WHAT: The Mid-Ohio Vetter Fuel Economy Challenge as part of the AMA
Motorcycle Days; in Lexington, OH. Click on link above for details
about riding in this event.
WHEN: Saturday, 7AM EDT July 8, 2017 at or about Splash Harbor Hotel/gas
station area to hotels front side, Bellville, OH for liquid fueled
vehicles or nearby racetrack for electric fueled vehicles (see details in
WHO: All riders/owners of powered two and three wheelers who pay entry fee
requirement (usually a one-day ticket to the AMA event) with vehicles that
can accelerate rather briskly, maintain at least 70 mph even on slight
inclines and can make it from a fuel perspective from fuel stop to fuel
stop along the route.*
The Mid-Ohio Vetter Fuel Economy Challenge is scheduled for 2017. Not all meeting times have been finalized and published, but historically, there has been a meeting the day prior, this year, that would make it on the 7th at Splash Harbor Hotel, however, there may be only a requirement to show up with ticket in hand that morning and a pre-ride meeting to discuss rules, etc in order to ride with the true streamliners. Please keep referring back to the above link for updates on meeting times, etc.
* This is a real-world, fuel economy contest among powered two and three wheeled vehicles that can meet the requirements for the ride and follow the rules; show up on time; and attend required meetings. All who do this can ride and have their scores published. However, there is an additional requirement established originally by Craig Vetter and his organizing team that is still a requirement in order to be considered for wining the event, and that is one has to have enough built-in luggage area to load 4 large grocery bags of groceries upright, completely contained in the luggage compartment(s) in at least a semi-permanent bodywork as luggage(s) containers. This is a very tough requirement and most motorcycles, even those with very large side bags/boxes or top bags or boxes will not be large enough to carry these groceries (its sort of established to encourage streamlining the Vetter way and to improve the practicality of motorcycles as future transportation) but other bike riders that have bikes powerful enough to complete the real-world trek without getting passed by the pacer and follow all other rules, can record their own fuel economy and get their results published with the other non-official riders. Additionally, riders get to meet and greet and witness streamlined gas, diesel and electric two and three wheeled riders and their machines who have, in the past, exceeded 180 mpg or mpg-e.
Please come out and ride with your fuel friendly bike. I'll be there with a 2014 Honda CTX700 stock bike; likely with only a rectangular milk crate on the back and a regular after market windscreen. I can't carry the groceries, so I can't win the event even if I pushed my bike, but I can still ride and compete for my own benefit and passion. I rode in 2014 and achieved an unimaginable 97 mpg; don't expect to replicate that run again, but would like some competition this time around from other stock bike riders. Generally speaking, I can ride similar routes back home and achieve around 83 mpg in warm weather, but cool weather on my bike really hurts my mpg, even temps in the 60s hurt, so I'll be hoping for a very warm early morning on July 8 for a good score.
Please come if you can and help me promote this event between now and then for regular bike riders/owners as there are usually very few who participate. In 2014, there were only about 4 serious contenders of stock bikes. I beat the next-best bike, a DR200, by about 21 mpg. I hope and expect to have better competition this year. Please accept this challenge and come and ride against me and my CTX700! I know there are Honda 250s and 300s that are more efficient than my power train. It's also possible that other power trains are at least as fuel economical as mine, i.e. BMW 650 single and 799 inline twin, and Honda CB500 models with the 471 twin cylinder engine, but we'll only know if people show up and ride with me.
Update: reply to an email inquiry regarding this event from Kraig Schultz; event organizer. It is free to come and ride. Show up at 7 am in the hotel/gas station parking lot area to ride. You must read and follow the rules listed from the link in the OP. Lodging is filling up in the area due to the AMA weekend evet. I got a place at a bed and breakfast nearby; but if you live close, you can just ride in early morning.
For those who trailer or haul a bike in a pickup truck bed, there is a grassy hill behind the hotel for unloading and loading bikes and trikes and scooters. I was stressed about this because I have a prior commitment on the 7th and won't arrive until late the night before. The regular meeting place is the parking lot behind the hotel. There is a gas station in front of the hotel that could be where the bikes are when you arrive for the event, but if it's like last time, everyone tops off on their own, and then move their bikes to the back parking lot; however, they may have put some more controls in regarding fueling and so it's possible we'll depart from the gas station instead of the hotel parking lot. Last time, I topped off and then pushed mine to the back parking lot. I didn't see anyone else do this. Others were topping off and then riding back to the parking lot. I thought that was odd to start off at a handicap like that.
Again, it's Splash Harbor, Bellville, OH; Saturday, July 8 at or about 7 am for gas bikes; and a nearby racetrack for electric bikes.
Craig Vetter started up these challenges in 2011. He's the inventor of the Vetter Windjammer fairing / windshield. It seems like that the last couple years, it's now down to only this one event at mid-Ohio as part of the AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days in Lexington, OH. Craig suffered a major injury in 2015. The folks helping him keep the Challenges going while he recovers live mostly in the east, and so I think that's why that lately, only the mid-Ohio is still going. Craig lives in California.
