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Hypermiling on a Harley – part 4

Posted by admin on Sep 18th, 2010
Sep 18

It’s been about two months since my last update on my Hypermiling on a Harley series. The reason it has been so long is because I’ve been experimenting with different hypermiling techniques to get as much information as possible. The conclusion I’ve come to is: so far I don’t really see any difference or benefit to hypermiling on my bike. The range I’ve seen in the last two months has been a low of about 42mpg – usually with a passenger, and a one time peak of 48mpg, but the overall average has been pretty consistently about 45-46mpg. That’s pretty much the same as before when I was just monitoring my speed.

I’m going to continue to experiment and will report any noteworthy findings, but as of this post my official series is now concluded. My suggestions? Watch the throttle and check your tire pressure – nothing groundbreaking there, but obviously very important.

*Update: it occurred to me that I haven’t added any context to my hypermiling testing. I typically commute about 48.4 miles per day round trip. Of the 48.4 miles I was hypermiling (read that as “clutch disengaged”) about 4-6 miles per day. Not a lot, but if you average that to 5 miles per day, that comes up as about 10% per day. That should translate to an additional 4+mpg, but it didn’t.

Hypermiling on a Harley – part 3

Posted by admin on Jul 19th, 2010
Jul 19

Since my last update I’ve gone through three full tanks of gas as my test base. I’ve tried to keep as close as possible to the test guidelines, which are keeping as close as possible to 70 mph or under and shifting at the factory specified shifting speeds (15, 25, 35, 45, 55 mph). I’ve done well at shifting at the right speeds, and have pretty much kept under 70 mph throughout the test. So, on to the base results:

  • Tank 1 = 45.6 mpg
  • Tank 2 = 45.3 mpg
  • Tank 3 = 43.2 mpg

On tank #3 there were two factors that worked against me. One was that I didn’t keep as well to the speed rule as I was supposed to, and the second is that about 40 miles were with my wife on the back.

Now for the next three tanks of gas I’m going to add hypermiling to the test and see what happens. My initial hypermiling tests showed I got about 46 mpg, but I don’t think I had integrated the shifting part yet. We’ll see what happens.

On a side note, I’m looking into two new projects (but don’t tell my wife 🙂 ):

  • One is to try to fix a heat issue. Our garage easily gets to 90 degrees now that we’re in the midst of summer in the San Fernando Valley. Unfortunately that’s where the treadmill is so it’s really been preventing me from using it. I’ve been looking at a lot of personal cooling device ideas – most of which consists of a fan attached to a cooler filled with ice and water that gets pumped through copper tubing attached to the fan. I have some ideas on that design.
  • The second is designing a 50w micro-vawt. It’s small enough to be portable, cheap enough to have several of them spread around, and not some big monolithic eyesore. Well, at least some people might think a big vawt is an eyesore 😉 The one concern I have about this project is my previous attempt and failure. I’m going to do some better testing before I start building this time though.

Hypermiling on a Harley, part 2

Posted by admin on Jun 20th, 2010
Jun 20

It’s been a few weeks since I started my hypermiling experiment. Unfortunately I decided to make two changes at the same time so I’m not sure which one has been more beneficial to my efforts. To cut to the main point of these posts, I’ve been able to go from getting 39-40mpg on my Harley, to getting 45-46mpg. How? I’ve dropped my freeway speed from around 80mph to 70mph, and I’ve been doing some hypermiling as well.

The problem with what I’ve been doing is that I’m not certain which one has added the most benefit. I’ve attempted hypermiling before but haven’t had much success on the Harley, so I suspect the added 6mpg has been due to the speed limiting primarily. To gather more useful data, I’m going to forgo the hypermiling on the next few tanks of gas and see what the results are. Any deviation from my current improved mpg will at least indicate that hypermiling does have some benefit.

Two side notes that I feel need to be added to this post. First – I am far from impressed with the coasting abilities of the bike. On the freeway when I take my exit to go home, going downhill, I go from 60mph to 45mph in about 300 feet. This may be improved by putting the transmission into neutral in addition to pulling in the clutch, but I shouldn’t have to do that.

Second – dropping my speed down 10 miles an hour (going from 80 down to 70) has done two things. 1) has afforded me a MUCH more relaxing ride – I really appreciate the time I spend on the bike now instead of focusing on just getting where I’m going as fast as possible. And 2) has shown me just how f**king crazy the drivers are on the road in L.A.. For some reason, when I was going 80 then most of the other drivers seemed somewhat sane. Now they all seem to ride each others asses, drive like they are vying for pole position at Indy, or are just plain rude.

Be back to report in a couple more weeks on this topic.

Hypermiling on a Harley

Posted by admin on May 29th, 2010
May 29

I have been doing some research on finding other Harley owners who have done some experimentation with hypermiling, but haven’t really been able to find anyone posting much about the subject. Since I’ve done a lot of hypermiling in the past, and I own a Harley, I thought I’d start my own testing and report my results here. How convenient 🙂 Here’s my back-story.

