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MD Opinion: (Can’t Get) Home on the Range?

Isn’t it time that someone in the motorcycle business, anyone, tried to reverse a trend in motorcycle fuel-tank size and carrying capacity that seriously affects motorcycling?

A basic criterion for a sportbike ride, given an ergonomics package acceptable for physical endurance, is range. Next to that need is the ability to carry a modest amount of gear—say, a change of clothes—leathers, jeans, underwear, sneakers, cell phone and bottle of water. Considered here, primarily, are the 600-1000cc bikes that are among the most popular sold. Though a tiny proportion end up on the track, most are bought by riders who seek utility as well as sport pleasure. They want to go places, not just beat up the nearest twisty. Secondarily, we should include ‘cruisers’ that are notoriously short legged.

For sportbikes, lack of range is a serious problem. One hundred miles is much too short a range (straight out or 50 miles out and back to a gas station), 125 miles is marginal and 150 miles the minimal acceptable distance a rider should be able to go, riding at his or her safety level on roads sufficiently remote that conflicts with civilian traffic are minimal while using the motorcycle to its design specifications: fast, with a lot of pinned throttle.

Most of today’s sportbikes, ridden aggressively to limits acceptable on remote public highways, deliver, at most, 100-125 miles of range to reserve. They are designed and built in Japan or Europe, where longer range doesn’t matter much. In the U.S, particularly in the West, it does matter. A lot.

All the latest middleweight and open-class sportbikes are great motorcycles that can be ridden fast for 6-8 hours, as they are designed to be ridden. At fuel-consumption levels these bikes deliver on wide throttle openings—roughly 25 mpg for the open-classers, 30 mpg for the middleweights, at best, on four-gallon tanks—a rider can go about 85 to 110 miles before risking running out of gas. If you’re more than 10-15 miles from a gas station (25 if you baby it—.ed), after riding those distances, prepare to walk.

Back off the throttle, negating the bikes’ purpose, and you get 110-135 mile ranges. Drone for maximum economy (why buy such a bike?) and you might get 135-150 miles at best. Most sportbikes are miserable to ride slowly.

Consider, in evaluating the above range, a typical popular motorcycle road for California sportbike riders, ridden by thousands annually: Highway 58. Check the map. It comes in from the Arizona state line, passes through Buttonwillow on I-5 (gas stations), becomes ‘interesting’ at McKittrick (no gas station) and ends at Santa Margarita (no gas station), where it meets Highway 101. You must ride 12 miles further, to Atascadero, for gas. Los Angeles-area riders typically take 33 through Taft to McKittrick. Buttonwillow and Taft are each 90-plus miles from Atascadero.

A sport-bike rider using the full performance of a sport bike cannot get from Buttonwillow or Taft to Atascadero reliably. Starting from Atascadero and riding east, a rider must turn round long before the ‘interesting’ road goes straight, or run out of gas. A favorite turnaround spot is the so-called ‘Dinosaur Ranch,’ 70 miles from Atascadero. An enthusiastic rider cannot turn ’round there but must continue into Taft for fuel (if he or she can get there), unacceptably lengthening the day’s ‘interesting’ ride. This is only one of many roads that cannot be ridden comfortably in the American West on typical modern, range-limited sport bikes.

Reverting to the popular Ducati 1198 and 848, among the most desirable bikes sold, with four-gallon tanks, it should not take engineering genius to add two gallons of fuel (the 851 and 888 of blessed memory had 5.2-gallon tanks). Two gallons would add 16 pounds to the wet weight but would extend their range to the minimum acceptable length, ridden to design capability.

The Ducatis are only examples: most of today’s high-performance sportbikes have identical range problems. Honda’s and Suzuki’s big V-Twins of the 1990s were similarly afflicted and did not become market leaders. The ‘new, improved’ Honda VFR1200 has a range, including reserve, of about 160 miles and its tank is less than five gallons.

