How To Carry Extra Fuel On a Motorcycle?

Planning a nice long trip to the mountains next? But the problem is that it is almost impossible to find a gas station up on the hills. You will either have to wait for help or walk miles before you find a gas stop. Both these options might not be feasible, especially when you are traveling solo.

This is why it’s probably a good idea to carry extra fuel with you on the ride. But how? Your best bet is a fuel container that comes in different sizes and shapes and needs to be mounted on the bike.

Refer to this guide to know how you carry extra fuel on a motorcycle. Read on to know which container will best suit your needs.

Ways to Carry Extra Fuel

Carrying extra fuel along can be a savior when you are miles away from the next gas station. The most common way to carry fuel all these years was jerry cans until the following fuel containers were introduced. Take a look:

Flexible Fuel Bladder

Fuel bladder is a flexible storage bladder used to carry fuel. It is a sturdy bag that can be latched on top of your luggage to facilitate easy transportation of fuel. It is usually made of plastic and can be folded when empty. The synthetic fabric used in the bladder is tough to prevent damage and leakage while riding. The fuel bladders are perfect only for short-term storage and may not serve you well on long journeys.

They are flexible and can also be tied on the top of a pannier or saddlebag. They have D-rings for mounting on the bike. They have a considerable capacity and are quite lightweight, which makes them easy to carry around. These bladders are used in the military and boats.

You can also opt for gasbags that are easy to pack and lightweight. They can be attached anywhere on the bike via multiple straps. The installation process is hassle-free and doesn’t require an extra rack.

Stackable Fuel Storage Container

Made of heavy-duty plastic, the stackable fuel storage container has capacities ranging from 1 to 4.5 gallons. It is secured with a mounting bracket to your motorcycle, which keeps them in place even when you are riding at high speed. You can mount it on top of a luggage rack, side case, or on the side of the hard panniers. You will require tools and mounting brackets depending on where you choose to install the container.

The spinning mounts that hold the canister in place come in two types: regular and deluxe. To protect it from theft, you can opt for the deluxe one. The fill spout of the fuel container can be tucked inside when not in use, but it can be difficult to use and cause spilling of the fuel.

These fuel containers are durable and do not break or leak during a crash. They are protected against all hazards and can withstand impact, but only to a certain extent. Nevertheless, you can rest assured and choose them as a traveling companion for long trips where you are most likely to run out of gas.

The stackable containers are designed for different types of liquids like fuel, diesel, and water. Red is for fuel, white is for water, and green is for diesel.

Aluminum Fuel Bottles

Aluminum fuel bottles are designed to carry less amount of fuel for emergency purposes. In case you are wondering, no, they are not the same as the aluminum water bottles. Fuel bottles come with seals that prevent them from deterioration due to exposure to gas. The bottle usually comes in different sizes for you to choose from as per your requirements. The most popular of these are MSR bottles. The Mountain Safety Research (MSR) bottles come in different sizes, like 11 oz., 20 oz., and 30 oz, which may not be enough in many cases. They are best for dirt bikers.

They are lightweight but durable. Placing them near your saddlebags can ruin your stuff in case of leakage, so strap them on the pannier, rear racks, or even handlebars. We recommend shoving them on the bike pannier. If you think you would need more fuel, carry one in each pannier of your motorcycle.

The best part about these fuel bottles is that they are protected against weather changes, road grimes, and also rocks on the way.

Auxiliary Tanks

Riding on the mountains and areas with minimum civilization, your chances of finding a gas station are bleak. This is where auxiliary tanks can help you by carrying more than a gallon of fuel for you. They are bigger tanks made of aluminum and fuel-grade plastic.

These tanks are usually permanently installed on the bike, at the pillion seat, and plumbed directly into the main fuel line. It can also be secured inside the pannier rack mounting system, and it adds extra protection to the tank when in need. Auxiliary tanks have a manual level or switch to turn on and fill the fuel tank of the bike. So, whenever you see the fuel light on, you can start filling the tank.

The tank comes with proper installation tools and mounting brackets. It’s better to get it installed by a professional mechanic to be on the safer side, as the process can be lengthy and tricky. Also, try to purchase a tank that meets the DOT (Department of Transportation) safety requirements.

