Chapter 40: April 20, 2011
I have spent over two years developing this design to the point where it is the way it needs to be. John Keogh, internationally known illustrator, has sketched out how it will look when I am finished, all shiney and smooth. His illustration has generated many interesting comments which I will share with you:
Hey Craig,
I just read up about the 1981 "High Mileage Luxury Touring Bike"and at 108 MPG, why design another? maybe that milage was at low speeds? Please explain the difference between this older model and the one you are working on now.
Thanks. -Josh
A good question Josh. I thought you'd never ask.

30 years of design evolution... what was I thinking?

Vetter Streamliner of 1981
Vetter Streamliner of 2011
Conceived in an era of 55 mph speed limits. Motorcycles were getting bigger and bigger... burning more and more fuel. It looked to me like we did not need all that power. I wanted to know what was really needed to go 55 mph, sitting up and comfortable. How much power was really necessary? Nobody could tell me. I built this streamliner and found out:

A streamlined Kawasaki 250 single, putting out around 20 hp gave me a real 108 mpg in the 55 mph world of my fuel economy contests.

I used this bike to inspire others in a series of contests between 1980 and 1985. It took the other challengers no time whatsoever to beat me in my own contest.Unfortunately, the bikes that got fantastically high mileage were so uncomfortable to ride, you wouldn't use them for anything but an economy contest.

I had no plans for producing this design. I just wanted to know what was possible.

Conceived in an era of 70-75 mph speed limits. Motorcycles have continued to guzzle fuel. Even more serious, 3 out of 4 gallons of the fuel we use for transportation is imported. I was thinking that reducing our use of fuel by 75% would be good for America because we could stop importing the stuff. I was thinking that I could be part of the solution. I was thinking that people that get 100 mpg ought to be rewarded. with special freedoms.

When I began in 2007, I wanted to know:

Was it possible to get 100 mpg at 70 mph, into a 30 mph headwind, with a useful load as represented by 4 bags of groceries, sitting up and comfortable and be the first choice among vehicles in the garage?

I knew it had to be streamlined. I guessed 17 horsepower would do it. This time, I hoped to end up with a kit for others to experiment with, too. Thus I spent a lot of time making sure it would be kitable. The components would have to be designed to be easlly shipped. What could not be shipped needed to be available locally. It would have to be make-able in a home shop. The headlights were a major consideration. They must be streamlined and affordable. The whole story of its development begins here.

So far nobody has proven that the above is possible. A couple of pioneers have gotten close to 90 mpg but the headwinds were less than 30 mph.

"Streamlining is easy to say but hard to do"

My goal is to end up with a kit that will make streamlining easy for anybody that wants to try. Many people think electricity is the future. Or Diesel. Or hydrogen. Or gassified wood chips. Whatever power you choose, the streamlining provided by the Vetter-liner Kit will allow less of that fuel to go faster - and carry more in comfort.

The Vetter Streamliner is now on permanent display at the AMA Hall of Fame Museum in Pickerington, Ohio. In 20089, it was brought out to display at the AMA's Vintage Days.

When it is finished, the Vetter-liner will be the ultimate in motorcycle design.

Someday, all vehicles that go fast - no matter how many wheels - will be round at the front... pointed at the rear. It is the only shape that goes through the air with the least amount of power. Until then, there are probably all of 25-50 people in the world who will care enough to want to streamline their machines. If you are one of them, Vetter-liner Kit will be exactly what you are looking for.

You will build it yourself

It will be similar to a model airplane kit of old, meaning you will make it yourself. Like those old model airplane kits, all the hard parts will have been made for you. The bigger parts that are expensive to ship are available to you locally. The rest of the kit will be able to be shipped around the world economically.

The Vetter-liner construction is extremely rugged and light. It is simple. You will be able to make it with simple tools. You will be able to fit it onto virtually any two-wheeler.

Did I miss anything?

Clive says: It's a beauty!  Very faithful to your proto, just cleaned up here and there.  Foot access is key to convenience and saftey, and your design deals with that issue nicely.
Craig, I'm flat impressed with the appearance and especially with you keeping the original integrity of economy. I'm excited about the Streamliner's progress. What a worthwhile goal !!!!!! John has lived up to his reputation. Tim Dec 17, 2010
Craig, Your device is getting closer and closer to the later developments by the late Malcom Newal who made the original Quasar. Quasars gave up to 80mpg (english) from the lowly tuned Relient car engine. It was a pushrod design but unusual for its day (designed in the 60's)

Vetter responds: gallon imp as the same as 1.2 gallons US. Looks like 66.4 mpg US. But in what conditions?

John Keogh writes: I think we can carry on this discussion in relation to some other related vehicles over the holidays. e.g Cedric’s and other FF’s. What did you think of Dan Gurney’s Alligator?

