The most fuel-efficient set of wheels are those that are powered by your hind legs, but if you need to cover long distances with pillion or cargo, a petrol-powered engine is the way to go. A 100cc commuter bike might not exactly get those adrenaline glands churning, but they’re charming in their own way, combining a light-weight frame and a frugal engine to give you recession-proof mileage.

They’re extremely popular in India, thanks to cheap and easily available spare parts and a fuel economy of a rupee-per-kilometre. A second-hand 100cc bike can be had for less than the price of a mid-range smartphone, and the fuel savings made over a year could well be significant enough to invest in other parts of your tech tree. Some thoughts on getting the most out of the petrol you’re importing:

1) Do your research
Check out mileageinfo.com for an overview of a vehicle’s fuel efficiency – it’s distilled knowledge that would otherwise take you hours to tabulate by yourself.

2) The leaner the bike, the better
One thing common among all the most fuel-efficient bikes (upwards of 65-70kms/litre), apart from the fact that they’re all four-stroke, weighing around, or less than 100 kgs. If you’re a cyclist, you’d probably know the difference in  horsepower required to gain momentum on an MTB and a road-bike. This trait is also found in fuel-efficient commuter bikes – they tend to be smaller, and have leaner tyres.

The TVS Sport has good mileage ratings


3) Go for geared
Manual-gear bikes are more fuel-efficient than gearless transmission engines found in scooters, especially in the hands of experienced riders. A geared bike is also quite useful when going downhill – reducing reliance on brakes.

4) Keep the frame-minimal and aerodynamic
Most bikers like to add a heavy crash-guard, carrier frame, saree-guard, a tool box, etc. all of which adds more weight for the engine to pull. Extra baggage and passengers are sure to reduce your mileage, so keep that in mind.

5) Coast while going downhill
This is a great way to save fuel if you’re in a hilly area – but it’s wise to turn on the engine in short intervals to give your brakes some time to cool. Otherwise you could end up spending an equivalent, or higher amount on new brake pads.

6) Ride Slow
Your vehicle can probably hit speeds of 100 kmph, but the engine needs to burn a lot less fuel to cover the same distance at half the speed. The ideal speed should be around 40-50kmph, anything more will diminish your fuel-efficiency.

7) Shift to the highest gear
As soon as you can. Attain a cruise speed and stay there.

8) Conserve momentum, avoid hitting the brakes
If there’s a speed bump or signal ahead, reduce throttle and let inertia slow you down as much as possible. You’re losing fuel and wearing out your brakes everytime your vehicle has to waste all that inertia at a speedbump or traffic light. If you know your route well, and know where the next speedbump is, use that awareness to let your vehicle slow down by itself, rather than hitting the brakes.

9) Maintain a refuel log, ask for a bill
You can use a smartphone app to keep track of your mileage, or do the math yourself on a notepad. There are two simple ways to calculate fuel-efficiency – one is to fill your tank all the way to the brim, do your travels, and then calculate how many litres it took to fill it up at the petrol pump. If that seems inconvenient, you can do it the other way – which is to maintain a date-wise log of your refueling, logging the distance covered on the odometer. At the end of the month, you should be able to calculate your mileage by dividing it against the amount of litres consumed.

10) Don’t let the bike idle
Switch off the engine if you are going to be stationary for more than ten seconds. It’s a conversation killer, and the earth’s CO2 levels are over 400 ppm.

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