Chap. 88: Where should the weight go?
Defeating sidewinds
There is do doubt that Real Streamlining - round at the front - pointed at the rear - cuts the amount of fuel used to go 70mph in half.

"But what about side winds?"

This seems to be everybody's question. Why is my Honda Helix more susceptible to sidewinds than Alan's Ninja 250? Why is Terry's Zero the least affected?

Is the long tail the problem? I sawed the tail off my Helix a couple of months ago to find out. So far, I'd say, the winds affect me less. It has not been very stormy in California in the past months so winds have been minimal. Terry has the longest tail on his Zero and has crossed the country many times. Terry does not seem to have problems on the road.

Is weight important? My Helix still weighs 350 pounds... the same as when Honda made it. Alan's Ninja doesn't weigh much more than stock, either.

Terry's Zero can weigh 900 pounds all loaded up with chargers and batteries. The wind doesn't seem to be able to move Terry's Zero.

It looks like weight helps defeat side winds.

Where should the weight be?

Electric Terry Hershner carries weight that petro-fueled motorcycles don't have to crry. Terry's batteries and chargers are very heavy. The question is:

"Where is the best place to carry that extra weight?"

Until now, Terry has been mounting these heavy things anywhere he can, but basically up front.

The best place seems to be up front and low.

Terry is always rebuilding his bike to reflect the things he has learned. Above he has justed mounted his two 60 pound batteries "Up front and low."

This seems to be a good conclusion but I thought ir would be a good idea to use my Honda Helix - the bike that reacts the worst in sidewinds- to do some testing myself.

I have a number of 6 pound lead diver's weights and decided to mount them in various locations on my Helix to see what they did. I suspected that mounting the weights up high would be best.

Adding weights to my Helix.

I had done similar testing in 2008 in Chapter 16 and Chapter 18 so I began with some understanding. In my 2008 testing, extra weight up front made my Helix scooter "feel" more like a motorcycle.

After adding 36 pounds of lead high over the front wheel that was my first impression again today.

Results of 36lbs of lead mounted high above the front wheel:

It is a little harder to get it off the sidestand and harder hold the bike up.

It does feel more like a motorcycle. I like that. For the next two months rode this way: No tail and 36lbs of lead weight, high up.

Flicking it thru twisties is very different. It does not want to flick. Once I got into the proper angle for, say a right-hander, it takes more force - and more time - to get it to go straight again and lean into the next left hander. I was always a "little off" in my timing. Weight up high would not be good for road racing.

I observed another curiosity: If there was a "groove" or split in the road in the direction I was riding, the front tire wanted to follow it. The high-up lead weights kept the rest of the scooter where it was. Not good. I spent more time correcting for that.

What about side winds?

The 36lbs of leadweight in conjunction with the missing tail seem to be steps in the right direction. Not sure yet because there have been no awful winds.

Conclusion: Weights high up may deal with side winds but are not good for other reasons.

Moving the 36 pounds down

I am trying to help Terry figure out where to put the weight he must carry. He already thinks that lower is better. I decided to see what would happen on my Helix if I put the same weight lower.

On April 10, 2015, I moved the weights down.

My first reaction was "It is easier to get it up from the side stand." Of course.

More coming. Stay tuned

End Chapter 88

Master Index to the Last Vetter Fairing Story

Updated April 11, 2015

Posted Mar 18, 2015