When to switch to reserve?

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When to switch to reserve?

Has anyone got any tips on what I should be looking for to tell me the bike needs switching to reserve before the bike runs out of fuel completely?

I passed my test on Friday and went out for some super long rides over the weekend- twice I needed to switch the tank on to reserve but the first I knew of this was the bike stalling when pulling away from a junction ( not very helpful when joining a busy road). The second time it happened I had been trying to watch for warning signs for the last 20 miles but it still managed to catch me out. Each time I have had to get out the way quickly and then after putting the switch to reserve it has taken a couple of minutes for the bike to start again.

I ride in ear plugs and the bike has a standard exhaust on so it is very difficult to hear any changes in the engine noise and because I am so new to the biking game I am struggling to be able to feel any changes in the engine beat to detect the start of a stall.

I am not sure whether I am missing something glareingly obvious or whether I should just be counting the miles in future and making sure I fill up before I get to reserve?

When ever I fill up I always zero the mileometer on the speedo.After a while you get used to knowing how much you can do before needing to turn to reserve and when passing petrol stations. But it can vary to what style of riding you do.I normally fill up around the 120/130 mile mark, but on a trip to Wales it was more like 85 miles !!!

Even with the quietest of engines and ear plugs you will feel the bike lurching under fuel starvation.Some people use that method to then switch to reserve and start petrol station hunting.Personally I just fill up at around the 130 mark. I also zero the gauge every time time I fill the bike up. Its a habbit that you should get into.My bike has an electric fuel reserve switch and I don't have much faith in it, so I dont like running the bike till it hits reserve.Ride safe.

I zero the trip meter when I brim the tank on the Deauville.When it starts to run out it's running on one carburetter-low power-then after a few seconds it stalls.If I am very quick I can alter the switch to reserve-but usually I grind to a halt, have to spend 30 seconds churning the starter before it will go again, and then the next 30 getting it into first gear...

On my Honda I zero the trip meter on each fill up and normally start looking for petrol at 140 miles, but if I can't find a garage in that time I can sense some hesitation under load which indicates the fuel flow is slowing. It loves to do it on right turns on a roundabout as the pipe is on the left of the tank or, better still, as I'm alongside a wagon. I never turn it onto reserve before it needs it so I always have some idea of approximately how far I can get before pushing. The tap is easy to reach and being gravity fed, it quickly picks back up. Faster than when I ride off without turning the tap on at all. If I don't fill up in good time on my LE I'm either going or I'm not. It doesn't have a reserve, but the 1.5 gallon tank gets me around 140 miles of gentle riding on flat roads, so if I haven't filled up in that distance I've only got myself to blame.With experience you should get to know the feel of your bike but until then stick with the mileage checks, and remember, as has been said already, the amount of fuel you use depends partially on how and where you ride.p.scongrats on passing your test.

Well done on the test pass...I too use the trip meter... if I'm going to be doing something like riding onto a motorway and I know it's going to hit reserve in the next few miles, I'll turn it onto reserve before life gets complicated.I've got an electric tap on the FZ... works faultlessly. It's actually a sender that turns the fuel pump off when the fuel gets below a certain level.

Thanks for all the advice. Counting the miles is pretty much the conclusion I came to. I am sure I will have a few more 'reserve tank moments' until I get to know the bike alot better and how far it will go but until then I will take the safest option! :burp:

To get a guide Google something like "CBR600 (or whatever it is) miles per tank". Or just post the bike and model here and someone will know.Congratulations on the test pass as well.

I always zero the trip and refill by 120 miles. Mind you, mine does have bar as a countdown once you get to about 10 miles left (which is useful) - CBR600F (2001)

The trip meter method is as good as any other, but, depending on the bike, you will soon recognise the symptoms as one carb tends to go dry a little bit before the others. I get more warning on the 'Blade than I did on the TRX, maybe due to more carbs, maybe due to the TRX having (needing) its carbs balanced much more regularly.I am usually paranoid though and fill up when I get to within about 30 miles of the usual reserve point. This is based on a forgetful youth when I forgot to switch back to main a few times and a bike that had a rather dodgy fuel tap, sometimes it had petrol in reserve, sometimes it didn't......... This was despite my developing paranoia about the tap position after the third push to a petrol station....On that note, why is it that bikes run out of petrol in stinking hot weather? I know why we get flats in the wet, so I'm guessing there's a scientific reason for it......

Here's how you calculate your "magic number of miles" before you need to fill up. You should already know the size of your tank in litres/gallons. 1. Go to a gas station and fill up with gas to the top of your tank and note your mileage. 2. Then ride until you get to something close to half a tank. How far you ride isn't important, just don't run out of gas or go on reserve.3. Get to a gas station and fill up again. Note the number of litres you pumped and your mileage. Take this mileage and subtract the mileage from the last time you filled up (1). Divide by the number of litres/gallons you just topped up. This will give you your miles per gallon/litre for your bike and riding style.4. Multiply by the number of litres/gallons in your tank and you should have your bike's max range. Now you know how long you can ride between fillups. Be conservative and take a much lower number to account for wind, reckless fast riding, etc.5. Now that you know your magic number of km/miles, every time you fill up your tank you reset your tripmeter, and when you get to your magic number you know you need to fill up. If you have no trip meter you'll need to add your magic number to your odometer reading and fill up when you get there.Theoretically you should never need to use your reserve setting because you'll never run out of gas.

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Theoretically you should never need to use your reserve setting because you'll never run out of gas.

