Friday, January 23, 2015

Ran Out of Gas on My Motorcycle

motorcycle roadside assistance
County of Riverside has government-funded roadside assistance patrols
Ran out of gas on my motorcycle while riding this afternoon. Of course at first, the sputtering really catches me off guard, and then as I'm pulling off to the side, I keep wondering, "What the Hell is going on?"

Five years ago, I wrote about similar experiences in an article entitled, "Running Out of Gas on a Motorcycle". I mentioned that I have this habit of procrastinating a fill up until I absolutely need it. I keep running math calculations in my head by looking at the odometer and the mile marker signs to determine when I really, absolutely, without a doubt, gotta have to stop for gas.

Thus far, of the times I've actually drained the tank and had to pull over, I've been within walking distance to a gas station. It was labor enough to push a nearly 800 pound Electra Glide Ultra Classic in the past.

This time around, I had to push a 650 pound Honda ST1300 for about a mile.

I was actually about a mile and a half from the freeway offramp, where I knew there was a gas station.

"A mile and a half", I thought to myself. "I can do this."

Sash wanted to call her Triple A. But I don't think it would have helped, since I'm not on that policy. I actually do have an American Express Gold Card, which has built-in roadside assistance, up to $50.00, which should cover this particular circumstance. But, I knew that meant having to wait 30-60 minutes.

"Fuck it. I'm just gonna push it."

I got about a mile down the freeway, when I heard a "Beep!"

I figured it was a cop.

It turned out to be Roadside Assistance. Apparently, the County of Riverside, where I had been, has its own fleet of trucks that patrol the highways looking for vehicles in need of help. The guy was able to pour a gallon of gas to get me going.

Except, the bike didn't want to start.

It turned out that leaving the hazard lights on the entire mile of walking it drained the battery. You'd think that hazard lights wouldn't do that so quickly. But I guess Hondas have a way of killing batteries pretty fast.

So, I had to pull off the seat, pull off the right-side saddlebag, and screw off the right side panel, just to get to the battery. The guy hooked up his jumper cables, and I turned the key and got the bike running. Awesome.

Except, you can't remount the saddlebag without the key.

The ST1300 has a lock on the passenger hand rails that secure the saddlebags. That meant having to take the key out of the ignition and letting the engine die, to get the bag back on. I hoped for the sake my own sanity the engine would start back up.

Fortunately, it started right up.

So I got my exercise in for the day.

The roadside assistance guy didn't charge me since it was all government work. I didn't have any cash on hand to tip him. The libertarian in me is still not sure government should be competing against private enterprise. But then again, when you're in that situation, you're just happy to see someone pull up in a truck.


  1. That doesn't sound like any kind of fun.

  2. 1½ miles! That's a long way to push s bike. The Ural has a tiny gas tank and gets horrible gas mileage. 200km before switching to reserve is a rarity. So I always carry a gas can. On the Bermer with the sidecar, same problem. Maybe 140 miles before reserve.

    Government sponsored roadside service! I wonder what prompted that?

  3. Running out of gas... not fun at all. I have done that once, and learned my lesson on the 405 freeway on my first Sporty. Coasted from the fast lane to the shoulder on the slow side with my arm out stopping traffic. So not fun and hazardous and hope I never get in the situation again. Glad you are safe.

  4. Arguably, it makes a whole lot of sense to have government-provided roadside assistance on public, taxpayer-funded roads. The purpose of a road is to move people and goods quickly and efficiently from point A to point B. If there are cars/motorcycles on the roadside, that inherently slows or obstructs the flow of people and goods, at which point the taxpayer is not getting his or her money's worth. So, roadside assistance is effectively just necessary road maintenance, and all the places without it are ripping off the taxpayer.

  5. Fingers crossed, since I've never run out of gas, but I think after pushing that beast you won't run out of gas again.

    I've never heard of roadside assistance patrolling the highways, it might be something they do to keep hazards of the sides of the roads. People of the side of the freeways here get rear-ended by asshats not paying attention.

  6. I did that two years ago, right smack dab in Virginia hill country on a Sunday miles from any town. Lucky, my brother was driving the gear truck yet still he had to travel an hour to get me fuel. Gas cans, yep, we left them at home because of room for everyone's gear. Doh. Topper, an RV stopped to ask me directions while I'm sitting there propped against my bike but never asked me what I needed, bro pulled up right after with the gas.

  7. I have only ran out of gas once and that was enough for me to fill up when close or in doubt. Awesome that the roadside assistance was there.

  8. Sash's AAA would have saved you. Love your Iron Horse Philosophy, Dude. Ride on and stay safe! Bob N


About Steve

A vagabond who hauls a motorcycle around the country in a toy hauler, earning a living as a website developer. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, craft beer, and/or public nudity. (Read more...)