How possible was the road trip in Easy Rider?

Or, somewhat oddly to modern sensibilities, you’d sometimes have a combination gas station/roadhouse bar out in the middle of nowhere. I actually stopped at one of those that was still operating along US 50 in Nevada-- basically just a saloon, but it had a gas pump with an above-ground tank and it’s the only gas for about 50 miles if you’re on the main road and even further if you were going north/south. It was a little surreal in this day and age to have to saunter up to the bar and get the bartender to turn on the gas pump!

This thread reminded me of Brothers, OR on US20 partway between Bend and Burns. It’s only reason to exist seemed to be as a gas stop. Just checking streetview on Google maps shows that apparently there is no longer an open gas station there.

That’s about 130 mile stretch of high desert with very little in between now. Things have changed since the 60s.

After seeing this thread, I watched the flick last night. Great movie, great soundtrack, landscapes. With these machines, gasoline would be a minor issue. The main issue would be keeping them from vibrating apart. My brother and his friends had these vintage machines. They never went any distance without a van equipped with parts and tools.

True. But the issue you’re missing is that at the time of Easy Rider, the typical car would go 250-300 miles on a tank of gas. Whereas his bike could only go 75-100 miles on a tank of gas.

So there were plenty of places where the locals with their Chevy’s found the gas stations plenty close together, but Easy Rider would have been unable to get from one to the next.

Add in the near universal habit of almost no stations being open 24/7 and you get to the situation where running out, or needing to stop travelling between Saturday afternoon until Monday morning was also common.
I recall in the '60s most pickup trucks had a factory option for a second fuel tank. Which would give your truck a 400-500 mile range. It was common for folks in the far country to buy that option. Or to have a 55 gallon drum & hand-crank pump more or less permanently installed in the truck bed.

And it was commonplace for ordinary suburban / near-rural folks to carry a gas can in the trunk. Usually kept empty, but it was for the all too common situation where you did run out, or were on a road trip and needed to stretch your range.

I suspect that anyone who’s never lived in the Southwest simply can’t fathom how much more spread out things are there versus the rest of the country. And that was even more true back in the 60s. If you didn’t drive back then, believe me when I say it really was a lot different versus the situation today.

Plus their backs would be shot. The suspension on these bikes were never made for anything more than bar hopping.

I am not a motorcyclist but I am surprised that no one challenged the 50mpg assumption. I would have thought that that was pretty optimistic to say the least.

https://www.fuelly.com/motorcycle/harley-davidson

I was about to jump in and say not all Harleys are like that, then I checked and saw the Easy Rider bike is a hardtail without so much as a springer seat - yeah, they’d have needed drugs for the pain.

I suspect that figure is optimistic as well, but the Fuelly site is as far as I can tell silent on what kind of mileage a 50s era Harley could do.

Of course, there is Seligman between Kingman and Williams. About 75 miles one way, 50 miles the other, so even if Valentine didn’t exist, you could do it. But I can see Valentine on Google maps. There’s just no gas station there.

My '05 Vulcan was evidently made in the crossover period, as it has both. The gauge isn’t that great, though; the tank stays “full” for a really long time and then quickly drops past the half-full point and runs out quickly.

Going by memory but wasn’t it possible to adjust the carburetor while riding to improve mileage?
Something about twisting a knob to lean out the mix, I think.

Oh, Brothers has always had gas pumps. I was just in Brothers last week. Stopped to pee at the rest stop (that’s a recent addition, BTW) you can see in the view you posted. If you go to street view, and go west just a bit, you’ll see Brothers Stage Stop, and 2 gas pumps out front. I have made the drive from the Willamette Valley to the Treasure Valley on U.S. 20 so many times I know every twitch in the road. That’s one stretch of highway where you’ve got to be mindful of the gas gauge, for sure.

I admitted the mileage was generous. I used to own a 1988 Harley FXR with a 1340 that got about 40 mpg. One can only guess how much fuel was displaced by the “cash tube”. Realistically, their range may have only been about 70 to 80 miles.

MY 1979 Honda CX500 had the cruising tank, not the fake Harley version. IIRC it held about 3 gallons and on a very good day I did over 250km (150 miles) on a tank. Typically it ran dry, switch to reserve, around 210 to 215Km (130 miles or so). I’d get maybe (maybe!) 50k/30miles on reserve; the trick was remembering to switch the lever under the tank off reserve when I filled up.

And of course, in a serious headwind (going west, for example) gas would disappear a LOT faster. Even with that efficient a bike, I did run out of gas with a headwind eastbound from Cheyenne. I had to walk to a farm off the interstate and got enough gas to get to the next town.

I have trouble imagining a bigger bike with a smaller tank doing even as well as they suggest. I think I was doing 60mpg on a good day.

I have an early 90s H-D Sportster 1200 with an aftermarket 3.5 gal. tank. I get about 130-140 miles from fill up to hitting reserve. At that point I am more than ready to get off and stretch my legs.

Can’t imagine anyone covering any serious distance on a hardtail chopper with ape hangers.

Bikes in question.

I did check streetview. I thought the rocks blocking one side of the pumps meant it was closed.

The old truck stop is of course long gone.

The new rest stop looks really nice. Much better than the one east of Burns.

If you said one gallon, I might be with you…but TEN GALLONS? On a bike? Have you ever lugged around a full five-gallon bucket? And you want to strap TWO of them to a custom chopper? That’s 60 pounds of gas sloshing around somewhere…hope it’s strapped down really well. And you want to have a reserve that’s five times the capacity of your tank? An extra gallon that can get you an extra 50 miles down the road to the next station is one thing, but do you really need an extra 500 miles of range at any point?

There are three spots in Nevada where things might get a little hairy:

[ol]
[li]On I-80 between Wendover and Elko - There’s a spot with a road sign which specifically states that there are NO services for 78 miles.[/li][li]There’s a section of US 50 ( The Loneliest Road in America) between Ely and Austin,Nevada where there are no stations.[/li][li]On US-95 there is a section between Hawthorne and Tonopah (roughly 100 miles) where there no stations.[/li][/ol]

Easy Rider might have been a very different film had it been shot in Nevada.

BMW’s R1200GS Adventure has almost 9 gallons of capacity in the main tank; at 40 MPG, that’s good for around 400 miles. I know individuals who have outfitted this bike with an auxiliary fuel tank that provides an additional 2.5 gallons of capacity. There are some hardass riders with gigantic bladders who can go from fillup to fillup on these machines, but even if you can’t, it’s nice to stop for rest/bathroom breaks at places other than gas stations.

Having said that, I agree that ten gallons of fuel strapped to the back seat is not a good idea.