America’s 10 (now 11) most fuel efficient bikes

Discussion in 'Articles' started by xcel, Oct 6, 2008.

  1. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    [​IMG] A few choices for those willing to take a ride on the “Wild Side.”

    [xfloat=right][/xfloat]Wayne Gerdes – CleanMPG – Oct. 6, 2008

    2009 Suzuki DRS200S – The 249 pound On/Off road bike is the most fuel efficient all roadworthy bike available in America and perfect for a short distance commute.

    Est. annual fuel cost: $131
    105 mpg
    Base price: $3,949

    While we all wait for the next new or used diesel, hybrid, PHEV, or BEV release, there are other vehicle choices most have never considered before that are available today. These bikes are not only easy on your wallet at time of purchase but are even easier on the same when it comes time to fill up. :)

    As we experienced with the Yamaha XT250 this past summer, fun and fuel economy can go hand in hand. The standard questions about safety and year round road worthiness still abound but for some, traveling 60 + miles on less than a single gallon of fuel can make up for what a bike may lack.

    A bike's fuel economy is measured similarly to our automobiles -- using a standard EPA fuel economy test cycle. For bikes, it is the EPA city test. Different from the 1985 through 2007 EPA city test numbers however, a bike's fuel economy rating does not include the 10% offset that the automobile rating was subjected too. In other words, a car that was rated for 50 mpg City actually achieved 55.5 mpg on that test cycle. A bike that achieves 55.5 mpg on the city test cycle is rated at 55.5 mpg.

    The following can make sense in today’s tougher economic times. Excluded were scooters and bikes with the same engines built within a slightly different platform. The following are capable of at least 60 mph so as to tackle any roadway in America; some are also dual purpose allowing off-road utility for those odd times when the road less traveled doesn’t actually include a road!

    Estimated annual fuel costs were based on 5,000 miles per year at $2.75 per gallon.

    [xfloat=left][/xfloat]2009 Kawasaki Eliminator 125 – The Kawasaki Eliminator® 125 embodies classic cruiser qualities in an incredibly fuel efficient, lightweight bike. An excellent choice for newer riders.

    Est. annual fuel cost: $145
    95 mpg
    Base price: $2,799

    [xfloat=left][/xfloat]2009 Honda CRF230M – An On/Off road air-cooled 223 cc Sport like bike with 17-inch wheels and low-profile tires.

    Est. annual fuel cost: $162
    * Estimated to achieve 85 mpg
    Base price: $5,399

    [xfloat=left][/xfloat]2009 Honda Rebel – A comfortable and stylish beginner road cruiser ready for a trip across town or the country.

    Est. annual fuel cost: $162
    * Estimated to achieve 85 mpg
    Base price: $3,999

    [xfloat=left][/xfloat]Suzuki GZ 250 - An entry-level 249cc cruiser that's affordable and easy to operate and includes the classic styling of larger bikes.

    Est. annual fuel cost: $168
    82 mpg
    Base price: $3,799

    [xfloat=left][/xfloat]2009 Yamaha TW200 – The distinctive “fat-tired” dual-purpose bike offering both rider comfort and fun over almost any terrain.

    Est. annual fuel cost: $176
    78 mpg
    Base price: $3,990

    [xfloat=left][/xfloat]2009 Yamaha XT250 - A dual-purpose that set the standard in single cylinder On/Off road versatility and utility.

    Est. annual fuel cost: $188
    73 mpg
    Base price: $4,690

    [xfloat=left][/xfloat]2009 Yamaha WR250X – Not exactly an Enduro or a Sport bike, the WR250X is for riders cruising mostly paved surfaces without sacrifices. Liquid cooled and fast!

    Est. annual fuel cost: $194
    71 mpg
    Base price: $6,190

    [xfloat=left][/xfloat]2009 Kawasaki KLX250S – The second 250cc liquid cooled model in the group. It is a lightweight dual-purpose bike that is equally at home on the pavement or off-road and always ready for your next adventure.

    Est. annual fuel cost: $196
    70 mpg
    Base price: $4,999

    [xfloat=left][/xfloat]2009 Suzuki DRZ 400S - The liquid cooled DR-Z400S is the performance dual-purpose bike with unmatched On/Off road capability -- yet it still achieves great fuel economy!

    Est. annual fuel cost: $211
    65 mpg
    Base price: $6,699

    [xfloat=left][/xfloat]2009 Kawasaki Ninja 250R – The only Sport bike in the list with both a rider-friendly engine and chassis topped off with Super Sport styling. This inexpensive bike performs the 0 to 60 mph dance in less than 6 seconds.

