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Reduce your motorcycling carbon emissions

Crichton Carbon Centre

You might be wondering why anyone would think motorcycling would be particularly low carbon…and you would be right…it isn’t.

However bikes can contribute to our overall reduction in the amount of carbon we emit. For example as an alternative to taking the car to work, or to that flight to a Spanish beach, a week touring the Borders on the ol’ bike is a much lower carbon option, (if slightly damper..).

For those of us who enjoy riding two wheeled internal combustion engines for recreation, then a low carbon story is just not going to wash. However the information below sets out some simple advice on riding that can help to reduce your impacts.

You can make a difference to your overall personal carbon emissions by taking climate change seriously, looking long and hard at your lifestyle emissions, and making a commitment to change even some small things in your life.

But remember, if everyone does a little then we will only achieve a little…. After you have made those decisions then what you can’t reduce you can offset. But remember offsetting your carbon emissions is not a pay-off for business as usual.

Rider Behaviour

Keep your revs down. Up to 50% more petrol is used to due to frequent braking and acceleration during a journey travelling at an average speed of 30 miles per hour (approx 45kph). When accelerating, try to change gear before reaching 2500 rpm. The condition of your motorcycle can also be affected, causing excess tyre wear and reducing the lifetime of brake pads.

Avoid wearing flapping clothing, as this increases drag and reduces the aerodynamics of your motorcycle – raising it’s fuel consumption.

Bike Maintenance

By regularly servicing your motorcycle you can save up to 10% on it’s petrol use, increase it’s performance and fuel efficiency. This will also help identify if any fuel is leaking from your bike.  Leaking fuel lines, when losing even just a few drops of petrol every couple of seconds can cost up to 100 litres a fuel a year. With today’s high fuel costs, that soon adds up.


Under-inflated tyres can have a significant effect on the performance of your motorcycle.  Tyres that are under-inflated by 25% can result in a 5% increase in petrol consumption and reduce the life of the tyres by up to 25%.

Check your motorcycle’s tyre pressures regularly, particularly before long journeys. Use the manufacturers’ recommended pressure and measure tyres when they are cold for the most accurate reading.

Remember, under-inflated tyres can also result in your motorcycle being unsafe, as they have a significant adverse affect on it’s performance, stability and handling too.


Remove all items from panniers or top boxes that are not necessary for your journey. Reducing the extra weight on your bike decreases the amount of petrol you use while riding it.

Less weight also has the benefit of improving vehicle handing, braking distances and general wear and tear on the bike.

Fuel Management

When your motorcycle is unattended or not moving, turn off the engine.  Keeping your bike’s engine running when stationary is the quickest route to achieving zero miles per gallon and uses up fuel for nothing.

Riding your motorcycle within the legal speed limits not only increases rider safety, but also decreases CO2 emissions and fuel consumption at the same time.  Riding at a speed of 70mph can typically use up to 9% more petrol than travelling at 60mph, increasing to 15% more when compared to a speed of 50mph.

Find out more

The folks at the Crichton Carbon Centre can help provide some direction and support of carbon offsetting.

And finally, ambulances and hospitals are particularly high carbon emitters, so above all ride safe!