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Vetter Fuel Economy Challenge tests fuel mileage limits

July 13, 2014

By Jim Witters
Photo by Jeff Guciardo

Alan Smith, an accomplished hypermiler from California, took the overall victory in the 2014 Craig Vetter Fuel Economy Challenge, achieving 181.6 mpg at a cost of 1.57 cents per mile.

Smith (right) also won the traditional fuels class in the event, held in conjunction with AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days, featuring Indian Motorcycle, at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.

Vetter began the challenges after decades of promoting streamlining and reduced horsepower as the way to “living better on less energy.”

Streamlining can consistently double the distance available from each unit of energy, Vetter told a couple dozen people gathered on Sunday afternoon.

As an example, Vetter told the story of identical Kawasaki Ninja 300s -- one of which had been outfitted with fairing -- that ran side-by-side along the California coast. The streamlined Ninja achieved 100 mpg, while the stock bike got 50 mpg.

On Friday’s 154-mile ride through Central Ohio, participants rode at the posted speed limit when possible and navigated whatever traffic they found.

In the alternate fuels category, Fred Hayes won with this diesel motorcycle. He achieved 178 mpg at a cost of 1.85 cents a mile.

In the electric motorcycle category Richard Goff, a professor at Virginia Tech, failed to finish the course, running out of energy 17 miles short of the finish.

Had he finished, Professor Goff would have taken the overall title, Vetter said.

The electric motorcycle’s cost was 1.35 cents a mile, without the full streamlining complete.


L-R: Vic Valdez, Alan Smith, AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer Craig Vetter, Fred Hayes and Prof. Richard Goff participated in the Craig Vetter Fuel Economy Challenge.

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