    Est. annual fuel cost: $225
    61 mpg
    Base price: $3,999

    An inexpensive lineup of capable, fun and fuel efficient Dual-Purpose, Cruisers and a Sport bike that not only saves fuel but allows a ton of fun while doing so.

    *Honda motorcycle city fuel economy ratings were estimated due to the lack of publicly released information.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2010
  2. gershon

    gershon Well-Known Member

    Re: America’s 10 most fuel efficient bikes


    Nice report.

    There are also some nice Maxi Scooters. I can review 3

    Burgman 400

    Cost: $5,900
    Est mpg. low 60's

    Burgman 650
    Cost: $7,900
    Est mpg: mid 50's to low 60's

    Yamaha Majesty
    Cost $5,900
    Est mpg: High 50's to low 60's

    Suzuki C50 (this one is a motorcycle)
    cost: $8,000 (including rear bags)
    Est mpg: Mid 50's

    All these mpg's are based on being light on the throttle and staying below 70 on the interstate.

    I personally own the last 3 and the mpg's are based on experience.

    In my opinion the large scooters have many advantages over motorcycles. They tend to be more controllable at slower speeds due to the fact they have much less rake. The rear brake on the handlebar is much easier to reach than the foot pedal and may be more controllable for some.

    For a beginner I'd recommend either the Burgman 400 or the Yamaha Majesty 400. For the person with some experience, the Burgman 650 is the winner by a huge margin.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2008
  3. sailordave

    sailordave Well-Known Member

    Re: America’s 10 most fuel efficient bikes

    What's the miles per gallon on the cooler scooter?:p
  4. flatty

    flatty Member

    Re: America’s 10 most fuel efficient bikes

    Excellent writeup!

    PS- they're more fun than a barrel of monkeys, too!
  5. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Re: America’s 10 most fuel efficient bikes

    Hi Gershon:

    ___Here was my reasoning for leaving the scooters you mentioned off the list…

    ___I could not find any FE information on the Suzuki Burgman 400 but looked at the Yamaha Majesty 400 and its FE rating was listed at only 51 mpg. With that in my hand, I assumed the Burgman 400 and 650 would be rated in the 40’s and 50’s and neither were close to the Top 10 most fuel efficient bikes.

    ___I also looked at the Yamaha Zuma and Vino 125’s but with a bit of sleuthing, it appears they may have a top speed of just 55 mph and that will not cut it for highway travel. The FE for these two 125’s was 89 and 96 mpg respectively.

    ___The Honda CRF230L was to close to the CRF230M so I left it off as the same engine with a slightly different platform.

    ___In the case of the XT250 and WR250X, they both had different enough aspects so I included both. I excluded the WR250R because it is the 250X with Off-road wheels and tires. I uploaded the pic of that one given it is a 71 mpg rated bike but with its heritage being the 250X, I thought it was to close to include it in the list.

    Yamaha WR250R – 71 mpg.

    ___There was also the Suzuki TU250 which is a retro 250 street bike. I know it has to have a 75 + mpg rating but Suzuki did not list its FE for some reason?

    ___The Suzuki Boulevard C50T (800 cc) was reviewed by WomanRidersNow and the 800cc bike was only pulling in the mid 40’s for a cross country ride which would not make the cut. Is that the bike you thought should be included?

    ___Good Luck

    Last edited: Oct 6, 2008
  6. Madmario

    Madmario Member

    Re: America’s 10 most fuel efficient bikes

    To and from work I ride a Yamaha vino 125. It gets an average of 84mpg and I got it new for $2900 out the door. Plus it's a blast to ride.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2008
  7. ChenZhen

    ChenZhen Dreaded Car Salesman

    Re: America’s 10 most fuel efficient bikes

    Do they make 'em with 3 wheels and a top? LOL

  8. gershon

    gershon Well-Known Member

    Re: America’s 10 most fuel efficient bikes


    I'm not partial to any bike in particular being included. On my C50, I get 55 mpg around the city and on the interstate as long as I keep it to 65 or 70. On thing, once I start, I seldom shut it off until I need gas.

    The Yamaha Majesty 400 and the Burgman 650 both get in the neighborhood of 55 mpg as long as I keep the RPM to 3000 for acceleration on the Majesty and 3500 on the Burgman and keep the speed on the interstate to 65 or so.

    Of the 3, my Burgman 650 is the favorite. It's nimble around the city and has the comfort and handling for cross country tours. In the last 15 months, I've put just under 30,000 miles on it.