Regards JK

Vetter answers: The big difference between my work and most others is I am streamlining for riding better on less fuel. Cedric Lynch does this, too. The Alligator is a great and promising platform. It is low and could be streamlined very easily. Lots easier to get on and off. But his Dan's goal does not seem to be to win fuel economy contests. Everything is scaled for a hundred horsepower, not 15-20. If he fitted his bike with a Hayes Diesel or a Ninja 250 or the engine from the new Honda CBR 250, I'll bet he would be a contender in a fuel economy contest.

Hi Craig, I too have been studying the market for headlight assemblies to match the profile of the bodywork.

The Toyota Celica lights are among the most slanted but you can use a light with no slant at all and still be aero as long as it is placed at the vertical apex of the body work. Ideally, there would be no incandescent lights but there are no DOT led headlamps available at this time. Current is a load on the charging system and will draw power from the engine through the alternator.

I don't know if Jack McCornack mentioned it to you or not, but I'm working on a diesel trike on the forum. I figure you guys talk since you both are involved with Mother Earth News. I've been travelling a lot for work lately (FAA ASI), but I hope to get back to the build shortly. It's good to be home.

Merry Christmas! Steve

Vetter replies: I am so pleased to see you are pursuing this, Steve. I am going to host a couple of fuel economy challenges this year. Stay tuned. Will you be a contender?

Wiltz says: Wonderful designs. I love them. The big thing I would want to know is what happens to the smoke stream in a wind tunnel at the instant it left the top and sides of the windshield. If you have never done tunnel work with a smoke stream, you are in for a fantastic treat. Merry Christmas, Wiltz

Hmmm. I don't know, for sure, Wiltz. When I get wet, I make a change so I don't get wet. When I get cold, I make a change so I don't get cold. You may have noticed that the front of the windshield has an intake slot. I need it in the summer because it blows cooling air in my face. In the winter, I clip a diffuser there so the blast is not so strong.

The additional function of the intake is to fill the inside rider's compartment with air so it does not try to wrap around the edge, onto me. When I don't know the answer- like now - I tape little tufts on and go for a ride.

Thanks for updating me on your progress. Looks like your getting much closer to your goal? I put it as a question because, are we ever really done? ;-)
1) Does this proposed design meet the "nesting" criteria that you setup for shipping?

Yes... I am certain that I will be shippable by UPS. Still uncertain about the covering material. It would be nice to find something rolled up you could buy at your local art supply store. Or real aluminum. Or fiberglass. It must come with the color we want - silver. I don't want to have to paint the skin. Silver is the only proper color for a streamliner. I am hoping to find something from a sign shop.

2) Both the final pictures at bottom of you web page show you standing. Is that just an omission that your leg and foot are sticking out the bottom of the fairing or is that the plan?

Sloppy PhotoShopping

3) I submit a rough drawing of your bottom picture showing the outline of a canopy covering the top fully and the rear portion raised to meet it. I doubt you would pay much of a penalty cd-wise and getting out of the weather that much more would be nice. You could even have half-doors of a light gull-wing style to cover on down the sides but still not interfere with stability when sticking out feet to stabilize when stopping. The Honda Gyro and China copies have the full canopy going over the top but no side curtains. Of course, the really nice feature with them is the two wheels in back that allow you to not put feet down when stopping. This would allow for fully enclosed canopy with heat!! I really think the full canopy idea would be the improvement that would allow comfortable year-round transportation and perhaps it could be removed for summer fun? Then again, your in the thick of testing, how is the rig in a driving rain about this time of year at 35 to 40F ? I know it keeps me from riding too much! OH, I forgot. I don't even own a motorcycle that running right now! 8-/ Keep up the good work! This moded pic I added almost looks like someone dreaming of better days when their Gyro-copter canopy was in better shape!:-)

I don't want to be covered. Really, I am having a hard time getting used to all this streamlining. I have to put holes in it to get air. So, no. I don't want a bubble over my head. But you could.

I'll bet your glad for the talent that John brings to the design phase, aren't you! Nice to get a little help now and then. Will


Craig, from Kraig: Great stuff! Keep it coming!

Wow! The final renderings for Cedric's and your Fairing by John are awesome. It's amazing how an artist can transform something frumpy looking into something attractive.

It's interesting that John's sketch really just smooths out your skin and puts a racing stripe on it. And this makes it look a lot better. Your picture showing both bodies really bears this out.

I believe your thinking for different materials for different body sections is correct. A vehicle you might find interesting is the F-40 human powered vehicle (rigid nose-cone with fabric mid and rear panels). See pictures here

1. Good Looks - John's rendering makes it look great - But, what styling is required to make a person say "wow, I want one of those!" John's rendering shows that you may be there already. As you found in the past, build it and they will come. I think we definately need a vehicle on the road with smooth body panels.

