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Old 07-05-2017, 04:34 PM   #1 (permalink)
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A question for racers/former racers

I started racing motorcycles in 1971 and I still do so now and then. I've designed, built and raced my own chassis and I'm pretty well set up with machine/fab tools. This year I've been seriously thinning the project bike herd -- 9 bikes gone in the first half of the year and I think I'm going to let 4 of the 6 remaining ones go too. No more dirt bikes, no more vintage bikes, and hopefully no more rented warehouse space to store "stuff" at SF Bay Area rental prices!

But there is a question of "what do I do next?" to satisfy the build it/compete on it urge.

I'm thinking that I might make the switch from building for speed to building for efficiency, and I was wondering how many other car/motorcycle/boat/airplane/other vehicles with engines racers/former racers here have done that and been happy with the change?

The hypermiling riding style doesn't appeal to me but I think I could be interested in a "real world transportation" project to see what kind of fuel efficiency I could get with chassis/aero mods on something like a 300 Kawasaki or Honda twin/single street bike. There are some folks here at the forum who've built streamliners for the street and they are getting some amazing mpg numbers that would give me a target to shoot for.

Craig Vetter is still having his efficiency events, but I'm pretty much limited to out and back "same day" riding so I doubt I'd be able to attend one.

With a street-legal bike I could fiddle with it and then head out for a standard test loop without having to deal with all the stuff related to going riding on a race bike. I think I could design and build and evaluate and get a lot of the same technical fix I've gotten from racing though the "I'm racing against this person next to me" thrill will be absent.

Has anyone else made a similar change of focus?

I do have a Honda CTX700 project that I'm doing a Gurney Alligator-style FF (feet forwards) conversion on. The Honda seems to easily get 70-75mpg in stock form but it is meant as a general street ride, so the smaller bike (but still with decent power to stay up with traffic) would be obtained for an efficiency project.


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Old 07-05-2017, 06:17 PM   #2 (permalink)
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little jona - '91 Dodge D 250 first gen cummins LE
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2-3 gal. Leangth ride would be best.
Could still get that competition fill by mpg DD and lakester on the weekends. Like Aerohead . Top speed is about managing air flow... so is max mpg...
I woild like to see the best of both worlds collide.
1st gen cummins 91.5 dodge d250 ,HX35W/12/6 QSV
ehxsost manafulld wrap, Aero Tonto
best tank: distance 649gps mi 24.04 mpg 27.011usg
Best mpg : 31.32mpg 100mi 3.193 USG 5/2/20

'83 GMC S-15 Jimmy 2door 2wd O/D auto 3.73R&P
'79 Chevy K20 4X4 350ci 400hp msd custom th400 /np205. 7.5-new 14mpg modded befor modding was a thing
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83 ranger w/87 2.9 L FI2wd auto 18mpg on the floor
04 Mitsubishi Gallant 2.4L auto 26mpg
06 Subaru Forrester XT(WRX PACKAGE) MT AWD Turbocharged 18 plying dirty best of 26mpg@70mph
95Chevy Blazer 4x4 auto 14-18mpg
04 Chevy Blazer 4x4 auto 16-22mpg

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Old 07-05-2017, 06:38 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I'd build an electric since it should be fairly straight forward on a motorcycle, and I would still build it for speed.

Perhaps a modular design that can compete with gassers on a 20min track day session. Make the battery packs easy to install/uninstall and lower the center of gravity.
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Old 07-05-2017, 07:36 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I've got one RR track project (2015 KTM 250SX 2T with 125GP running gear, 50hp and sub 200 pound weight) that will be kept, and part of my goal with the serious culling of the rest of the project herd is to stop having a lot of bikes that either can't be used (because they don't run and "someday" when they will run seldom seems to arrive) or can only be used infrequently and with some effort/expense (race bikes in general).

Something like Alan Smith's 250 Ninja streamliner (176 mpg) looks interesting. I've liked the NSU record breakers for a long time, and the short roadrace-shell streamliners were used to set some economy records in the late 1950s (250 mpg).

I briefly considered electrics but I can't get on mentally with electrons because unlike valves and crankshafts I can't see them move, plus I'd suffer from range anxiety. They also tend to weigh too much for my taste. An e-bike power plant would be a black box for me so I'd have to buy one of the few commercial versions which seem to be a bit on the expensive side of the budget.

I've raced various 650/750 twins, but I've never been into speed for speed's sake. These days 90-100 mph on a race track is plenty fast enough, and 80 mph on the street would never be seen. I've had a 250 Ninja in the past and it was fun both on the street and track, so a CBR300 Honda single would be a likely candidate as being something I've not had before but with similar power to the EX250.
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Old 07-05-2017, 07:46 PM   #5 (permalink)
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2-3 gallons on something with 100+ mpg could be a pretty long ride. 100-150 miles would be a more likely distance, especially if I'm staying away from freeway/commute madness.

Over the years I've become less enamored of massive engine modification projects, I'm now looking more for "puts out plenty of power in a pleasant fashion stock" engines (like my CTX) so I can try to avoid getting into needing a lot of expensive components like cams, pistons, Carillo rods etc. I could see picking up a spare engine that could be built with some head mods to see if efficiency could be increased modestly without killing power/driveability, but that would have to be a "swap the engine out today, ride it tomorrow, put the standard engine back in the day after" kind of deal.

I think chassis/aero mods are a lot better fit for an affordable DIY project.
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Old 07-06-2017, 04:57 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I can answer this in a more general way.

I have never raced except allegedly in an informal way, on a closed course with professional drivers, natch.

When I started tracking my fuel economy, it was instantly kind of addictive as it made me compete against myself. I now regard fuel economy as simply a different kind of performance.

It's fun again now that I have a different car to see what it and I can do together as man and machine, which also isn't unlike the traditional enthusiast mindset, just unleashed in that different way.


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