Ambassador of Streamlining Alan Smith rides his Vetter Ninja 250 across America
47 mpg 99 mpg
updated Nov 23. 2014
Crossing America side by side
Alan Smith actually rides his Streamlined Ninja 250 from coast to coast. He says: "On this trip the fuel economy is basically double that of the bigger motorcycles at the higher speeds, 47 vs 99 Miles-Per-Gallon. "

Alan Smith May 30, 2014

I rode approximately 19,000-miles in 3-months.  Along the way I managed to visit a lot of people.  I won one fuel economy contest and lost others.  It was all fun but the year went by to fast.

I did manage to get home a couple of times during the summer to service my motorcycle, do laundry, and mow the lawn.  For some reason during the summer my tires don't usually last more than a month. 

I have a very understanding wife.

I think my Streamlined Ninja 250 really opened the eyes to some people especially to the people riding with me.  In Oregon one motorcycle rider (that I passed) followed me to the next town about 40 miles away where we stopped for lunch.  This person thought that I must have been riding a 600cc streamliner through the canyons because he had to ride 80 MPH just to keep up.  In town he was surprised to find out that he was trying to keep up with a 250cc motorcycle.

Riding across the desert areas some of the guys riding with me told me they wanted to cruise 80-plus MPH.  I kind of balked of the high cruise speed request but then everything was going smoothly so I cranked it up.  They fell way behind and I could not figure out what was going on.  In the next town I found out that the head winds were beating them so bad that their trip computers showed them to be getting low 30 MPG.  They were worried about running out of gas.  Of course on those days my gas mileage dropped to around 98-105 MPG.  On those windy days my fuel range would be only 400 miles.

I had a great trip and had the chance to visit a lot of great friends along the way. 

This winter I hope to finish my new streamliner to ride next summer.  Getting 100 MPG is so “yesterday.

I had to replace both of my tires once during this time.  Last summer I said to myself that 2014 would be a simple year, less mileage.  Well that did not happen.  Maybe next year I will take it easy.

My Ninja 250 now has 71,850 miles on it.  I talked to one Kawasaki dealer who also road races Ninja 250's.  He said that those Ninja 250 motors are really understressed.  Some people are getting over 100,000 miles on those motors.

July 6-2014: A good friend of mine, David, is interested in our fuel economy competitons enough that he is riding with me to Ohio.  The first day Dave who is riding a V-Strom 650 said his fuel range was an easy 300-miles.  I told him to be careful because my fuel range was over 400-miles per tank.  Dave ran out of gas at 270-miles on the freeway.  Riding at elevated speeds across Nevada is killing his gas mileage.  The elevated speeds slightly affects a streamliner's gas mileage.  The next day Dave almost ran out of gas again.  Dave's gas tank was empty at the pumps.  I'm pushing Dave to hard.  My gas mileage is twice Dave's V-Strom 650.

The morning of the second day Jeff Meskey of Salt Lake City treated Dave and I to breakfast.  Thanks again Jeff!  Afterwards we went to Jeff"s house to see his progress on his streamlined Ninja 250

The bad news is that Ron, in Canada, turned back.  The long ride is wearing him out.  It is to late for Ron to go back home to load his streamliner in his van.

I assume that Vic left this morning, Sunday.  Vic is trailering his streamliner.

Jeff Meskey's Streamlined Ninja Project
I talked to Terry today about his streamlined Zero.  He is really busy doing the finer details.  Terry hopes to leave late Monday morning.

(Terry never left. He did not finish in time for the Vintage Days Challenge)

Alan continues: So far the wind and rain has not been a problem.  We ride across the plains tomorrow so I'm a little worried about cross winds.

Alan's Streamliner is as photographic as Four Corners
Alan reports from the road: Riding through Southern California, Arizona, and New Mexico a few days ago my streamlined Ninja 250 has been running hot most of the time.  Not overheating but running hotter than usual.  Normally it runs fine everywhere else in North America.  One possible reason for running hotter is that the strong cross winds might not be flowing properly onto the intake of the aerodynamic nose to my cooling system.  The other modification I might need to do is open the intake in the nose.  For anyone building a streamlined motorcycle, over cooling is easier to deal with on the road than over heating.

