Comments on the Last Vetter Fairing April 12 - May 11 Page 3
This is where I post the more interesting comments and questions. My comments in blue.
I must say that some of your comments are very interesting. Before you write. please take the time to read what has always been written:

May 11, 08: Carter says: Craig, Model airplane builders know you need at least 17 or is it 14 Degrees to create lift on an airfoil. Engine guys do multiple angle valve jobs to prevent lifting. The passage of fluid through a tappet valve is an inside out venturi because, they are designed to continually accelerate the fluid on into the combustion chamber. So, to prevent the stream of fluid that is the air from creating eddy currents down the side of the body just make the front round. Everything looks great with the project!

April - May: Between William and Craig: My mechanic uncle and cousins are working on a HHO injector system. If it pans out, I'll let you know. That would make a world of difference.

I just took another look at your site. I love the progress you’re making on your scooter. Wish I had the time and freedom of movement to come play, or at least do something similar with mine. For now, I just need to keep riding the Helix to work every day, and keeping the mileage as low as possible.

Craig says: Yeah... I had to buy another Helix to have one to work on.

I’ll probably have to wait until I retire to finish streamlining it. I really like the open forum you have going. My first guess for changing up the gearing was to put a bigger rear tire on it.

There is no room for a bigger wheel.

At highway speed, which is practically anything over 60, you’re already in top gear and winding out the engine. Putting a bigger rear tire on it would stretch the legs a bit, yes? However, the clearance between the frame and the rear tire is pretty tight… Hmmm.

I am going to ride it with no changes other than the streamlining to see what we get. Then, if it needs to be geared up, I am in contact with a gear maker who says he can make up a set. The engine will not have to be disassembled, either. This is good.

I read on a website that you can inject HHO into the carb and lean it out, really increasing your mileage. It’s supposed to make your fuel/air mix more volatile, thereby burning the fuel more completely. I read that it also cools down your engine, so you can run leaner. You just have to carry around a lot of baking soda, or something. I might try it, but I’ve bought a lot of snake oil. Are you going to take off the trunk? You could make a big trunk in the tail. Plenty of room in there once you get the shell set up.

I saw an Aprilia that looked like it had a bigger tire, and I think the Suzuki Burgman does, too. I don't know if you could shoehorn one into the rear subframe, though. It looked like it was pretty tight. Maybe if you lengthened the rear swingarm a little. If you're taking off the Helix bodywork, you could hand the rear wheel as far out as you want, and then put on as big a rear wheel as you want. Don't know how that would affect the takeoff. Might be too much stress for that little CVT. I'm getting 64 MPG. That's around the base and back and forth to work. Might do a little better running straight and flat at about 55, but there's no roads like that between my house and the base. I read an ad for a used Burgman that claimed 80 MPG on the highway.

I don't believe the claim. Nothing on a Burgman for us.

I'd consider seeing if anybody has smashed the front end of a bigger scooter, and see if you can get a rear subframe with a transmission and a CVT. Isn't there a big bike junkyard in San Jose? I'll check on ebay to see if anybody is selling Burgman rear wheels or trannys. Of course a Silverwing would fit the bill as well. Since the 250 actually makes more power than you need, you could consider dropping in a 150 or a 125. Honda makes 150 scooters, I know.

Smaller scooters are physically too small, too. The Helix really is the closest-to-right machine to begin with.

I know you weren't willing to say what you were going to do to hold it up at stops, since you're enclosing the cockpit. Have you considered some type of outrigger system? Do you leave the foam inside that, or do you just glass it, then put the shell on it?

You must wait for my trick fairing solution...

May 7, 2008, Christopher wrote: OK, Time for the movie review. Sorry it has taken so long but I have been really busy this year. For all the work I have been doing looking for ways to save gas, I was still counting on the 1200gs to work out the test route and to commute to work and to travel. In addition to giving a good accounting of what was done to the bikes, as well as how the whole fuel economy test thing came into being, the video has done one other thing for me. I am now aware that I was still part of the problem.

I ordered the movie hoping for some techie details on how they did what ever it is that they did to get such high mileage. That would help me build my own bike without doing the experimentation. I got no down in the mud techie details from this but got a much better list of what types of changes had been made and some things I didn't expect.

