Eco-Friendly Motorcycles: Environmental Implications of the Real-Life Easy Rider

Between "Easy Rider" and "Ghost Rider," motorcycles have spent several decades at the pinnacle of cool. According to the Motorcycle Industry Council, 10.4 million Americans own motorcycles as of 2009, and this number is only expected to rise in years to come. This surge in bike ownership results both from a renewed interest among millennial bikers, as well as the increasingly popular perception of motorcycles as a greener alternative to standard vehicles. And while motorcycles can be more environmentally friendly than cars, the wrong bike with the wrong accessories may, in fact, be an eco disaster in the making.

Fuel Usage Varies By Motorcycle

Due to its comparatively diminutive size, the motorcycle consumes far less gas than the average car. But these fuel efficiency claims are often overstated, particularly given the recent interest in hybrid and electric vehicles. Additionally, gas mileage can vary wildly from one make to the next. Total Motorcycle highlights the 2011 Piaggio MP3 500 Sport as the ultimate in fuel efficiency, reaching an impressive 85 mpg. The 2010 Hyosung GT650 also ranks high, achieving 65 mpg. These rates of fuel economy are not standard among bikes however; Motorcycle Consumer News points to the Suzuki DL650 V-Strom Adventure as a more typical representation, coming in at 46 mpg.

How Driving Style Impacts Gas Mileage

Fuel economy in motorcycles depends not only on the make, but on the habits of the biker. The same motorcycle can be either incredibly gas efficient or terrible for the environment, with factors such as speed and acceleration determining the eco-friendliness of any given ride. Clean engines and high-quality tires also go a long way in contributing to a greener motorcycle. Regular tune ups ensure engine problems don't lead to excess emissions or poor fuel economy.

Lighter Motorcycles Lead To Fewer Emissions

The basic tenet of motorcycle efficiency is that a lighter vehicle translates to a greener ride. But a light motorcycle can easily become heavy, and therefore, not very fuel efficient, with the addition of the wrong decorations or other accessories. Fortunately, a number of lighter motorcycle accessories do exist, like the Saddlemen collection at These allow bikers to experience the convenience of handlebar bags and hydration packs without greatly altering the predetermined gas mileage.

How The Number Of Passengers Impacts Eco-Friendliness

Claims of motorcycles' fuel efficiency can be greatly overstated when you consider the number of people who can be transported on a bike as opposed to in a car. Although fuel efficiency for a motorcycle is higher than for a standard car, the bike can only carry two passengers. However, the motorcycle remains the greener option for a solo commute.

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