    Here is a review I wrote on it awhile back:

    "On May 26th I bought a white Burgman 650 at the Pueblo store. Thought you might be interested in this. I wrote this a few months ago for a motorcyle forum and thought I'd pass it on. It's titled: "What I don't like about my Burgman 650" When I bought my Burgman 650, I bought it because I liked it. Not because I wanted to have people say how nice it is or to be part of some motorcycling group, but because it felt good when I sat on it. Now I find I can't get out of a gas station in less than half an hour because people come over to admire it. The first question is always "How fast does it go?" (ans: The speed limits with me on it.) I try to find empty gas stations so I can get in and out quickly, but it never seems to work. Fortunately I don't have to stop so often as it gets 55 mpg on the interstate. 60 mpg on secondary roads. With a 4 gallon tank, I can ride a long time between fillups. It's my wife who gets all the excitement that she might run out of gas. Yesterday I was stopped first in line at a red light and a guy crossing the street walked over to admire it. He totally ignored the "other" bike that was stopped next to me in the other lane. I was afraid he would be stranded in the middle of a busy intersection when the light changed. Another thing I don't like is how effortlessly it cruises on the interstate. I try to keep my speed at 70 mph as that is the most efficient speed for long distance riding. But if I don't watch it closely, I find myself going 90 indicated. I'm totally against speeding, so this is a major deficiency. Since riding on the interstate is so smooth, I figured I'd go out on a very windy day and get some challenge. Even with a 26 mph steady direct crosswind, the scooter wasn't moved. Sure, I had to lean a little into the wind, but it was very comfortable. After 150 miles of this, I gave up trying to find a challenge in the wind. The comfort is another big issue. Other riders seem to hobble after only 100 miles or so. 100 miles seems like a quickie. After 300 miles with only one quick stop for gas, I feel as fresh as when I got on. Where is the satisfaction in that? Twisties are no challenge at all. The scooter handles flawlessly at the speed limits. And with the engine braking, setting the speed entering the curves is simple. You would think it would be more fun riding twisties downhill, but with the engine braking, even the steepest twisties are effortless and don't require any braking. Slow speed handling is too easy. A 20 foot U turn isn't a challenge at all. Figure 8's in 4 parking spaces are also very simple. But then, people figure it's just a scooter and it should be easy. Oh, and the acceleration...what's so good about that. Merging onto the interstate, I can pick a hole and accelerate into it with ease. No excitement wondering if I'm going to get run over. And no having to worry about what gear I'm in while looking for traffic. (Yawns.) Why is it that no other bike or car ever keeps up with me when I leave a stop light? I don't use more than about 3/4 throttle. (I don't participate in races if someone seems to want one.) The worst part is, I figured I'd be buying a few more bikes as I "moved up." Now there is nothing to move up to. Everything bigger would be a compromise of some sort. Why did I buy the perfect ride as my second scooter? (The first is a Yamaha Majesty.) Now the only way to get a new one is to wear it out. But the dealer says that is impossible. I intend to prove him wrong after I get the 5 year unlimited mileage warranty. Some people complain the windscreen isn't big enough, but this is a problem that just disappears with time. With a full face helmet I don't notice the little bit of wind. On another board, I see people having fun working on their bikes fixing little problems that come along. They get to ask all sorts of advice about how to fix their carburetor, etc. None of that with the Burgman 650. Nothing has broken yet in almost 9,000 miles. (updated to 29,700 miles) The only problem I've had is a persistent whine: "Honey, are you going riding again?" Perfection is so boring...I have to wear a dark visor so people don't see me grinning all the time. PS: If a white Burgman 650 somewhere around the western United states with a rider wearing leather and a yellow vest, that's probably me. The country looks small now. I'm planning a ride to Cincinatti in March, and one to Washington, then down through part of California, and back east on Hw 50 in June. Last summer, I rode up through Wyoming, through Yellowstone Park and into Montana. Then west to Idaho, down through Utah, and then into Colorado. It's a great touring machine. My only complaint is I fit everything I needed under the seat. (Did I mention it has a big trunk?) I tied a small bag to the back of the seat so I would look like I was touring. Gary T. Pueblo"
  9. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Re: America’s 10 most fuel efficient bikes

    Hi Gershon:

    ___Have you kept up with your FE on your Burgman 650? If so, you can write a full blown long-term and formatted CleanMPG review if you would like? I can take care of the formating part but you will have to take care of the pictures ;)

    ___Good Luck

  10. gershon

    gershon Well-Known Member

    Re: America’s 10 most fuel efficient bikes


    I don't have a written record of my fuel economy on the Burgman 650, but I have a real good sense of what it is under varying conditions. I'd be happy to write a review.

