Chapter 63: Streamlining Terry Hershner's Electric Zero

We met at the beginning of 2013

It took us about one minute to realize we would be streamlining his electric Zero

"If fuel ever becomes precious, we will want to be streamlined"

Craig Vetter, 2008

Fuel is already precious in electric vehicles

Electric vehicles cannot carry enough energy. On his first cross-country ride from Orlando to Santa Cruz, Terry Hershner had to find a charging station every 70 miles. He "rode and napped" his way across America. My Streamlined Helix will go 170 miles without stopping. Alan's streamlined Ninja 250 goes 600 miles. With such ranges, we have the luxury of normal sleep patterns.

We are going to see if we can help Terry sleep better.

Streamlining will allow the precious power in Terry's Zero motorcycle to take him farther.

How much farther? We are going to find out.

Let me show you the difference streamlining made at the 2012 Las to Barstow Challenge:

Streamlined Ninja 250: 98 mpg
Stock Ninja 300: 53 mpg

Streamlining nearly doubles the mileage. In side-by-side riding. But it is more than just burning less fuel.  Streamlining means more comfort. And more carrying capacity.

Tuft testing: Note the little pieces of black yarn on Alan Smith's streamliner showing how the air slips around the rider and motorcycle.  When you back off on the throttle, the streamlined bike hardly slows down.  You cannot feel headwinds.

We propped a set of Vetter Nose Parts up on Terry's bike
Streamlining is only one shape:

Round at the front... pointed at the rear

Streamlining begins with a nose shaped like this.

Streamlining will allow you to slip thru the air with much less energy.

Streamlining will allow you to go you farther and faster.

Streamlining will provide space for more energy storage.

Streamlining will make your ride more comfortable.

Streamlining ends with a tail like this:

I superimposed the Vetter Streamlining from my Helix onto Terry and his Zero motorcycle
Terry usually rides hunched over, which is normal when you ride into the wind without a fairing. The wind holds you up. With streamlining, so we sit more upright because there is no wind. We bore a bigger hole thru the air but we are much slipperier.

Terry is not so sure he wants to ride this way. Alan and I assure him he will like it more.

Designing mounting brackets to hold Vetter streamlining on a Zero

We need a very strong support structure to hold a streamlined nose on a motorcycle.

The box structure at the front of the Zero frame offers a perfect structure for making a strong nose mount. I made a few sketches, discussed them with Terry and Alan. We made a mock-up bracket out of 1/4" plywood to see how it would go.

Triangular space is the center of strength
Plywood structure and nose
Terry Hershner is teaching me about electricity. I am teaching him about streamlining.
Alan Smith spent last winter streamlining his 250 Ninja, so he knows how to do it.. Above, Alan shows Terry how we use wood, cardboard and hot melt glue to rough in the structure that will support the nose. We call it Cardboard Aided Design or CAD for short.

Of paramount importance: We don't want the nose fall off. We want to create a structure so strong that you could hang the bike from it. Now is the time to be engineering for strength and safety.

Meanwhile, Terry has been busy:

On his trip from Florida, Terry noticed that public charging stations have two charging plugs. He never saw anybody using any charging station. Two plugs would fill his batteries twice as fast as one. So, Terry added another on-board charger and another JI772 plug. Now he fills his bike in half the time. This represents a 50% reduction in time spent recharging.

Will Vetter streamlining represent a 100% increase in range as it does with the Ninjas?

These are major numbers we are dealing with!

Posted Mar 5, 2013

Updated Oct 17, 2013