The Search for Fuel Economy

Pages from a Designers' Notebook

Freedom Machine
The goal: 100 mpg at 70 mph, into a 30 mph headwind, with four bags of groceries.
Chap. 35: The Quail Gathering of Motorcycles! Carmel, CA, May 7-8, 2010 where the most beautiful and most innovative motorcycles in the West showed up.
The Vetter Streamliner was on the 2010 Quail Motorcycle Ride
Sgt. Ray Faulk, head of the CHP motor unit in Northern California, led us thru wine country
Twenty five motorcycles left the Quail for a 142 mile round trip out Carmel Valley Road. Here we are at the half way point, taking a little break. California does not have a particurlarly good reputation for living within its budget but our CHP motorcyclists are pretty cool. Once on Highway 101, a Chipper asked (on his car speaker) where my rocket motor was. European visitors can't believe the freedom we have.
The Quail Motorcycle Ride ended at the Laguna Seca Race track with 3 laps around this great racetrack, finishing with a catered lunch at the Corkscrew. Clem Salvadori, on the left, was the Grand Marshal at the 2010 Riding into History Charity Concours in St. Augustine, Florida the following weekend. Carol and I were there, too.
That is the Corkscrew behind Carol. It went pretty slow up the hill to the Corkscrew but I passed lots of riders everywhere else. I had to race.

The astonishing thing is that at the end of the day, I had gone 142 miles and burned only 1.565 gallons. About 50 of those miles were at 65-70 mph, into a powerful headwind on River Road. About 70 miles were 45-50 mph on the twisty-turning mountainous roads.

And still I got 90 miles per gallon! Streamlining. We thank George Adelsperger for these photos
Some of those miles were racing.
For many, the Gathering at the Quail was their first exposure to streamlining
One of the finest examples of streamlining in America was on display at the Quail: The Buddfab Streamliner
144 mph on 50 cc!

The 50 engine made 20-21 HP, The 80 (100 class) made 25 HP, and the 125 made 37 HP.

This is what streamlining can do

John Buddenbaum, Mike Corbin, me and Eric Noyes swap streamlining stories. In 2008, John set the 50cc world record in his Buddfab Streamliner of 144.8 mph. Eric Noyes piloted it to 151.4 mph with 100cc and later to 186 mph with 125cc. Wow! Streamlining.
A Honda CRF 230 is in there!

Alan Smith rode down on his unfinished Honda CRF 230. He reported 112 mpg on his way to the Quail. Alan reported results on:

Alan's CRF Streamliner

Randall Washington normally spends his time with high-powered Hondas. He was pleasantly surprised at what a low-powered, streamlined Honda would do.

Randall observed that at 55 mph, it felt like he was being "sucked forward." I know that feeling. The streamlining totally blocks any air to the pilot. There is no sensation of speed. The engine feels like it is doing no work at all. Streamlining.

The rear section keeps the wind from reversing onto your neck. The carrying capacity is enormous. On the Friday Quail run, I carried my cameras, computer, and extra clothes for me and for Carol. I have never filled it up.

It appears big. Cars and trucks see me coming. Nobody has pulled out in front of me.

I think Randall wants one
The Winning Vetter-equipped GL 1000
Albert Catelani took the Vetter GL Award
Randall Washington (light blue shirt) came all the way from North Carolina to lend his support to the very first Gathering of GL1000s!

Albert explained that his bike, a 1977 GL, was once mine! He bought it from my factory in San Luis Obispo, "way back when" and has had it all this time. We are all happy that he has preserved and rides this magnificant motorcycle.

Time to improve the windshield

The blade is really good but too dirty, areo-wise. A slippery windshield will be harder to see thru but I gotta try to improve it and see what is possible.

CAD (Cardboard Aided Design) mocked-up windshield
Laser centerline helps keep things symmetrical
Simple curve .050 Lexan. Notice the air intake
The air intake is to give me some fresh air inside. I also want it to fill the inside to help the air pass around the machine smoothly. It seems to work. My concern was that the wind might have its way with the steering. I notice no difference in steering. The surprise is the fact that a lot of wind comes into that little hole at the front of the windshield... straight into my face! I am going to have to direct it .

The windshield is too high because I cannot see over it. Morning condensation means I cannot see thru it unless I wipe it off. I don't dare ride in rain because I cannot see thru it well enough.

Page posted May 9, 2020

Updated April 7, 2011

Chap. 3: Road Testing the Long Tail Mar 28, 08
Chap. 1: Streamlining Saves Fuel Feb 20, 08
Chap.2: CAD Streamlined Body Mar 8, 08
Chap. 4: Planking with Foam Apl. 5, 09
Chap. 5: More Wind Testing Apl. 7, 08
Chap. 6: The Final Shape Apl. 17, 08
Chap. 7: Decisions about Details May 10, 08
Page 8: Making the Center Bulkhead June 1, 08
Chap. 9: Rear Bulkhead and Truck bed June 8, 08
Chap. 10: Finish Rear and go for ride June 17, 08

If you have not yet watched my DVD, How they Got 470 mpg it is time to get it for the basic foundation for what we are doing here

Chap. 11: Finish the Tail June 29, 08
Chap. 12: Heading for Ohio, July 13-23, 08
Introduction to Fuel Economy
Chap. 13: Riding in the Midwest July 24, 08
Chap. 14: Vintage Days Ohio, July 25-7, 08
Chap. 15: Summary to date Aug 12, 08
Chap. 16: Adding Weight to the Front Sep. 1, 08
Chap. 17: Truth and Motorcycle Design Sep 4, 08
Chap. 18: Where should the weight be? Sep 25, 08
Chapter 19: Finishing the Streamlining Oct 14, 08
Chapter 20: Streamlining the Handlebars Nov 4, 08
Chapter 21: Unexpected Problems Nov 11, 08
Chapter 23: Getting my feet in and out Dec 19, 08
Chapter 22: Streamlining is working Nov 25, 08
Chapter 24: Streamlining is beginning to work! Jan 1, 09
Chapter 25: Tuft Testing Mar 2, 2009
Chapter 26: Starting Over April 9, 09
Chapter 27: More Ideas for Starting over April 20, 09
Chapter 28: Show time! Aug 1, 2009
Chapter 29: Getting the big parts right Dec 10, 2009
Chapter 30: First evaluation from an outsider Dec 20, 2009
Chapter 31: Visit with Allert Jacobs Dec 24, 2009
Chapter 32: Prius Headlights Jan 18, 2010
Chapter 33: New Gears Feb 17, 2010
Chapter 34: New Mileage Records April 25, 2010
Chapter 35: The Quail Gathering of Motorcycles May 9, 2010
Chapter 36: End of the line with the Helix June 19, 2010
Chapter 37: Vetter Challenge Oct. 9, 2010
Chapter 38: John Keogh helps out Dec 8, 2010
Chapter 39: Working with Keogh Dec 17, 2010
Chapter 40 and up (Work continuing in 2011)
Designing the Last Vetter Fairing

Chapters 1 thru 39 (2007-2010)

Chapters: 40 thru 51 (2011)

Chapters: 52 thru 61 (2012)

Chapters 62 thru 68 (2013)

Chapters 69-up (2014)

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