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My 2015 Honda NM4 motorcycle has the WORST fuel gauge known to man. Determining when to fill up is always a gamble.

OK, so this bike gets 70+mpg (last 3 fill-ups were 73,73,74) but only has a 3 gallon tank.. So, normally I would expect about a 200 mile range. Except that you can’t use mileage.

Let me explain...

The gauge is 5 LCD ‘pips’ between ‘E’ and ‘F’ along the left side of the gauge cluster. My odometer is just under it.

About 50 miles or so into a full tank, the first of the 5 ‘pips’ turns off. Somewhere around 140 miles, the last one goes into a blinking “Reserve Mode”. While in “Reserve Mode”, the odometer vanishes and you see ‘0.0'. This is a counter. It starts to count off the tenths of a gallon of fuel used. Since the engine is fuel injected, the computer is pretty good at monitoring the fuel used - especially for quantities under a gallon.

So, you’re thinking - “Awesome, I just get to know what the ‘0.0' should be when I run out and just don’t go that low.”

Except that you would be wrong. You see, fuel sloshes in the tank, and braking, descending a hill, and sometimes even cornering all cause fuel to slosh forward, raising the float in the tank and causing the gauge to reset to one ‘pip’, the odometer to returns, and the counter returning to zero the next time the display changes.

I’ve traveled up to 50 miles after the first shift into “reserve mode” before the resetting stops. On a long highway cruise, the “Reserve” might never reset. In the mountains, it resets nearly every corner at first.

So, the question is “how much fuel is really in the tank?” If you manage to pay attention and catch the odometer reading between resets, you can get some idea. But basically, you are guessing. The highest I’ve seen the fuel counter get was 0.8 gallons. Nearly 1/3 of a tank and I still wasn’t out, filling up with only 2.86 gallons. Other times I’ve filled up with it reading 0.0 and put in 2.7 gallons.

Have not run out of fuel yet, but have had fill-ups in the 2.9's on several occasions. 2.3-2.5 are the most common. I’ve found that if “Reserve” just started, I can easily complete one 50 mile round-trip commute to work. If, however, the “Reserve” occurs in the morning on the way to work, I just stop and fill up on the way home. That accounts for the bulk of the 2.3 gallon top-offs.

Who in their right mind would ever design a fuel gauge that you can’t determine how much fuel you have left when it is most critical to do so? And to make matters worse, you have no idea about mileage since the odometer is replaced with the fuel counter.

While my average is in the 70 range, different riding makes a big difference in mileage. For example, traveling at 80+mph reduces mileage into the 50's. Long rides at 40-50mph in fairly level terrain will net mileages over 80. I have one route out of the mountains that is nearly 100 miles of mostly downhill grades at 40 mph where I saw mileage over 100 mpg. You add that kind of variability to the lack of any precision in the Gauge and you really don’t know at all how much fuel is left.