April 6, 2012: Making progress on the Last Vetter Fairing* Compare the pic above with the image below two weeks earlier:

Wanna see the First Vetter Fairing? My how things have changed.

Alan Smith's streamlined Ninja 250
Craig Vetter's streamlined Helix
Alan PopRivited the aluminum skin onto his aluminum nose structure

Alan made a full belly pan, even adding a piece to his center stand

Alan duplicated the windshield from my Helix

I made the mounts to hold my aluminum nose structure

I fiberglassed the nose pieces together and began sanding it smooth

I made the "smiley face" cutout for the front wheel.

I wrapped the structure in milk carton paper, mounted the new nose.

Then I took a ride.

It is important to end up with streamlining that is "not more trouble than it is worth."
Streamlining is easy to say but hard to do. My job is to make it easy. Therefore, I have designed the nose to come off with just three bolts.

Did you get this? The entire front streamlining comes off with just three bolts.

Ninja Streamlining:
Helix Streamlining:
Alan used his temporary paper skin as a template and cut out the same shape from .020" aluminum we got from Aircraft Spruce.

Cleco Clamps hold the aluminum in place so he can Pop-Rivit the aluminum to the nose structure.

The whole thing sure got strong!

To build my new streamlined nose, I must build a strong front mount. The Helix has no good structure out front so, I decided to mount it the way I mounted the first Vetter Fairings of the 1960s- with a big U-bolt around the fork head.
Time to make Alan's Turret top windshield assembly. It is easy now since all we have to do is draw a line around my Master Part and pound it into a curve.
The U-bolt just barely fits. I can tighten it from the back side but have to relocate the Helix switch.
Alan checks for the proper curve on the jig. We just pound it until it fits.
The finished mount supports the bulkhead at the top where most of the weight of the nose will be carried.
We use the Helix turret to hep figure out the Ninja turret. Life gets easier when the design is frozen. The Vetter Streamliner Kit will contain full sized drawings on a piece of paper. When you cut the parts on the line, they fit.
One bolt goes here at the top, indicated by the yellow arrow. If the bolt falls out, the nose is designed to stay in place anyway. When I am done, only three bolts will be necessary to remove the nose.

Continuing the Helix Streamlining on the Last Vetter Fairing:
Using a laser to mark the centerline of the fiberglass nose pieces
Then I used the laser to align the aluminum structure. I want everything to be in line before making the bottom mounts and drilling holes. It is worth the trouble.
Lower left mount detail.
Yellow arrows are where the three mounting bolts go.
This is a happy moment. The nose fits perfectly.
Here I have made a milk carton paper template of the front wheel. Turning the forks full lock in both directions, I trace out the shape to be cut out so the tire does not touch.
Next I temporarily attach the top and bottom with PopRivits. A strip of aluminum on the inside helps pull the fiberglass together smoothly.
To make cutting easy, I drilled a bunch of 1/8" holes on the line that indicates where the tire turns. It is easier to cut this shape from the outside.
I put a little flag on top to show me where the wind was blowing. Here I am grinding the edges to a feather edge in anticipation of laying glass strips on to tie the top and bottom together. I don't like grinding fiberglass.
Alan brought out the glass. I laminated it.
Cutting the smiley face on the dotted lines. I waited until the fiberglass was holding the top and bottom together so the nose shape would be accurate.
This is the EXACT shape the front tire describes in normal driving. When I installed the nose, it was a perfect opening.
We will be ready for the Vetter Fuel Challenge at the Quail Ride May 4.

Readers write:

“I stumbled across your site while researching aerodynamic fairings.  I picked up my GZ-250 when gas spiraled up towards $4/gallon a few years ago, and now that it seems to be headed that way again, I'm glad I did! At 6'4" and 225 lbs, the little 250 looks like I stole a kid's bike, but I'm getting 62-65mpg.  I live about 28 miles from work, mostly 60mph on 2 lane county roads.  The 250 is about at it's limit.  Clearly it's the wind resistance that is limiting performance.  I'm not redlining, I'm just out of horsepower to push through the air.  I've considered a tadpole 3-wheel conversion with an aerodynamic body design (ala RQRiley's RQ3) but an aerodynamic fairing arrangement seems more practical, at least as a start.  How far can I go while retaining ride-ability? I'm hoping to break into the 100-150mph range.  Is that reasonable with an aerodynamic front full-fairing and maybe a separate tapered tail?  I was considering building a tail that would give me a laid-back seat to get my posture lower and more feet-forward. Any advice would be greatly appreciated."

Be well,


My reply April 12, 2012:

John:  Great questions.  Here is what I have learned:

 First, I assume that you are looking for 100-150 mpg, not mph.  This is possible.  Look at the results of the Vetter Fuel Challenges to see how.  These are the basics:

Your Suzuki GZ-250 has what, 20 hp?  20 hp is more than enough to go 70 mph, sitting up and comfortable. You just gotta be streamlined. Streamlining is easy to say but has been hard to do.  I have done my best to show you how to streamline. When I am finished, I will offer a Streamliner Kit from which which you will be able to make your own streamliner.

 For some reason, manufacturers assume that low HP bikes need to be small bikes.

Of course, this is not true. No matter what size bike you ride, you are the same size.

Therefore, a small physical bike size is a problem.  Turning your Suzuki 250 into a bigger bike with lower seating is the first thing you need to do for comfort.  This is very difficult.  You are on your own there.

 Air cooled is a problem.  I don’t know anybody that has been able to keep a 20 hp air-cooled engine cool - inside the streamlining at 70 mph.  You need to start over with a liquid cooled engine.

 I was not sure where to begin either, back in 2008.  I decided to streamline a Honda Helix. Since then, I spent hours of development, publishing 58 Chapters explaining the answers to the questions you are asking.

 I’ll be interested in your response.


Master Index to the Last Vetter Fairing Story

Posted April 7, 2012

Updated April 12, 2012