It is a well-known fact that if a two-wheeler has to be popular among the masses in India, it must be adept at extracting the most amount of kilometres from every litre of fuel it consumes. From the very first twist of the wrist, one of the top most priorities of an average Indian biker is to match the manufacturer claimed economy figure for that particular two-wheeler, even in everyday conditions. Is it possible to get closer to a mileage figure extracted during test conditions, whilst riding every day? Not really, but hey, it isn’t all that difficult to get close to that number either. Here are 7 simple tips which will help you increase the mileage of your bike.
Tyres establish the primary connection between your two-wheeler and the road. For that very reason, their health and proper inflation are vital at all times to keep rolling resistance to a minimum. It goes a long way in helping the bike extract the most from every drop of fuel consumed. Always maintain manufacturer recommended tyre pressure, but don’t be too greedy and overinflate the rubber, as it will adversely affect handling, grip levels and safety. In addition to these basics, it is important that you stick to the stock size when it’s time to replace the tyres. Upsizing will increase the contact patch, making you feel grip levels have increased. However, it will most certainly reduce the mileage and spoil the natural ride & handling characteristics of your bike.
Well Oiled Machine
Remember how smooth pedalling a cycle would become when the guy at the repair shop lubricated the chain of your bicycle? The same holds true for a two-wheeler when the drivetrain components, especially the chain, is well lubricated. It allows transfer of power to the rear wheel without unnecessary friction. Maintain optimum levels of other fluids like the engine oil, cooling fluids and the brake oil if your two-wheeler comes with a disc brake. Replace all necessary fluids, and lube the chain at recommended intervals.
Weight & Aerodynamics
Any additional weight that your two-wheeler might carry will only add to the workload of the engine. It will have to work harder and will consume more fuel to attain a speed, it would’ve otherwise achieved with a lesser load while consuming fewer drops of petrol. Not many realise, but carrying a pillion also reduces the economy figure of your bike significantly. Aftermarket electrical components which translate to an additional load on the battery also affect the fuel economy of your bike. They drain the battery faster and make the alternator work harder, which again, draws power from the engine.
Panniers and heavyweight crash guards not only add an extra load to the motorcycle, they also affect the bike’s aerodynamic efficiency. To overcome the increased resistance of air by the additional surface area, the engine has to work harder, and as you must’ve guessed it by now, makes it consume more fuel than normal. A common practice among those who use a bike to commute during the monsoons is to fit a rectangular, waterproof board within the front crash guard on their bike. Although this definitely is a street-smart idea which stops the splash made by the front wheel from being sprayed on your trousers, it leads to an increase in the surface area, which affects aerodynamics and ultimately, the mileage of your bike.
Keep it Clean
Keeping your bike free of grime, dust and all other rubbish ensures smooth, restriction free momentum. Hose any slush or dirt down as soon as you can if you ride your bike in the wet. If you wait until the mud hardens, your bike will attract rust easily, the clay will absorb all the lubrication on any exposed components and increase friction which will result in the engine working harder than it should.
Just like your lungs would start giving up early during a physical exercise if you’re suffering from a cold, your bike’s engine won’t perform efficiently if it could not breathe well. Ensure the air filter is clean at all times, more so because most the air in our part of the world is particularly polluted and dusty. Along with air, each combustion cycle also needs a healthy spark so that all the calories in every drop of fuel burn efficiently. Make sure the spark plug receives ample current and is in a healthy, carbon-free state.
Replace the engine oil at recommended intervals with the type specified for your bike. It is a good idea to replace the fluids at a point earlier than recommended. Do not be careless and extend the bike’s service intervals. Timely service will ensure that components last longer and your bike performs like it should, returning ideal mileage figures at all times.
A lot of us have the habit of riding with one or two of our fingers resting on the clutch and brake levers. Some of us even ride with the right foot pressing down on the rear brake pedal without realising. Since it reduces reaction time during panic situations, it isn’t a bad thing to rest your digits and foot like that. However, while doing that, some of us also ride the clutch and brakes without realising. Make sure your body parts are only hovering above those control points rather than activating them even slightly. This takes a toll on the overall mileage, performance of the bike and the life of its components.
You could be doing everything else right, but if you ride like a Grand Prix racer at all times, it will adversely affect the mileage of your bike. Accelerate gradually from a standstill and upshift when the engine is spinning in its optimum zone. Upshift too early and you will be lugging the engine, which is harmful to all the components inside. On the other hand, make it kiss the redline every time, and you can wave goodbye to a decent mileage figure. Similarly, aggressive downshifting will have a negative effect on the overall mileage.
Rather than braking at the last moment, anticipate the conditions ahead in advance and let go off the throttle before you start braking gradually. Make the bike shed only the speed that it has to, as the engine will only have to burn more fuel to build up that momentum again. Modern bikes offer a great solution in the form of systems which tell you if your riding style is economical or otherwise. Use that data to tweak your riding style and attain the best possible efficiency figure.
Having said all the above, do not be a miser and ride just to save fuel. Ride in a way that puts a smile on your face when you need one. After all, it’s not for nothing that motorcycling is right up there at the altar, along will all the supreme joys known to mankind.