WhyBike Motorcycle Blog

Mailbag: Gas Nozzle Tips

By James - 4/16/2006

Dave wrote in about gas nozzles:

I just started riding again after a 20 year layoff. I need some help on how to use the current gas pump nozzles. I can’t seem to get it positioned so that it flows without stopping every few seconds. Thanks!

There are some things that are taken for granted by experienced riders that can be very difficult for new riders. Filling up can be one of those rituals that gets instinctual after a while. I hardly think about filling up anymore but unless you are used to the new nozzles and how they work they can be very fustrating. I am not sure how much detail you need but here is the breakdown at a very basic level.

The Problem with Gas Nozzles
The “new” gas nozzles are designed for cars with long filler necks. The sping loaded emissions recovery sheath needs to be compressed to a certain point AND the handle needs to be held to start the flow of gas. Motorcycles have really short filler necks which means that the nozzle extends deep into the tank and triggers the auto-shut-off when the tank is only half full.

Fill ‘er Up
To fill your tank to the top you need to manually compress the emisions recovery sheath and hold the lever. This will take some getting used to, so have a rag around in case of spills. Only fill your tank up to the botom of the filler neck. Gasoline expands and contracts a lot depending on the temperature and can cause your tank to explode if it gets too hot or can cause your tank to implode if it gets too cold. Some air will allow the gasoline to expand or contract without the pressure exceeding the material capabilities of the tank.

Waste Not
Most nozzles have variable speeds, pull the lever a little and gasoline will flow slowly, pull it all the way and the flow will increase. Use the slowest flow speed you can for two reasons. The first is so you don’t overshoot the mark and spill gas all over the tank. The second is so less gas splashes back and onto your hands and onto your paint. My tank shape allows me to pour the gas towards the front, so that the gas hits the front and flows down the side. This reduces the amount of splashback and bubbling you get, but you may have to experiment to find the optimum angle for your bike.

Every Last Drop
Once you are satisfied with the level, pull the nozzle out of the neck slowly. Gas will dribble off the tip so give it a few shakes to get the last drops into the tank. If you do not make sure to get every last drop, it is inevitable that it will fall on your paint, seat, or clothes. And you know how absorbant those gas station paper towels are. . .

There are a few more steps I have in my fill up ritual. I do some rough math and figure my miles per gallon and make sure it is what I expect. Dropping MPGs can be the first sign that something is wrong with the bike. Next I reset my tripmeter, even on my bike with a fuel guage, the tripmeter gives me a much better indication of how much gas is left, depending if I am doing highway riding or city trips. Last thing I do but the most important is make sure the petcock is off of reserve and switched to “ON". Feeling the bike sputter only to find you are already on reserve will get you steamed, and the only one to blame is yourself.

Practice makes perfect, so get out there and use some gas.


1 Comment

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  1. Hi, There is a new patented invention that is solving this problem for thousands of bikers in every State. It is called “BiG AL’s McCuff” at www.mccuff.com They have sold out of the first production, however, a second production is in process and set to be delivered in June 06. Big AL

    Comment by BiG AL — 5/4/2006 @ 7:58 pm

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