecting fuel efficiency and mileage are:

  • Low Pressure in Tyres
  • Unnecessary Gear Shifting
  • Adding Accessories To The Motorcycle
  • Chain Is Loosened
  • Not Using the Right Fuel
  • Heavy Braking And Accelerating
  • Masked Spark Plugs
  • Low Engine Oil Level or Poor Oil Quality
  • Not Servicing The Bike Frequently

Unless you are okay with your bike having low mileage (here is how you calculate the mileage), you need to address these parameters that affect the fuel efficiency.

Each of these factors affecting are discussed in detail below.

#1 Low Pressure in Tyres

Tires are one of the major reasons why your motorcycle’s fuel efficiency and mileage are low.

In case your tires have lower pressure and the PSI is lower than the specified requirements, then the engine has to generate more power to travel the same distance when compared to the tires with sufficient pressure.

Low-pressure tires exert more load on the engine. More load on the engine essentially translates to higher power requirements, which in turn means more consumption of fuel.

Also, check for any nails stuck if the tire pressure is too low. If yes, the nail should be removed and the tire patched or replaced.

For these reasons, it is important for the motorcycle rider to maintain optimum pressure in both the front and rear tires. The mileage will be higher when these tires have required PSI in them.

The PSI recommendation will be separate for the front tire and the rear tire. Usually, the recommended pressure for the rear tire will be higher than that of the front tire. So, note down the required PSI for both of these tires from the motorcycle user manual.

#2 Unnecessary Gear Shifting

Many bike riders change the gear too frequently. And most of these gear shifting is just plain unnecessary.

Some riders up-shift two three gears at a time, and down shift two three gears down at a time. This type of unnecessary gear change is unwarranted.

Frankly, this is a bad riding habit and will affect the engine mileage and fuel efficiency.

It is far better for the rider to change the gears accordingly and be aware of when to change the gears and at what speed to change the gear.

The bike rider should always listen to the motorcycle and change the gear accordingly rather than constantly shifting gears which are not required.

#3 Adding Accessories To The Motorcycle

Adding accessories will add weight to the bike. And more weight will directly put more load and stress on the engine.

The engine will have to generate more power when it is put under more load, thus consuming more fuel.

As a result, adding weights on the motorcycle will automatically decrease the fuel efficiency and the mileage of the bike.

Many bike riders are obsessed with modifying their bike. They add too much accessories, which frankly, are not required.

When you add too much accessories like engine guards, crash guards, rear mud guards or other accessories to your motorcycle, the overall weight of the bike increases.

And increasing the bike weight will in turn places additional load and stress on the engine.

For this reason, adding unnecessary accessories and increasing the weight of the motorcycle is not desirable and can seriously reduce your motorcycle mileage.

#4 Chain Is Loosened

Chain is the final driving unit of power transmission in a motorcycle.

Whatever power the engine produces, is transferred by the chain to the rear wheel. And that’s when the bike starts to move.

If the chain transmission is not smooth, then the power is not transferred from the engine to the rear wheel properly.

Higher the loss of power during this transmission, lower will be the fuel efficiency and mileage of the bike.

What happens sometimes, is the motorcycle chain becomes loose. Even after you have tightened the chain during your last bike servicing, the chain still gets loose sometimes.

In rare cases, the chain becomes too tight as well. Maybe because the tightening was too stiff during the servicing.

In both these cases – where the bike chain is too loose or too tight, the power transmission to the rear wheel will not be smooth.

As a result, the mileage and fuel efficiency of the motorcycle will be low.

So, check the chain if it has become too loose or too tight. And adjust the tightening accordingly.

In case, the chain becomes loose frequently even after repeatedly tightening it, then the chain has worn out and it is time to replace the it with a new chain drive.

#5 Not Using the Right Fuel

You can’t talk about mileage and fuel efficiency of a bike without talking about the fuel.

The things to keep in mind regarding the fuel are fairly simple. The fuel pump you regularly go to should be trustable. The fuel there should be of higher quality.

Another important factor here is to always use the recommended fuel type.