Unexpectedly I got some insight into the root of the problem and how we got here. I now understand, very clearly, the trend in engine size and what it has done. Looking at my 1200GS has now become disturbing to the point that I have decided to post it on EBay and pick up a KLR650 single instead. The KLR will do everything I need it to and will save me a ton of money in the end. At nearly half the size it is a step in the right direction while being big enough to tour on still. Granted it isn't a 125 but I have a few of them lying around now so I figured a big lunking 650 wasn't so bad. I will miss the GS to be sure, but I will feel better about myself, and my bank account, in the end.

If you have not yet watched this DVD, “How they Got 470 mpg”  it is time to get it for the basic foundation for what we are doing here. 

With all that said I now conclude my review with the following.

Your video/lecture has taught me a great deal about what I have been working on. Not all of it was what I expected, but, in the end, all of it was exactly what I needed. The video was very well done and I will speak of it often when asked about this project, even if only to the shrinks in the booby hatch where they lock me up for doing all this.

While the production quality isn't that of Al Gores video, I suspect he had a lot of money to make his, the message is as important, and is very complimentary. While he spoke of what is happening to the environment and who was to blame you spoke of why the transportation industry is getting worse and how it could be helped. While he spoke of Global issues which will come of this you spoke of things each individual can do to help. That said the video quality was pretty good on yours, better than I expected truth be told.

I am glad I spent the money on it and will put it in the town Library when I feel I have watched it enough, that may take a while so I might order another for them. I may even buy them for the towns around me if my bonus is decent this year. I should note that I haven't bought An Inconvenient Truth. The only negative I will offer is this. You have left me feeling guilty enough to sell my beloved 2005 GS, downsizing to what I now know to be much more reasonable, and you have created a boat load of work for me this summer, dammit!

Thank you very much for a great video!

Craig comments: Thanks for a great letter. Christopher. Congratulations. you are getting the BIG POINTS. It is very hard to re adjust out thinking, isn't it? I began with a KLR and I am sorry to tell you that I have never been able to get over 52 mpg. Now, I just put a 36 T rear sprocket on it, so we will see. but, the KLR - at 36 hp - has too much power.

You did not want to hear this, I know. I have come to believe that there is a big difference between 36 hp and half that. I don't think it is possible to get "fantastic mileage" like 100 mpg, sitting up etc, with 36 hp. My wife's BMW GS 650 gets 62-3 mpg, so it must be generating less than 36 hp. I am betting on my 17 hp Helix which begins at 64 mpg. It probably has too much horsepower but, what else is there?

My brother is betting on his 21 hp Yamaha 220, beginning at 62 mpg. Fred Hayes is betting on his Deizil-ized, 24 hp KLR 650 and claims 90 mpg. Obviously something very wonderful is happening with Diesels.

On May 4,Tim Culverhouse wrote: Hey Craig, I must say I am very happy that you are doing this work now, when I can actively follow it. As it happens, I was searching the internet for simple motorcycles modifications to increase gas mileage. I am happy to see that there are other people out there with similar goals (as opposed to the loudest pipes and the strongest engines). I am currently an engineering student, and as such, am continually frustrated with the ways in which auto-manufacturers attempt to increase mileage, especially since my 1997 Saturn gets better fuel economy than most cars marketed as high fuel efficiency vehicles, and my 1981 Kawasaki motorcycle gets better mileage than most new motorcycles. I think your ideas and designs are great, and can't wait to see the final results. I am already planning my own "Helix-liner" project for when I graduate. Thanks for the inspiration!
I will probably offer a kit to get you started.

PS. I was wondering what material you would use for your final fairings? I know you have used fiberglass in the past, but have you given any thought to carbon fiber? I know this would be a more expensive way to go, but the benefits of a stronger-than steel "cage" on a Helix would have huge safety advantages. Thoughts?

I have a better idea. Stay tuned, Tim. It is not meant to be a sales job, but I highly encourage you to get my DVD. It is all about horsepower, as I see it.

May 4, 2008, Steve wrote:

Question # 1: How will you change the ratios of the helix?

I don't know at this point. You are reading my mind, too, Steve I will ride it, streamlined to see if the existing CVT adjusts far enough out. I suspect it will not. Therefore, I have located a gear machinist who says he can do it.