Turning to the cruisers, this test rider had to ferry an H-D Street Rod from San Francisco to the H-D Press shop in Los Angeles and bring back an 883. Going down on I-5 (no back roads were feasible—no gas), with gas stations often 35-40 miles apart, one had to stop frequently—about every 60-65 miles—or risk running dry. On the 883, with its tiny peanut tank, some of the ‘Next gas 30 miles’ warnings meant stopping even more often. These were difficult trips, yet not at all atypical of the kinds of riding many owners would want to undertake.

When will manufacturers step up and give us range? Is it too much to ask?

Carrying a small amount of gear is yet another issue most manufacturers give little or no thought to addressing. On most sport bikes, there isn’t even storage space for a credit card. Yet even vestigial thought would provide space. If, as we observe, bikes will start to use under-engine mufflers (as Buell did), providing a small storage space in the tail should be well within the capabilities of engineers who can coax  more than 120 hp from 600cc engines.

Designers, start your brains.

118 Comments

  1. Phil K says:

    At least they put this storage system on the ugliest bike (Victory) available. No one is going to notice anything out of the ordinary.

  2. Vrooom says:

    While I generally agree with the articles tone, I have to say I’ve never ever seen a comment on MD when a new bike is tested that the tank is too small, or that being heavier but having a bigger tank would be an improvement. Instead 3 lbs. differences in wet weight are accentuated, and sport-touring duty is rarely emphasized on sport bikes. I will say my Ducati ST4s gets a routine 200 miles per tank (despite the fuel warning light coming on with nearly 2 gallons left), and my V-strom 1000 is good for 230. For me a bike is useless without 180 miles of range minimum.

  3. Foogunheimer says:

    Hmmm…..reminds me of the FORD Pinto, don’t know why.

  4. Norm G. says:

    re: “My mower holds that much and I only ride it around the yard.”

    but would have ZERO poser cred if ever ridden to your local starbucks. heck, you might even get arrested…? so amazingly it all balances out. :)

  5. kent says:

    30mpg for a motorcycle? That’s simply unacceptable.

    My 650 V-Strom gets 50. I realize that it isn’t a high performance bike, yet I can still ride it *way* faster than the rules allow. I get more than 200 miles before the fuel starts to get anywhere near low, and 250 wouldn’t worry me.

    If I did an entire tank in the twisties, ignoring all common sense and speed laws, I might only get 200 miles.

    Sounds to me like you’re all riding the wrong bike at the wrong speed in the wrong place.

  6. 40oz_Warrior says:

    Love the look of that tail bag on the Victory. It’s Da Bomb ! Literally.

  7. takehikes says:

    I think most tanks are too big! First they hold what they hold typically because they are hiding stuff up under the tank. I have a Road Star and the tank was 5 gallons but there is probably 1/2 to a full gallon of space up under it that isn’t used. I put on a 2.9 gallon Sporty tank and have no problem, then again it may be because I have a 100 mile ass!

  8. Steve says:

    The range on a motorcycle should come from fuel efficiency. When we have motorcycles getting 35 mpg something is clearly wrong. Bigger, faster and louder is all the industry has been able to come up with for decades. We need innovation and fuel efficiency today. Motorcycles have been big enough and fast enough and loud enough for decades.

  9. DingerJunkie says:

    “Sporty” bikes need more range. Current sport bikes, if intentionally ridden to exploit their performance potential, are pretty much illegal on most US roads.

    I could take highway cloverleafs on an ’05 SV650S at 75mph with no issues or surprises. If current 600 and open-class SuperSport bikes are ridden with “enthusiasm,” the rider is almost definitely speeding or holding paces that are both reckless on public roads and likely beyond the response time of the average SuperSport owner.

    “Most sport bikes are miserable to ride slowly” should be translated to “most sport bikes are miserable to ride at paces safe for public roads.” In my mind, the solution to this is to follow the maxim that it is more fun to ride a slow bike quickly than a fast bike slowly…give me more 500CC-and-under sportbikes, please…with real-world range, since they won’t be track bikes.

    However…I’ll give you the point on cruisers/Sportsters…pure-street bikes need more range. I agree with similar comments related to the V-Strom and such.

