Comments by the winners:
Fred Hayes talks: "Traditional Fuel" winner
July 31, 2012: Fred wrote:

"I am honored to be a part of the Vetter Challenges and getting to know everyone.  My weekend was almost as busy as Craig’s with running two bikes in the Challenge, the Diesel Café Racer and my presentations, so I didn’t get to spend as much time with the group as I would have liked.  I really enjoyed looking at the electric bikes and wish I had more time to study the technology.  I’ll try and catch up after we complete our move to MO. 

A bit about the diesel bikes; I made some upgrades to the engine fuel delivery on both the streamliner and the stock MD670 that showed good results on the dyno.  I think that explains why I got the same mileage as last year while running the saddlebags instead of the rear tail section.  The full streamliner has been very stable at speeds up to 85 mph, but I felt a bit of “wiggle” with the saddlebags at 75 or so.  Not sure if that was from other vehicle turbulence or some instability.  I’m going to find out as I will be running the streamliner with the rear tail section and with the saddlebags at Bonneville.

The fuel I ran was B15 pump diesel.  This is the diesel more and more stations in the Mid-West are selling.  I picked up some commercial B100 in Dayton to mix the B30 for Dale’s bike and we were both disappointed at the 106 mpg, vs. the 119 mpg we got last year.  The bike ran good, but just didn’t get the expected fuel mileage.  Last year I was running our standard B20 using Biotane from Western Imperial.  This year, I think there might have been some issue with the Ohio biodiesel.  I will have it tested to see if it was a problem.  Unfortunately, this can be a problem with biodiesel.  Just a quick note, if I had run straight home brewed biodiesel, even with the road tax, my cost would have been 1.08 cents per mile.  My goal for now is 160 mpg (1.03 cents) under VMDs conditions and 140 mpg (1.1 cents) under Vegas to Barstow conditions using home brewed and registered (taxes paid) biodiesel. 

Once I get setup in MO, I will be installing fuel flow meters on the dyno so I can actually measure fuel consumption under any road load condition.  Now, if I only had a wind tunnel???? 

I have to throw in my 2 cents worth, actually 2.4 cents worth with regard to fuel mileage.  100+ mpg is totally achievable in almost any type of riding.  I hope I showed that at the Vegas to Barstow run. To get 100 mpg in almost all riding conditions, we must start with good streamlining to be sure, but we also need good engine efficiency.  I only have to point to Charly’s win last year.  He had a pretty good front fairing, but no tail section.  He won by putting together a very efficient engine package to go with his fairing.  What could Charly do with a Vetter Fairing???

I’m anxious to the video Carol took for our lap around the track."

Craig says: Fred wants to see the video because Fred and I were racing. I told him he could not pass me since I was the Grand Marshal.

Mark Gielbien talks:

Best Electrical Challenger

August 3, 2012 Mark writes: "Hi Craig Thanks for the opportunity to participate in the fuel challenge, next year I hope to go the full distance

I do have a few things to add: You mention that it takes 6 hours of charging for an hour of riding this is only true with 110 volts using a standard 220 volt outlet like a dryer outlet it would take between 2 to 2.5 hours of charging for 1 hour of riding and this is the setup I have at my shop. 220 volt is standard in almost every house.

There are batteries today and I have them in my shop that will charge in a half hour for one hour of riding but you need a large power source for the charger

My hopes for the future are many: What I do is enable custom motorcycle builders, to build electric motorcycle by supplying reasonable priced parts as I did for Kraig Shultz. So one of my hopes is the best batteries are made available to us small builders, and at some level this is happening through back door channels.
I have to hope batteries get better (of course) and they will
My business grows - and like custom gas bike which is big business - I hope custom electric bikes grow also. Please visit to see some of the custom builds my customers have done. I just got a report that one of my customers just finished a Hybrid build using the EnerTrac Hub motor.
I hope you get to test ride one of my Demo bikes. I'm guessing the 60 mile range I now get would be way over 100 miles with your streamlining. Something to think about.

Unexpected Problems:

We drove through the pouring rain with an open trailer

The only problem we had is the throttle got wet and we had to blow the water out of the throttle for it to work on Friday morning other than that the bike worked fine and I had a good 20 miles left in the batteries when I got back.