Are you simply going to reduce the preload on the driven face spring (PN 23233-KM1-000) or add weight to the centrifigal weights, so the gearing will be numerically lower for a given load?

I don't think this will do a thing for us now... we want it geared higher. We can play with weights later to make the higher gearing better.

I thought that at highway speeds, the spring is already full compressed and that a softer spring would only reduce the rate of acceleration. I'm not sure about that though. It is difficult to check! Clearance for fitting a larger diameter tire is limited by the transmission case. Another option is machining new final drive gears, but that would be very expensive. Maybe not...A jack shaft for a sprocket final drive with a relocated, larger wheel is another option.


Question # 2: Have you seen urethane foam that thick at home supply stores? The thickest pieces of insulation I have seen at Home Depot are 1". I believe the plastic faced foam you are describing is polyisocyanate. It is aluminum foil faced, which is hard to peel off.

The stuff I picked up is 3 1/2" and 4". It came from a local big lumber yard, not Home Depot. I saw it by accident in the back where other defective materials were being stored. As I recall, they gave it to me because some corners were damaged. Actually, I don't know the kind of foam. It is not as good to work with as expensive modeling stuff but good enough for what I need.

Some have product names on them... do you want a name?

The recumbent bicycles that have competed at Battle Mountain have tapered to a point in the bird's eye view, but not the side view. In a cross wind, the bike leans into the direction of the wind. As the symmetrical airfoil shape rolls from vertical to horizontal, lift is generated and the bicycle becomes airborne on it's side. Tappering in the side view would help minimize the generation of lift in a leaning vehicle.

I really am doing "Eyeball" engineering here. So far, I am happy with how it actually feels on the road. The final shape is lower at the rear which should be better. But, better than what? It is fine now.

Your actions have always made sense to me, but now there are a lot more folks paying attention. I'm following your build with great interest.

On Apr 29, 2008, Stephen wrote: Craig: Based on your 107 mpg you attained 20 years ago on the original faired motobike, I predicted the mileage you could get using an electric motor drive. It is based on equivalent kWhr used for a gallon of gas, different efficiency of gas (25%) to electric motor (90%) and different cost/unit of each....the total mileage expected for equivalent costs is around 550 miles for the electric drive....basically 5 times the mileage for the same earlier intuition guess was close.

An electric scooter would be a good option. BTW.....I'm expecting you will gain around 10% more mileage on your depends on the motor efficiency gains and how much you learned in fairing the bike the past 20 years.

I have a idea/semi-plan for a real "low drag" bike that takes about 1 hp (electric motor drive) to do 80 mph (optimum)....thats around 745 watts for an hour (745 watt-hr) at worst to cover 60+ miles. It could be somewhat inaccurate, just approximation here, there are a lot of things not totally considered, but it could be considered the optimum for general transport as a personal sport cycle. Your bike unfaired uses around 10-15 kwatt-hr to cover 60 miles in an hour. A big difference between them. I know the mpg equivalent of the electric cycle would be enormous and would be practical as well as a market seller.

Craig replies: Seems unlikely to me, Stephen

You will have to be so small that you will be run over by the closest Peterbilt. Or it will be too uncomfortable or too difficult to get on or off... in and out... that you won't want to use it.

I could be wrong, you know.

I think it is important to do more with less. this translates, to begin with, a vehicle that is actually my "first choice" when I look into the garage deciding what to ride today. It won't do us any good if we don't use it.

Considering this self imposed requirement, 100 mpg (or equivalent electric). 100 mpg will be very hard to attain. the closer we can get to it, the fewer the solar panels... the fewer the batteries... the longer they will last on a trip... will be the benefit.

To begin with, lets see if we can get 100 mpg and see if really want to ride such a machine. I believe the lessons learned here - and the techniques for producing the streamlining - will find their highest and best use on an electric scooter.

I wonder if it will ever get built. I've got the profile on paper and like you, I don't know what the cd is until the day it would be tested, I know its low and practical.


Craig responded: Well, lets see what we have here. You are witnessing the Design Process. We really do not know what we will be ending up with. Of course, if these ideas pan out it will be hard to do nothing with them. Whatever happens, you will see it first here.