  10. craigj says:

    Of course if you are fortunate enough to ride a Ducati Hypermotard and have an extra $800 sitting around, you can put in a California Cycleworks 6.4 gallon tank. Same look, just expands the tank under the seat.

    http://www.ca-cycleworks.com/ca-cycleworks-6-4-gallon-hypermotard-fuel-tank

    I do miss the extended range of my old Kawi ZR-7S. The most I ever got out of it was about 280 miles, but even then I never found the bottom or the tank. With the V-Strom 1000 I ride currently, 220 miles is about as far as she goes.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “you can put in a California Cycleworks 6.4 gallon tank. Same look, just expands the tank under the seat.”

      see, craigj get’s it…

      re: “and have an extra $800 sitting around”

      which of course you WOULD if you had the wherewithal to pony up for something as “sinfully delicious” as a hyper in the first place.

  11. Jim says:

    Isn’t the kind or ride described in the post part of the reason sport tourers exist?

    It is really not the size of the gas tank, but the crappy mileage that sport bikes get. Even if you have a five gallon tank, if you only are getting 25-30 mpg you will still be limited to 125-150 mile range.

  12. Robert Day says:

    I so agree with everything in the article! I have been riding for 40 years and have seen tanks get smaller and smaller. I have a 2010 Kawi Z1000 that I cannot take on some of my riding loops in Southern Nevdada because of the range. I also have a 2011 BMW R1200GS Adventure and the main reason I got the GSA instead of the GS was because of the big tank!
    While we are on the subject, there is not one street legal, scooter, cruiser, sportbike or dual sport that should leave any factory without at least one functional helmet lock!!!! One that will lock the helmet to the bike and not scratch up the helmet or the bike! I’ve seen them go away over the years too. That has always bugged me!

  13. Tai says:

    Riding at a cruising pace, my H-D XR1200x reserve light comes on @ 100 miles. Better look around soon or it’s a push to the next gas station. If it’s ridden at a decent pace, then it’s down to 85-90 miles before the reserve light activates. Otherwise, 1/2 gallon left then you’re in trouble. I guess the small tank was design in the name of styling. I wish the gas tank had another gallon.

    • MikeD says:

      Thanks for the info, i have had my eyes on that pretty thing for a while and always wondered how much of a range(practicality) it had. Pretty much a city bike, would u say ?

  14. motowarrior says:

    Just a quick word in praise of the BMW F650GS (800cc twin). On a recent trip from Florida to near the Canadian border my wife’s bike got 60-71 mpg in all types of riding. The high range was on the Blue Ridge parkway where we went just a bit over the speed limit in deference to local police. This could be the bike you want to roam America. Even with only 4.2 gallons of gas, she always hit reserve after the other BMWs in our group, with 230 – 260 miles being typical. Fun to ride too, and it will work with any fuel short of diesel!

  15. phil says:

    VTR1000 must be the worst offender. Great engine, great bike, but especially the first version had a criminally small fuel tank.

    • MikeD says:

      I heard a lot of the blame for poor MPG went to the TOILET SIZED 48mm CV Carbs(claimed the biggest ones Honda has ever used).
      The tank is slightly smaller on the Honda 4.2gl vs 4.5gl on the SV1000N and yet i make 130-135 miles to the tank.

  16. Norm G. says:

    i only need enough gas to take me 28 laps at WTFO. should my pump begin to suck air after i take the checkers…? then so be it…! :) seriously, manufacturers should just continue making bikes the way they are. as fuel injection evolved and took over OF COURSE they were going going to lose tank capacity. you don’t need extra if you don’t waste it in the first place (carbs). in the arms race of the past 2 decades the “extra” has been (per customer demand mind) put towards creating ever more power. however, in those instances that they deliberately want to address fuel mileage (think GS adventure) fine. if not…? also fine. in NOT doing so, they throw a bone to the aftermarket who then get to step in and create products that support said vehicle (ref. ca cycleworks whopping 6.4 gallon tanks for the hypermotard). supported vehicles then enjoy a “knock-on” effect of increased sales which once again beget sales of the aftermarket items which of course have to be installed. wealth get’s spread around, cash get’s infused into the economy, we motorcyclists get to play with farkles and doo-dads that we have EVERY intention of buying any damn way…?!?! and with that economic loop closes engaging auto-pilot (destination, growth and sustainability). this is the niche industry, this is how it works, this is what’s known as win/win/win.

