Cutting it close

In a move that’s highly uncharacteristic for me, I ran my bike down low yesterday.  Thankfully, unlike my old Honda, the Harley has many safeguards to let you know when you’re low on gas.  But, if the rider (that’s me) chooses to ignore them (like I did) the rider will have to suffer the consequences.  Basically what happened is that I knew I was low on gas when I rode to work.  I figured I would just stop and gas up on the way home.  Of course, I only put premium gas with no ethanol in my rides so I have to find the right gas station.  I passed several of them as I watched the range estimation tick down.


At about 30 miles of range left, the bike said “Excuse me… something’s wrong here.  You don’t have very much gas left.”  Of course it didn’t literally say that.  It’s a motorcycle, not an iPhone.  But it lit up the low gas light on the gauge.  It also popped a message up on the screen indicating low fuel levels.  Finally, it offered to find gas stations near by using the GPS.  Cool!

Except, I already knew the gas station I wanted to go to.  I know in my brain that the gas station I wanted was about 10 miles away.  The bike estimated 30 miles of range.


So I blew past several “unworthy” gas stations with their nasty ethanol swill.

That’s when I noticed the range estimator had dropped to 27 miles.  I had gone about half a mile but the bike estimated three miles had ticked off!  Of course the actual odometer was right, but I’m basing my trip on the range!


I continued down the road on my way to the promised land.  I was driving as gingerly as possible.  I accelerated slowly.  I rode smoothly.  I “conserved momentum” as I approached stop signs.  (That’s code for rolling stops, people).

Even so, the range estimator was dropping rapidly.  I really started to get nervous as I passed the point of no return.  I eventually started coasting.  There was no traffic behind me so when the opportunity presented itself, I pulled the clutch in and coasted.  That helped.

24… 22… 20…

Finally, I made my way to the main drag to the gas station.  That’s where the bike settled in on my riding style and figured that I was going to be okay.  I made it to the pump and breathed a sigh of relief.


The 2015 Harley Davidson Ultra Limited has a 6.0 gallon fuel tank.  I put nearly 5.3 gallons in.  I get about 35 miles per gallon of normal driving.  Let’s see here… a little math… and we get the idea that I should have been able to go another 24.5 miles before being completely stranded.  That’s way too close for my comfort.

Have you ever ignored the indicators on your vehicles and been left stranded?  Better yet… if you are stranded with no gas, how would you transfer gas from a helpful motorist from their tank to yours?



One thought on “Cutting it close

  1. There are very few warning lights on the bikes I own. The alternator light on the BMW came on when I was about 20 miles from home at -30°F (failed alternator rotor) but since I was running with an automotive battery, I figured that I had a lot of range. Neither bike has a gas gauge but both have reserve positions on the petcock and I have checked on my range while on reserve. You need to have faith on the company’s engineers and I probably don’t have enough to ever pick up a newer bike. I still like the older, simpler (less reliable?) bikes from yesteryear…


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