It’s been a little over a year and a half now that I’ve been riding a motorcycle as my daily commuter. My commute is just under 45 miles round trip in mostly heavy traffic, so it makes sense to “ride” rather than “drive” for me. Not only is it better in the fuel economy department but it’s also great for cutting down my time in transit (in California it’s ok to “cut lanes”).

The first bike I ever bought was a 2008 Harley Dyna Super Glide. I had never in my life driven a motorcycle when I bought it – I didn’t even have an endorsement. I know, crazy – but that’s how I roll sometimes. There is more to the story, but it doesn’t need to be told here. After finally learning how to ride it, and having taken the certification class, I had my endorsement and could hit the highway. Unfortunately about eight months later I got in an accident and totaled the bike. I then replaced it with a 2009 Dyna Street Bob (I *love* this bike!). Both bikes are rated for about 48mpg on the highway – we’ll get to my reality on that later.

I started out doing a little hypermiling but never really was consistent with it. I was always doing freeway driving and was also more focused on not turning my face into road pizza to be concerned with hypermiling. I’ve since become a much more confident rider and I’m now at a point where I’m going to try to improve my average mpg. It’s not that I’m getting bad gas mileage – I’m averaging about 40mpg now – but I know I can do a lot better. The reason I know this is because of one thing: when I first started riding on the freeway consistently I was getting 46-48mpg. Now I’m getting consistently 40mpg. The reason for this is because of my driving style – since I’m a lot more confident I’m driving much faster which is decreasing my efficiency.

I’m now at a point where I’m ready to slow down and “cruise” more. This alone will help my overall economy, but to further enhance it I’m going to start re-implementing my hypermiling experimentation. The little testing I’ve done so far hasn’t shown any change at all, but I haven’t given it a fully concerted effort to make an educated evaluation. I’m going to truly focus more on seeing what I can do with this and if it can ultimately add any overall improvements in efficiency.

I have had a lot of success in my (former) Dodge Charger. If you’d like to read up on my findings and tactics in the four wheeled arena then please check my other posts on the subject.

Motorcycle hypermiling, and solar oven part II

Posted by admin on Sep 19th, 2008
Sep 19

Since becoming a new motorcycle rider over the last two months I’ve had to put my hypermiling “research” on hold. I needed to fully focus my attention on what I was doing while riding because looking at the pavement pass by and thinking that if I make one little mistake…and the pavement up ahead could be permanently embedded in various parts of my body. Now that I’ve got over 800 miles under my belt on the bike I’m feeling much more comfortable and have actually started incorporating a few of the techniques I learned while hypermiling in the car. The hard part though, is that since it’s a manual transmission and I don’t always know what gear I’m in, it’s a bit dangerous to put it back into gear in certain situations (like turns, for example) so I don’t coast as much as I could otherwise.

This weekend I’m planning to find as much scrap wood around the house and rebuild my solar oven. My initial attempt turned out alright, and we cooked some beans in it one day (I think it took 6 hours tho), but it’s not sealed very well and should be made deeper and more efficient. So, as promissed in one of my early on posts, I’m going to rebuild it and document it for those who might want to attempt the same project.

Hypermiling update

Posted by admin on Aug 21st, 2008
Aug 21

I’ve been doing some more experimenting with hypermiling lately. One big thing I’ve found is that 40mph is kind of a sweet spot for driving efficiency for my car (the 2007 Dodge Charger). The way I know this is because of how the car coasts. If I’m going 50 on level pavement, and I put the car in neutral to coast to a light or stop sign, the speed quickly drops at a rate of about a mile a second until it hits 40mph. Once it hits 40 then it drastically changes the deceleration and is about one mile per 5+ seconds. It has proven to be very consistent.

What this tells me is that, if possible, I should try to typically drive no faster than 40mph on surface streets. Doing so will significantly reduce drag, increase overall efficiency, and overall mpg. This has altered my driving a bit and I either try to avoid higher speed streets, or I end up not always “keeping up” with the other drivers and actually driving the speed limit more often. Even though my driving style needed to be altered to accommodate for my findings, it’s all worth it in the end – for at least two reasons. One is the increased mileage, and two is the less aggressive driving style. Of course there are negatives too – most commonly, more people tailgate me now. I’ve learned to ignore them.

I’m not going to have as many opportunities to practice my hypermiling in the car starting in about a week. I bought a motorcycle for my daily commuting and my wife will start using the car as her daily driver instead of the Yukon (yes, the full sized SUV. Can’t trade it in….). She is also going to be getting a scooter soon so the car may end up sitting for long periods of time in the near future. Between my motorcycle and her scooter, we’ll be going from around $450 a month in gas to about $100 a month, as well as producing a lot less CO2.

Hypermiling success

Posted by admin on Jul 26th, 2008
Jul 26

Finally, I’m starting to get closer to my goal of 25 mpg in the Charger. On my last tank of gas I made it 381.8 miles, which took 16.07 gallons to refill. That comes out to be 23.76 mpg! Now that’s much better than the 17.5 mpg I used to get while commuting back and forth to work. That’s about a 35% increase in mileage – not too bad.