  17. Just Tom says:

    Bigger gas tanks are great, but what about better gas mileage? I can’t believe manufacturers are unable to get more miles per gallon. Perhaps an “economy mode” when droning on the highway?

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Perhaps an “economy mode” when droning on the highway?”

      they already have that actually and happens automatically. it’s called closed loop operation via an 02 sensor.

      • MikeD says:

        Nah nah, thats just EFI doing whats suposed to do…what i would like to see is a stand alone “ECONOMY TO THE MAX Lean Map” for when ur not feeling freesky and hot blooded that can be turned On on the fly by ME, not the ECM.
        Not a RAIN mode or City mode…a lean economy mode.

        Vmax 1700 Riders come to mind fast…the thing’s got an incredible apetite(27mpg estimaed, real world most probably 20), 4gal tank and only 5 gears…owners at times voice how they would like an xtra gear and a lean map for those super slab times. These things have fancy(modern,powerful,eficient) ECMs now a days, so they can support the xtra tech and software needed.

  18. bikerrandy says:

    I travel on bikes a lot long distances. If I can’t go at least 200 miles between fill-ups I carry an extra 1 gal. gas can which doesn’t take much room on my bike of choice. I ride w/saddlebags and a trunk, tankbag. All my bikes(4) get 40-65 mpg cruising @ 65 mph.

    • Stinky says:

      That’s the problem. I too WANT to carry a gallon but would rather not risk getting gas over all my gear or stopping to put it in. I’ve passed on quite a few bikes account of small tanks. Riding with these bikes is like traveling with a small bladdered companion, always gotta stop, just when things are getting fun.

  19. Mickey says:

    My ST 1300 will go a bit over 300 miles on a tank, my FZ-1 will go a bit over 220, My Nighthawk 750 will go 200 and my Majesty 400 will go a bit over 200, yet even though I am always filling them up (at nearly $20 a crack) it seems whenever I get one out for a ride, it’s nearly empty. Can’t figure out how that happens.

    Seriously why would they put a tank on a motorcycle that hold less than 5 gallons of gas? My mower holds that much and I only ride it around the yard.

  20. johnny ro says:

    Agree with range being a basic design parameter and I also want more. I am not in range constricted space- NH and western maine.

    My old EX250 was no tourer (people do tour on them and ride also WOF in the twisties), but I could ride for a weekend in the mountains and then gas it up next weekend. 5 gallons and 70 mpg.

    My SV’s and Vstrom seem to be under 200 miles range. The SVs are kind of unconfortable so 1.5 hours is plenty. One part solution is keep a fewalons in garage, so I dont have to shuttle back adn forth to gas station to keep it full.

    I was prepared for aftermarket tank for my TW200 but it was too small to really enjoy. It would have been about 4 gallons x 70 mph. Thats a lot of miles on a TW.

  21. Ben says:

    02′ Interceptor, 5.5-ish gallon tank, nearly 50mpg if you ride it sanely.

  22. DCE says:

    “All the latest middleweight and open-class sportbikes are great motorcycles that can be ridden fast for 6-8 hours, as they are designed to be ridden. At fuel-consumption levels these bikes deliver on wide throttle openings—roughly 25 mpg for the open-classers, 30 mpg for the middleweights, at best, on four-gallon tanks—a rider can go about 85 to 110 miles before risking running out of gas. If you’re more than 10-15 miles from a gas station (25 if you baby it—.ed), after riding those distances, prepare to walk.

    Back off the throttle, negating the bikes’ purpose, and you get 110-135 mile ranges. Drone for maximum economy (why buy such a bike?) and you might get 135-150 miles at best. Most sportbikes are miserable to ride slowly.”