2. Comfort / Practicallity - Definately has comfort - feet forward is THE way enjoy the country-side, almost fully enclosed protects from the elements, lots of room for storage

3. Performance - is 100 mpg good enough? I'm sure you'll see an increase in fuel economy with a smoother body, but the question is how much improvement?

Vetter comments: Kraig... I don't know if 100 mpg is possible in the Vetter conditions. Nobody has done it yet thtat I am aware of.

Update May, 2011: Fred Hayes, Joshua Chen and Treven Baker easily broke the 100 mpg barrier at the Quail. They were all on Diesels. However, only Fred could carry the groceies. Gonna be tough to beat these Diesels when they get the carrying part down.

Again, we need to get your design on the road with smooth panels to see what it can do.

4. Annual Volume - Are people asking to buy it now? Does it make sense to go straight to tooling for 30-50 vehicles per/year, or would it be better to make smooth body panels on your existing bike?

Vetter comments again: I suspect 30-50 might be sold in total. Not in a year. I can't see where tooling up to make the big pieces would be practical for anybody other than the original manufacturer, who can ship them out in the same box with the bike. This happened 30 years ago when I made Windjammer fairings. When they got popular, fairings came from the bike manufacturer with the bike. No extra shipping. Streamlining will be the same way. Eventually. Hopefully.

This would allow you to do aerodynamic testing the way you like to do it and prove out the market. Someone has to invest the money for tooling a this the right body for the market today? As you say, "Make what people want, when they want it, at a price they are willing to pay."

Wishing you and yours a happy holiday season,

Hi Craig - Congratulations on getting the design down on paper -- definitely looks more like a streamlined plane from the 30s than a banana with measles.

Over on the feet forward group on Yahoo (frequented by Royce Creasey and others), most of the concern is about the air around the neck of the rider. Of course it would be nice, in some respects, to have a fully enclosed cabin, but it has limitations, too.

Vetter comments: No wind on my neck. That all stopped when I added the headrest with the tail light and license plate up there. The air cannot reverse. There is no air on my neck at all.

One thought I had is whether you had considered wire-frame designs such as this project car that got some press recently.

See this YouTube video:

It was built in my town, Kansas City, by a high school for troubled youth. The teachers in the class are no design slouches. The lead is Steve Rees, an architect and former car racer in the area. The project was innovative enough to impress Bridgestone, who opened up their test track for the students and provided major funding. I saw this car and it's pretty amazing. On top of a discarded Indy-car frame, they designed and built a wire chassis and then used heat-shrink plastic over it. This is the same type of plastic used in sealing storm windows. The plastic was sturdy enough to survive testing, and any holes could be easily patched, using the same material.

Can this be used in your final production design? Probably not. But perhaps you can use it for testing purposes, and maybe someone else can come up with some great idea, taking the wireframe in a different direction.

Vetter's comments: I would love to use film. But it really does not look any better than the plastic sheeting, does it?

Thanks for sending the link to your page about the Keogh design. And hope you have a Merry Christmas, too. Harry

Tim comments: 1) Page layout in general - Very legible (I'm sad to hear this is your last fairing! I hope you may reconsider in the future and continue your work, perhaps as a hobby, it's been truly inspirational).

I see this as my last fairing because, for the conditions I perceive as being important, all issues will be resolved. "Carry a useful load. Be the most comfortable vehicle in the garage. Get 100 mpg at 70 mph - into a 30 mph headwind." What more is there to do?

It is time to finish writing my "Stories of Motorcycle Design".

There are some spelling and punctuation items which I'm not sure if you were going to address on a future proofread. I'd be happy to provide an edit of the text if you'd like.

I would like. If you see mistakes or editing issues, I want to be the first to know. Thank you, Tim.

2) Prius / DOT approved lamps - I'm actually stuck on this problem myself at the moment! Anyways, pending word back from the Washington State DOT I may have more to say, but for now there are just a few questions/thoughts on the issue.
A) The wording of the law states that vehicle manufacturers must provide DOT approved/certified lamps. However, there's also a separate performance specification based upon glare, candlepower, and forward visibility (for Washington state, it's Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 46.37.523). I'm wondering if, as a kit provider, you may not fall under the purvue of "manufacturer". You might like to ask the DOT for clarification on what your status would be and if the federal requirements for vehicle safety all apply to you.
B) I did not see anything in the code regarding placing another sheet of clear material over the head lamps (so long as it meets the performance specification). If it turns out that you can do that, you might consider recessing the Prius lights and smoothing the airflow over them with a sheet of clear polycarb or glass.