The bike I rode used a rolling chassis from Electromotorsport in CA the frame is designed for electric drive and the skins look great and do a great job of hiding the batteries. The swingarm was extended and widened by EnerTrac to give the bike a longer wheelbase for better road handling ( the bike handles like a scooter otherwise) and fit the EnerTrac dual Hub motor design. DU-603 is the model I have in the bike.
The batteries are from Elite Power Solutions in Arizona and they sell the GBS Lithium Ion batteries.

Mark's AC Hub motor. Very tidy indeed.

My system voltage is 142 volts @ 40AH - 57KW-hr of battery. I use 85 watt-hr per mile so if you divide 5700 by 85 you get about 60 miles of range.

The thing I love about electric bikes that are built "right" is that they don't ride like gas bikes. I think and people who ride my bikes agree they have a character all there own and ride better in there own way. The 100% torque from almost a standstill and the smooth ride You just have to go for a test ride to understand.

I never understand why most everyone tries to build electric cars to be just like gas cars. Electric drive has a character all it own and when taken advantage of you get a different feeling car some may like the difference some may not, but now you have something to sell. Tesla and EnerTrac understand this, all the other car companies just don't get it.
Best Regards Mark

EnerTrac Corp

Second, third and fourth place "Traditional Fuel" Challengers talk
Ben Schloop's Yamaha 185-3rd
Alan Smith's 250 Ninja-4th Vic Valdes' 250 Ninja-2nd
Vic Valdes and Alan Smith talk

The bikes with the "Approximate Shape" beat the bike with the "Perfect shape"

How could that be?

Alan and Vic rode their Ninja 250s to the Vintage Days Challenge from California, side by side. Their bikes were old Ninja 250s, found on Craig's List. Alan put the first Vetter Streamliner Kit on his bike. Vic collected used political signs made of Coroplast and formed them around his bike, roughly generating a streamlined shape. Otherwise, the bikes were the same.
Lets look at the numbers as provided by Vic and Alan:

To begin with, Alan weighed 60 pounds more than Vic

Alan’s  Ninja 250: loaded down with gear, cloths, tools, and rider weighed 660 pounds. 

Vic‘s Ninja 250: Loaded the same 598 pounds

July 13, 2012: First day. Departing from San Francisco to Ohio and the Vetter Fuel Challenge.

Alan’s  Ninja 250: 103.4 mpg

Vic‘s Ninja 250:    72.7 mpg

July 14, 2012: Second day. Nevada to Wendover

Alan’s Ninja 250: 92 mpg

Vic‘s Ninja 250:    92.7mpg

July 15, 2012: Third day. Utah to Wyoming high winds, hard rain, climbing mountains

Alan’s Ninja 250: 82.4 mpg

Vic’s Ninja 250: 68.3 mpg

July 16, 2012: Forth day. Across Nebraska at high freeway speeds some winds.

Alan’s Ninja 250: 93.7mpg         

Vic’s Ninja 250: 58.9 mpg

July 17, 2012:  Fifth day. Nebraska to Iowa - rolling hills at various speeds.

Alan’s  Ninja 250: 88.4 mpg    

Vic’s Ninja 250: 68.6 mpg

July 18, 2012:  Sixth day. Iowa to Morton, Ill. Flat country side at 70-plus speeds. Very hot

Alan’s Ninja 250: 95.8 mpg       

Vic’s Ninja 250: 69.6 mpg

July 19, 2012: Seventh day. Illinois To Belleville, Ohio Riders meeting.