    How about designing/building bikes that are fun to ride at posted speed limits, provide great, adjustable ergonomics for a wide range of riders AND provide fuel economy that gives a 250-mile tank? Seems kind of stupid to me to build a bike with capability that no one can legally use on public highways, with ergonomics that only a portion of the rider public find acceptable, and fuel economy that is worse than any subcompact (some compacts too) automobile.

  23. fast2win says:

    6.5 ON MY R/T AND I CAN’T RIDE IT FAST ENOUGH ON THE STREET TO GET LESS THAN 230. COMMUTING GET ME 260. I CAN GET CLOSE TO 300 ON INTERSTATE KEEPING IT UNDER 80MPH. MY BELOVED S2 BUELL HAD 5 GALLONS AND WOULD ALWAYS GET ME 42 RIDING HARD, THAT 190-200 MILES. OUT WEST IS TOUGH THOUGH. GREENRIVER UTAH OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT EXIT FOR GAS NEXT FUEL SERVICE 136 MILES. SOME OF YOU FELLAS JUST WOULDN’T MAKE IT.LOL

    • MikeD says:

      WOW…that RT sure sounds like a Super Tanker…(O_O )’

      (…and stop writing with Caps Lock On) it is considered screaming. No need for it (^_^ )

  24. Teng says:

    Back in 1997, I had a 1995 ZX6r. I rode from Sacramento, California to St.Paul MN and stopped only 8 times for gas. Thats 1962 miles. I averaged about 245 miles before stopping for gas. Reason why I remember this was because I was a poor college student and gas was averaging 1.09 per gallon, and at 4.8 gallons with 1 gallon on reserve, I had to watch my spending being poor.. haha. Those were the times and for some reason, my ZX6r always got me to where I wanted to go for cheap.

  25. MikeD says:

    Yeah, is a shame…i usually hit reserve on my SV1000N(4.5Gal)at around 130-135(with a bikini fairing? is that what u call a small aftermarket windshield?) when fueled to the top (almost no air space for gas expansion) and riding like a normal person would (less than 80mph highway cruising)…yes, it is a bother to be stopping for gas that often…i guess i see an ST Machine on my future “eventually”=(for sure)…i have been watching those C14, FJR1300, ST1300 & R1200RT very close for a while now(and while at it get rid of that Pesky Needy Chain). Belts! I demand MORE BELTS!

    That or buy a Ninja 250 and slap a C14 Tank on it.

    I hope i never have to find one day how far i can make it on reserve (fingers crossed). That thing is HEAVY under human power.

  26. Dannytheman says:

    I have seen auxiliary 5 gallon tanks mounted on the rear of Harleys. Some of my iron butt guys have them. They mount on where the rear rack would go, or over the rear seat. They have there own fuel pump and move the fuel from the aux to the main tank, which is 6 gallons on a newer Harley. So with 200 in the 6 gallon tank and 160 in the aux tank that makes a fair addition. The tanks look like kegs on the back. I will try to find a link that shows some pictures of a couple!

  27. Mike says:

    While I don’t disagree that more fuel is generally handy, I also don’t think it’s as big of an issue as is being described here. I currently ride a Suzuki DR650 with a typical range of about 200km (125 miles) before reserve that I have toured pretty extensively on, including some fairly remote places in northern Canada. There have been stretches that I’ve had to plan very carefully and perhaps lower my speed accordingly to extend my range, and I’ve had a few pretty close calls when a planned gas station has shut down. But that is all part of the adventure to me, otherwise I’d just buy a Winnebago and travel in that.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “But that is all part of the adventure to me, otherwise I’d just buy a Winnebago and travel in that.”

      exactly, selling all one’s kit and freeing onesself from the burden that is motorcycling is in fact a valid option most never consider…? i gaurantee you’ll never be troubled by the “pure evil” that are abandoned gas stations ever again.

  28. George says:

    Yamaha FJR1300…..