  11. TRun10

    TRun10 Active Member

    Re: America’s 10 most fuel efficient bikes

    Nice report Wayne, thanks!

    (See my signature for FE of 2006 Kawasaki Vulcan 500. Not as good as the 250s but a nice compromise for those who have to do alot of highway on their commute.)
  12. djlinux64

    djlinux64 New Member

    Re: America’s 10 most fuel efficient bikes

    70 mpg @ 80 mph without cargo and sustained speed on the interstate on a 2001 Ninja 250R with dynojet kit

    Worst MPG possible is 50 mpg. That was at 90 mph (gps) for 18 hours straight in between gas stops with 80 lb of cargo in Appalachia. I basically help the throttle fully open the entire time.

    Pre 2008 Ninjas CRUSH the new ones. The new ones burn 20% more fuel and lose 20% of the top end power.
  13. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Re: America’s 10 most fuel efficient bikes

    Hi Djlinux64:

    ___Welcome to CleanMPG and it is great to see both a bike enthusiast and a BMW driver!

    ___I had a go with the BMW F 800 GS last month with the review soon to be uploaded and not only was it fast as hell for a Dual-sport SM, it offered some pretty incredible FE for a 40 + HP 800 ;)

    2009 BMW F 800 GS 6-speed MT - 648.7 miles on 9.479 gallons = 68.435 mpg

    ___The worst part was most of the second tank was consumed in the rain which took about 5 mpg from the second fill and killed the 70 mpg overall Review :(


    Raining like hell for over 125 miles :(

    That was an 80 mpg per the aFCD on our last tank!

    ___Still, there is nothing like a 250 to see excellent FE numbers. The 08 Honda CRF 230L we reviewed last year was nuts at over 125 mpg! I want to take out a KLX250 S or SF the next time I am in LA for an FE comparo ride between the 230L, the XT 250 and the KLX250S or SF. And the formidable Suzuki DR-400SM since it looks so hot in white for a super motorrad ;)

    ___Please and keep your Ninja's logs up as I want to see how it turns out through the rest of summer.

    ___Any thoughts to a 1 or 2 tooth larger front sprocket to lower the cruising R’s a touch for better FE at std. highway speeds?

    ___Good Luck

  14. psyshack

    psyshack He who posts articles

    Re: America’s 10 most fuel efficient bikes


    The Ninja 250's don't respond to being geared up very well. They like to spin. Anything off the pipe they labor something awful.

    But the Ninja 500's like to be geared up!
  15. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi All:

    ___I performed a mid-year update with an addition that was not available at this time last year. That being the re-release of the 2009 Kawasaki 125 Eliminator. A favorite of MSF New Rider certified training around the country. I am not sure it is street legal in every state (namely IL) due to lack of displacement but it was nice addition in any case.

    ___Because many are still be interested in Sport Bikes, I left the most fuel efficient (the Kawasaki Ninja 250R) in the list making it the 11 most fuel efficient bikes.

    ___You should find the latest pricing details, fuel economy and fuel costs updates a welcome update to this cast of super savers...

    ___Good Luck

  16. Ptero

    Ptero Hydrogen Nut, Battery Skeptic

  17. southerncannuck

    southerncannuck Well-Known Member

    Where can I get the EPA numbers for bikes? I get almost 100 mpg with my Honda SH150I, and I would like to know how I stack up.
  18. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Southerncannuck:

    ___Honda will not release the US bike numbers unfortunately but I did a story a while back on the SH150i where I thought Honda listed FE numbers for Europe or maybe Brazil? The 150i would probably be rated around 100 mpg as the US based Suzuki DR200SE is a 105 mpg rated bike in a lightweight but full sized dual sport form vs. a scooter.

    ___Good Luck

  19. beatr911

    beatr911 Tightwad

    Re: America’s 10 (now 11) most fuel efficient bikes

    The 2011 Honda CBR250R now needs to be added to the list.
    The engine was designed as a low friction unit and is fuel injected. Rider reports are well over 70 mpg, even from press (which is really saying something).
  20. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Beatr911:

    Arrrggghhh, I have wanted to ride the CBR since I first heard about it a year ago.

    Billy called me the other day and said he picked up an 09 Suzuki DRS200S in Washington State for a little over $3K but I have not heard about his first tank yet. Hopefully that thing will allow in the 120 + mpg range without trying to hard as he learns to ride his new two wheeled beaut :)


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