Max is the son of fuel economy pioneer Charly Perethian Photo: Charly Perethian
Charly Perethian is the founder/owner of Parabellum Fairings. He is a designer. A road racer. Husband, father and a long-time friend.

Charly led the pioneering efforts in the first Vetter Fuel Economy Contests of the 1980s. We are so pleased to have him back, showing us the way to a future of "Living better on less energy."

Charly Perethian: One tough competitor
Charly tells how they did it:

1. Bike selection. The NX250 was actually the 2nd bike we tried; I bought the used 1989 Honda locally off craigslist [for $1600] on March 12, 2011. It's light: 280 lbs, wide ratio 6 speed, high 11:1 compression, liquid cooled four stroke single. the absolutely stock bike got 86 mpg on my test loop. The engine was never touched except for 3 degrees advanced ignition timing and a thin foam air cleaner element.

2. Bike mods-- GMD ATL lowered the forks and checked geometry and alignment. A low Works shock and 16" rimed front rim was laced on. Clip ons, rearsets, TALL gearing [15/33] less restrictive air filter element, ignition timing advanced 3 degrees. The naked bike was now up to a consistent 110-115 mpg.

3. Streamlining. Our fairing was a much modified [raised and widened, headlight and turnsignals 1968 Harley XR750TT racing fairing. I followed Max around and it turned heads at the track; I knew the base race fairing was good from my 2008 vintage racing season: my CB350 would blow by all the other modified CB350s on the long straights. When the fairing was tested mileage was up to 145 mpg. Our last test run before the contest was 156 mpg.

4. Carry: We thought from that we would need a 2 bag tail but the combination of wide fairing and really narrow engine allowed room for a bag on each side. Our last 156 mpg test run was actually with grocery bags filled with styrafoam peanuts to make sure they did not burst into flame.

Max is [along with being an accomplished roadracer and hare scrambles racer] a bicycle racer: 6'1" and a fat free160 lbs. Plus, he could ride a pork chop past a wolf. He consistently recorded slightly better mileage than me, so I think weight is a factor.

Do you think Charly will offer his high mileage streamlining components to other Challengers?

I hope so. Stay tuned on his Parabellum web page

July 28, 2011, Topeka, Kansas, Mother Earth News office: I stopped by to say "Hi." John Rockhold video taped me giving the following short report on the Mid Ohio Challenge.

Fred Hayes came all the way from California with this wonderfully streamlined Diesel powered motorcycle. He designed and made this motorcycle himself. He rode it himself! This man is amazing.

Fred had just won the Quail Challenge with much less sophisticated streamlining. This machine represents the best of the best. How could he be beat?

All we can figure is that Charly Perethian's years of experience must be responsible. I am grateful that Charly is sharing his knowledge (above).

Fred Hayes talks:
My streamliner used the production configuration engine and frame from the MD670 F3 Diesel Motorcycle. The only difference was the fairing and final gearing (15/40 vs. 15/43). The fairing was from AirTech and Noleen J6 modified and shortened the production suspension to better fit the fairing.

It carried the four bags of groceries inside the fairing, 2 bags in the front and 2 bags in the rear section. The fuel was B20 Biodiesel using Biotane refined waste vegetable oil.

All Hayes Diesels use Diesel rated AMSOIL. One of the, not so secrets of fuel economy, is to use lighter weight oils in the engine and transmission. I use AMSOIL Series 3000 5w-30 Heavy Duty Diesel motor oil. The Series 3000 5w-30 is especially suited to use in the Hayes Diesel as it is a great diesel motor oil, but it is also compatible with a motorcycle-style wet clutch.

Jack drove his Diesel car from the West Coast to the Challenge, arriving late the night before. For those that are not familiar with Jack, take a look at his Blog.

Jack says:

"I was quite surprised when the pump clicked off with less than three dollars on the clock, and it took me some careful squeezing to get it all the way up to $3.14, which was significantly better than I'd expected--better by about 50 cents, better by about a pint. I'd hoped to break 100mpg by a decent margin, but 127mpg was incredible. Literally. Like, not credible.

"When aircraft or vehicle designers say, 'It performed even better than we expected,' I'm not impressed. This result at the Vetter Challenge was about 20% better than expected, and my ego won't allow me to jump up and cheer when I'm that far wrong, even when the error is in my favor.

"I suspect the problem is fuel expansion with temperature. The day warmed up a lot between morning and noon, and compensating for one pint of fuel expansion gives a more credible 110mpg.

"Of course, the main reason I broke 100mpg is that MAX (that's my car, Mother's Automotive eXperiment) is designed for efficiency. "

Jack continues: "The car is light, streamlined, and powered by an appropriate engine; a 32 horsepower three cylinder 1100cc turbocharged engine from Kubota's industrial line. MAX has adequate performance and excellent efficiency for what it is, but for the Vetter Fuel Efficiency Challenges, it's bigger than it needs to be and it has more weight, more power, and even more wheels than it needs. I think a similarly developed motorcycle should be able to beat MAX's temperature corrected mileage by about demonstrated by Charly's and Fred's bikes."

Jack McCornack has posted his story on his Mother Earth News Blog. You will get a lot more details from him there.

Thank you, Jack. I always suspected that cars might be able to beat motorcycles. You beat a bunch of us. We'll talk about fuel expansion later.

Read about the Vetter AMA Vintage Days Challenge in the New York Times Blog
Writer Stu Brown discusses the Challenge

Dale Van De Ven rode a production configuration Hayes Diesel MD670 F3 to 119.22 mpg. This was Dale's first ride on the new Hayes Diesel. He seemed to adapt quite well.

