This summer I purchased an 99 Ninja 500r. The drivetrain is great, the fairings are Fair. This is the perfect candidate for trying to improve the Cd of a bike. The 500 is about the right cross of power/efficiency for my driving. I spend a lot of time on the interstate on my 35mile commute, so I need the extra little push just to get around traffic sometimes (I don't want a smaller bike). The body is fair (upper fairing broken already) so as long as I am going to be fixing it, I might as well try to do it "right".
So far, I have been able to get 64mpg out of it, but I think as I refine my driving a little more, I can hit 70mpg.
Now, the question is, how can I do better than that.
I have come up with 2 options from a lot of thinking and searching online (including threads here).
1) Find a better, more aerodynamic front fairing from a newer bike and make it fit. Modify it to be more aerodynamic (like removing unneeded air vents, etc). Create a front fender that covers much more of the front tire.
This would be reasonably cheap and if done right could make the bike look a lot better than now. I am thinking something sorta like the front of this.
2) Buy a dustbin fairing and make it fit. This has a lot more potential for aerodynamics, and would be a lot more unique. The biggest downfall would be cost (575 + shipping for one like below) and the potential increase in crosswind issues. I would also have to come up with a headlight assembly (and turn signals, mirrors, etc). The front fairing below is currently available new.
My goal would be to break 100mpg, be very drivable (no full enclosure) and have a top speed of faster than I care to go. So far, I have the last 2, but I would love to get the first one.
Has anyone else done anything like this? I have looked at Vetters stuff, but I don't have any interested in a scooter (I spend way to much time on the interstate). I have seen the 300/400mpg bikes from the early 80s also. Interesting, and something to loosely model after.
Any opinions? Anyone know of an sites that have good info on this? I would love to get some feedback from others who are economy minded and have a grasp on aerodynamics (I have recently discovered gassavers and ecomodder and am REALLY exited be here, what a great resource of info).
Thanks for the tips on the Buell, I found some aftermarket suppliers for a Buell GP fairing that is pretty cool.
As far as your other tips. I currently don't have front turn signals due to the previous damage, and the rear ones don't stick out very far. I do have rear view mirrors, but I really like them. I might try just folding them back and doing some coast down tests. I would have to find soemthing more aerodynamic to replace them. I hadn't thought of taking of the bar ends either.
You also mentioned removing the lower fairing. I hadn't really considered that. I took a look at it closer tonight and see what you are talking about. its only 4 bolts, so I took it off. it is really easy to see the difference it could make. There is a lot of room for improvement there.
I agree, the most important way to improve aerodynamics on these bikes is to tuck behind the fairing. I always tuck as low as I can go (touching the tank). The fairing changes I am looking at won't make a bigger area for me to hide behind so I will still have to tuck, but they will lower the drag on the front of the bike (and increase my mileage).
Here's a picture of myself cruising on the highway, I had a comfortable tankbag that I could lay myself against, relief myself of arms, wrists, shoulders, neck.. even my forehead was resting agains the windshield.
I guess it was not very busy traffic, since I was stationary enough to let the rider next to me pull out his camera and take a picture of me at 80+ mph.
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Wow, cat0020, I had never considered riding with my feet hanging on the rear pegs. I gave it a try on the ride home last night (and coming in this morning) and it will defanately take some getting used to. Plus, having the right thickness of support on the tank is important. It was a lot more comfortable than my normal tuck for long rides though (but I generally don't do long rides).
Here's me how I normally tuck (sorry, no action pics, but center stands are convinient)
Here is your method. I am not sure there is a lot of advantages aerodynamically, but for comfort and just a change in positions, its good.
I spent a short amount of time and used "paint" to put a dustbin on my bike. It actually looks a lot better than I expected, just think if it was painted (or photoshopped) to match.
I havent' contacted the manufacturer to see if the dimensions will fit my bike, but I am starting to like this idea more and more all the time. I did move the handle bars closer to where they would be if I were to switch to clipons (which for tucking, would be really nice).
A fairing like that is likely going to cost you more than your bike.
Try looking for a tankbag that is secure enough for you to lean against while you're tucked.. that should allow you to relief some back/arm muscles. I've used Touratech Enduro tankbag on more than 8 of my previous bikes, I've got a few spares if you're interested.