Plastic Gas Cans

Plastic gas cans are designed to easily fit inside a saddlebag. They are often used on cruiser bikes and Harley Davidson bikes. However, they might not be the best choice to store fuel. This is because it is difficult to secure them on a motorcycle. Also, gasoline and its vapors can build an electrostatic charge in the plastic can enough to set up a spark. It can ignite gasoline and cause fire, which can be harmful while traveling.

How to Decide the Right Fuel Container For Your Motorcycle?

  1. Motorcycle mileage: Know the average mileage per tank of your motorcycle. It can help you decide if you need a bigger tank or a small one would suffice.
  2. Amount of extra fuel: Find the amount of extra fuel you need to carry around with your bike’s tank size and mileage. Refer to the calculator below. Also, use google maps to know the distance between the gas stations and decide the container accordingly.
  3. Place of mounting: This will depend upon the type of your motorcycle. Make sure the fuel container is compatible with your bike, and it will fit it without any risk of falling off as you ride and even during a crash.

How To Know How Much Extra Fuel You Need?

To calculate the extra fuel you need for the trip, you need to find out how much longer your regular tank will last:

  • Find out the tank size. You can either google it or skim through a manual if your bike came with one. (Let’s assume it to be 3.5 gallons)
  • Find your bikes miles per gallon [mpg] (Let’s assume it to be 60 mpg)
  • Multiply these numbers to calculate how long your bike can go on a full tank of gas. (3.5 x 60= 210 miles)

You can use liters instead of gallons and KM instead of mpg, depending on the region you reside in. This is more common in European countries.

Safety Considerations

You need to be extra careful while carrying extra fuel with you on the ride. Here are some safety tips you should follow:

Know how much fuel you need

Consider your bike’s mileage and how much extra fuel you’d need. Better miles per tank means you’ll need a smaller tank on the trip. Calculate the distance between the gas stations via google maps and plan ahead.

Mount the container right

Consider where to mount the container so as to not cause any issues or accidents on the ride. Keep it away from the exhaust system. The best places would be towards the center of the bike or the center of the ground to best manage the additional weight of the can.

Carry it safely

Apart from the plastic gas cans having the potential to cause sparks, keeping the gasoline in the sun for so long can make it more volatile. You can wrap the can in a trash bag before storing it in a bag. Seal it with plastic while closing the lid.

More tips….

  • Do not fill the container to its full extent in order to avoid a spill.
  • Keep checking the container at regular intervals or whenever you stop for breaks. Ensure there are no damages or leaks.
  • Never carry the fuel in your backpack or a bag that is attached to your body. This can be fatal during crashes.
  • Calculate how much fuel you need beforehand. More fuel means more risk.
  • If you are a smoker, keep a distance from the bike when you light one up.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Is it legal to carry extra fuel around?

Yes, it is legal to carry extra fuel, but only if you do it safely. Countries like the UK and Australia have allowed jerry cans to carry fuel, provided they are robust and not liable to break under normal conditions. Along the same lines, European countries have laid down road safety rules that measures have to be taken to prevent leakage of the contents and ensure that the container will be secured in place and won’t fall off. This legal information can be found in your country’s road and traffic laws.

Q. Can I put the fuel canister in my backpack?

It’s not a good idea to put the fuel container in the backpack, even if you are using a safe container. This is because in case of accidents, you might fall off the bike, causing the gasoline to catch fire. It can be fatal in serious accidents, so it is better to mount the container on the bike rather than on you.

Q. Can I use soda bottles to carry extra fuel?

No, it is not safe to use soda bottles or even a used oil bottle to carry gasoline. People often use water or coke bottles for this purpose. Soda/water/coke bottles aren’t made to withstand the corrosive nature of gasoline. Over time, the plastic bottles corrode, causing the lid to leak. Such leaks can be dangerous on a trip, especially if the bottles are left unattended in a backpack/saddle bag for hours.


To sum it up, no matter what container you choose, make sure it meets your fuel requirements and is safe. It’s not totally safe to carry extra fuel with you on a ride, and that is why you have to be extra careful. Take all the safety precautions as mentioned above.

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