  29. ABQ says:

    I went out for a nice long ride in the countryside awile back. When I got to my destination I expected to fill up at a local gas station and head back. But when I got there I discovered that the gas station had been closed and the pumps had been pulled out. So, there I was with 200 miles on my trip meter, and fifty miles from the nearest gas station… good thing I have a six gallon tank…(5.3 w/1 gallon reserve)

    This is why I complain when a motorcycle company puts teeny tiny gas tanks on their bikes. The reality out here in the real world often runs contrary to their stylish designs. They should expect people to want to ride their bikes a long way down the road… and back. Now how about an article about seats that don’t torture my butt.

  30. Dave says:

    I have never seen a GSHR, R1, ZX6/9/10, Ducati 916,996,999,1098 or CBR RR with any kind of luggage outside of a small tank bag actually on the road. Another gallon of fuel on board would be nice but the buying public at large has indicated that they want a race bike replica in this category. The designers are smart, they are making what the majority of this buying customer wants today.

    Add a gallon that’s not well enough hidden on one of these bikes (where can you do that?) and it’ll kill it’s sales for looking “porky”.

    • Stinky says:

      That’s probably true. A lot of those riders are divas that place a lot of their self esteem on looks. They’re usually using the words, cool, fugly, complaining about shapes, colors when it functions well. I think the engineers are getting lazy about capacity, worrying about the last bit of performance that the majority of riders can’t use but are using as a ego booster.

  31. Steve says:

    I know sportbikers are gonna bark but I have a 5.5 gallon tank & can easily get 150 miles + on my H-D Street Glide while riding it close to the maximum designed performance limit… feeling very comfortable at the same time with lots of room to move around… use the cruise control on the straight bits & crank up the CD player….windshield blocks the bugs, etc…
    Plus I can do this solo, in a pack, or with a good looking woman on the back! Can’t do that comfortably on a sportbike.
    I wouldn’t mind an 848 Duc though…

  32. brinskee says:

    Right tool for the job. I have a Multi 1200 for touring and a Mille R for track days and sporty road riding. Simple solution. I don’t want a ‘one bike does it all’ ride. No thanks.

  33. Youth says:

    I think any bike with displacement bigger than 650CC should have a 5 gallon tank. Anything less will definitely suck, especially with a 4 cylinder bike. It’s great that a guy with Versys can get 200+ miles since it’s a 650 twin. I have a friend who had a VTR1000 and gosh it had a tiny tank for a 1000 cc bike.

    Believe it or not, my old ’87 Ninja 750R had a 5 gallon tank so it’s okay. But not many Kawasaki has a tank of that size. On other hand, my Turbo 750 only has a 4 gallon tank….

    • Zuki says:

      My 2000 Kawi ZR-7… 5.8 gallons. Over 300 mile range. Ventura pack system, and Givi windshield. Ideal sport-touring machine.

  34. Tim says:

    I have a Versys, and have it equipped with aluminum side cases and a top case, and it’s a great pack mule. I typically get 200 to 225 miles per tank full at 80 miles per hour on the highway. Unfortunately, the guys I’ve taken long trips with the last couple of years don’t have near the fuel range. The last two summers I’ve traveled with different guys whose bikes would only do 125 miles or so between fill ups. It really is a pain in the rear stopping every couple of hours for fuel. When in states like Montana and Wyoming you have to stop at nearly every station you see, because you don’t know when you’re going to have another opportunity to buy fuel.

  35. jcott says:

    okay, I’ll give you 24 miles for the round trip…but still…

  36. Brent Meeker says:

    My ’87 GSXR came with a 4gal tank. But that included a big dent in the underside to clear the airbox. I replaced the airbox with individual K&N filters, cut out the dent and soldered a flat underside on the tank. This increased capacity to about 5.5gal and gives me 150mi range even ridden hard. My Aprilia RS250, being a 2-stroke gets the same (bad) gas mileage no matter how it’s ridden. With a 4gal tank I run out between 90 and 100mi. On both these bikes I have a tail trunk that will hold a helmet and a leather jacket. So I can also carry some extra gas (which I’ve used a few times). It’s not just the range though, I don’t want to ride somewhere and then have to carry my helmet and wear my jacket. A tail trunk may not look that cool but it doesn’t interfere with handling or splitting lanes – and I take it off when I race at Willow.