Alan’s Ninja 250: 103 mpg

Vic’s Ninja 250: 87.9 mpg

The Alan Smith-Vic Valdes cross-country summary:

Alan's Ninja:  Total trip out, mostly riding with Vic: 2749.4 mi./29.56 gal= 93.01 mpg

Vic’s Ninja: Total trip out mostly riding with Alan: 2891 mi./39.44 gal= 73.3 mpg

Alan comments that he would ride all day on one tank of gas... costing $14-15 per day

Alan's Ninja: Total trip back alone: 3150 mi./39.74 gal= 79.26 mpg

Vic’s Ninja: Total trip back alone: 3107.4 mi./42.31 gal= 73.4 mpg

July 31, 2012: Alan comments: "With the new streamliner body on my Ninja 250 I had hoped to average 100 MPG riding to Ohio this summer. The streamliner shell that Craig designed for my Ninja 250 worked well. My fuel economy improved over last year and nothing fell off. The fuel economy was better than last year but still short of that magic 100 MPG overall average to cross the country. This is a tough goal that Craig Vetter set for us. So more work is needed for next year’s summer trip."

Aug. 4, 2012: Vic says: "We did fill up simultaneously some of the time but unfortunately I  filled up more frequently than Alan due to my generally poorer fuel economy and my problems with heat-induced fuel starvation and vapor lock. Probably the best we can do is the day by day comparison where we rode the same route. Using that approach it is fairly clear that Alan's superior aero package performed better than mine. On only one day segment did my bike do better than his on fuel usage (7/14) and that was by less than 1 mpg!"

Nov 29, 2012: Craig says: Vic did not finish the Las Vegas to Barstow Challenge but his official mileage was 60 mpg which is consistent with his summer cross country mileage riding with Alan. All I can figure is that something went wrong when Vic filled up after the Vintage Days event. We do the best we can.

Do you want this Streamliner Kit? Above image: Todd Stevens
Aug. 12, 2012. Alan adds: "Having ridden my Ninja 250 streamliner approximately 25,000 miles in the past year and a half, including two trips to from California to Ohio and back. I have some thoughts on what is the minimum horse power needed for streamlined motorcycles to cross the country.

The current thinking is that something around 17 horse power is enough. If you only want to win the Vetter motorcycle fuel economy contest, I have to agree that is enough. If you want to maintain 70 MPH in all conditions riding across the country then I believe that a few more horse power is needed.

On my ride home from the recent Mid Ohio motorcycle fuel economy contest I encounter such strong head winds in the Wyoming area that I had to down shift one gear just to maintain 70 MPH on level ground. Normally I can maintain 70 MPH into a 30 MPH head wind in top gear. In the mountains I had to down shift an additional two gears to maintain freeway speeds, at that point I dropped my speed to 65 MPH to save fuel. Even at 65 MPH I was one of the fastest vehicles on the freeway going uphill against the wind.

These hard riding conditions lasted approximately 400 miles. In addition to the high winds one mountain pass was at 8650 feet. At that altitude with the thin air I lost approximately 27 percent of my horse power. So if you start with 17 horse power at sea level you will not have it in the mountains.

Another factor in needing a more powerful engine is that my streamliner weighed 480 pounds with all my gear; tools, cloths, laptop computer, etc. With me sitting on the motorcycle the added weight jumped to 660 pounds. My 28 horse power engine was working hard.

At one of the road side rest areas a plaque said that 70 MPH winds in the area was not uncommon.

If I had a 17 horse power engine and tried to maintain 65-70 MPH in such hard conditions I think I might have blown the engine. Unlike industrial engines that are designed to run at 100 percent continually, motorcycle engines are not designed to run at 100 percent power for long periods of time. Just short bursts of 100 percent power or else they will self destruct. That is one reason race engines need rebuilding so often.

So what is the ideal horse power to cross the country at 70 MPH under all conditions? I am not sure but my 28 horse power worked for me. My Ninja 250 now has just over 33,000 trouble free miles on it. Even though I have not won any fuel economy contests I am really happy with the performance of my streamlined Ninja 250’s ability to cross the country.

Vic Valdez rode his streamlined Ninja 250 from California to Ohio with me this year and did well. Vic was also glad to have had the 28 horse power to get through the head wind and mountains.

There are so few streamliner motorcycles cruising the freeways it would be nice to see others doing it. Fred-how about you doing a few long runs with your diesel? I would like to see how your diesel would do under more strenuous circumstances. I would be willing to ride side by side with you. I think your diesel motorcycle has the best combination to meet and beat Craig Vetter’s goals.

On another subject; based on my success with my small doors on my streamliner I think others will be trying it.

