What does it really take to ride the way we want to ride in America?

Left to right: Mike Sonzini, Terry Hershner, Ron Johnston, Fred Hayes, Craig Vetter, Alan Smith and Vic Valdes

How much power does it take?

What kind of power?

What does it cost per mile?

What does it look like?

We were about to find out.

Updated Sep 8, 2014
We rode between Wendover and Tooele, Utah at posted speeds. It was a fast and long stretch.
Interstate 80 is now posted at 80 mph.

US speed limits were not that fast when I selected a 16hp Honda Helix to streamline. Fortunately, my Helix would now go 81mph.* I led on I - 80, running between 72 and 80 mph. The winds varied from the tail, from the front and from the right. Probably not more than 20-25 mph.

*Because of my regearing, 81 mph is about 6400 RPM on my Helix. 80 mph used to be about 8100 rpm. Engine temp stayed at two bars even tho outside temp was in the mid 80s. I think it would have easily run 81 mph all day.

We took several breaks to enjoy the scenery and discuss how our bikes were running

Carol Vetter and Kay Hayes followed with a trailer and van, just in case, but we had no problems.

3rd place in Pump Fuel Class

My Honda Helix did 87.6mpg, consuming gas at the rate of 4.1¢ per mile

2nd place in Pump Fuel Class

Vic Valdes did 98.8mpg, consuming gas at the rate of 3.6¢ per mile

1st place in Pump Fuel Class

Alan Smith did 139.3mpg, consuming gas at the rate of 2.6¢ per mile

1st place in Alternate Fuel Class

Diesel Fred Hayes did 164mpg, consuming bioDiesel at the rate of 2.3¢ per mile

Nobody could come close to Electric Terry's 1.3¢ per mile cost*

Silent on the road. Clean. No film of oil on it like most bikes. Once in a while he would zip by me with amazingly rapid accelleration. Terry has shown us that an electric motorcycle can go a useful distance. My Honda Helix was on reserve at the end while Terry still had energy.

* 1/2 the cost of Alan Smiths 2.6 cents per mile... and Alan got 139mpg!

How did they do it?

Real Streamlining and the right power.

Round at the front, pointed at the rear. About 20-25hp

With this, you can go any speed legal in America and get over 100 mpg... or ride for just over a penny a mile.

Electricity notes:

The winner of a Vetter Challenge wins by using the least energy as measured in dollars and cents as opposed to the traditional "miles per gallon". Utah customers are charged for electricity in two different rates:

0-400 kwh: $ .0888540/kwh
400-100kwh: $.115785/kwh

At the end of this Challenge, Terry refilled "for free" at the state capitol (below). But we never figured it as "free". We Challengers know that energy is not "free" and agree that any electric Challenger will factor in the "Going rate" for his power (above). You can see the reason for noting two possible costs in the chart below. Electric Terry wins either way.

Vetter Challengers also agree that electrical entrants should be adding in their fair share of "Road Tax". We agree that it should be the same as the best "Pump Fuel" uses. At the Bonneville Challenge, that figure was 51.2¢.

To go 172 miles, Terry consumed $2.29 in energy and road taxes at fair market value. Diesel Fred Hayes spent $4.00. Alan Smith spent $4.41. It cost me $7.02.

How would you rather be spending your money?

After the rest of us refilled our tanks, Terry rode another 35 miles to the Utah state capitol where he charged up without paying anybody. It took him an hour and a half. Then he rode back to Wendover.

Terry's fuel was not free! We figured it at the rate he should have paid.

Some of the Challengers have already decided that their next bike will be electric. I am one of them. So is Charly Perethian, the great Winner of the 1980s Contests. Charly wrote:

Extraordinary! Good job Electric Terry. To beat the Zero would have taken 280 mpg in a gas bike! OK; I want one.... Charly Perethian

A closer look at the winning bike:
Electric Terry spent most of the past month at my shop, getting ready for the Bonneville Challenge. His Zero was apart most of the time. The pic above is unique because it was taken when Terry was replacing his swing arm which he snagged the frame with his oversized tire.

His bike is laid bare for you to see how he holds his batteries and chargers. His formula is simple:

Lotsa batteries and lotsa chargers wrapped in streamlining

When Terry plugs in, the lights in the neighborhood go dim.

Congratulations, Terry. You have accomplished what nobody else has ever done on American highways.

I invite anybody in the world to compete with us in the Vetter Challenge

I'd say that Zero is pretty proud of Terry

Fred Hayes says: "Terry is clearly the performance and technology leader"

Stefano Paris, X Prize winner: "Super congrats Terry! "

John Ousterhout: "You're an inspiration"

Carol Vetter: "I knew you could do it"

Kraig Schultz: "Does anyone know of anyone that has done better? Congratulations Terry!

Prof Richard Goff, Virginia Tech: Terry has accomplished an amazing feat.

“If energy ever becomes precious,

the discoveries we are making will be of great interest."

We thank Ed Nef and Johnny Pittman for their pictures. It is hard to ride and take pictures of ourselves.
Page posted August 10, 2014

Updated Sep 8, 2014

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