Do Motorcycles Take Regular Gas?

That long, fast journey on an open road on your motorbike is a fun experience, revving the engine and accelerating against the wind. But what happens when you notice on the dashboard that the gas tank is running empty? Are you uncertain about what type of gas your motorcycle takes? We've provided the information you need to fuel up your bike.

The type of gas a motorcycle takes varies by model. In most cases, regular (or 87 octane) fuel is not ideal. Check your owner's manual to see the specific octane fuel requirements designed for your motorcycle.

Gasoline station employee refills the fuel tank of a motorcycle for a customer, Do Motorcycles Take Regular Gas?

Continue reading to see what fuel is recommended for your motorcycle.

What is the Best Gas for Motorcycles?

It may be easy to think that as long as your motorcycle has gas, no matter what type of gas, everything should be fine. Don't have this way of thinking; putting the wrong kind of gas will have adverse effects in the long run.

An important thing to know is something called the compression ratio. In the engine, the cylinder will move due to the mixture of air and fuel inside. The ratio is the volume of the cylinder at the highest versus the lowest stroke. According to Auto123, a higher compression ratio means you'll get more power out of your vehicle using less fuel or exhaust. But that can also mean faster wear and tear without proper balance. 

The compression ratio of your motorcycle can range from 7:1 to 13:1. This will range depending on the type of motorcycle; cruisers are on the lower end of that range while street bikes are on the higher end. Newer models will more likely be on the higher end too because of improved technology.

Why does any of that matter? Because it helps you determine the right gas for your motorcycle. Those numbers on the gas pump are octane numbers (87, 91, 93, and so on). If your ride has a high compression ratio, it generates more heat from the ignition. The higher the gas octane, the better it can withstand that heat. 

To avoid the risk of eventual engine damage, you'll want to fill up with fuel that has a 91 or higher octane rating.


Is Ethanol-free Gas Better for Motorcycles?

You may have noticed a sticker at gas station pumps saying "10% ethanol." Ethanol is an additive in gasoline to resist detonation. Higher octane gas already has better resistance to detonation, but it's much more expensive than regular gas. Putting ethanol in lower octane fuels boosts their resistance without increasing the cost to fill up. 

That being said, it's not ideal to pump your motorcycle with ethanol fuel. It can lead to long term negative impacts such as these:

  • Engine deposits
  • Rusting/damage to metal, rubber, plastic and other engine components
  • Decrease in mileage

When you fuel up, stick to ethanol-free gas so your motorcycle engine can last longer. 

That being said, it's hard to find gas stations that sell pure unleaded fuel. When fuel with ethanol is your only option, add an additive that helps counter the negative effects of ethanol. According to Bert's Mega Mall, stay away from ones with alcohol in it. Alcohol-based additives can screw up the fuel even more rather than help it.

Star Tron Enzyme Fuel Treatment

This additive by Star Brite is perfect for when you use ethanol gas often. It even helps your engine whenever it has trouble starting. You can add this to your tank before, during, or after fueling, and it'll do its job smoothly and efficiently.

Click here to view this product on Amazon.

How Do You Fill up a Motorcycle Gas Tank?

Just like the typical car driver, motorcyclists typically top off their tank when fueling up. The only problem is that it's pretty easy to overfill the gas tank on a motorcycle. Cars don't have this issue because vehicles have a long filler neck that will shut the fuel nozzle off when it fills to a certain point.

Motorcycles have much shorter filler necks (if any at all), which leads to overfilling. An overfilled motorcycle tank can cause difficulties in starting the engine. Be sure to check your owner's manual for specific filling instructions. 

Generally, when you fuel, shove the nozzle into the gas tank. According to Motor Bike Writer, doing so will shut the nozzle off before the fuel tank gets too full and reaches the cap opening. You're going to want to listen to the fuel as you're topping up. That means take off your helmet or earplugs before beginning fueling.

How Much Gas Does a Motorcycle Gas Tank Hold?

Close-up of someone refilling gas to the motorcycle barrel tank in gas petrol station

The amount of gas a motorcycle can hold varies by vehicle make, model, or year. Some models can have as small as a two-gallon tank while others can hold more than seven gallons. 

For the sake of discussion, let's pretend that you have a five-gallon tank. Usually, you can get a full tank for roughly $20-$30. That will be enough to give you a decent minimum of 120 miles. 

You might have heard the term "reserve tank" where there's a separate fuel tank inside reserved for when you completely deplete your actual fuel tank. That's not true. It's all one tank, and a portion of the fuel is saved. Some motorcycles let you use this saved fuel when you run out of regular gas so you can get to a nearby gas station. 

What Motorcycle Gets the Best Gas Mileage?

We talked earlier on how you can get at least 120 miles out of a full motorcycle tank. But what if you're trying to stretch that out even further? Are you looking for the most fuel-efficient motorcycle on the market? Below, we'll briefly touch on one bike that claims to get 70 MPG.

BMW G 310 GS

This bike by BMW, one of the most reliable motorcycle brands, is suited for beginner or casual bikers. You can get this 2018 model for a base price of $5,700 MSRP. Its small, 313CC single-cylinder engine requires you to shift gears, but the process is extra smooth. With max speeds reaching 90 MPH, you get a smooth, speedy experience on and off-road.


To close, stay away from regular 87 octane gas. Opt for premium 93 octane (or at the very least, plus) gas for better longevity. If you want more details on the lifespan of your motorcycle, check out our other article on the max amount of miles you can get.

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