We need to discuss the proper carrying of the load:
In the Vetter Fuel Challenges, we want to reward the person who drives the way we really drive, sitting up and comfortable, carrying a useful load, like 4 bags of groceries. The spirit of the challenge can be hard to quantify.

Some of you want to carry "equivilant boxes" instead of real grocery bags. The engineers among you ask for "cubic units". They want an objective, measurable size.

What I want is more subjective. It is not easily reduced to numbers.

"The way we really drive"

This phrase is crucial to the spirit of the Challenge.

Let me tell you a story my daddy told me many years ago:

When he signed up to be in the Army Air Corps in 1940, my father was issued the standard military foot locker for his personal belongings. Those foot lockers worked well for ground soldiers who transported then in rectangular truck beds. But foot locker boxes did not fit well into the rounded, streamlined shapes of airplanes. They damaged the thin, curved aluminum skin of the fuselage. At 35 pounds each empty, footlockers were not suitable for flying.

Barracks Bag
Foot Locker

In no time, my father explained, the rectangular foot lockers were replaced by soft, olive drab colored canvas "Barracks Bags". The bags were light, easy to haul around and would conform to wherever they were thrown into the aircraft. You could sleep on them, too, if you had to.

My daddy, Crew Chief Clyde Vetter, in 1944, next to his B-24 and a PhotoShopped in barracks bag

With their lightweight, fragile curved skins, streamlined Vetter Challenge Machines are more like airplanes than trucks. Rectangular boxes do not pack well in streamlined shapes. Grocery bags do. We will stick with groceries in bags.

To which one person commented:

"if you come up with a lot of rules that force people to have to build a bike that looks exactly like yours, you will pretty soon find yourself having a Vetter Challenge with only yourself riding in it."

To which I replied:

" I don't see how all single track, miserly fuel consumption, one person, grocery carrying vehicles can look much different. Why do you think I call my design the Last Vetter Fairing?

I make the same prediction for 3 wheelers.

I make the same prediction for 4 wheelers.

If fuel ever becomes precious, and we want to go 70 mph, into a 30 mph headwind, we will all be streamlined and very similar looking.

What is wrong with that?"

Is it reasonable to have to remove the bodywork to pack the groceries?

Fred did have places for his groceries. But you could only get to them with the body off. Could you imagine asking his wife, Kay, to remove the body from her car to pack her groceries?

Fred met the letter of the rules for groceries for 2011 but not the spirit.

It will not be acceptable to remove the bodywork to load or unload groceries in 2012 or thereafter. Any wife - as examplified by my wife, Carol - should to be able to load the groceries into your bike conveniently, instantly and without tools.

Alan Smith: You got away with this in 2011 but this is simply not a good way to carry the groceries. Not acceptable beginning 2012.

Carol wants her grocery bags vertical and not mooshed.

Not an acceptable way to pack the groceries

You have plenty of time before 2012 to make your machines more practical, for the way we really drive.

Carol Vetter is the final grocery judge
No backpacks, either
Forget the backpacks for carrying a bag of groceries. Building in true carrying capacity is essential to making motorcycles more useful. Carry the groceries within the bikes. We want motorcycles to become significant transportation for the way we really drive.

Speaking of the way we really drive...
Aug. 21, 2011:  Craig says:  Rumor has it that one (or more) of the Challengers have exhibited an unusual riding style, best described as:

"Speed up and coast. Speed up and coast. Speed up and coast...."

Apparently, this technique is known to produce superior fuel mileage. But is it the way we really drive?

I don't think so.

Would you drive your car this way with your family?

Would you drive this way with a Highway Patrolman right behind you?

I don't think so.

Who'd have thought this might be an issue?

Effective immediately, no more "speed up and coast" style driving.

Let us assume that "Speeding up and coasting" is effective in reducing fuel use. "Making yourself real small" behind a small fairing is effective, too.  Such are techniques for winning fuel economy contests, not the full goals of the Vetter Challenges. My goal is to encourage the development of a truly useful vehicle. 

When my contribution is over, I want to have helped to develop a formula that results in motorcycles that are so useful and so attractive that we really want to drive them. Consuming the least fuel is just one aspect of my goal.  Comfort and usefulness are equally important. What good is great economy if we don't want to use it?  Or can't use it for simple chores like getting the groceries?

The winning machines of the 1980-85 Vetter Fuel Economy Contests showed us what was possible. But they did not change vehicle design.  They ended up in museums.  Why?  Because we focused entirely on "the least amount of energy," instead of considering qualities that would make us want to drive these things.

This time around, I want to end up with solutions for the way we really drive today.

To restate my goals:  I want to know how to consume the least fuel, measured in dollars and cents per mile, in real driving conditions like 70 mph into a 30 mph headwind, sitting upright and comfortable, with a useful load like four bags of groceries.  My streamlined Helix, does this for about a nickel a mile.  I want my streamlined Helix is my first choice machine to ride, too

Already, other Challengers have proven that they can “beat me” in fuel cost. But as you can see, fuel cost is just one part of the design goal. 

So much of what I want to achieve is subjective.  "Not ending up in museums" is subjective.  "Being the first choice vehicle" is subjective.  "Comfort" is subjective.

Recognizing and rewarding the value of these subjective goals is important in the Vetter Challenges.

Craig Vetter August 21, 2011... added to May 28, 2012.

Official Rules for the Craig Vetter Fuel Economy Challenge

Read the Changes for 2012

Please try to understand the spirit of the Challenge. Don't force me to write more rules. Less rules is best rules.

This page posted August 17, 2011

Updated May 28, 2012