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Aging & Worn
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have never "had" to flip my gas tank to "Reserve." I watch my Trip miles to gauge my gas needs, like many of you do as well. I try NOT to have any long "idling" sessions for the most part, knowing of course that THAT takes fuel as well, and I don't have an effective way to gauge "idle consumption" anyway.

That said, as I was standing in my garage this morning, knowing that I wouldn't be riding today (rain), the thought occurred to me: "I wonder if I was in a situation where I HAD to switch over to "Reserve," if I should do it "on the fly" or not? I would suppose that it would be "ok" to do so (on the fly) but since I hadn't been in that situation, I have no practical experience in the matter.

Seems to me, I would only find myself in a situation where I needed to "switch over," if I was NOT paying attention to my Trip Meter as I should have been, and suddenly found myself in a place where I had no source for fuel (either by having someone nearby with a gas can, or no gas stations in sight)..

With my bike, I typically am looking for gas stations or some source for gas, no later than 120 miles (as far as I have pushed the bike in the past).

So, there I am, (hypothetical situation) riding down a lonely stretch of road, seeing "120" on my Trip Meter, and I reach down and flip the fuel source knob quickly, from "Run" to "Reserve:"

What's going to happen:

-Am I going to get motor lurching, choking or coughing?

-What should I be doing at the time I switch over? Standing still?

-How much distance to my ride should I assume I have, now that I HAVE switched over?

-Because I'm now sucking fuel from (presumably) the bottom of the tank, am I introducing a sludge-like fuel (from being on the bottom of the tank) that will clog up my jets and give me trouble?

I hope I NEVER have to put myself (it would be my own fault) in that situation, to find out the hard way, the answers to those questions, but I figured some of you might have been in that situation, and can give us the "skinny" on what to expect.

-Soupy
 

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Driftless Rider
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The last bike I had with reserve was my Kawi Vulcan 800 (about 10 years ago.) I only had to use reserve once. I was in northern Wisconsin and sim[ly forgot to keep an eye on the mileage. I kept riding and when the bike began to hesitate, I reached down to flip the petcock to reserve and road another 20 miles to a gas station.

With that bike, I would periodically run on reserve just to keep sludge from building up in the tank. Sometimes I would flip the petcock while in motion and never noticed any hesitation.

Each bike has a different level of "reserve" left in the tank. If you really must get an estimate, you could put a small gas bottle in a saddlebag and deliberately run it til empty.
 

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-Am I going to get motor lurching, choking or coughing?

-What should I be doing at the time I switch over? Standing still?

-How much distance to my ride should I assume I have, now that I HAVE switched over?

-Because I'm now sucking fuel from (presumably) the bottom of the tank, am I introducing a sludge-like fuel (from being on the bottom of the tank) that will clog up my jets and give me trouble?
Assuming you run until the bike starts to falter (out of gas), when you switch to reserve the engine should pick right back up again and on you go. Don't stop - the momentum will keep the engine turning.

Don't worry about "sludge" - motorcycles bounce and sway enough you wont have sludge in your tank.

Read your owner's manual to see how much fuel you have once on reserve - every bike is different.

One of the first things I do on any new bike with a fuel gauge is run it down to reserve so I know what the gauge reads when I have to switch. If you don't have a fuel gauge, you will have to trust the manual.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
"If you don't have a fuel gauge, you will have to trust the manual."

.......and my Trip Meter.

-soupy
 

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My Sporty will start to spit and sputter when the "main" tanks gets empty. I just reach down and flip it to reserve on the fly. The engine will return to running smoothly and I'll have another 30 miles of fuel if I need it. Over time I learned my tank range and fill up before needing reserve. Make sure you practice reaching for the switch on the fly. Nothing worse than fumbling for a fuel switch while a semi truck is on your ass going down the highway.

And here's some advice from experience. Remember to switch back to "run" after filling up again. I once forgot, and when the bike started sputtering I reached down to find reserve already selected. I was left sitting on the side of the street. Luckily in town, just up the street from a gas station. Though I had to do the push of shame to get there. :)
 

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"If you don't have a fuel gauge, you will have to trust the manual."

.......and my Trip Meter.

-soupy
But if you have never been on reserve how do you know how many miles you have left when it starts to sputter?

I'd like to run mine dry to find out how many miles I get on reserve - but then I live in a part of the country were it can be a long way between gas stations!
 

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I have flipped mine on the fly dozens of times over the years.

If you do it before it starts to sputter, just being safe, you will notice NOTHING. (High traffic area and you know you are low)

I have a peanut tank on the Sporty, I hit reserve less than 100 miles. Its no big deal. Its a good idea to learn where it is so you can hit it if you need to.