The MD670 ran the same B20 Biodiesel as Fred's streamliner. Fred was heard to say:

"Dale's 119 mpg was more impressive than my 143 mpg."

The "Carol Vetter Approved", four bags of groceries, saddlebags were custom built by RT Fabrication in Hesperia, CA.

Craig Vetter 250 Helix 6th 3.43¢ mile

104 miles .951 gallons

$3.57 gasoline

109.57 mpg

$.0343 per mile

Alan Smith 250 Ninja 5th 3.14¢ mile

104 miles .899 gallons

$3.37 gasoline

115.91 mpg

$.0314 per mile

Alan says it all:

"For me one of my personal goals on this trip was to cross the country coast-to-coast on less gas than it would take to fill up my pick-up truck once."

I consumed $1.10 more in fuel than the winner!

I love it when they beat me in my own challenges. Now is time to make sense out of these REAL results so next year's Challenges will result is ever more practical vehicles

And for reference: 7th, 8th & 9th finishers...

These guys rode for fun... not to challenge anyone. I include their results because they represent real mileage figures.

9th: Charly Perethian riding his stock 1981 Honda CB400 got 45.5 mpg, burning fuel at the rate of 8.2¢ per mile
7th: Ted Visscher on his F650GS got 73 .6 mpg, consuming fuel at the rate of 5.09¢ per mile
8th: Tim Yow, on his 2007 KLR 650 just returning from a 23,000 mile ride around the perimeter of North America (in 48 days) got 69.6 mpg; 5.39¢ per mile in fuel on the same bike.
Look at these numbers. Same route... same speed... 157 mpg vs 45 mpg.

2 1/2 ¢ per mile vs 8¢ per mile.

And this is just the beginning.

What happened with the Electric Challengers?
Ohio road Taxes: All non-road tax paying Challengers agreed to pay the same per mile gas tax that I did with my Stremlined Helix. In Ohio, I paid about $.62 in road taxes to for 104 miles. $.62/ 104 = $.006 per mile to be added for road taxes.
John Harding

Rode his electric scooter just for fun. That is the AMA's representative, Marshall Goodman behind John. Marshall helped to make everything go smoothly.

About 25 miles into the Challenge, John was going slower and slower until I passed him. "Overheating!" he yelled.

Overheating? Well, it was around 100 degrees. I had never heard that electric scooters might overheat.

This is how we learn.

Kyle Ginaven

Electrified Suzuki Katana

Kraig and Maggie Schultz

Scratch built, serious Challenger

Kyle's instrumentation indicated that he used 3066 watts to ride the 38 miles. His cost to recharge is estimated at 3.066 KwHr / 80% charger efficiency x $.12 /KwHr =$.4599. Therefore, Kyle's electric cost per mile was around $.012 for the first part of the ride.

Summary: Electricity Cost / Mile $.012 /Mile

Adding in $.006 / mile in taxes brings it to $.018 per mile.

Kraig Schultz reports: With our battery types riding the bikes to complete discharge can reduce the battery life and riding them until they must be trailered back to the starting point was something we chose to avoid. We recharged at the Riverside Park in Mt. Vernon (while eating lunch), but unfortunately the power got turned off before we could fully recharge This left me without complete data on how much energy it took to ride this part of the ride.
Craig's analysis of the electric results:

Traveling the way we really drive, Kyle demonstrated a real and fair cost for an electric motorcycle.

1.8¢ per mile is about 3/4 the cost of Charly Perethian's winning 2.3¢ per mile

This is significant. But the difference is not as much as we are led to believe.

Equally significant:

I certainly did not expect an electric bike to go 104 miles in real driving conditions.

But, they did go 38 miles. This is important information.

Lithium Ion batteries don't respond well to "over charging" or "over discharging". "Theory" said that if Kraig's electric bike was properly streamlined, it could go the distance. In reality, nobody brought a completed streamlined electric bike. Nobody went the distance. This is important information.

Electric motors can overheat in normal summer Ohio driving conditions.

Did you know these things? This is how we learn.

Most important to me:

I need to point out the fact that these plug in electric motorcycles are mainly:

Coal powered

Natural gas powered

Atomic powered

In other words: Every mile driven by a plug-in electric vehicle is a vote for burning more coal, fracting for more gas and building more nuclear plants. I do not believe it is our best interest to be generating electricity this way. Until we are harvesting our energy directly from the sun, electric vehicles won't be doing much to solve our problems.

Of course, consuming petroleum is no better. 3 out of 4 gallons we use for transportation is imported, making us weak and them strong.

How hard can it be to harvest the energy we want directly from the sun?

Kraig Schultz reports that his motorcycle was already completely POWERED BY RENEWABLE ENERGY (biomass and wind turbines). Kraig, too, is totally opposed to building more coal and especially nuclear power plants.

Further, Kraig says: "We have enough solar, wave, tidal and wind energy in the United States to completely phase out polluting sources of electricity - we lack the moral courage to do it (we are too greedy and lazy). Wind energy is already at parity with coal for generation cost/KW."

We need to discuss the grocery bag part of this Challenge...
I have made it very clear that I think "Failure to carry" is a big reason 2 wheelers are not used more. At the same time, I am having a difficult time in codifying the rules that specify the proper carrying of groceries. You can expect this to be addressed for the next Challenge.
Carrying the groceries is important

Let me thank you all for committing your time, energy and fortunes to becoming the new fuel economy pioneers.
Read about the Challenge preparations on: AMA Vintage Days Vetter Challenge
Official Rules for the Craig Vetter Fuel Economy Challenge
This page posted July 22, 2011

Updated Nov 3, 2011