  37. jcott says:

    This seems like a lot of complaining over 12 miles of “extra” riding. I mean, I can see complaining if you run out of gas and have to walk it, but seriously – adding a 1/2 hour to the ride? Lot’s of riders spend that much time smoking cigarettes and BS-ing in the parking lot during a break. Just be glad you don’t live someplace flat and straight, where none of the roads are “interesting”, regardless of you fueling situation. I used to live in Milwaukee, and you had to use a tank of gas just to GET to the “interesting” roads….

  38. Eric says:

    LOL – all my buddies get on my case that my DL1000 is a mofugly bike. OK.. It may not be the sexiest bike, but it’s paid for, carries a bunch of crap, and has like a 6 gallon tank – good for 200 plus miles (even when driven irresponsibly). Woohoo! :-)

  39. achesley says:

    Fuel range vs price has been a major deal breaker for me for quite some time. And, as I get older, more so. I use to joke with a dealer on how much he would give me off on a bike if I let him keep the seat and just order a custom made as I was going to do anyway. ;-) My steed for the last 3 years = 1250S Bandit with all kinds of comfort work done. ;-)

  40. Moonbandito says:

    BMW RT1200s and R1200GS bikes can get upwards of 200 miles on a tank. The F800ST, being a fuel sipper, can get 200 miles (if babied).

    The Japanese and Italians don’t think of ‘touring’ the way riders in the western U.S. do.

    What about wind protection and rider ergos? An iron butt is more than just a name to a 1000 miles in a day – it’s the condition your posterior must be in to handle most motorcycle seats for a day or three in the saddle.

    Then, there’s ‘stuff’. Luggage/mounts for bags that can carry things one needs when on the road (tire pump-patch kit/rain gear/and whatever else you think you need for a 3-5 day road trip).

    Touring is more than gas range.

    • riley says:

      Even better.. R1200RT will regularly do 300 miles on a tank with 45+ mpg and 7.1 gal tank. The GSA holds 8.7 gallons and goes about 400.

    • EddyG says:

      The F800ST will do an easy 200 miles if babied. I ran a 1200 mile trip last week and was able to get 180 or more miles before the fuel light came on. When riding with others I’m amazed how much better my fuel economy is while running the same pace as the rest of the group.

  41. Jeremy in TX says:

    Amen to that. I have elected not to buy several motorcycles I was dead set on buying (a 2010 Ducati Monster 1100 being the most recent) because of tiny fuel tanks. It irritates me if I have to stop for gas too often. If I can’t reliably go 150 miles without worrying about whether or not the bike is sucking vapors, the bike just isn’t for me. 200 miles + is what I really like.

    A BMW F800ST I rented when visiting my brother in Salt Lake City averaged 61mpg through spirited riding on twisty mountain roads and some higway runs over 4 days time. My brother’s ER-6N averaged about 41mpg under the same conditions for comparison. I don’t know if this particular bike was exceptional or if all F800ST’s are this miserly, but I was very impressed.

    It was like having an extra 1.85 gallons more than him without the additional weight of added fuel. And more torque and power. Props to BMW. How does an engine with over 20% more displacement, 30% more torque and 27% more power get almost 50% better fuel economy under the same conditions? Granted the 6n is a naked bike, and perhaps the 650R would have managed better due to its sleeker aeros. But it wouldn’t be that much better.

    I’m not pointing fingers at Kawasaki. That F800ST proved to me that there is ample room for improvement, and ALL mfgs need to sharpen their R&D pencils. AND add larger fuel tanks!

  42. Superhawk says:

    I too, like that bag / gas cans back there… I thought this was about that.

    That said, even riding up in NC, you have to think about fuel at times so you don’t get lost out there, even though with some planning you can make sure you get where you need to go. Try it on the old VMax’s… you really had to plan if you drove those semi-aggressive.