On Apr 28, 2008, Paul wrote: Greetings. I've followed you for many years now. Thanks for being accessable on the net and showing all the creative things you've done. Like you I tinker with odd things. Since seeing the California Commuter, playing with high mileage vehicle designs has always been my big thing. As to the subject, after reading your latest on the fairing build-up, I couldn't help but think of a marvelous site I ran across.

He's a composite plane builder and has some great tips on one-off foam body building including foam panel prep, glue and use of the layer lines to use as a guide when forming the body. He used vinal tape on a plug instead of a release agent, very clever.

Craig responded: Why, thanks, Paul, for the kind letter.

I am going to surprise you and not use composites. Wait... you will see. Actually, you will cry "Foul". By the way, the last big streamlined foam I made, I ironed on model airplane Monokote". It is sold as a wing covering but makes a wonderfully smooth surface for mold making. I will take a peek at your sites later and thank you for alerting me to them. This will be a wonderful adventure... to add streamlining and change nothing else. and see what happens.

I hope this doesn't discourage you, as he's been doing this a while. Just information. I wish I knew about foam when I was building my bicycle teardrop plug years back

The streamlined shape: There is only one! All our high mileage machines will look the same!

How about that?

I suspect that REAL STYLISTS will never be able to accept this. Stay tuned...

Much success on this project Mr.Vetter and thanks again for sharing. It's not always about money... :)

On Apr 28, 2008, Kraig wrote: I so much can't wait to get apples to apples data for my bike with and without a fairing. It will be so cool to know how much better it is. For sure, if I haven't built one by July, I'm interested in you hauling one my way! I just updated one of the pages on my site with links to yours.

My sail trike project taught me that streamlining a vehicle low to the ground is not good - I was looking at car hubcaps and thinking, I really don't like this... And riding a trike is just not as fun as riding a two wheeler. You have the right idea with the step through bike you are working on. Feet first, recumbent, easy entrance, way good!

The Rifle fairing is for bent over riding. It is available. the new one I am developing for the Helix is for sitting up but I don't see that it will be appropriate for your bike.

Probably the cheapest would be to begin with the Rifle design and stretch it in the center.

So, if you are wanting the Rifle fairing, I would like a commitment ASAP. Hauling the trailer is just one option for my summertime travel.

I will contact the other man who seems to be interested. If you both are purchasers, I will commit to bringing them to Illinois at least.

The Rifle fairing on your web page is Charly's hand made prototype. From it, I did the new tooling for the one I offer on my webpage.

One of my goals for 2008 is to produce an electric motorcycle with a dustbin fairing that blows the doors off what is currently available due to the improvement in aerodynamic efficiency. With better aerodynamics, the bike can use inexpensive lead acid batteries and sell for 1/2 the price of the competition but have better range and speed.

The trick here is getting a fairing that accomplishes the following things:
1)Is stable in cross winds
2)Is fair to look at
3)Is comfortable (don't want to be crouched over hugging the gas tank for it to work)
4)Allows for easy mount/dismount
5)Developing the fairing this summer without spending a fortune

Here are some sketches I drew a few days ago. I will redesign the bike as necessary to optimize the design for battery power and
fully faired. These pictures show a smaller rear wheel to allow the seat of the bike and the rider to sink into the bike during cruising and to raise up for visibility in traffic.

Apr 27, 2008, Joseph wrote: Howdy Craig I like the new fairing! I could lay my dreams right over the top of your design.I have years of sketch pads full of that shape all over the house.Will this new fairing be available like the Rifle design? I do have a different opinion on the riding posture though. I would love to try and stuff a Kawi EX250 or 500 in that shell. I felt it would be more streamlined to be in a sport bike position. Not as comfortable on long trips but for commutes no so bad. Lay on a tank bag.

You will appreciate what my brother is doing to challenge me. He is laying down on his Yamaha XT225 also on a big tank bag.

I also feel I would have more control in a standard riding position. I did a few experiments in heavy thunderstorm crosswinds. I let my legs dangle down on either side of the bike and noticed a counter effect. I wondered if it would be possible to design a counter weight for the same effect.I toyed with a compressed air windshield blaster to blow away rain. Concentrated short blasts of air would do the trick I think. As for sitting up and peering over the screen I envisioned a backpack that conforms to the open area. This would complete the streamlined shape as well as allowing for sit up emergencies. I was worried the Rifle was to small for my needs. This design appears to solve that dilemma. This is very exciting and I can't wait to see how it evolves. You are my hero. I loved the lecture video. More Please! Take care and I hope to meet you some day.