Craig had begun a similar challenge back in the late 1980s, except this time around he requires a much more real world ride in order to be victorious. Speeds and accelerations must be like a normal bike ride within legal limits. All riders must stay with the group and must not use any kind of hypermiling techniques for this ride. And then there is the 4-grocery bag rule. I could rant on and on about that rule, but it is what it is.
The first two or two and half years of this challenge, it was a battle between Fred Hayes's diesel motorcycle streamliner (which is a slightly modified version of the same bike he used to break the land speed record for a diesel motorcycle only with saddle boxes so as to carry groceries and maybe af few gearing tweaks, etc.), and a couple of guys that Craig designed a Vetter streamlined bodies for. Those two guys (Vic and Alan) took old Ninja 250s. Cut down the frame to where the seat was very low, and they built and installed these streamlined, near-perfect teardrop shape bodies onto the frame. Craig himself also rode a streamlined Honda Helix, but he never really challenged the leaders, but that's not really what he was trying to do.
The rides out west were faster and mpg was lower. The mid-Ohio challenge has always brought the highest scores, primarily because it's impossible to make this ride very fast within legal and safe limits, and it's always hot in July, which favors high mpg. The first couple years, Fred's diesel was unbeatable at all the events; but eventually, Alan caught up and won one or two, and then out of nowhere, Vic started being dominant, but his margin of victory was remaining slim against the other two.
Around 2013 or 2014, guys with electric motorcycles started to show up, and Craig created a winners' category for them to encourage more of them to come out and compete, and they were given a shorter route and could compete for their own category win. But there began to be more and more electric riders getting involved, with stock and modified electric bikes. They began increasing their range, so that now, they run the same route, but longer stops are now scheduled to give them time to refuel. I guess the longer stops could be considered controversial since it's sort of changed one of the standards, but on the other hand, the electric rides and riders are a big part of what this challenge is nowadays; and they also adhere to the 4-bag rule and high speed rule, which hurts electrics versus gas, since finding space for all those batteries and high capacity chargers along with all those groceries is a real challenge for them. Even more than other bikes. Fred and his two diesels have been absent a while, but this year, he's supposed to be back. Historically, he has brought a second diesel; a more stock-like bike, that has achieved over 100 mpg with a diesel and 5-speed manual on a mostly-stock Kawasaki KTR650 bike; that must be very near what was sold to the U.S. Marines. He uses a biodiesel blend to compete for the alternative fuel category on this bike and brings a rider. Not sure about this year though. Personally, if there are going to be long stops along the way, I feel like that will hurt my score, because my bike tends to lose alot when the engine is not very warm, and so these longer stops will likely hurt my score and maybe some of the other liquid-fueled vehicles.
At the 2016 challenge at mid-Ohio, the contest was very, very close between Vic (gas power), Kraig (electric), Alan (gas), Jacob (electric); and Scott (gas; combination stock and streamliner with only a tail; but on a Honda CBR250R). Only .3 cents per mile separated the top five finishers. The winner is declared based on fuel cost used during the ride; not mpg or kilowatt hours; and since gas has been so cheap, it made it harder for the electric competitors to win; so even though Kraig managed an amazing 367 mpg-e in the 2016 challenge, the official results showed Vic as the winner by about .16th of a penny per mile.
Since Fred is coming back this year, this may be the best contest ever. We'll have those gas-powered, Vetter streamlined bikes; we'll have Fred back to challenge them with an alternative fuel; and additionally, we'll have several electric bikes to challenge for the win. So even if the electrics run away with it this year, it'll be a good competition between each sub category; and it'll be interesting to see what changes everyone has made to do their best yet.
My effort is to bring in more stock bikes so we can have a sort of, unofficial stock-bike competition, or what I'd call a manufacturers' technology chalenge. Our scores will get recorded and documented. But we need riders of high-mileage bikes. Please come out or tell those who might be interested to come out.
Over at Schultz Engineering - Custom Motorcycle Parts and Renewable Energy Products Kraig has compiled some expected attendees/riders at this upcoming event. Under the ICE powered category, it is expected that Vic Valdes and Alan Smith will ride and will most-likely have their venerable, Vetter-designed streamliners there. Each of them have won this event in the past, and each of them have topped 180 mpg on their streamlined, modified, Kawasaki Ninja 250s'. Fred Hayes, who has been absent for at least a couple of years in these challenges and who is a multi-time winner on his diesel, streamlined motorcycle has made reservations at the hotel starting point. So it's expected that he'll be back and riding something. In the past, Fred has brought a stock-like, dual-purpose, diesel motorcycle (slightly modified KTR650 but with a diesel power train installed, which includes a 5-speed manual transmission), and Fred has previously brought a rider for that stock-like bike and used it to compete in the alternative fuels class, as he fills that tank with biodiesel-blended fuel. Fred has also finished this event at, near, or above 180 mpg, and the stock-like version has scored at or near 130 mpg. Considering the level of drag, curb weight, and power level of the stock-like bike, that kind of mpg is truly amazing for this single cylinder, naturally-aspired, mechanically injected, 667 cc motorcycle rated at or about 31 horsepower and 35 peak ft pounds torque.
