Sunday, February 17, 2008

Fuel-efficiency champ: The Craig Vetter Streamliner

The Craig Vetter streamliner didn't accelerate hard or go fast. But yes, it did a lot of mpg...
Craig Vetter, who became famous for his ‘Windjammer’ motorcycle fairings in the early-1980s, also had a passion for… fuel economy! Indeed, not scorching acceleration, not 300km/h top speeds, but fuel economy. So, Mr Vetter started the Craig Vetter Fuel Economy Contest, an annual event where riders tried to get the maximum mileage from their bikes. In fact a Harley rider won the inaugural event in 1980, managing to get a fairly amazing 97.9mpg from the one-litre Harley v-twin.

Vetter was convinced he could do better than that, and given his experience with motorcycle fairings, decided to build an aerodynamic, super-fuel-efficient streamliner. The starting point was a Kawasaki KZ250 streetbike, for which Vetter built a special fairing that offered very low wind resistance. This, along with very tall gearing, allowed the KZ250 to do 125mpg in the 1981 Fuel Economy Contest.

The event started by Craig Vetter encouraged people to push the limits of fuel economy and in 1985, the last year when Vetter’s event was held, a 125cc streamliner, ridden by Japanese rider Matsu Matsuzawa, did an astounding 472mpg.

Today, Vetter’s own streamliner is on display in the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum, in Ohio, in the US. And Vetter himself is not done just yet – he says there might be even more fuel-efficient bikes coming from garage in the future…

Also see:
Rotohak: 325bhp rotary-engined trike...
Memorable: The 1980s Honda VF1000R!
Face-off: The world's fastest bike vs the world's fastest man!
Ariel revival on the cards...?
Small fantasy: The Honda Dream 50R
1974 MV Agusta 500 racer vs 2007 Ducati MotoGP bike!

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