Here’s the thing, we may not always have the time to ride our motorcycles as much as we would like to.
Motorcycles, though, need to be actively used for them to stay in good shape and operate properly.
“A rolling stone gathers no moss” goes the old adage, and it is fully applicable to motorcycles.
So a question may come to one’s mind like:
How often should you ride your motorcycle? You should ride your motorcycle as often as at least once a week for 20 to 30 minutes to keep the battery and fuel in good condition. In the winter, ride your motorcycle as often as possible or least once a week and get the engine to a good temperature.
Below you will find more in-depth information on how often you may need to ride your motorcycle in the different situations. After doing my research on this topic, I discovered that there are many variables and important details, all of which I cover in this article.
Do You Have to Ride Your Motorcycle Often?
You don’t need to ride your motorcycle very often to keep it in good condition; however, not riding it often could cause the fuel and oil to go bad and for you to lose some of your reflexes and ability to maneuver the motorcycle.
How often you will need to ride your motorcycle will depend on how many miles you ride in total during each ride. You see one of the problems when it comes to any gas-powered vehicle or machinery is that fuel goes bad with time.
People compare fuel to wine—once opened, it starts to go bad.
So one way to go about answering the question of how often you should ride your motorcycle is as often as it is needed for you to burn all the fuel before it goes bad.
For example, a winterized motorcycle (and I will talk a good bit about that too in a moment) does not need to be ridden as often as the fuel should have been properly treated. However, a motorcycle with a full tank of non-treated gas is an entirely different animal.
Fuel starts to deteriorate slowly because of its contact with the air. Fuel is usually good for at least 30 days.
However, this time period is usually considered very conservative as fuel should be able to stay good between 3 to 6 months. Of course, that would depend on the quality of the fuel and how old it is, to begin with. Higher octane—premium fuel—will usually last longer.
You can read more about motorcycles and what fuel they take in my article here.
Now let’s have a few examples.
On average, motorcycles can get between 100 to 200 miles on a full tank. However, some motorcycles may get as little as 30 and others as much as 630 miles per full tank.
As you can see, the numbers can vary somewhat drastically, but let’s work with the averages most motorcycle riders will experience with their motorcycle.
If you get 150 miles on average on a full tank and knowing that fuel should not be kept in the tank for more than 30 days you can get a good idea of how often you need to ride your motorcycle—you need to be covering about 150 miles per 30 days or about 37.5 miles per week.
This will ensure that you will be burning through all the fuel in a timely manner and prevent it from going bad inside the tank.
For more information, I recommend reading my article about how often you have to fill up a motorcycle tank.
Now considering that many motorcycle riders can easily do between 50 to 200 miles per day, this means that you may need to ride your motorcycle once or twice per month without worrying about the fuel going bad.
Alternatively, you can be riding your motorcycle as often as you like, for example, you can ride it every day. As long as the fuel does not stay too long in the tank, there is no reason to worry about your motorcycle.
Many motorcycle riders ride their motorcycles once or twice per week without experiencing any problems with their motorcycles.
How Often Should You Ride Your Motorcycle in the Winter?
Colder seasons bring about a whole new set of problems with them. Most people do not ride their motorcycles as much during the colder seasons. This results in a fuel that will stay in your tank for long periods of time, and it can go bad eventually.
This is why many people will be wondering how often they should ride their motorcycles in the winter to avoid winterizing it.
During the winter, if you want to avoid winterizing your motorcycle, you should ride it at least once or twice at minimum each week for a good 30 minutes to get the fuel and oil going and prevent any damage to the internal parts of the motorcycle.
If you don’t ride your motorcycle often in the winter, you may have to winterize it depending on where you keep the motorcycle. If the ambient temperature where you keep your motorcycle is relatively high, you may not need to winterize your bike.
If you properly winterize your motorcycle and add the necessary fuel stabilizers, you may not need to ride it often. A winterized motorcycle may be ridden after 5 to 6 months without that causing any adverse effects.