Aug 8, 2012: Fred Hayes adds: "Alan: I couldn't agree more. Even for the Vetter Challenges, 15-17 hp will mean you are running your engine a max output some of the time. If there is to be a touring bike that can keep up with traffic at 70+ mph in most conditions, the twice the hp will be needed. I think your 28 and my 30 hp are right in the ballpark for an all-around bike.

For what it's worth, in 2010, I rode Dales bike (without the saddlebags) from Hesperia to Wendover and back. We took the "inland" route through Ely, NV going and 15 through Salt Lake City coming back. I averaged at little over 96 mpg for a total of 1365 miles. The best mileage was 115 and the worst was 89. I would think I could get about 20% more with the Streamliner. This is supported by the results of the Vegas to Barstow run.

Alan Smith did not take 3rd place at the Challenge. He took 4th. Ben Schloop on his little Yamaha SR185 took 3rd at 2.6 ¢ per mile.

What is going on here?

Aug 3, 2012: Ben Schloop writes: "Hi Craig, Thank you for an awesome weekend, my wife and I had lots of fun, and enjoyed your talks very much. It was just too bad we couldn't make it on sunday. I feel that the ride went extremely well, and it seems that we are seeing a bit of a pattern. the diesel bikes run extremely well no matter what, maybe because they make more torque per hp than the rest of us. I just hope that we see a production version of Fred's engine at some point. In rural driving, the lighter bikes do very well also, while aerodynamics win out over weight on the freeway. I am not likely to make it to Vegas this year, since I used up all my vacation to come to Ohio, but I am thinking about trying to make all three next year. We'll have to see if I can afford the trips." Sincerely, Ben
Do you want this Streamliner Kit?
Craig Comments: Did you notice the results of Endler's new CBR250R. He could not carry the groceries but he delivered 87.3 mpg, consuming gas at the rate of 2.95¢ per mile!

The cross country numbers above - came from Vic and Alan. There is no doubt that Alan Smith's bike routinely burns less fuel. A lot less fuel. However, at the Vetter Challenge fillup, Vic took less fuel and was declared to be in second place behind the Hayes Diesel.

Vic's second place award stands. That said, the results of the Challenge are not consistant with how these two bikes performed side by side from California.


These two men are friends and are above reproach. There is no reason to be deceptive in a Fuel Economy Challenge. We just seek the truth. As it turned out, Vic filled his bike next to me. I watched him put in every drop he could.

Alan's 4th place finish was not consistant with his pre-Challenge actuals. For this I have no good explanation. Alan?

Possible problems and solutions:

Watch should each other fillup: Be more careful topping off at the start. Maybe fill each other' tank. Fill from the same pump. (Possibly the pumps are different in how they meter out fuel) Maybe we should all watch again at the end as we fill up. By the way, this is how we did things in the 1980s Vetter Contests.

Make the ride longer: 80 miles was shorter than the normal 100 mile ride because I had Grand Marshal duties at the track and needed to be back early. A longer ride would reduce the effects of flllup errors. As we can see in Vic and Alan's 3,000 mile cross country trip, variations tend to even out when the ride is longer.

There will always be big differences because of ride conditions: Riding north into a 30 mph headwind at 70 mph on California's El Camino Real is very different than a Friday morning ride averaging 50 mph over the gently rolling countryside of Ohio. The Las Vegas to Barstow ride, at 70 mph with powerful winds from unexpected directions, over two 4,000 foot mountain passes, is different yet.

These represent real driving in the US and I don't see any reason to change things.

Is it possible that the winning design for Las Vegas is not the same as the winning design for Ohio?

Would Ben Schloop's design have what it takes to go the speeds required between Las Vegas and Barstow?

I would like to know. I am sure Ben would like to know. One thing has become evident...

Fred Hayes and his Diesels can win them all - in all conditions.

In addition, at the end of August, 2012, Fred Hayes is taking his Vetter Challenge bikes to Bonneville to set world speed records. Rumor has it that he is going to leave his saddlebags on so he can set records in the Grocery Bag Class.

Page posted August 3, 2012

Updated Nov 29, 2012