Hypermile your motorcycle up to 179 MPG: No snake oil, no scams!

The hypermiling techniques discussed in: Riding Your Bike For Maximum MPG can be implemented by any rider to obtain an immediate 20 to 40% increase in fuel economy. However in these desperate times when a trip to the gas station can cost more than a week's groceries, some motorcyclists may want to wring even more miles from each mind- and wallet-numbingly expensive gallon.

Extreme hypermiling involves applying techniques which are much more radical than the typical common sense "conventional wisdom" tips to increase fuel mileage. However, these extreme hypermiling processes can return a remarkable increase in fuel economy.

Here are the top five extreme hypermiling procedures that any motorcyclist anywhere can apply to skyrocket your MPG. These techniques are effective with all motorcycles, from the weeniest 125cc commuter single cylinder to the most powerful 2 litre V-twin. When you consider that these techniques can squeeze 179 MPG from a motorcycle (not a scooter, but a real motorcycle), and even up to 113 MPG from a modern 750 like a Honda Shadow Aero they are definitely worth considering!

179 MPG... that's about $30 in gas even with today's prices to get from New York City to Miami!!!

Important! All of these have significant if not outright compromising safety considerations and may even be illegal in some jurisdictions. They should not be implemented without clear and comprehensive understanding of the severe ramifications.

1) Adjust your carburetor's throttle lever so that it can only open up to half of its normal travel. This will limit your maximum revs and acceleration. Remember that you won't have the power to do all the things you easily do now, like pass on the highway!

2) Change your handlebars to clipons. I hate those blasted low bars that make me feel like I'm caught halfway in a pushup, but lowering your arm position will drop your body down to the tank of the bike and considerably decrease your bike's overall aerodynamic drag.

3) Cover your radiator. On watercooled motorcycles, you can cover the radiator with a piece of cardboard to keep your engine warmer and thus more efficient. Not a good idea to seal it hermetically with duct tape, nor is it a wise choice for stop and go rush hour commuting in August in Phoenix.

Now onto the two extreme hypermiling techniques which provide by far the greatest MPG advantage while at the same time providing by far the greatest chance that you'll end up as a hood ornament on an SUV.

4) Use the kill switch. Unlike automobile drivers, we motorcyclists have an easily accessible kill switch. You can hit that kill switch when coasting and especially downhills, then while holding the clutch in and in an appropriate gear, turn the kill switch back on, release the clutch and restart the engine without using the starter. It is a procedure that when well rehearsed can be smooth and safe, and when it is done without due care and skill can cause you to flip your bike. Also note that in some motorcycles, you will lose braking power if your engine is off.

5) Only for hyperexperienced riders! Draft. This can kill you deader than almost any other hypermiling technique, but anyone who has ridden behind an 18 wheeler on the highway will testify that the "draft air zone" which is created by the wake of the truck can extend back well over 100 feet. If you don't get distracted and your life insurance policy is paid up, this technique can drastically increase your highway MPG.

Should you implement at least some of these techniques and manage to not be turned into a splat mark on the asphalt, you could legitimately expect these MPG ratings from the Top 50 MPG Popular Motorcycles:

  • Lifan 200 Sport : from 135 to 179 MPG

  • Yamaha TW200 : from 121 to 160 MPG

  • Honda 125 Varadero : from 119 to 158 MPG

  • Honda 200 Twinstar : from 119 to 158 MPG

  • Honda XL185 : from 119 to 158 MPG

  • Honda XL250S : from 116 to 153 MPG

  • Kawasaki Ninja EX250R : from 116 to 153 MPG

  • Yamaha Virago 250 : from 114 to 151 MPG

  • Honda Nighthawk 250 : from 113 to 149 MPG

  • Yamaha 125 Virago : from 111 to 147 MPG

  • Hyosung GV250 : from 109 to 145 MPG

  • Honda XL500 : from 105 to 138 MPG

  • BMW F650GS : from 101 to 134 MPG

  • Suzuki Intruder VL125 : from 100 to 132 MPG

  • Yamaha XV535 Virago : from 100 to 132 MPG

  • Buell Blast : from 98 to 130 MPG

  • Honda CMX 250 : from 97 to 128 MPG

  • Kawasaki Ninja 500R : from 95 to 126 MPG

  • Yamaha YZF600R : from 95 to 126 MPG

  • Yamaha XJ550 Seca : from 93 to 124 MPG

  • Honda Shadow VLX : from 92 to 121 MPG

  • Kawasaki KZ550 : from 89 to 117 MPG

  • Suzuki LS650 Savage : from 89 to 117 MPG

  • Suzuki GS425 : from 87 to 115 MPG

  • Suzuki S50 Boulevard : from 87 to 115 MPG

  • Suzuki V-Strom DL650 : from 87 to 115 MPG

  • Honda Shadow Aero : from 85 to 113 MPG

  • Suzuki Marauder 250 : from 85 to 113 MPG

  • Honda CB350 : from 84 to 111 MPG

  • Honda CX500 : from 84 to 111 MPG

  • Yamaha XJ900 Seca : from 84 to 111 MPG

  • Yamaha XS650 : from 84 to 111 MPG

  • Kawasaki GPX250 : from 82 to 109 MPG

  • Kawasaki Vulcan 800 Classic : from 82 to 109 MPG

  • Suzuki C90 Boulevard : from 82 to 109 MPG

  • Suzuki GS500 : from 82 to 109 MPG

  • BMW R850R : from 81 to 107 MPG

  • Honda CB400T Hawk : from 81 to 107 MPG

  • Honda CX500C : from 81 to 107 MPG

  • Honda V30 Magna : from 81 to 107 MPG

  • Kawasaki 125 Eliminator : from 81 to 107 MPG

  • Kawasaki 454 LTD : from 81 to 107 MPG

  • Kawasaki EN500 Vulcan : from 81 to 107 MPG

  • Kawasaki KLR650 : from 81 to 107 MPG

  • Kawasaki Vulcan 1500 : from 81 to 107 MPG

  • Suzuki C50 Boulevard : from 81 to 107 MPG

  • Suzuki Katana GSX 750 : from 81 to 107 MPG

  • Suzuki S83 Boulevard : from 81 to 107 MPG

  • Yamaha FJ600 : from 81 to 107 MPG

  • Yamaha FZ6 : from 81 to 107 MPG

However, you may find that you'd be happy maybe cutting back on your riding, or scrimping on groceries, as some of those extreme hypermiling procedures can present a clear and present danger to your continued health and longevity! Be careful out there. Remember that saving money on fuel isn't going to be worth much if you're dead!

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Comments 32 comments

two.wheel.riot profile image

two.wheel.riot 8 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

sounds dangerous and i'm also pretty skeptical.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 8 years ago from Toronto Author

#4 and #5 in inexperienced hands can be extremely dangerous. I think I made that clear in the piece.


rethansmith 8 years ago

I definitely appreciated the fact that you pointed out that some techniques were very dangerous. I heard some of these on the radio the other day and the person made not mention of the danger involved.

Great Hub!


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 8 years ago from Toronto Author

Oh yeah... drafting and killswitching can killswitch you real dead. I do it all the time, but that's because:

1) I have several decades of riding/racing experience

2) I am an immortal and can only be killed if my head is cut off with a sword. :)


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 8 years ago from Toronto Author

#4 and #5 in inexperienced hands can be extremely dangerous. I think I made that clear in the piece. #4 and #5 in inexperienced hands can be extremely dangerous. I think I made that clear in the piece. #4 and #5 in inexperienced hands can be extremely dangerous. I think I made that clear in the piece. #4 and #5 in inexperienced hands can be extremely dangerous. I think I made that clear in the piece. #4 and #5 in inexperienced hands can be extremely dangerous. I think I made that clear in the piece. #4 and #5 in inexperienced hands can be extremely dangerous. I think I made that clear in the piece. #4 and #5 in inexperienced hands can be extremely dangerous. I think I made that clear in the piece. #4 and #5 in inexperienced hands can be extremely dangerous. I think I made that clear in the piece.

Do you think I've made that clear enough? No? Ok...

