How To Carry Extra Fuel On A Motorcycle

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The first time I toured abroad, I took everything bar the kitchen sink.

And I very nearly took that, too.

Included in my over-vigilant set-up was a 5-litre motorcycle jerry can. But with half an eye on conserving weight (I don’t know why – I was already carrying the weight of a house), I decided not to fill it up until I thought I might need it.

But guess what…

I never filled it up. And then I needed it. So I ended up coasting my bike to the next fuel stop whilst carrying a jerry can that had no fuel in it.

Since then, I haven’t bothered with carrying extra fuel at all. These days, I meticulously plan my routes. I spend some time finding fuel stations online and plot them into my routes instead.

This way, I know my fuel stops have already been planned in advance – and therefore I don’t need to bother about running out of the stuff. Ever.

Until now.

biker with gps - extra fuel on a motorcycle
Image: Antoni Shkraba

Additional Fuel For Norway

The world’s a bit of a mess right now for obvious reasons. And due to the whole Russia thing, we can’t necessarily count on petrol stations having the fuel we need even when we get there.

To make it worse, I’ve recently changed my bike. My previous bike would give me over 200 miles to a tank. But the new one might give me 160-180 if I baby it.

I’m pretty certain fuel will be available in Norway, even in the north. But what if it isn’t? What if there’s a shortage?

Maybe now is the time to once again consider carrying some extra fuel for my motorcycle – just in case.

So in this post, I’ll go through 6 ways of carrying extra fuel on a motorcycle. Whether you’re touring in civilisation and simply need a safety net, or touring somewhere remote and need it to get you through, these are the best available options on the market.

Related: How Fuel Prices Could Affect Your Motorcycle Tour

biker off-roading through river
Image: Eric Welch

1. Get A Bigger Tank!

For some people, this simply won’t be an option. If you’re only carrying extra fuel for a precaution, your current fuel tank is likely sufficient, and you won’t want to mess with it. So this isn’t for you.

But if your round-the-world bike only has a 15-litre tank, adding a larger one from the start will save you a lot of heartache in the long run.

The best places to start include IMS, Acerbis, and Clarke if you’re looking to carry extra fuel on a dirt bike.

acerbis tank - extra fuel on a motorcycle
Image: Acerbis

2. Carrying Extra Fuel On A Motorcycle: Invest In A Fuel Bladder

The biggest problem I had with my jerry can (aside from it not having fuel in it) was its sheer presence. 

It’s the same size whether it’s full or empty. And that means it’s cumbersome to carry ALL the time.

This is where fuel bladders come in. Available in various sizes, you can carry as much fuel as you need. But when not in use, you can simply roll it up (or leave it flat) and store it somewhere safe.

Made from soft compounds, fuel bladders aren’t as rigid as jerry cans or traditional containers. They can also take a lot of abuse and are less likely to crack (or suffer from vibration) unlike their more sturdy counterparts.

Top of my list is one of the options from Desert Fox. Available in 3, 6, or 20 litres, the Desert Fox fuel cells come with D-rings – making the mounting options endless (whether full or empty.)

The 3-litre version weighs 300g when empty. And all variations come with a fuel spout that is stored in its own dust-proof pouch.

Another worthy consideration is the Giant Loop Gas Bag – available in 1, 2, 3, and 5-gallon capacities.

desert fox fuel pouch
Image: Desert Fox

3. Fuel Bottles

Fuel bottles are another good option for those who are just after a safety net of additional fuel. They’re also good if you plan on camping and want somewhere to keep extra stove fuel.

MSR fuel bottles are on the smaller side and are available in 325ml, 591ml, and 887ml sizes. For larger bottles, Primus makes their offerings in 350ml, 600ml, 1L and 1.5L capacities.

Looking for somewhere to store them? Twisted Throttle offers numerous motorcycle fuel bottles and holders.

primus bottles - extra fuel on a motorcycle
Image: Primus

For more posts like this, check out our Route Planning category!

4. Carrying Extra Fuel On A Motorcycle: Stackable Storage Cans

You can’t go wrong with stackable storage cans for a more serious fuel carrying capacity. RotopaX storage cans stack neatly on top of each other and come in a variety of sizes from 1-4 gallons (around 4.5 to 18 litres.)

But cheap they are not!

Coming with their own spouts that are guaranteed not to leak, RotopaX offers the only rotationally moulded containers on the market.

It’s worth noting here that RotopaX containers need to be vented once a day when riding in varying elevations or temperatures.

rotopax stackable containers
Image: RotopaX

5. Auxiliary Tanks

For the diehard off-roading RTW warrior, it’s worth looking at a dedicated auxiliary tank if you want something even larger than a fuel bladder.

Adding an auxiliary tank is like adding a second tank to your bike (but usually smaller.) The tank can be turned on or off and is the ultimate in additional fuel storage.

Camel tanks are about the best you can buy – but they’re only compatible with certain bikes. If you ride a BMW F800 GS, you’re in luck!

Other options are available from the likes of Acerbis.

camel tank - extra fuel on a motorcycle
Image: Camel

6. Motorcycle Jerry Can

Can’t be bothered with auxiliary tanks, bladders and bottles? There’s always the good old-fashioned jerry can.

The positives about these are that they are readily available and cheap to buy.

As mentioned above, however, they are a pain to store and can crack if you have an accident.

jerry can red

Carrying Extra Fuel On A Motorcycle Isn’t Without Its Risks

I can’t say this strongly enough. ONLY (let me say it again – ONLY) carry fuel in containers that are meant to carry fuel.

Yes, I know you’ve seen people using drinks bottles on your travels. But it’s dangerous, and it will go wrong eventually.

Don’t become one of the many stories of people spilling fuel on themselves or setting themselves on fire.

Not only can it be dangerous, but illegal.

I can’t say I’ve read the Agreement of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR) or the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations.

But if you choose to carry fuel in an unsuitable container or fail to secure it properly, you’re just asking to be targeted by police and border officials! Make sure it’s in a motorcycle fuel container made for the job.

biker off-roading through desert - extra fuel on a motorcycle
Image: Jeremy Bishop

Carrying Extra Fuel On A Motorcycle In Europe

If your ride extends only to Europe (and you have a reasonably sized tank), you could argue you don’t need any of these elaborate fuel carrying contraptions at all.

Wherever you are in Europe, you’re likely to reach a petrol station within the 150+ mile range of your fuel tank.

Plus, you could always rely on humanity to come to your rescue. Somebody, somewhere, will always help you out if you get stuck.

Do you take that risk?!


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