Of course, you may still need to keep the battery charged, and you may need to use a battery tender if it has been sitting for more than a month.
How Often Should You Ride Your Motorcycle to Keep the Battery Charged?
Well, nothing ever is as simple as it looks, now, does it? Fuel is just one aspect of your motorcycle that may determine how often you need to ride it. The battery is the other.
If you leave your motorcycle with a fully charged battery, it may take between 2 to 4 months on average for the battery to become fully discharged. (Something that should ideally be avoided.)
This means that you need to be riding your motorcycle at least a few times every 2 to 4 months to prevent the battery from fully discharging. However, how you ride your motorcycle and at what RPM is also important.
If the alternator is generating anything above the static voltage of the battery, this will mean the battery is being charged.
For example, a 12 V battery is considered fully charged if it is between 12.7 and 13 V. If the alternator is generating anything above that number, it will be charging the battery. A properly working alternator should be capable of reaching about 14.4 V. However, some of the older alternators may be working in the 12.9 to 13+ V range.
To make sure everything is in check, you can hook up a voltmeter to get the readings from your motorcycle. (Hook the voltmeter to the battery terminals.)
For the majority of the newer motorcycles, you should be getting readings of around 13 V at idle and 14.4 V, when at higher RPM. If, at any point, the voltage gets below 12.7 V or above 14.5 V, then there may be problems with the regulator or the alternator.
By doing these measurements, you can see what the optimal RPMs for charging the battery on your motorcycle are.
The optimal RPM in terms of voltage generated is considered to be between 3000 to 5000 RPM. Riding your motorcycle in those ranges should generate ideal amounts of voltage that will be charging your battery. The majority of motorcycle riders try to ride their motorcycles around these RPMs for about 20 to 30 minutes at least a few times per month.
However, there is no rule of thumb here that will apply to all motorcycles. The optimal RPMs will be different for the different motorcycles, hence why it is recommended to use a voltmeter and check the readings.
Leaving your motorcycle at idle will usually charge the battery as well, but the rates at which this is done are very low that frequently it may not be worth doing it. (Especially if you are running many accessories which could place even more demand on the system.)
You cannot really substitute a good solid 20-minute ride at optimal RPMs with even 60 minutes of leaving your motorcycle at idle.
What happens if you ride your motorcycle too often?
Both riding a motorcycle too often and not riding it often enough have their pros and cons.
Riding your motorcycle often will keep your riding skills well-honed. Practice makes perfect, after all, and riding often can help in making you a better rider.
One of the unavoidable downsides to riding a motorcycle too often is that everything will wear out faster like:
- The motorcycle tires will wear out faster, including other parts and components.
- The motorcycle paint and finish will fade with time.
- The motorcycle gear will wear out over time as well.
However, riding a motorcycle has also been associated with some health problems like:
- Lower back pain.
- Erectile dysfunction.
- Hair loss.
- Carpal tunnel.
Motorcycle crashes are also associated with higher risks of suffering more serious and even fatal injuries.
What Happens If You Do Not Ride Your Motorcycle Often?
If you do not ride your motorcycle, often one of the most serious problems that you will be facing stems from the ethanol content in the fuel. In other words, ethanol attracts the water from the air, which introduces water and moisture to the fuel inside the tank.
Due to the increased moisture with time, the tank can start rusting and corroding. Ethanol can be especially damaging to rubber seals, fuel lines, and carburetors.
Carburetors can also get gummed and clogged with time and may need to be thoroughly cleaned or even replaced.
Due to the fuel evaporation and oxidation with time, a gunky gel and layers of varnish will start accumulating in the tank, which could damage the motorcycle’s fuel system. The accumulated gunk and gum may be difficult to clean, and you may need to use cleaning compounds to remove it completely.
And lastly, as the fuel sits, it will be gradually losing some of its volatility. This will make it less efficient. A full fuel tank, a tightly closed tank cap, and adding a little new gas before starting your motorcycle can reduce the fuel’s loss of efficiency.
You can find more information in my article about how long you can leave a motorcycle sitting.