What is your fuel window?

Georgemowry

Motorcycle Rider
Premier Member
IBA Member
#1
I came across a rider in the Mojave desert yesterday. We were at a off ramp with no service. We were 29 miles from gas. She said her Harley was running on fumes. She was waiting for help, which had been summoned. How did she know she couldn’t make it to the gas station?

How far can you go on your tank of gas? The great long distance riders know exactly how far they can go between stops. The insecure riders have crazy auxiliary tanks . The rest of us worry about being stranded and out of gas.

Can you run the tank completely dry and not hurt the motor? Will the motor start afterwards? Has anyone done this to determine the range? How do you know when to stop to gas?

One last thought: what is the point of carrying gas at the bottom of the tank if you never use it?

Please let me know your secrets.

Georgemowry
 

OX-34

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
#2
I'm a rider that uses an auxiliary tank. I am not insecure. I am in fact very secure in my bike's range being over 700km.

On my Blackbird (auxed) I ran the front tank down until it coughed just about every time. When it coughed I then knew exactly how far I had traveled and exactly how far I could continue (about 10 seconds). That gave great Intel regarding my current economy and was a guide to the quality of fuel I bought back at the last stop.

I suggest that if anyone wants to know exactly what fuel lurks below the flashing light they should strap on a jerry can and keep riding. When it coughs, pull over, take note of all of the numbers and empty in the jerry can.

You are now in possession of better fuel range information than anything you had beforehand.

For those that really, really want to know: carry more jerry fuel than your front tank. Fill it to whatever you call the brim. Run it out as above. Fill it with your excess jerry cans to wherever you call the brim.

Ride home. Fill the jerry cans again and note how much fuel. That is exactly how much you can fit in the front and exactly how far you can go on a tank.

Do your guesstimating on future rides depending on speed load and conditions based on that.
 

BMW RT Pilot

Premier Member
#4
The insecure riders have crazy auxiliary tanks .
I can't believe you even said that; maybe it was sarcasm?

The great (and the not-so-great-but-working-on it) long-distance riders use auxiliary tanks so that they can run at a higher speed and not have to stop every 190 miles. Another advantage is that, since you can ride further on a single fill-up, you can reduce the number of stops you need to complete a ride. On a ride like a SS1K, that won't really matter, but when you start getting into the many levels of the BBG series, for example, those precious minutes will add-up to real time and that time can be used for rest.

But to answer your question, as others have mentioned, bring along some extra fuel, run the bike as you would normally do (including load-out), on an IBA ride, and go until the engine dies. Pull over immediately, safely, and refill. I discovered that I could go slightly more than 30 miles long after the DTE counter on the dash read "0". Of course, range is determinate on several factors, including outside temperatures. I've discovered that my RTs range is greatly decreased when the temps are below 60; I've run out of gas at just under 190 miles when the temps were in the high-20s/low 30s. I've had more than a gallon remaining when refueling at just over 200 miles when the temps were above 60. Both times I was riding at a cruise-control controlled GPS speed of 85mph.

And to throw in more confusion, I've seen range improve over the course of a ride even though the temps were barely above freezing. Usually the first or second tank gets the worst mileage on any given trip.
 

Georgemowry

Motorcycle Rider
Premier Member
IBA Member
#5
To bmw rt pilot and everyone:
My apologies sir. It was not meant to disrespect any one. I admire each and every long distance motorcyclist on whatever equipment they ride. I actually wrote that line and spell checker changed it a bit to something different than my original intent which was about my anxiety and insecurity of running out of gas on a timed long distance ride in the middle of nowhere. It was not meant to say that utilizing an auxiliary gas tank means the rider is insecure.
Georgemowry
 

Rusjel

Premier Member
#7
Ox's practice is sound, but you have to do more research if you ride in varying conditions. I have 29l in my 1190. Range varies from 580km at highway speeds on bitumen to 480km travelling on the sandy and gravelly roads.

The more you take note of conditions and how that affects your range the more peace of mind you have when you really need it.
 

kwthom

Rider
Premier Member
IBA Member
#8
<...>The rest of us worry about being stranded and out of gas.
The term is "range anxiety" - and is common for those that never use that last gallon/liter of fuel.

Can you run the tank completely dry and not hurt the motor? Will the motor start afterwards? Has anyone done this to determine the range? How do you know when to stop to gas?
Well, Ira has already mentioned the issue with many common fuel pumps - the fuel is actually what keeps the pump cool. Thus, extended operation without fuel in the system will eventually harm the fuel pump. How long does that take? I don't think I want to find out.

As far as the motorcycle engine? Hurting it? Not likely, but then again, I'm not an expert. Here's what you *don't* want to have happen - running out in an area where you could be in danger of being hurt or killed as a result of the bike turning you into a pedestrian!