Apr 27, 2008, Kraig wrote: I visited your website last summer benchmarking aerodynamics for my just built electric motorcycle.


Today, I have goosebumps because just a few days ago you were posting information I need learn about how to build the shells for my various projects. I'm working on a few projects and am learning how to put shells on them this month. I was planning to go scrounging for Styrofoam scraps at construction sites this week! The pictures of Rifle fairing and Matzu's are awesome. I've been wondering if I should buy the Augusta 175 dustbin fairing from Airtech or make my own, and now I have a third option: Buy the Rifle design fairing from you! I want a shape that allows for comfortable, practical everyday riding...

Kraig: I love your project. Maybe because the Honda SL125 is one great motorcycle. Maybe because everything you have done seems right.

Our Rifle fairing of 1983 should be perfect for it. You will probably want to un-moped it because it will be freeway legal. If you do order a fairing, I have a couple of suggestions for shipping.

One... I cut it in half in the center, in the same place you would be cutting it in half. That way, it sort of nests and UPS can take it.

Two: I may be hauling a trailer to Illinois in July and might be able to haul it that far. I have another friend back east who may want a fairing. too. A bunch will nest together.

Here is my sail car project:


I just ordered your DVD! Thank you for showing us how you do it. Keep on building and having fun and sharing your experiences. It gives great encouragement to read about them. Be safe out there on the road, and keep up the great work!

The new fairing I am putting on my Helix... I begin at 65 mpg, day in... day out. The only change will be the fairing so we can assess its value. Both you and my projects should be very informative.

Apr 24, Nathan wrote: It looks like the CVT in the Honda Helix uses centrifugal weights to control the gear ratio. That means that the gear ratio is going to be determined by the RPM and that the CVT will probably not adjust for the lower load. There are replacement roller weights that should allow you to adjust the performance. (I have no idea how much effort it is to switch them.)

Thanks for the link, Nathan. I am using a stock, 65 mpg Helix. then I am putting on my best shot at streamlining and see what happens.

If it was a chain drive machine, I would gear it way up. But it is a CVT and I cannot swap out sprockets. I am hoping that the CVT will figure out how to do the same thing. The question is, will the front pulley go big enough... will the rear pulley go small enough?

April 26 from Kent: Suggestions for radiator air flow

On Apr 23, Stephen wrote: G' Morning Craig, I thought you would like a good read. Its always good to read about other developments that may be in the same could learn something you didn't know...

Nice website. I notice that the two fastest streamliners are round at the front, pointed at the rear and if it had been raining, they would have been riding blind.

This fellow made a good recumbent even better drag wise and so the vehicles body after the head...

Real streamlining around our head is still a real problem. Airplanes still have not solved it well. They still employ high drag, flat plates as windshields.

Apr 22, 2008, between Stephen and Craig:

Craig, I saw your webpage update....looks real fishy...hehehe. Getting serious, what do you think the drag coefficient might be for the fairing??

I want to be as streamlined as possible. I have no idea what my CD will be. I don't care, either. It will be the best possible, considering the goals.

What do you think the gain in mpg may be at highway speeds?

I believe 100 mpg is possible. After all, I got 107 mpg 20 years ago. But I rode carefully.

Now I want to ride normally.

Streamlining will let the engine work less hard, meaning it it needs to put out less power.

Less power burns less fuel. Less power means the engine can be geared up to run slower, making less power. The only problem may be that the Helix CVT may not adjust as far as itshould. It is not easy like putting a bigger sprocket on the front. It probably will go faster but 70 is fast enough. so, if it did, I would not.

April 19 from Chuck: Does you kit fit the Big Ruckus or do you have one that will?

The body I am generating is for my Helix. We'll have to see how it all turns out. But, I am certain that you - if you are a builder - will be able to put it adapt it to a big Ruckus. It should respond just as well on a Ruckus, too. Keep watching

This page updated May 11, 2008