  43. Brad says:

    Hear hear!! The lack of usable range has also affected buying options for new bikes. I’ve passed up a couple of new models simply because they gave no realistic range for their configuration. The most notable being the new 1200VFR. I was hugely looking forward to a new, revamped model that would bring new technology and some innovativeness to the model. What we all got was a bike that has a huge 1200cc motor and a 4.5 gallon tank!! Unbelieveable!!
    I have recently bought a mid-90’s CBR1000F because I can’t get that kind of bike today in the newer models.
    Great article!!

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “The most notable being the new 1200VFR. I was hugely looking forward to a new, revamped model that would bring new technology and some innovativeness to the model. What we all got was a bike that has a huge 1200cc motor and a 4.5 gallon tank!! Unbelieveable!!”

      no worries. necessity is the mother of invention. if there’s TRULY a demand (and that’s one big IF), some enterprising indivdual out here in this now global landscape will react to it and fill the void (for a price of course). my buddy has auxiliary tanks fitted to his /5 from the 70’s. he didn’t fit them, somebody else did. that’s how he got the bike. now if this can be addressed in the era of bell bottoms and platforms…? how much more so here in the 21st century…? :)

  44. Joe Betor says:

    I fully agree. I have a 2008 FZ1 I love, but even babying it, I hit reserve at 135. Many of my favorite rides have 40-50 mile stretches with no gas station, and if I forget to top off early, it can become very tense.

  45. Kjazz says:

    A small camp fuel bottle will store almost anywhere, is safe to carry and can get you down the road a bit; carry multiples if necessary. Also, http://www.rotopax.com/ sells some cool solutions to safely carrying fuel. I use one of their products bolted to the rack of my XR650R for extended Dualsport rides. Each module carries a gallon.

  46. ZRXrider says:

    It isn’t the size of the fuel tank that is the big issue. It is the absurdly poor fuel mileage these bikes get. That could be remedied with smaller, more efficient engines, in bikes that would still be a blast to ride. Unfortunately, the motorcycle journalists have convinced the buying public that if your motorcycle can’t go 180 mph, you aren’t a real man.

  47. Easy1958 says:

    I live in Las Vegas and fuel capacity is a big issue once you get out of the LV valley. My fiance rides a HD Dyna and I have a ST1300, and we have gotten close to her running out of fuel a couple of times. I carry a gadget from Aerostitch called E-Fill Siphon. I truly agree that many sport bikes and cruisers are not meant for any type of long distance touring.

  48. Bikergeek says:

    External fuel cans are unsafe. The bike manufacturers should offer as an option a “touring” fuel tank that would fit the motorcycle without extensive modification. The touring tank should have a primary chamber equivalent to the normal fuel capacity of the motorcycle and secondary chamber with space for an additional 2-3 gallons. Or how about an effective and lightweight hybrid system that could extend the range of motorcycle with more gasoline?

    • Zuki says:

      Like the Interstate 750 and 850 versions of the Norton Commando? I think they had 6 gallon tanks or more.

      • Zuki says:

        Found my one of my old motorcycle mags… The Norton Interstate had a 6.3 gallon tank. It was a bike before my time but I think it’s one of the most beautifully-proportioned bikes ever made. Light-weight too… the road test states it came in at 422 lbs fully fueled and oiled, ready to ride.

  49. Roadrash1 says:

    I like that gas can option….it could get me across the 300 mile wide piece of Minnesota I need to travel once in a while, without having to buy their ethanol gas. It’s not even labeled in MN, it all has ethanol….

    (there are a few pumps that sell straight gas, but pretty rare)

    • Marky Mark says:

      Google non oxygenated gas and you’ll find a suprising number of stations offering ethanol free fuel in Minnesota.I never run ethanol gas in my ST1100.

      • Roadrash1 says:

        Wow! Great tip. And yeah, it is surprising. I found stops in Jackson, and Austin that have it. That will allow me to stay ethanol free all the way to La Crosse, where I “penetrate the cheddar curtain”.

        Thanks!