Parking is still a problem in high winds.  In some areas I was told that even full size $30,000 Harleys blow over in the parking lot.  So for all you current and future streamliner guys (and gals) think about how to park it in the wind.  Terry Hershner knows this problem very well.

Now the good news, this trip is showing that my streamlined Ninja 250 can keep up with the full size motorcycles (over 1,000 cc).  My riding buddy has no complaints about me keeping up.  We have been riding a lot of 80 MPH cruise speeds.  My top speed has been over 90 MPH passing semi-trucks.  I must admit that I am pushing my streamlined Ninja 250 harder than I usually do.

With my taller gearing at 80 MPH my Ninja 250 engine is running about 6,200 RPM.  This might seem high but the engine red line is 13,000 RPM so I'm only running less than half my RPM range.  Currently my Ninja engine has over 56,000 miles on it.

Fred Hayes' new dream shop in Missouri
Also, thank you Fred for letting me make repairs and upgrades in your shop on my motorcycle.  Your shop is like an oasis for motorcycles.  You have always been very generous to me.

2014 Vintage Days Winner

181.6mpg 1.57¢ / mile on regular gas

This was Alan's first Vetter Challenge win.

Remember, this was in side-by-side riding. My streamlined Honda Helix managed only 103mpg.

Alan rode from California to Ohio and back on this bike.

Congratulations, Ambassador Alan.

When I started this streamliner stuff 4 or 5 years ago I never dreamed that I could get a Ninja 250's gas mileage that high.  By not competing I would have been satisfied with 100 MPG.  Competing against Fred has pushed both (ok all our fuel economy) mileage so high.

I only beat Fred by a fraction of a gallon.  It could be considered a tie.  Unfortunately it is the artificial price of fuel that really caused Fred to loose.

I predict next year Richard Goff with his streamlined Zero motorcycle will finish the entire course in Ohio.  So Terry Hershner will have some competition.  Now Terry- you have to show up for this event!!!

It was not that long ago we did not know if we could break the 100 MPG threshold.  It seemed so hard.  Now we are well past that threshold.  Next year in Ohio will the ICE (internal combustion engines) motorcycles break the 200-MPG barrier?  I know of two people that will make a go for it.

Vick Valdez has shown that you don't need a lot of money to build a fuel economy motorcycle that is a serious competitor.  Vic's second place of 126.64 MPG (a little less than last year) shows that.

On my westward ride home across North Dakota I'm riding with other motorcyclists.  The fuel economy is not really true because my fuel economy is slightly lower while the others are slightly better.  This is because I am running my streamlined Ninja 250 harder to keep up while the large displacement bikes are running easier so not to leave me behind.  Don't get me wrong I am keeping up at cruise speeds of 70-80 MPH on the interstate freeways and the posted speeds on back roads.  We were also dealing with strong wind in some areas.

The other motorcycles still need to fill up 2 or 3 times for each time I top off my gas tank.

I managed to get a spot check during a 214.6 mile run.

99.443 MPG    2.158 gallons of gas, streamlined Ninja 250
48.289 MPG    4.444 gallons of gas, 2007 Triumph Tiger 1050
44.357 MPG    4.838 gallons of gas, Suzuki Vstrom 650
42.078 MPG       5.1 gallons of gas, 2005 Yamaha FJR1300

One observation about the Vstrom 650, it gets better gas mileage than the Triumph Tiger at lower speeds on the back roads.  At higher freeway cruise speeds the Triumph Tiger gets better gas mileage.  I think that is because the 650 is working harder at the higher speeds.

Alan's new Ninja Streamliner project
Alan bought another 250 Ninja to built a new improved streamliner. I thought you would like to see the dramatic difference between the two.
Alan Smith's new LowBoy Streamliner
Alan finally won a Vetter Challenge at Mid Ohio, the summer of 2014. But he wants to do better and is is building a second Ninja 250 Streamliner.

The swing arm is stretched to lower the seat and reduce frontal area. He has built a "grunt" motor. These images show just how dramatically his efforts have paid off.

Very Low
Posted Aug 7, 2014

Updated Nov 23, 2014