It's been mentioned, take a gallon of fuel, burn off a tank and see where you end up. Now, I have a 40 mile stretch of Interstate that has frontage roads along it - and minimal exits. I have burned down my fuel supply until I hit reserve. I then fill that gallon gas can and go ride along that Interstate, then onto those frontage roads and let the bike run dry. Now, it wasn't at "IBA" speeds, but if I know I've got range issues before my next fuel opportunity, there's every advantage of backing off a bit with speed. At this point (with all other factors equal) this should extend your range.

One last thought: what is the point of carrying gas at the bottom of the tank if you never use it?

Please let me know your secrets.
(1) "Plan the Ride, then Ride the Plan" always works. Know where fuel is where possible, stop early - no need to push range if you can succeed with a 7 or 8 minute fuel stop most of the time.

(2) Given this advice a few years ago by an IBR finisher. Rally had a fuel stop that was just within the typical fuel range of a Goldwing. The advice was "simply maintain your average speed on that leg", meaning by monitoring your actual speed, and the speed you have maintained to that point, it's easy to know that you can back off a bit, but also by how much. His advice worked well.

Good luck to ya!
 
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cacomly

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
#9
I run my aux tank because it gives me options that I would not have. Speed has nothing to do with it. If I put enough miles behind me I will still worry about running out of gas. I just have to wait longer to worry. Also note that wind and other things can come into play that will impact your range, not just speed.

Depending on what bike the Harley Rider was on she may well have had a fuel gauge that told her how many miles were left until she was empty so she knew she could not make it, and chose that spot to wait because it was easier for her help to find her.

I know I can go 400 or so miles on my 2006 Sportster with my aux tank. I plan to refill at 350 so I have a cushion. I will dip into that cushion in certain circumstances such as I am 10-20 miles from my destination, or if I know the area and know there is fuel there. But that bike is not fuel injected so I have a reserve which gives me a warning when I am down to .6 gallons by coughing and sputtering.

The point of carrying gas you won't use will vary. As I stated above, perhaps she knew she would not make it to the next gas station and wanted to wait in a place where she felt safe and could be easily found. If I were in that situation I would likely elect to stop at a similar location.
 

Traxx

Premier Member
#10
WARNING: If your motorcycle is equipped with a large fuel-tank, please note that you must stop at least once every 350 miles for gas (this is purely for documentation for your ride). Although we know it is possible to ride greater distances non-stop, we will not accept a claim of this type.

At the end of your ride, before the 24 hour (or 36 hour for the Bun Burner) time period is up, obtain a computer printed gas receipt with a legible location, date and time stamp.

http://www.ironbutt.com/themerides/ssseries/

So on to my thinking and it is more about personal selfishness. I want to stop when I am ready, not whey the fuel gauge tells me to.
I have not run my tank dry to find out what the absolute fuel range is, and I will not do that. There are to many things that can change the count. Wind, weight, what position the windscreen is in, temps, road surface, and throttle control are just a few. I generally fill up at around 200 miles on the clock here around town. I haven't had my girl on a long road trip yet and am looking forward to seeing what she can do.
 
#11
I have never run my tank dry in case of damage to the pump, and i can do 310 miles for 29 ltrs that leaves me approx 4 ltrs as a reserve.
I rarely carry a fuel can as on the UK mainland there is always fuel nearby, the highlands of Scotland it can be few and far between but there are more 24/7 stations opening so it's improving.
 

Stephen!

Premier Member
IBA Member
#12
WARNING: If your motorcycle is equipped with a large fuel-tank, please note that you must stop at least once every 350 miles for gas (this is purely for documentation for your ride). Although we know it is possible to ride greater distances non-stop, we will not accept a claim of this type.
Note: This rule applies to IBA Certificate rides. I haven't been in a rally yet that had mileage limitations between fuel reciepts. Overall fuel capacity, yah, but never "You must stop every xxx miles for fuel" during a rally.
 

Traxx

Premier Member
#13
Note: This rule applies to IBA Certificate rides. I haven't been in a rally yet that had mileage limitations between fuel reciepts. Overall fuel capacity, yah, but never "You must stop every xxx miles for fuel" during a rally.
You are right, but I will ride a lot more cert rides than rally rides. Aaaannnnnnndddd if it was me I would calculate it out to a even 400 mile range for that extra buffer. Again speed, weather, wind, etc can and will kill fuel milage.
 
#14
You are right, but I will ride a lot more cert rides than rally rides. Aaaannnnnnndddd if it was me I would calculate it out to a even 400 mile range for that extra buffer. Again speed, weather, wind, etc can and will kill fuel milage.
Calculating for 400 miles means a lot of fuel in the tank. That's just dead weight.
 

Traxx

Premier Member
#15
Well, lets figure at 40mpg US so I would need 10 gallons to make 400 miles. I have 5.9 stock tank and that leaves me with 4.1 to go. At 6.3 lbs per gallon x 4.1 = to 25.8 lbs. I can change that by what gear I am wearing. Well almost.
Fuel is never dead weight.
 