The bike manufacturer usually recommends the type of fuel that should be used in the motorcycle based on the engine type and capacity. Some manufacturers even recommend the octane rating of the petrol or gasoline to be used.

If the recommendation if for normal fuel, then go for it. But, if the manual recommends extra premium, or speed or power fuel for the engine, then always fill the tank with the recommended fuel only.

If there is mismatch between the recommended fuel and the fuel used in your motorcycle, the engine performance goes down and so does the fuel efficiency and mileage.

Also, do not fill the fuel tank with gasoline to its brink. It is an ineffective way of fuel usage since there will always be some spillage. As a result, the bike mileage will decrease if the fuel tank is filled to the brink.

#6 Heavy Braking And Accelerating

Even for low cc engine bikes, the mileage goes down considerably when you excessively apply brakes and use throttle for unnecessary acceleration.

This is riding technique that needs to be improved in case you are one of those who apply brakes and accelerate unnecessarily.

Many a times, even while riding a short distance, the bike rider accelerates heavily and then suddenly applies the brake to bring the motorcycle to halt. This kind of heavy accelerating and braking consumes too much fuel than required.

As a result, the fuel is consumed heavily with this type of rising and the mileage and the fuel efficiency of the motorcycle will automatically decrease.

That’s why, do not throttle up to accelerate heavily and then use the brake for sudden halting especially when you are covering up shorter distances during traffic.

This kind of heavy acceleration and unnecessarily abrupt braking causes low mileage and fuel efficiency in your bike.

#7 Masked Spark Plugs

One of the most overlooked engine components for maintenance is spark plug. Spark plugs are essential for the combustion of the fuel in the engine.

However, spark plugs can be subjected to deposit formations. If there are deposits formed on the spark plug layer, then it would be difficult for the plug to ignite the engine. The deposits block the spark plug to generate spark in the combustion chamber.

That’s why it is vital for motorcycle maintenance that spark plugs should be free from any form of deposits.

Ensuring your spark plug is in a healthy condition goes a long way in improving and maintaining the mileage for your bike a long way.

Because spark plugs are essential for ignition in motorcycle engines, keeping them in a good condition is important for fuel combustion. If spark plug is not working fine, there will be lots of unburnt fuel coming out of the engine. As a result, there will be lots of fuel wastage which eventually will result in reduced mileage.

So, clean up and maintain the spark plug every time you go for your motorcycle servicing. A good spark plug will provide a far better mileage when compared to a spark plug plagued with carbon deposits.

#8 Low Engine Oil Level or Poor Oil Quality

Low engine oil level in the motorcycle, will overheat the engine due to lack of sufficient lubrication and cooling in the engine components.

When engine overheats, there is all sort of problems that arise including low fuel efficiency and mileage in the motorcycle.

Similarly, using poor quality engine oil will result in the same overheating problems.

You need to use the oil with right viscosity levels that is recommended for your engine. Using the wrong grade oil will only deteriorate the problem further. In addition, such oil will not at all lubricate and cool the engine components properly.

The negative effects of low-quality oil or low levels of oil in the engines include burnt clutch plates, damaged piston rings, piston and cylinder lien wear, and engine valves impairing.

Other noticeable effects include engine overheating, wear and tear, carbon deposits, and increased noise and vibrations in the motorcycle components. For more details, check out our detailed guide on motorcycle engine oil.

#9 Not Servicing The Bike Frequently

Motorcycle servicing is a preventive maintenance of your motorcycle, examining almost all the bike components to ensure they are in the right working conditions. 

If you don’t service your bike frequently in a periodic interval of 6 months or lesser, then the motorcycle will not be functioning at its optimum levels.

Along with the oil change, the servicing should also include greasing, air filter cleaning, checking brake pads, cleaning the carburetor, inspecting the battery, checking all electric wiring and accessories, lubricating the chain, adjusting wheels, checking cables, cleaning radiators, and bike washing.

Ensure that the servicing of your motorcycle is being done thoroughly by your mechanic or the service shop.

A regular maintenance of the motorcycle will have a far longer impact on the bike mileage and fuel efficiency than any of the other parameters.