For a country obsessed with fuel economy, the two-wheelers sold in our market are probably the most efficient in the world. To top that and in an effort to bypass manufacturer claimed figures, some even involve in dangerous practices like rolling down a slope in neutral or lugging the engine in a higher gear. But there are better ways for that last drop to combust and make the machine travel an extra mile. Here are some of them.
Maintaining optimum tyre pressure
If you’ve ever ridden a bicycle, you must be aware of the additional effort it took to pedal that thing if the air pressure was low. Once filled up, you felt like you were ready for the Tour de France. Similarly, even on a motorcycle, low air pressure in the tyre results in a larger than required contact patch and increased rolling resistance. To overcome this, like your knees, the engine has to work harder for covering the same amount of distance, it would’ve efficiently covered had the tyre pressure been optimum. Ensure you check pressure levels at least once a week and do that at the first fuel bunk you encounter en route. Don’t get too greedy though, as higher than recommended levels will make the ride too firm, floaty, and could even result in a bulge on the sidewall.
In the case of moving components, friction is the enemy which robs the engine and the drivetrain of its optimum output. Ensure you change the engine oil at recommended intervals along with cleaning and lubricating the drive chain. Check for optimum free play in the braking system, as a jammed setup will reduce momentum, cause unnecessary stress on the engine, and increase wear and tear. Most two wheelers come factory fitted with alloy wheels these days. However, if given a choice between the steel / spoked type and the former, put a check against alloy wheels, for they are lighter, just as robust, and enhance efficiency.
Adhere to periodic maintenance schedules and ensure worn out parts are replaced on time. A worn out clutch plate, for example, will make the engine spin higher than it should, but it won’t connect well with the drivetrain to transfer all that power to the rear wheel. If your two-wheeler is pretty active during the rains, ensure you hose it down periodically for the mud to wash away. Or else it will settle down, harden, and hamper momentum. If you live close to the sea, it will also make metal components rust easily.
Even if you adhere to everything stated above, it all boils down to how efficient your riding techniques are. If you are too generous with the throttle from the word go and brake at the very last moment, the engine has to repeatedly go through a high-low combustion cycle which makes it less efficient. To counter this, accelerate gradually, look as far as you can to assess the situation on the road and roll off the throttle early, before you start braking gently. When cruising, use the highest gear possible to maintain your speed. Most manufacturers provide markings on the speedometer which suggest the right gear for the corresponding speed to enhance efficiency. Some two-wheelers offer a system that is linked to the throttle, where a lamp on the instrument cluster glows red or green according to your inputs.
Riding two up
As humans, we love company. But carrying additional weight requires additional efforts and power. If you go back again to your bicycling days, you’d know how your friend would merrily sit behind and test your lungs and their muscles. Since the engine on a two-wheeler is its lungs and also its muscles, it has to work extra for the additional weight your two-wheeler carries. For the additional power it has to make, it needs more fuel. Contrary to popular belief, your two-wheeler will sip more fuel if it has to carry an additional load for any amount of distance.
These are the basics which will help you extract the most distance from every drop of fuel in the tank. However, ensuring that your two-wheeler moves forward without carrying any unwanted load and unnecessary resistance, along with your sensible riding habits will see you cover the maximum distance for the least amount of fuel.