#16
When I first returned to riding at age 59 and 26 years off I decided to go for the gusto. As soon as I picked up my carbureted Honda VTX 1300R I began "practicing" for an IBA ride.

One day on the VTX I had it all calculated out. My reserve would need to be tapped at around 130 or 140 miles. I was on my last "practice" ride before this old fart successfully tried a Texas SS1000. At 4.9 gallons (one gallon of reserve) I figured 35 miles on reserve. No problem. I ran out of fuel about 200 feet from my planned stop. My calculations said I should still have my reserve gallon left. I did not factor in wind. After pushing it the last 200 feet I promised myself I would never push my motorcycle again. So now with a 1.8 gallon of auxiliary fuel, and much more experience, I know I can run at least 200 miles and never feel that "pucker factor". . Only once have I had to hit the reserve before 200 miles and that was fighting a wind in western Oklahoma while running an honest 75 to 80. I usually get in the upper 30s mpg. So that I do not run out of fuel I figure my fuel stops with the auxiliary tank at 200 miles, maybe a little more. I know that works out to be 30 mpg. I have not ran out of fuel again. Also, if the station is closed I still have a chance of finding fuel.

My Yamaha Royal Star Venture, 4 carburetors, gave me a new challenge. My first serious outing I would get anywhere from 26 mpg to 35 mpg. I said this ain't going to cut it. Then I realized I was not getting the tank full at each stop. I solved that problem by putting holes in the filler neck to let the air out. Now I can fill the tank a little more than the book states at 5.9 (one gallon reserve). I usually get 35 to 38 mpg. That figures 170 miles before reserve. Except into a strong wind, running 75 and 80 and increasing elevation in northern Wyoming. I hit reserve at 150 miles. I had no idea where the next station was as I had figured on my range to be minimum of 170 plus reserve. It was "pucker factor" time. Maybe I did not take the few seconds to fill it to the top. I don't know. I did find fuel at a very strange place. It was expensive 85 octane. I hoped it was not too contaminated. It got me to a good station a little farther than I could have made it on reserve.

I now have a 5 gallon auxiliary tank on my RSV. I figure on 300 miles, sometimes more, between fuel stops. I should be able to go 350 miles but walking is not my choice of travel. I play it a little safe.

The auxiliary tanks on both motorcycles gives me more flexibility when touring and more range on an IBA ride. When in places like Nowhere, Utah, or No One Lives Here, Texas, I will allow myself a good amount of "reserve". When in those places, see fuel buy fuel.
 
#17
I always pre-plan my fuel stops. When it's cold, I'll plan for them at no more than 200 miles apart. Sometimes this results in my having to stop at around 180 miles because I am in the middle of nowhere and Google Maps isn't showing a fueling station on the route.

In the picture, you can see the modified Maple Farkles luggage deck I have and the 3-gallon Rotopax fuel can. What I would do is plan for the stops to be about 340-350 miles apart, run the tank until it sputtered, pull over and dump the extra fuel in. When it's hot, I can get nearly 250 miles on the RT before she's empty and the extra 3 gallons doesn't have to take me very far.

But after getting several rides in under my belt, I evaluated the data and I realized that I wasn't saving time by stretching the legs out in this manner and that I would need an honest-to-god auxiliary fuel tank. I ended-up ditching the entire Maple system and I now carry a 1-gallon Rotopax fuel can in my left side case for emergencies. In the meantime, I am playing around with designs for my auxiliary fuel tank.
 

Attachments

#18
Well, lets figure at 40mpg US so I would need 10 gallons to make 400 miles. I have 5.9 stock tank and that leaves me with 4.1 to go. At 6.3 lbs per gallon x 4.1 = to 25.8 lbs. I can change that by what gear I am wearing. Well almost.
Fuel is never dead weight.
What I was referring to is the distance-limit on an IBA ride (350 miles). Most people I speak with who have auxiliary fuel tanks tell me that they plan their stops to be around the 330-mile mark, so if you calculate for 350 miles, you would still have a nice little reserve. Planning for 400 miles, though, seems like overkill (for an IBA ride, that is).
 

Traxx

Premier Member
#19
What I was referring to is the distance-limit on an IBA ride (350 miles). Most people I speak with who have auxiliary fuel tanks tell me that they plan their stops to be around the 330-mile mark, so if you calculate for 350 miles, you would still have a nice little reserve. Planning for 400 miles, though, seems like overkill (for an IBA ride, that is).
I always pre-plan my fuel stops. When it's cold, I'll plan for them at no more than 200 miles apart.
When it's hot, I can get nearly 250 miles on the RT before she's empty and the extra 3 gallons doesn't have to take me very far.
Go through and re-read.