The biggest differences I made this time was to be more conscious of when I could coast, and I left the car in neutral at lights. Also, I only needed to accelerate hard twice – both while getting on the freeway with a short on-ramp. I only used the freeway about 1/3 of the time so most of this was on surface streets. I actually feel that I can get better results by using surface streets rather than the freeway since I have more opportunities to coast, and since the freeways in Los Angeles are usually stop and go anyway.

This weekend my wife and I are driving to Las Vegas in the Charger – we’ll see just how well we do with all of that freeway driving.

Hypermiling – the “pre”-results

Posted by admin on Jul 17th, 2008
Jul 17

I should wait until tomorrow to post this since I don’t really have results yet, but I’m just too excited to wait. On the current tank of gas in my 2007 base model Dodge Charger I’ve been implementing some hypermiling techniques. I’ve inflated the tires to their maximum recommended pressure, have been coasting as much as possible, and try to not push down the gas pedal more than 1/4 of the way at any time. Normally I get about 17-18mpg, and on the last tank we got 21.84mpg – but that was mostly due to a round trip to San Diego on all freeways. Hmm – a quick check of the Dodge site shows me some disheartening information. I checked the 2008 SE model and they claim to get 18/26mpg. Lies – all lies I tell you. I’d be ecstatic if I got 26mpg. At least now I have a solid goal to strive for.

Anyway – the current miles on this tank of gas is 340. The tank holds 16-17 gallons, which gives me approximately 20.61mpg. Not as great as I was hoping for, but I’m just starting out and it is at least 2mpg more than I’d be getting normally so I’m not disappointed. I’ll update tomorrow after I fill up and run the numbers.

I should also mention that there has been an unexpected benefit to my hypermiling experiment. I seem to be much less aggressive on the road and I don’t really get upset at other drivers anymore. So at worst I’ll get 2mpg more and a less stressful commute.

See you all tomorrow.

Hypermiling anyone?

Posted by admin on Jul 2nd, 2008
Jul 2

Something I’ve been reading a lot about lately is something called hypermiling. Hypermiling is essentially the art of maintaining a vehicle and driving that vehicle in the most efficient standards. For example, the tires on my car have a maximum pressure of 44 psi. I used to inflate them to about 35 psi – a number I’m not certain how I came about – but have recently inflated them to their max pressure. This will help to reduce the rolling resistance and should increase fuel economy by approximately 10% (according to most articles I’ve read).

I’m also coasting a lot more. I’ve found that my car, even uphill, maintains a pretty steady rate of speed when coasting. This means that I can lay off the gas several blocks before I need to stop which saves a lot of gas on rural streets. On a flat, straight road I’ve let off the gas as far away as 1/8th of a mile before I needed to stop and I hadn’t even dropped 5 mph by the time I got to the stop light/sign! I bet that I could coast for a total of as much as a mile on my 12 mile commute to work.

If what I’ve read is true then these two practices could increase my MPG by as much as 3 miles per gallon. That’s a lot! I usually get an abysmal 17mpg in the car (2007 Dodge Charger) so 20mpg would be a great start to lowering my transportation footprint. I’m really curious to find out just how much of a difference it is going to make. I’ll report back in a week or two to update on the results, and possibly with some additional tips.

The results are in….

Posted by admin on Jul 17th, 2008
Jul 17

I’m neither pleased, nor displeased with the results of my first hypermiling attempt. I know there are more improvements I can implement to further increase my overall mileage and I will continue to research and implement them, but for now I’m just going to have to live with the extra 2.5mpg I got. My average mpg on a tank of gas before this one was usually 17-18mpg, on this tank I got 20.01mpg. Not quite what I was hoping for – only a 13% increase.

You may be wondering why I’m not more excited about these results? I really did set my expectations pretty high. I figured that if I could coast for at least 1 mile of my 12 mile commute that it would make a huge difference. I have lots of opportunities to coast along my route and was usually pretty good at taking advantage of them. I honestly was hoping for 25mpg. A point of clarification I feel I need to make – when I refer to “coasting” I mean take the car out of drive and put it in neutral. I usually only try to do this when I know I’m coming up to a stop, since putting the transmission back in gear while at driving speeds seems to produce a healthy “clunk” when re-engaging the gears.

I’m still “perfecting” my coasting abilities so I still expect to see an improvement going forward. For example, one thing I found to be consistent was if I had my windows rolled down, even just as little as 2 inches, I wouldn’t coast as well. Also, I need to start my coasting earlier to get the maximum advantage of the kinetic energy. I *know* that 25mpg is achievable.

I’m not sure if it’s going to help or hinder my progress, but I’m going to be starting a new job at the end of the month that will increase my commute, put me in more traffic, pretty much keep me off of the highways, and also take me over a large hill (I think they are called Encino Hills?). It may help though because once I get over the hill I can coast for up to three miles one way, and about a mile and a half in the other. I’m sure it will be a wash but it will also depend on how I ascend up those hills. As always, I’ll post the ongoing results.