Here's a thought...Most fuel has crud in it... not a lot, or the bike would stop running when you fill up, though that has happened to me on one occasion, and I've had several tankfuls where the bike hasn't run cleanly till the next fill up...If you don't use reserve, this crud accumulates in the bottom of the tank, waiting for the rare occasion you do switch to reserve.I bought a fairly low mileage second hand bike a couple of years ago, ridden by someone terrified of running out of fuel, so it never got to reserve - she always filled it up at 100 miles, despite the fact the tank was good for 160, with another 50 in reserve... I'd ridden the bike a couple of times before and it was sweet as a nut... since I bought it and used reserve, I've been plagued with fuelling problems... misfires and sticking floats dumping petrol out the breathers being just two symptoms. I've flushed the system and had done my best to clean everything out but it's never been 100% since. The Hornet on the other hand hits reserve most days - with a main tank range of 110-125 you tend to. It's still fuelling perfectly with 35k on it.

I don't have a reserve on current bike, wait for orange light to come on. On previous bike (XJR1300) only used reserve once. Always filled at or about 160. One mate keeped his bike on permanent reserve just knew what he got to a tank.Take CareDave

The Spin Doctor wrote

... since I bought it and used reserve, I've been plagued with fuelling problems... misfires and sticking floats dumping petrol out the breathers being just two symptoms. I've flushed the system and had done my best to clean everything out but it's never been 100% since.

Just goes to prove the point - fuel BEFORE you hit reserve.

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Just goes to prove the point - fuel BEFORE you hit reserve.

And then comes the day when you can't...I honestly don't think a regular flush thru the reserve tap is a bad idea...

As long as you know which way the tap should point First bike I ever had, I turned the tap to Main.After a good few miles the engine sputtered and died. Fine, I thought, I've been told about this - so I turned the tap to Reserve.But no matter how hard I kicked, the bloody thing wouldn't start.So I pushed it 3 miles home in the dark and stuffed it into the garage in disgust.Next day, in daylight, I checked the fuel tap. Oops... I'd had it set to Reserve, then when it ran out (dry!) I'd turned it to Main.Lesson learned.Now I have a bike with no fuel tap. Instead it has a fuel gauge and an orange light. I trust neither so I still do it the old-fashioned way: check the manual for the tank capacity, get a feel for how many miles it does to the gallon, work out how far it should go on a tankful - then fill it up within about 30 miles of that figure.And congrats on the test pass

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As long as you know which way the tap should point

And then there are those odd beasts with two fuel taps!

My Guzzi had that 'feature', very useful if I was still pressing on after hitting reserve as it gave a sort of second reserve, once on that I knew I had to really conserve fuel or start pushing. In those days it was the only bike I didn't run out of fuel on.

Of course you could try retrofitting a fuel gage to your new bike

Does anybody know WHY bikes are still fitted with a reserve? Especially since some are also fitted with a fuel gauge AND a tripmeter? I haven't owned a bike with a reserve in 20 years, regularly run the tank almost dry and have run out of fuel only once in all that time. I HAVE however gone for an overtake of an artic on a ZX6R and run out half way through and had to switch to reserve, with Hine Gerrick lobster gloves, on a strange bike.....(Jesus...I don't want to do that ever again...)

depends on what bike you have. on my dt, it just runs dead...no warning or anything...on my bandit 6 it will get to 178 miles before it starts to splutter & then it'll run dry at 226 miles. (guess how i know )

Slipperyfrog wrote

As long as you know which way the tap should point First bike I ever had, I turned the tap to Main.After a good few miles the engine sputtered and died. Fine, I thought, I've been told about this - so I turned the tap to Reserve.But no matter how hard I kicked, the bloody thing wouldn't start.So I pushed it 3 miles home in the dark and stuffed it into the garage in disgust.Next day, in daylight, I checked the fuel tap. Oops... I'd had it set to Reserve, then when it ran out (dry!) I'd turned it to Main.Lesson learned.

Wasn't a Divvy by any chance?I've had my Divvy for over 2 years and am still (occasionally) having to check the lettering on the mount for the tap cos it's the wrong way up (main points down, reserve points up).I'm tempted to get someone to reverse it for me!

Spock wrote

Wasn't a Divvy by any chance?

After 30-odd bikes I've rather lost track - even thought they say you always remember your first. It was a step-thru of some kind, a two-stroke and not a Honda - Yamaha or Suzuki 80...?I only owned it briefly. I was so bitten by the biking bug that after just a few weeks I flogged both the bike and my Beetle and bought a Super Dream*. Brand new! OWG 240 X. I can remember that one!* Stop laughing at the back - it's not often the opportunity arises to get both "Beetle" and "Super Dream" in the same sentence

The last couple of times I've managed to change the tap position on the move. It's a bit fiddly, but I think this is why the Deauville tap looks like it does.My technique is: Feel for the hole that the tap is located in on the left by my knee. Put index finger behind the lower part of the tap. Move finger forward and up whilst leaving it in the hole. It's still easier to switch the fuel off entirely-the position between "on" and "reserve"... but we're getting there

While on the subject....Whilst filling my tank I've often wondered how the reserve tank separates itself from the main tank. Anyone care to cast some light on this!?

DubAndy wrote

While on the subject....Whilst filling my tank I've often wondered how the reserve tank separates itself from the main tank. Anyone care to cast some light on this!?

It's the same tank, the outlet for the main tank is about 1 or 2 inches from the bottom but the reverve outlet is right at the bottom of the tank. Hello and welcome Stella please.

Right  Honda CBR 600F on a 1991 plate  which is reserve, up down or horitontal!!!! 

On the old Hondas I've had, bottom was on, horizontal off and up reserve.

I really miss reserve tanks.

On the Hornet 600, to the rear is main tank, down is off and forwards is reserve.My FZ750 was best though... leccie switch on the fairing. 

My Guzzi has two taps. One side has up for on/down for reserve. The other side has down for on/up for reserve. If only I could remeber which is which.

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