Monday, May 19, 2008

I've just read Dave Moulton's fuel piece...

And my buddy Justin has just a week or so ago bought a new Prius. Nice car. He has just filled the tank for the first time, discovering as he did so that he's getting 47mpg. I rode in the car; it's nice inside, has that rear-view camera and GPS and plenty of room.

I just rode to Arizona and New Mexico on my Triumph motorcycle. I discovered on that trip that my bike will sometimes go 40 miles on a gallon of premium fuel, 10 cents per mile. If I ride at bicycle speeds while working in support of a bike race, it'll get 33mpg.

Everyone who buys a Prius has mileage in mind. No one who buys a motorcycle has mileage in mind, at least not at the time of purchase. No one in the US needs a motorcycle; they are lifestyle statements and weekend toys for most owners. So the manufacturers offer bad-guy glamor and risk-taker chic rather than cheap, fun transportation.

When Justin tells me about his Prius and its 47mpg brand new, I am pleased for him and embarrassed for myself. His car can haul four people and luggage miles further on a gallon of regular than my modestly performing motorcycle can travel on a gallon of premium.

There must be a simple reason why that's so, a reason even I can understand. If you know why a 450lb motorcycle with one person on it uses more fuel than a Toyota Prius, send me a comment.

I'd like to know too.


Anonymous said...

Hello Maynard,

Just to add something to the discussion; lately my moto (250cc) has been getting around 71 mpg.


Jon said...

It's mostly a matter of aerodynamics. Motorcycles (with riders aboard) present a pretty big aero cross-section.

Also, if your Thruxton has carbs, rather than fuel injection, that makes a difference.

My Thruxton usually gave me about 35 mpg, and my Trident, making 97 horsepower on the Erico dyno, returns 39 mpg (or 30 if I'm ripping around town).

My fuel injected Monster 800 would roll 55 to 60 mpg.

Anonymous said...

Hi Maynard-

Thought you would enjoy the following since I too am enjoying fueling challenges in re a new Triumph; in my case it's a new 675 Street Triple (my 9th bike in 50 years).

I took the owner's manual literally when they talked about not filling the tank (listed as 4.6gallons) above the filler neck. I would ride until the fuel light came on, ride a little more and could never fill it over 2.8 gallons.

Finally, I bought a 1 gallon gas can ($10) at Ace Hardware that would be small enough to carry in the tank bag. It's really pretty cool. It's got a little spring-loaded tang on it so that one can hook it on the lip of the
filler neck, push to unload the spring, and fill; NO spillage.

So I ride until the fuel light comes on, head for the nearest gas station, and fill the little sucker w/ 3/4 gallon of petrol
($3.84 @ $4.80/gal.)

I then rode until it ran out and fill it w/ the 3/4 gallon so I can get into the nearest town. It made it about 45 miles before it ran out. The owner's manual states that when the Street Triple's fuel light comes on, there are 3 liters (.8 gallon) of fuel left.

[That mileage (56 mpg) is highly optimistic; when the light came on, I was going downhill and went downhill for another 5 miles. But a 40 mile range is realistic @ 50 mpg.]

I call the dealer, Moto Meccannica in Santa Rosa. Jason, the owner, says that he fills his bikes up well into the filler neck if he's going immediately onto the freeway.

The owner's manual caution about keeping the fuel below the filler neck is in case the bike sits, absorbs heat, and the fuel expands.

Given the above, I'm still working on the tank I filled where I took this to heart. Before, I could never get more than 120 miles before the fuel light came on. I'll know within the next couple of days how much mileage I get before the light comes on, add 40 miles, and know what a realistic
range is. [I'm expecting 175-200 miles range; not bad.]

I'm going through this exercise because next Monday, 6/2, I'm "hooking up" with a dude, Jeff, going up the coast (Pacific Coast between Point Reyes
and Fort Bragg). He's a (young) monster riding a 2007 BMW K1200S Sport. I met him at a track day at Infineon Raceway on May 7. On that day, he was wrenching for his girl friend Rhonda on a SV650.

He's ultimately going to make it to Reno on 6/6 for his buddy's bachelor party. He wants to make it to Crescent City near the Oregon border on the 1st day. I told him that "this here Geezer Guy is not into those 500 mile
days anymore especially since the Trump is no tourer.. but if you want to trade bikes so I could ride the Beemer and you could ride the Trump as it is "highly entertaining..". He replied that he "would be down for that" which I take to mean Yes(!). He and I are both looking forward to Monday.

[I just got through wiring my First Gear heated gloves; it's not cold on the coast but definitely "coolish" in the 50-60s with lots of cloud cover.]

Jeff's got his heated grips, he's got his Aerostitch suit and I'll be in my leathers trying to keep up. He's a savvy young guy and this is his vacation. I'm going to take his advice: "When it starts to become work, I'll stop." For me, that's going to be waaay short of the Oregon border.

Hope this helps..