How to Fill Motorcycle Gas Tanks

by Josh Baum

Motorcycle owners face a constant struggle at the fueling pump. Most commercial gas station pumps are designed with four-wheel auto gas tanks in mind, and the safety shut-off valves are designed accordingly. When you fill up a motorcycle gas tank with one of these, the safety shut-off valve will usually engage when your tank is only partially full. The simplest way around this problem is outlined below.

Step 1

Pull up to a gas pump. Put your motorcycle up on its kickstand. Most motorcycle manufacturers recommend filling up motorcycle fuel tanks with the kickstand up because it puts the tank in the optimal position.

Step 2

Prepay or use a credit card if necessary to activate the pump, then put the nozzle all the way into the fuel door. Pump fuel into the bike until the safety shut-off valve engages and the pumping stops.

Step 3

Pull the nozzle out of the fuel door. Hold the nozzle handle and trigger with one hand, while you use the other hand to push back the rubber sleeve surrounding the nozzle. Pushing back this sleeve should block the shut-off valve from reengaging.

Step 4

Stick the end of the nozzle about 1 inch into the fuel door and resume pumping. You should be able to actually see the fuel level rising by looking through the gaps in the fuel door.

Stop pumping when the fuel level nears the top of the tank. Replace the nozzle, and close the fuel door.


  • Consider purchasing a special attachment designed for motorcycle fuel doors. These attachments fit all motorcycles and essentially automate the process described above. When you attempt this method, take note of how many gallons of gas your tank takes between when the safety shut-off valve engages and when your tank is full. Since fuel pumps and nozzles are fairly standardized, you can use this figure as a guide for pumping fuel in the future. Just remember roughly how much more gas you can add before overflowing the tank.


  • Do not attempt this if you cannot see the liquid level inside the tank, as you may overflow the tank and spill gasoline on yourself, your bike and the ground.

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