116 mpg from a modified Kawasaki Ninja 250: Alan Smith – Accomplished Motorcycle Hypermiler & Vetter competitor

by Tim Fulton on April 9, 2012

Originally posted by low & slow on the EcoModder forum.

There has been quite a bit of interest in Alan Smith, an accomplished motorcycle hypermiler and Vetter Challenge competitor, so I drafted some questions for him to answer. Following are the questions and his responses.

Alan, please tell us about yourself, your work history, and your interest in motorcycle hypermiling.

I retired after working 33-years in the electronic industry. I started riding motorcycles right after high school. My interest in what is now called hypermiling started after the first gas crisis in 1973.

Please let us know about your progress in becoming one of the premier motorcycle hypermilers.

I started with a motorcycle that was noted for good fuel economy and just kept going from there.

Why did you select the Ninja 250 for your Vetter Challenge ride?

My fist serious attempt was with a Honda CRF230. It had great potential but being air cooled it would overheat with a streamliner shell. Used Ninja 250s are plentiful, water cooled, and cheap. And they are fun to ride.

What have you done to your Ninja 250 and what are its capabilities?

The engine is still stock but the sprockets have been changed to lower engine RPMs. The aerodynamics made the biggest difference. I don’t know its full capabilities yet.

How about future modifications for the Ninja 250?

Currently, I am doing major aerodynamic upgrades for the 2012 summer competition season. An all new tail and nose is being built.

In 2011 you went on a cross country ride of the USA, please give us some highlights of that epic trip.

That trip was 10,200-miles in 6-weeks. The Ninja 250 actually performed very well. My Ninja 250 had no problems cruising above freeway speeds. Crosswinds blew the light weight bike around some.

What kind of fuel economy do you get with your Ninja 250 outside of competitions?

When not in competition I generally get 88-90 MPG and that is not riding the bike gently.

You’ve gotten as high as 116 mpg in 2011, can you go higher?

I would say yes. In last year’s aerodynamic body my arms and legs were out in the wind. The new aerodynamic nose will cure this. Also tweaking the engine might improve the fuel economy.

How did you become friends with Craig Vetter?

Competing against him. With the streamliner competitors we are all friends trying to improve our fuel economy.

What are you proudest of in the arena of motorcycle hypermiling?

Getting accepted by people who ride large motorcycles. Most people think a 250cc motorcycle is only good for running around town. My streamlined Ninja 250 can keep up on the freeways and is a blast to ride on the back roads. The large trunk comes in handy to haul my buddies riding gear.

What advice would you give to motorcyclist wanting to get better fuel economy?

I guess it depends on what level of improvement in fuel economy you want. I have a Suzuki Bandit 1200 that was partially streamlined and I got some good results. I could only go so far with a 1200cc motorcycle. I finally decided to get serious and started looking for a much more fuel efficient motorcycle.

For more info on Alan and Craig’s work you can check out Craig’s website here.

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