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BigSherm 09-10-2010 12:53 AM

My 100(+)mpg feet-forward motorcycle project
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Hi everyone. I'm Sherm.

I've been planning, researching, and concocting this project for a long time. I went back and forth between using the 250 Ninja, the EX500, and a smaller displacement, single cylinder bike for my starting platform. I even considered a liter bike!

I ended up deciding on the 2-fiddy Ninja with the goal of over 100mpg. I figure it will have the power to handle southern California's, um, highly competitive freeways, maybe even if I make the bike a two seater.

I live in the high Mojave Desert, and any trip of length always ends up including the Cajon Pass. It's a long, long, steep grade, and of course, a trip down it is followed sooner or later by a trip up it. The power the 250 Ninja should be enough. Maybe after I knock this project out of the park, I'll build one with a smaller engine and go for 200mpg? This will be easy, and go very quickly without obstacles, right? Uhh..

So anyway, with lots of inspiration from Theycallmeebryan's achievement of 100MPG on his 250 Ninja, Craig Vetter's Helix streamliner, John and his 250 powered HyperRocket three wheeler, Allert Jacobs' 125 Honda streamliner, and the Ecomobile/Monotracer, here I go!

I found some pics of a naked 250 Ninja, used the known wheelbase to make a roughly scaled stick man of myself, and started planning.

Here's one sketch of an open top design. With this design, I figure a lengthened swingarm and removal of the subframe for the seat being most of the major frame mods.

theycallmeebryan 09-10-2010 01:15 AM

Hey there sherm. Glad i could be an inspiration to your goals. Your project sounds interesting! Best of luck on it.

Are you planning on turning the ninja 250 into a recumbent?

BigSherm 09-10-2010 01:16 AM

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If I reach my goal and make it a streamliner, I'm going to have in big, bold, letters, "SCREW FOREIGN OIL" on the shell, along with "ECOMODDER.COM" and whatever mileage I end up getting printed on there, too. I thought about "SCREW TERRORIST OIL" but that may be a little too, um, polarizing?

Anyway, here's an admittedly Monotracer/Ecomobile influenced head-in, enclosed sketch. The fold-up landing gear from that thing is sweet!

BigSherm 09-10-2010 01:19 AM

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Hey Brian, yep, a recumbent.

I'm a big, big fan of my recumbent bicycles! I've got an Optima Baron that flat hauls.

Here's a tandem design. This would take a lot of added length. either a loooooong swingarm that would need some form of added suspension, or stretching the frame.

theycallmeebryan 09-10-2010 01:20 AM

I can already see one problem with that exact seating position. The rear shock will be through your butt! ouch

theycallmeebryan 09-10-2010 01:25 AM

I honestly think you would be better off splitting the front end from the rest of the bike, and then mounting the frame/engine/swingarm/rear tire behind you, and the front end components in front of you. Then fabricate a seating area in between. It would allow you to be lower to the ground, which will make the bike more stable. Also, there will be less front area.

BigSherm 09-10-2010 01:27 AM

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I scored the perfect donor bike! It's a running, titled (that's a big thing in California!) naked 2005 250 Ninja. The owner (Bjorn) had created a naked, streetfighter, Ducati Monster inspired roadster. It was admittedly rough, but that was part of the bare bones appeal.

When I had a surprise change to night shift at work, I seized the opportunity and made the banzai drive down to Thousand Oaks and back in one morning. $200 lighter in the wallet and it was mine!

Here's what it looked like when I got it, after I stripped it down.

BigSherm 09-10-2010 01:49 AM

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Thanks, Brian, for the input.

I've modded the frame, removing the subframe that supports the seat. You're right, My butt is pinched between the tire and the upper end of the shock and frame. To keep things simple, I'm stretching the swingarm. I don't want to get too ambitious and stretch the frame when I'm just starting on such a complicated project.

I'm keeping the engine in front of me to keep the bike relatively short, for simplicity, and for the small bit of security of having that mass in front of me rather than waiting to smoosh me from behind if I come to a very sudden stop.

The seat height will be about 19 inches. Splitting the frame and moving the swigarm pivot back while sitting behind the engine wouldn't help me get it any lower, because the chain is the limiting factor, and will still have to get from the front sprocket to the rear wheel in a relatively straight path. I could try to make some kind of serpentine path for the chain so I could lower the seat, but again, let's not get overly ambitious right away.

I really am inspired by Craig Vetter's Freedom Machine proposal, in which he expresses his desire to get lots of people excited about this sort of thing. Accomplishing that is a big motivator for me, and I want this thing to be something a lot of people will feel like they can build, too. I'm keeping it as simple as possible.

Vetter suggests a 100mpg lane, where there is no speed limit as long as you're getting 100 or better mpg. That's why he calls it the Freedom Machine proposal. Free from wasting high priced gas, free from foreign oil, free from so many restrictions! Everyone should read his proposal on his website.

After much deliberation, I figure the easiest and sturdiest way for me to lengthen the swingarm is to graft two swingarms together. The "A" shape of the swigarm allows one to nest inside the other.

I scored a complete 2-fiddy Ninja swingarm on eBay for $20, shipping included! Holy Cow, parts for this thing are plentiful!

Here are pics of the front portion of the stock swingarm, with the new swingarm trimmed to fit inside. It looks a little, uh, ghetto? Should be strong enough, though, as there is lots of surface for my booger welds to hold on to between the two pieces. I'll let you know how it turns out.

euromodder 09-10-2010 06:33 AM


Originally Posted by BigSherm (Post 193406)
If I reach my goal and make it a streamliner, I'm going to have in big, bold, letters, "SCREW FOREIGN OIL" on the shell

That'd look better on an EV than on a vehicle that still burns oil.


The fold-up landing gear from that thing is sweet!
You'll need either something like this or a rather big hole in the streamline to put your feet down.

Good luck with the project.

BigSherm 09-10-2010 12:21 PM

Hey Euro-

Yes, it'd be better on an EV, but I'm not building one.

I plan on taking long trips in this thing, and the refueling infrastructure is already in place for gas powered vehicles. I already have a running vehicle that is capable of 100mph and 70mpg for 200 dollars. That's a lot better than I could do building an EV.

Plus, the whole Freedom Machine concept depends on showing people that it's not that hard, using existing and cheap technology, to build a vehicle that gets over 100mpg and can take you on as long a trip as you'd like to take. If a lot of people get on board with the concept, the demand for oil goes way down, prices go down, and we depend on foreign oil a lot less, or maybe someday, not at all (Uhh, yeah, that'll happen real soon).


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