Vetter Fuel Economy Competition in Ohio: Over 150 MPG!

Reader Contribution by Staff
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In real riding!  Up and down Ohio hills at posted speed limits. Real carrying capacity. Real comfort. Not just 2 wheelers, either. I invited some cars.

July 22, 2011, in a 104 mile loop through the beautiful Ohio countryside, AMA Road Riding Manager Dave Hembroff, led us setting the pace. I rode last, at the same speed, keeping Dave in sight. If a Challenger went too slow and I passed him, he was out of contention. 

It wasn’t too long ago that I wondered publically if 100 mpg was possible in the “Vetter Conditions”: “70 mpg, into a 30 mph headwind, with a useful load like 4 bags of groceries, sitting in comfort, being the first choice vehicle in the garage.” To find out, I bought a used 17 hp Honda Helix scooter and streamlined it:

Where I live in California, the winds can be scary. In three years of streamlining development, I have learned how to deal with these winds. Today, I consistently get 85 mpg in all riding conditions: around town and on the highways. The Vetter Challenger consumes gasoline at the rate of 3½ to 5¢ per mile.  I love this machine and have used it to organize Vetter Fuel Economy Challenges to encourage others to beat me. It didn’t take them long.

At the Vetter Challenge in May 2011 at California’s Quail Motorcycle Gathering, the winner, Fred Hayes piloted a Diesel motorcycle of his design and manufacture and proved that 128 mpg was indeed possible. With bio-Diesel selling for $4.53 a gallon, Fred traveled for 3.34¢ per mile. I was encouraged to hold another Vetter Challenge at AMA’s Vintage Days in Ohio:

July 22, 2011:  The Ohio Vetter Challenge: Diesels, Gasoline, and Electrics

Fuel prices had dropped considerably by the Ohio Challenge. Fred’s new Super Streamlined 31 hp Diesel went 143.53 miles per gallon with $3.709/ gallon B20 Bio-Diesel.  He had lowered the cost per mile to 2.57¢.

But somebody did it for less money…

Fuel Economy pioneer, Charly Perethian came out of “retirement” to show us how it is done:

Charly’s gasoline powered 21 hp Honda NX250, consumed 2.37¢ per mile! This is absolutely remarkable!

Charly was heard to comment that he thought 200 mpg was obtainable. If anybody other than Charly Perethian had said that, I would not have believed it.

Here is another shocker:  3rd place finisher drove a car!

Motorcycles get awful fuel economy. Why not let cars compete? Maybe it would be a wakeup call.  Like many MEN readers, I have been watching Jack McCornack’s progress on his MAX project. For years, he has been designing and building a Diesel-powered car. I invited him to compete.

Jack drove his 32 horsepower, Diesel powered car from the West Coast to Ohio to take 3rd place.  Jack consumed fuel at the rate of 3.01¢ per mile, beating three other Challengers (including me!)

Oh, the shame!

For a complete report, go to my webpage.

Which brings us to what you have been waiting for, the Electric Challengers:

I never expected any electric machine to go the 104 miles. I just wanted to know how far they could go in real riding conditions. Three electric bikes including a Prius car showed up to find out.  Only one bike, driven by Kraig Schultz (far right) could carry the groceries.

It turned out that 38 miles was where the Electric Challengers thought they needed to stop. Lithium Ion batteries don’t respond well to “over charging” or “over discharging”.

This is important information. This is why they stopped. The electric Challengers found a place to charge up, turned around and made it back to the track on their own power. Kyle Ginaven, on the blue bike, above, consumed electricity at the rate of 1.2¢ per mile. Adding in the agreed upon Ohio road tax of .6¢ per mile brought Kyle’s cost to 1.8¢ per mile.

Now…  1.8¢ a mile is pretty good.  But, personally, considering all the electric hype, I had expected better. Kraig Schultz attributes this to the incomplete streamlining. 

Then again… Charly Perethian also has incomplete streamlining…

What should we do next?

The Electric bikes (and Charly) need time to complete their streamlining. I need time to develop my Streamlining Kit, to make streamlining easy.

I have my eye on the Pacific Northwest for the next Vetter Challenge. There seem to be a number of experimenters there.   

I am also thinking about a tough, annual, Final Challenge. How about 160 miles on Interstate 15 from Barstow to Vegas? Think about it… 70-75 mph posted speeds. Fierce winds…  20-mile long hills and 100+ degree weather.

Interstate 15 is pockmarked with the blackened stains of the remains of overheated RVs that caught on fire and burned to a black smear. That said… thousands drive from Barstow to Las Vegas every day. It is real. It is tough. Can you suggest a better Challenge? 

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