Also on the list of liquid fueled vehicles to be ridden are a trio of Honda CBR250Rs that are only partially modified, yet doing very well. Last year, Scott Endler finished third among liquid fueled vehicles with a score of 144 mpg; only 14 mpg behind Alan Smith; the latter was on a fully-streamlined, modified Vetter-style Kawasaki Ninja 250, and the former had only a self-designed and built tail; minor windshield tweaks and gearing tweaks to achieve that high score. The two other CBR250R riders finished at 101 and 91 mpg, respectively with far fewer modifications. Since all three of these guys are showing up again this year; along with the two Vetter-style streamlined riders, it will be interesting to see what changes have been made and how they may perform.
As for the electric riders, last year, the three electric finishers and qualifiers finished at 367, 347, and 307 mpg-e respectively and finished 2nd, 4th, and 6th place, overall, as a measure of cost/mile.
With Fred back in the mix this year, and with the liquid-fueled contenders feeling the heat from the ever-improving electric contenders, and possibly recalculations done with respect to cost determinations, it will be very interesting to see what everyone shows up with and how each will do in the competition. This competition is largely about learning what different techniques, strategies, and technologies can do to improve mpg on powered two and three wheeler vehicles; and in lieu of any real manufacturer work and sponsorship in this arena, alot is being learned every year by the hard work and self funded efforts of some regular folks.
My biggest problem trying to promote this event is how to get the word out to anyone who might care, because I know there at least several commuter/rider types that brag about their motorcycle mpg in the commutes who are interested; but do not know any of this type event exists. So if anyone knows any way to reach others, especially those in and around the midwest region, please spread the word or let me know how I should spread the word.
Seems as though a movie is being shot about Craig Vetter's life, and the crew will be traveling to this mid-Ohio challenge with Craig from California. Now is everyone's chance to be in a movie with his or her motorcycle or trike.
If you attend and ride, keep in mind that scores are ranked cost/mile and so those with bikes that require premium fuel will be at a bigger disadvantage these days even more than diesel fuel; the latter can be found lately, in many states these days for only $.25/gallon higher than regular unleaded.
...My biggest problem trying to promote this event is how to get the word out to anyone who might care, because I know there at least several commuter/rider types that brag about their motorcycle mpg in the commutes who are interested; but do not know any of this type event exists. So if anyone knows any way to reach others, especially those in and around the midwest region, please spread the word or let me know how I should spread the word.
We can only do what we can, although getting your motorcycle or rider included in a movie production might give added incentive. That's cool!
I think the biggest challenge facing motorcycle owners anymore is that most bikes are computer controlled, like with fuel injection. Pretty much every bike is the same from its kin and modifying it to be fuel efficient isn't as easy for DIY'ers. Other than gearing and aerodynamics, it would take some special effort to reprogram fuel maps for efficiency anymore.
I also think there's a stigma about having to carry four bags of groceries upright on the bike and having to get them on the bike quickly. Other than touring riders with their bagged bikes, this presents another weeding-out obstacle for riders to just give up. I understand the logic, but I think it might take some of the fear away, if they encouraged the general public to participate in another group, like a beginner's category, for bikes that didn't have teardrop fairings and an area for groceries. This might increase visibility, especially if there was a trailing group of these kinds of bikes, like doing a marathon, but having a category for walkers. It escalates the stature of the true grand prix class too.
The mid-Ohio Vetter FE Challenge is done and in the books. Really enjoyed the ride and the company of great people. Most riders who regularly attend saw their numbers drop a tad this year compared to the last time I attended in 2014, but Vic Valdes, who won his second in a row, just blew it out for 2017; finishing @ 236 mpg and less than 1 cent per mile as a measure of cost. The first time a gas bike exceeded 200 mpg, and the first time any bike came in at less than 1 cent/mile!
My goal was three fold: (1) To verify my trip meter error; (2) based on that best-guess error at 2.2%, I was hoping to achieve 88 mpg; and (3) show everyone who cares that Honda's 670 cc parallel twin-powered engine coupled with a straight shift transmission can be just as fuel economical as any bike or scooter made that can also run 80 mph. Well thanks to a well-run event by Kraig Schultz, I was able to accomplish all three goals. I finished right at 88 mpg (87.8 to be more accurate) and now have a better estimate of my trip meter error; notching it up one more tenth to 2.3%. Finished 7th place but first among stock bikes, although there were not but three of us. Also out scored a full streamlined CF Moto Honda Helix Clone, and so it was a good run and a great time with all the regulars and a few who had not run before or had skipped a few years.