#4 and #5 in inexperienced hands can be extremely dangerous. I think I made that clear in the piece. #4 and #5 in inexperienced hands can be extremely dangerous. I think I made that clear in the piece. #4 and #5 in inexperienced hands can be extremely dangerous. I think I made that clear in the piece. #4 and #5 in inexperienced hands can be extremely dangerous. I think I made that clear in the piece. #4 and #5 in inexperienced hands can be extremely dangerous. I think I made that clear in the piece. #4 and #5 in inexperienced hands can be extremely dangerous. I think I made that clear in the piece. #4 and #5 in inexperienced hands can be extremely dangerous. I think I made that clear in the piece. #4 and #5 in inexperienced hands can be extremely dangerous. I think I made that clear in the piece...


Roadster 7 years ago

How freaking stupid, all of these are rediculous ideas and should not be attempted.

1, half the throttle and forget about getting on the highway

2. Sitting upright puts more drag on the bike and many cruisers have windshields.

3. Cover your radiator and fry your engine

4. Using the kill switch may save you gas but you'll spend that on repairing the ignition system.

5. Drafting, sure, make sure you can't see what's coming like all the idiots who tailgate and end up in the 10 to 100 car pileups on the highway. On a bike rearending a semi at 70 mph, you won't remember a thing.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

1) Most motorcycles have the power to gently accelerate to highway speeds. Remember this was written at the time when gas was heading to a zillion dollars a gallon.

2) Windshields do nothing but increase drag coefficient!

3) In most cool to cold weather conditions following my instructions will help, not harm, the engine.

4) Use of the kill switch will not damage the ignition system unless horribly abused.

5) If a rider is exquisitely skilled, sober, and aware, drafting can be conducted with a measure of safety.


PowerSportOil 7 years ago

Hypermiling on a motorcycle is tricky and I think you can use it if you are in the wide open spaces.  On a trip I did out west I tried to keep low to avoid drag but I was going very subtley uphill towards the continental divide and into the wind and on my return trip there was a noticeable improvement in milage.  I'm glad you did not mention high tire inflation as with many auto hyper-milers.  This is disaster on a bike. 

Using sythetic oil can also make a bit of a difference in milage. It can be very important if you cover your radiator as mentioned because synthetic oil has a much higher 'cooking' temperature. Dino oil cooks (loses viscosity) when going over 235 F. You will surely reach that temperature if you are covering your rad.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Thanks for your input!


Rahul 7 years ago

now these hyper bikes are super bikes...more power than super bikes.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

Lots more! :)


Heavy bikes 7 years ago

latest Honda XL500 BMW F650GS


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 7 years ago from Toronto Author

And your point is???


alvaro84 6 years ago

Hi! I've been doing #4 and its kin for several thousand kilometers (ok, miles for you) and at best I got an average of 98.9mpg for a tank on a BMW F650CS (a somewhat more streamlined sister of the mentioned F650GS). I think these values you wrote are not extremely hard to reach but almost impossible to sustain (for several hundred miles) under real world conditions (real roads and traffic).

I'd say that restricting your throttle is a bad idea if you aim for the best possible fuel economy - though I don't know the BSFC diagram for any motorcycles but gasoline engines usually get more efficient under considerable load (but worse again with wide open throttle). Pulse&Glide is based on this fact and works for the F650 pretty well. It's not as good for the Hyosung GV250 though - or I'm doing it wrong.

I'm already covering the radiator at winter and don't do unnecessary idling - except when I'm coasting to lose speed and don't do it long enough to kill the engine.

I don't know what can be considered as a 'powerband' - I try to keep the revs as low as I can without lugging the engine (aka using the highest possible gear).

I suspect I could still improve FE a bit with a 'thinner' oil (now she runs with mineral 15W50) and by adjusting the windshield (I think I have worse air drag than the windshield so it stays)

On drafting: I think it needs much experience and whatnot to really benefit from it: I can do much better with Pulse&Glide than with drafting. Of course it would be the best to combine the two but if there's something I feel unsafe, it certainly is.


motorcycle blue book 6 years ago

Number 4 can give you one heck of a backfire when you restart your bike... It's kind of fun.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Thanks, but please always remember to be VERY careful using any of these techniques!


motorcyclist 6 years ago

What do you think about shifting to neutral and coasting?


alvaro84 6 years ago

For me it's perfectly OK as long as I'm planning to stop.

