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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Rising fuel prices - Beat the heat the Biker's way

Well, with the rising fuel prices, it's certainly tough times for anyone who uses a motor vehicle and it's certainly harder for people like use, you do not use here vehicles for mere commuting, but more as a tool to achieve the ultimate delight in everyday life. People like us, like to experiment with the throttle, flow through the traffic like a breeze, always on the look out for that extra bit in the rev range, and just when someone would think that we are done for the day, we just go faster.

But at the end of it, everything comes down to that precious liquid gold, flowing through the veins of our machines - Petrol. With the Indian government bent towards levying more tax on Petrol by the hour, it's time to take a step back and think about the options we have at our disposal. Situations like this often stops us from putting thing into perspective and makes us judgmental without being logical and that's exactly when we start making the wrong moves. So, what I write below are some of the right moves I make, and believe me a lot of those right moves have spawned from the wrong moves I've made in my past.

The first thing that we need to understand here is that even though the Fuel Consumption of your motorcycle is directly proportional to the Cubic Capacity of it's engine, but the same cannot be said about the Fuel Economy completely. It's true that the fuel economy of a 1000cc motorcycle won't be the same as a 100cc motorcycle, but here were we need to put things into perspective and try to be logical rather being judgmental out of the box. I know riders who are able to juice out fuel economy from a 1000cc Honda Fireblade, equivalent to that of a Pulsar 220F. At the very first glance, that would seem as rubbish and impossible, but as the saying goes - "Impossible is actually I'M Possible". The words of wisdom here are "Riding Style", "Maintenance", "Sanity", "Logic" and above all "Planning". So, let's see how we can adopt these words in our daily motorcycle as a tool to fight the hike in fuel prices.

Riding Style
That's basically the most important thing that would be called into service at this point of time. Riding the Pulsar 200, I know how bad my right wrist etches to twist the throttle. The point here is that, the more we twist the right wrist, the more the engine has to do the work and the more the engine works, the more would be it's apatite for energy, which would be finally drawn from the fuel.

But again, here, I'm not saying you drag the heavy metal butt at sub 20 speeds, but what essentially is required is the identification of a comfortable cruising speed, which would allow you to be in your comfort zone of riding and at the same time would need minimal switching between your cogs. Also, when shifting between gears, move between gears smoothly and not in a haste. The smoother the gear operation, the more efficient your ride would be. Also, keep in mind that for most Indian motorcycles, we should shift up within the rev range of 3k - 4k rpms. Going above 4k rpms would make you go faster, but with a price. In everyday traffic conditions, that's not required actually and I personally like to save that part for short bursts of fun during commute.

Another riding habit that we all need to inculcate amongst ourselves is to operate the clutch lesser. The lesser we operate the clutch, the lesser the engine would need additional fuel. Sometimes we have this tendency to operate the clutch every now and then and that essentially results in the bike drinking additional fuel to compensate for the clutch activity. What we need to do is, to be in the appropriate gearing and then try and control our speed without requiring much of shifting of the gears and clutch operation. We should be comfortable enough to modulate through speeds just by using the throttle and the brakes (as little as possible, else we end up using more clutch). This might mean that we might play with higher rpms for short burst but that's okay as long as the need to play with the clutch doesn't arrive. But at the same time, try to be at constant speeds as much as possible.

The maintenance of you motorcycle is of paramount importance here. A badly maintained motorcycle would any day expend more fuel be it of any capacity. Be it any situation you should have a few key things in your motorcycle always working in mint condition -
  1. Maintain proper engine oil and grade levels (the choice of fully synthetic or semi-synthetic is yours but the proper grade should be used and in proper recommended quantity).
  2. The engine should not leak oil.
  3. The timing chain should not be loose.
  4. The transmission chain should not be loose.
  5. The tyre pressure should be optimum.
  6. The clutch and brake wires should be in good condition and should be well lubricated to allow minimum operational effort.
  7. The brakes should be in good condition.
Always remember, even the best craftsmen cannot create even a simple relic with a faulty tool. People who are buying new motorcycles must follow the engine break-in procedures very judiciously, as that would result in a very efficient and high revving engine, be it any capacity. For more details refer to my Engine Break-In guide.

True riders are always sane and can shoulder the responsibility of being a motorcyclist. Many a times we get tempted to be ahead of the traffic, just be the first one and just BANG shoot off!! Well, we all know that's not required actually. A 100cc motorcycle zipping past me, should hardly mean anything to me. Unless and until the situation really demands to be insane (like some real bad ones), Sane Riding not only saves fuel but also keep the rider and people around safe.

Sanity also is needed in the realization, as to what to expect from your motorcycle as a healthy fuel economy. Setting unrealistic targets for your motorcycle, and then later kicking it, is not sanity in any way. If you are getting too finicky about fuel, it's better to use public transport during the week day and keep the motorcycle for weekend bliss, but be sure of your motorcycle's capabilities and but honest with it.

Well this is more of an extension of Sanity. Just think, what more you can do. Shed some extra weight while traveling or commuting. It's already burning outside this summer and carrying extra weight just adds to the anguish. Lesser dry weight would mean lesser stress on the engine. During this time, you might also want to switch to non-sticky tyres, if possible, but then again that won't be much of a difference.

The use of logic would definitely help you not to go overboard and be realistic with your motorcycle.

When I mentioned about less clutch usage in the Riding Style section, I completely understood that it's not always possible in all situations. In bumper-to-bumper traffic, you have no choice but to use your clutch for quite a long distance and here exactly where proper Planning would help.

Know your route, and plan accordingly. Leaving 5-10 min late or early might do a world of difference. Avoid rush hours and commute intelligently. You might also want to refer to my guide on Art of Commuting. Planning your commute would not only save you on fuel but also enticed. Taking an alternate route which has lesser traffic, smoother, but is say 2-4 kms longer, would help, than taking the shorter one which is clogged like hell.

Always remember, God didn't gave us Free Will, but human created one for their own and named it Motorcycle. So, enjoy it what ever the situation is, because it's your Free Will to be gratified while sitting right in the middle of an inferno.
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  1. I liked the 'God didn't give us Free Will, but human created one for their own and named it Motorcycle.'
    Also i vouch for the increase in fuel consumption when we engage clutch very often..I travel everyday from congested as hell powai...I have no option but to use the clutch..but after powai i tend not to use too much of clutch

  2. @Preejush

    Well mate we got to enjoy this amazing opportunity in the name of motorcycle that we have.. so, it's our effort to put and the result to enjoy.

    Ride Safe

  3. ride safe buddy..whats your current ride?
    Also are you part of any group...or you do solo riding? Lets meet up sometime for a ride.

    Have a nice day

  4. @Preejush

    I ride a Bajaj Pulsar 200. I'm not a part of any group and generally go to rides with some of my friends.

    Would love to meet up some day for a ride. I put up at Gurgaon :)


Item Reviewed: Rising fuel prices - Beat the heat the Biker's way Description: Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Sajal
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