There is a short tube at the fuel pickup. In normal position fuel is picked up from the tube, when you switch to reserve position, fuel is picked up at the base of the tube, allowing you to get all you can out of the tank.

Your manual will tell you how much reserve you have, this is set by the length of the pick up tube. It is still an estimate, but it will be close. You can double check this by running until you hit reserve. Fill-up as soon as possible after switching, with-in a mile to two if you can.

See what it takes to fill the tank, and subtract that from tank capacity, and that is your true reserve amount.
Factor your MPG and that is your range in reserve.
 

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Using the tripometer is a good precaution, but not always reliable. I generally know that I can go 150 before needing to lip. Yesterday, due to headwinds and a lot of WOT sections, I unexpectedly had to go to reserve at 132. I was sweating a little before getting to a gas station. My usual 50-55 mpg had reduced to about 45 mpg. Some tail wind on the following tank netted about 60 mpg. Ymmv......literally!
 

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Practice flipping the petcock:biggrin:lever into reserve as you ride down the road so you will be aware where it is when the bike starts to "sputter" as it runs out of gas.

That is the only assurance we had years ago, when there was no resettable trip meter. They work well but you should look up how much is in the 'reserve' portion of the tank so you don't get stranded.

Sam:coffeescreen:
 

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You have a 3.7gal tank, with .9gal in reserve, so when you go on reserve you should only be able to put in 2.8gal(good way to find out how big a ripoff your gas station is).

You probably get better than 50mpg, so I'd guess you could set your sights on 150 miles between fill ups without hitting reserve.

There is nothing wrong with filling up every 120 miles.......plus once you hit 120 and there is no gas station you know there is no need to panic, you got probably 30 more miles before you go on reserve, and then at least another 50 before empty.
 

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Gasoline in general is pretty clean stuff. Unless the tank has sat idle for a long time and was exposed to moisture, the fuel tank should remain fairly spotless. No need to worry about sludge with a motorcycle that is stored properly and ridden and refueled regularly.

Switching the fuel valve while moving is an important skill to have. You definitely don't want to be leaning over the side of your motorcycle looking for the thing while in traffic. A rider should be able to find it automatically by feel without taking their eyes off the road.

If you have the common type that sticks out below the tank, simply run your hand under edge of the tank until you bump into the fuel valve. Practice being able to find it and operate it while parked (Looking straight ahead) until it becomes second nature.
 

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******* Remember which way to flip it: Down is on and maybe forward is reserve and back is OFF--make sure you know which is which:biggrin:

Sam:coffeescreen:
 

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Reserve

If you are on the freeway and think you are near the switch to reserve state.
The bike may slow a little while you switch. So I would go in the right hand lane so you can pull over if need be. Draw a diagram of the lever and put it in your tank bag for easy reverence. Or remember in advance which way the lever goes. If you are near a gas station when you just switch, make note of how many gallons you put in. Simple math with tell you how much the reserve amount is. But it is probably in the manual. More math will tell you how far you can go on reserve. Or take some spare gas and ride until the bike stops.
You may need a magnifying glass to see the marks on the petcock. That is why I have the drawn diagram.

Unkle Crusty*
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Lurch77 said: ".....Remember to switch back to "run" after filling up again."

This is a valid point of course, but it makes me wonder...."why not leave it on 'Reserve' all the time?! Then I'd never have to worry about flipping it!"

Dodsfall said, "......No need to worry about sludge with a motorcycle that is stored properly and ridden and refueled regularly."

Appreciate that info!

As for where the valve is, it is behind my left leg. I've "practiced" reaching for it a few times, but never "for real" in a low-fuel situation. I'm not 100% on reaching for it yet, but I'll practice it.

-Soupy
 

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Reserve is so you get the chance to run out of gas twice, after the first time you switch to reserve and drive until you run out again(or go to a gas station). If you leave it in reserve all the time you run out of gas once and are done.

Everyone forgets to reset the trip odo, the trip odo can be reset by someone else without you knowing.........
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Well not "everyone," anybike. I'm rather "anal" about remembering to do so (resetting the Trip Meter).

As to your other point, I agree of course.........if you LEAVE it on "Reserve," you don't get a second chance.

-Soupy
 

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alright we got somebody that never has, never will, forget to reset the trip odo.............congrats on that one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
By "petcock," are you referring to the Fuel Switch? I leave it in the "on" position, unless the bike is in storage.

-Soupy
 

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I wonder how it is you manage the petcock settings......

When do you use the off setting?
The off setting should be used every time you park the motorcycle. If the float valve fails in the carb, that's the only thing keeping your fuel from spilling out onto the floor or into the crankcase.

Vacuum operated valves don't have an off setting. It's ok to keep those in the on position, since the fuel shouldn't flow through them without the engine running in that position.
 
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