I tried to shift to neutral while forced autostop on a long downhill at ~60km/h (37mph?) and it worked - but when I tried to shift back to 2nd, the gears started to grind badly. It was scary enough, I surely won't try this again...


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Hmm... you might have been going a bit too fast for a downshift to 2nd. What bike?


JonnyM 6 years ago

You didn't mention the first thing that's obvious; gear ratio. Most of the gear ratios are set to facilitate 1/4 mile times so they look good in the specs. I took my 1980 GS450S down 5 teeth in the back, and up one in the front. No problem on the take-off or up hills. The cruising rpm dropped dramatically, the bike ran much smoother, and with a 120 lb pack I toured the US for 30,000 miles in '88. Average gas mileage was 75, with a high of 90 in Colorado.


alvaro84 6 years ago

In theory it would be no problem to go at 60 km/h in 2nd (though I rarely do it, I normally shift up at ~3500): it would mean ~5000rpm, while the redline is at 7000. It's my BMW F650CS - and our Hyosung GV250 did similarly, the gears were grinding when I tried to shift out of N at somewhat higher speeds. But no probs, my grip gets stronger this way :D

About the gear ratio: there's no known way to change it on a Scarver, it has a belt drive, and there's no real need, the 5th gear can't even be used under 70km/h and I need 15-20 to use the 1st! The GV250 has a chain though, and I intend to change its sprockets to get lower rpms (revs 7000 at 100km/h in 5th)


dgicre profile image

dgicre 6 years ago from USA

Drafting and turning the motor off would not be my first choices to save gas. There are less extreme measures you can try to save gas. Make sure your air filter is clean, your plugs are fresh and switch to synthetic motor oil. Most people I know right after they get their bikes put bigger jets in the carbs and drill out the airbox. These are great for more power but they will not save you fuel. If you really want to save fuel, get a 50cc Aprilia fuel injected scooter. You will get close to 100 MPG without putting your life on the line.


sbyholm profile image

sbyholm 6 years ago from Finland

For many the reason to have a motorcycle is to drive inefficiently and the whole idea of hypermiling is a bit misplaced. :)


alvaro84 6 years ago

dgicre, here it's a common saying that riding a 50cc in Budapest is putting your life on the line in itself.

The things you say are the basics - keeping your bike in a good shape is a necessity if you don't want to get even worse FE. The techniques Hal Licino wrote about are after and beyond these basics :) Anyway, I really don't recommend drafting, it takes away much of the information you need for your safety (and efficiency!) - though it might work reasonably safely if you keep at least 2 seconds of distance behind the draftee. I still prefer riding anywhere but behind a truck...

sbyholm: fortunately not for everyone :) There can be many reasons to ride a motorcycle. For me, it's to have a reasonably efficient vehicle for commuting and touring (something that can deal with longer distances) and not to play (in the sense so many bikers play) :)


zbret 5 years ago

A tip for the drafting. The draft "cone" extends into the neighboring lanes. Go about 50-100 ft back in the neighboring lane, ie left side of right lane, or right side of left lane (left, right of the "center" where the truck is), and you will feel the reduced wind without concern for low visibility, the trucker not seeing you, or becoming a back ornament for the semi.


alvaro84 5 years ago

I don't know what kind of roads are there, but here it would be a bad idea. The neighboring lane is

a.) the wrong direction, you'll risk a frontal very soon (2-lane roads)

b.) the passing lane and you'll get tailgated in an instant (2x2+ motorways)

c.) emergency lane which you shouldn't use (2x2+ again)

Semis are rarely anywhere but the rightmost (save for the emergency) lane as they have much lower speed limits than cars or motorcycles here. All in all, I don't do long stretches of drafting. The only place I can be for longer times is right behind a semi, at a safe distance.