Craig's comments: I am going to assume that the legal part of the light's acceptability is not a big issue. I simply wanted a shape that is streamlined that includes the turn signals that is available and affordable. If you find a better one, please let me know.

3) Composite fairing manufacture - I've helped my dad build a couple planes (, and there's a couple things from the aviation world that you might like to consider (I'm not familiar enough, I don't think, with the windjammer fairing to know what to recommend exactly).
A) Sale of plans - The current plane we're working on (Cozy Mk. IV - - Not bad looking!) is actually just a DIY set of plans. To the best of my knowledge, all my dad got was a large booklet and a series of full size drawings for use as templates. If you wanted to get those really sexy curves on the fairing, you could actually sell a series of flat drawings (1 or 2, actually, is all you might need, see attached for rough idea of how that process goes), a few rolls of fiberglass, a bunch of epoxy, and instructions on how to assemble it. The end user should, with minimum tooling (sanding block), be able to construct the fairing pieces themselves, though it might require a professional coating service.

Vetter: I designed the thing so you don't have to do figlass. I hate the stuff. It stinks, puts dust everywhere and itches.

B) Alternately, I just helped my brother paint his car with a Rustoleum product that's supposed to be used on fiberglass boats. If you did go the self-assembly route, a fiberglass fairing can be painted to a tough, gloss finish with a paintbrush, roller, and sandpapers up to 600 grit.
C) On a related note, have you seen Aircraft Spruce? - They supply all sorts of materials for aircraft construction, but it might be handy for this project as well if you need the customer to purchase materials or tooling.

The material I am missing today, Tim, is the sheet to wrap this thing. I would like .035 TPO, silver. Because of the recession/depression, it is not being made. Thin ST aluminum would work but would quickly get dents from touchers. Ideas?

4) Frame and fabric construction - Also in the above Facebook album, there's a red and white aircraft that used a tube frame with a fabric skin pulled over it. If the Vetter fairing were to do something similar, your tooling could be as little as a few, small diameter pipe benders and a means of crimping or joining the pipes together at the appropriate intersections. At its most primitive, these can be thought of as lashed connections ( ). In architecture, there's been some study of how to make curved, structurally sound shapes using series of curved lines... here are a few examples that might be applied to the Vetter fairing:

Thin sheeting would be my first chouce... but I might have to consider film.

Shigeru Ban's Japan Pavilion (and other projects, he loves his cardboard tubes) -
Sir Norman Foster's Swiss Re building - - All shear resistance in the building comes from the exterior skin.
(Not architecture, but it gives an idea of the shapes that might be possible for a vehicle) BMW's Gina concept car - - Look at 0:16 - I'm pretty sure that's the support structure for the skin, seen from the inside. Note the similarity to the Japan pavilion structure.
Come to think of it, shear resistance (and rigidity) in the shell can actually come from the skin itself if you were to use actual aluminum sheets for the skin (instead of fabric), riveted to the frame underneath. Highly labor intensive to match-drill all those holes, though.

5 - Stitched plywood - This would be taking a page from watercraft construction, specifically DIY canoes and kayaks with chined hulls (maybe not an acceptable shape if you didn't want any hard lines). Think of it like taking a bunch of skins from an orange slice, then literally stitching the seams back together to make the curved orange (smoothness of the curve is determined by the number of faces used. It requires a bit of fiberglass/epoxy work (see above) to finish properly, but I'm sure this is a kit-capable process since there's a company in Washington that makes kayak kits which use this method of building ( Again, it would require professional coating or a water-tight skin pulled over.

Yes... sealing it would be the big drawback. Resisting splitting when falling over would be an issue.

As an added benefit, the boats regularly run aground, similar wear as one might see when dropping the bike, and they're strong enough despite the relatively low weight to come through just fine. No special tooling required for this one.

6 - Air intakes - I guess NASA (formerly NACA) did a lot of research on air intakes and released a series of profiles that they found worked best. It's not an intuitive shape at all, but I trust it works. - It requires a thin boundary layer to function properly, but since you've got the intakes on the front of the fairing, that should be fine. If you use these, you'll need to find the proper size/shape for the speed/volume of air you want going into it. I haven't found the white papers on this topic at NASA yet, but I'm sure it's there somewhere.

The intake holes I have work just great. It is better to spend my time on the parts that still are not working right.

The page and project look great, Craig! I wish you the best and will be sure to recommend your products to everybody I know of that rides a motorcycle or scooter!

Also, I'm planning on putting together a website for my project in the future. Would it be okay if I included your site in the links when the time came?

Of course. This is why I am here

Have a good one!


Master Index to the Last Vetter Fairing Story

This page posted April 24, 2011

Revised May 27, 2011