Do larger capacity fuel tanks affect steering and handling?

Would larger tanks affect handling and steering causing front wheel to dig in, or have the manufacturers thought about these issues?

Yes, they affect the way the bike rides (weight), suspenion needs to be modified for the average fuel load and steers (location of the weight).

Yes.  My XR250R has a fairly large stock tank by today's standards.  I usually don't fill it all the way, the top heavy feeling is noticeable.

I would say yes too. When I put a 4 gal tank on my XR, I had my suspension tuner take that into account when choosing springs and valving. The fuel tank is the highest mounted mass of weight on the bike. The effects of more of it kinda go up exponentially.

I'm sure manufacturers think of the issue for the handling characteristics from the stock tank they install, but no others.

Tank size and weight alone are probably not enough to make much appreciable difference. It's when they're full of fuel that you feel it. Get in the habit of not topping it off for every ride. Only the longest, all day rides usually require a full tank. No need to carry all that around for just the local playground.

A lot tanks, depending on brand and model of bike, hang more of their capacity lower on the frame and further to the front. If you were to fill an oversize tank with the capacity of the stock tank, the volume would set lower and perhaps more forward if its one of those types that take the place of radiator shrouds. More weight at or forward of the steering rake probably has the most effect on steering itself. 

Fuel, being a fluid medium, means it's constantly changing shape and shifting its weight. Definitely does that in a bigger tank, but you'll get used to it and any new handling characteristics. It will soon become the norm to you.

Edited by Trailryder42

I have a loop that is 22 mile and if I do two laps it takes 3 hours and a tank of fuel.  If you are riding with me, I will ask you to top if off.  I can't really tell full getting started handling from empty 3 hours later.  I guess because I am getting worn out when it is empty and I am fresh when it is full. I figure it holds 13 lbs of fuel.

Edited by wielywilly-g

I have the worst case scenario, an Acerbis handlebar mounted .6 gallon (2 liter) fuel tank on my CRF250X

as that is easily to worst place too add extra weight on a bike.


Surprisingly at lower trail speeds it's not that drastic of a handling issue, perhaps the most noticeable is the added top heavy 

feeling that makes the bike harder to lift off the ground after a stall/tumble. (the CRF250X is top heavy to begin with)

But depending on everyone's specific usage, the added top weight would no doubt be very noticeable at higher speeds.


Rather than buying a larger capacity main tank it was an economical choice for occasional use.

Knowing my bike's approximate fuel range and planning the ride's distance ahead of time, I only fill as required.

Luckily it's content get used up first, so after the first 1-2 hours of riding you are back to the normal handling characteristics of the regular tank.

90% of the time I don't need to carry extra fuel, the empty tank itself weighs very little so I don't even bother removing it. (2 bolts)



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Edited by mlatour

It's more noticable on light bikes. 

Yes, they affect the way the bike rides (weight), suspenion needs to be modified for the average fuel load and steers (location of the weight).

Would it effect handling in a negative way on sandy tracks if put on a 125?
1 hour ago, 2_sm0ker said:

Would it effect handling in a negative way on sandy tracks if put on a 125?

Absolutely. Think about it. If adding weight that can move about up high on a bike was a good thing, don't you think the manufactureres would of done it with stock six gallong 'ride all day' tanks? The lighter the bike, the greater the effect of adding weight.

YES........of course.



Yes, but I never found it to be night/day and something that can easily be adjusted to. And, most mfrs look to get the most range they can, but keep the fuel as low as possible on the bike. Not always possible for sure, but if you need the range you need the range. I've found it easier than carrying a Shell gas station in my pack. ;)

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