Shannon 4 years ago

most truck run recaps on the trailer, I'll blowout 2 or 3 per month. do you know what a 8' long 60 lb. rubber tread will do to a car windshield at hwy speed, let alone a bike.


rulesforrebels profile image

rulesforrebels 4 years ago

i think hypermiling is stupid, your holding up traffic and slowing down everyone else on the road. hypermiling in a car is stupid and annoying on a motorcycle its just plain dangerous. dont listen to this hub please.


strkngfang profile image

strkngfang 4 years ago

interesting but probably makes more sense to buy a more fuel efficient bike. Most riders could care less about MPG but that has always been a requirement for me. I ride a "nerdy" scooter, but it is a 600cc 2cyl twin that gets 60mpg so that works for me.


CHOPPERGIRL 3 years ago

I think shifting to neutral is very dangerous on a bike, unlike a car. Going down a hill in a car, and kicking it into neutral, is nothing... because you can go from 5th straight to neutral. On a bike, you can't do that. You have to go 5 -} 4 -} 3 -} 2 -} 1 -} N all while holding the clutch and fiddling about the with the foot lever to find neutral. If on any of those down gears you let off the clutch (most likely, because you're in a dream state), your clutch cable breaks, or for any other reason, bam, you're going to be in some serious shit.

Don't believe me? Cruise in 5th gear, then shift down 4th while your in a speed for 5th, and see what happens.

So if you want to coast downhill, I recommend you do this. Don't shift to neutral. Instead, just hold the clutch lever down for the duration of the downhill coast.

Don't mess with the gear shift at all, leave it where it was (5th for example). If you happen to let go of the clutch cable suddenly, at least you'll be in the right gear. And you'll be in the right gear at the bottom of the hill when you do gently let off of it, after revving the engine back a little before you do.

As for drafting, I've done it in cars on the interstate, but its not so fun or doable on a light bike. You get buffeted around. The area where you don't get knocked about, is way too close to the truck in front of you for car or bike.

Cardboard in front of the radiator won't work on air cooled bikes, like my Honda Rebel.

As for changing your throttle - no... you may need that power to get out of an emergency. You can achieve the same thing just by not using that extra half and accelerating more slowly.

And as for handle bars... you don't need different ones... those straight bars are stupid... just hunch down like the guys do on the ninjas/ superbikes and you achieve the same effect, no matter where the handle bars are. I drive home late at night with my face almost behind the speedometer. Note tho that the lower you go, the less steerable the bike is because the way your arms are. Sitting up things are much more steerable. I only recommend this for long stretches. If a deer hops out in front of you you aren't going to be able to evade it scrunched down tho. Best bet is if you get worried sit a bit more up, or up all the way, until the problem goes away.. like a curve coming up and so on.

Proably one point not mentioned... remove some crap from your bike. The less weight, the better the mpg. I add stuff to my bike (luggage) because it makes it far more useful, so its a trade off. Once you strip it down, there's not much it can carry but just you (not so useful). Still, the lighter the bike, the better the mpg.


alvaro84 3 years ago

Shifting into neutral is no problem at any speed. You won't release the clutch while doing so (and why would you?) and you'll be OK. The problem is getting it out of neutral, at a bit higher speed. Really. Just try it at a humble 50-60km/h.

The clutch cable would never break by letting it off, anyway - but you could see other nasty things, like a smoking rear tire.

Throttle changing - it might really be unnecessary. And overdoing it would hurt fuel efficiency too. My experience is that if I'm too gentle with the throttle and accelerate with low engine load my tank average clearly suffers. Being heavy handed helps - as long as you don't use WOT. If you look at a BSFC graph you'll see that even a bit of revving won't hurt, you can rev up to the maximum torque. But once you start to cruise, you should shift into the highest possible gear if you aim good FE.

Weight - there's not much excess weight you can shave off a bike. And it doesn't hurt too much anyway. A bike's dominant energy drains are the aero drag and the innefficiently tuned engine. Having a passenger on the back seat (much heavier than anything you can 'optimize' off the bike's weight) usually results _less than 10 percent_ difference in fuel consumption. Leaving like 10kg of unnecessary stuff at home is welcome anyway, but the effect will be negligible: it may be measurable only in dense city traffic with many lights.


murr 2 years ago

Don't ever do this stupid shit on two wheels, go buy a prius or focus on the bloody road and not some hypermill bullshit that will get u hyper killed. These techniques are for dirt bike riders and we only use them on occasion Jackasses

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