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Old 06-27-2014, 06:59 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Vetter Challenge Advice.

I've got a 2014 Honda CTX700. I've been very happy with my summer time mpg records. Winter time wasn't so good, and the difference has been much more than any vehicle I've owned so far. Up to 10 mpg difference between my winter time commutes and summer time, but overall, I'm very happy with my motorcycle choice and amazed with what Honda has engineered with respect to this power train. It's a great commuter bike that is substantial and weather protective enough for light touring and highway commuting in relative comfort and peace of mind, yet it gets great fuel economy.

I've talked myself into going to the AMA Vintage Days Vetter Fuel Economy Challenge near Mansfield, OH and competing just to try and meet my own goals and to see if my mpg records are anywhere near reality, assuming a 2.3% trip meter error based on several GPS comparisons. My goal is to use no more than double Fred Hayes fuel by volume. I hope Mr. Vetter will let me run pure gasoline as long as I write what I paid for it on my receipt that I turn in, because I'm going after maximum fuel economy and am not as concerned personally with the minimizing the fuel cost of the run.

I'm still fairly new to PTW riding with only a couple of years under my belt, and so it's taken me a while to find gear, luggage, etc. that suits me. I'm a daily, state highway commuter, 55 miles per day. Recently, I found a helmet that is not so rough on my tiny noggin. A low-profile, Bell Custom 500. As a bonus, it seems as though that helmet has improved my mpg by at least 1.

One particular problem I've got trying to make myself a qualified participate in the event, and something I'm not very happy with, is passing the grocery bag test. I understand the purpose of the bikes in the event being usable, but I consider the bike I've got, the way I've got it, very usable, and it is the first vehicle choice out of the garage for my personal transportation. But even with a 55-liter box strapped behind me on the pillion seat that carries just about anything anyone could expect to carry on a bike, I can't near carry 4 bags of groceries, left in the bags, kept upright, and zipped up. The main problem is vertical height, which is said to be about a 20" requirement. My box is about 15" high interior space. I can add an extra large, zippable tote bag to the hinge side of my box. It's around 18" high, about 14" wide, and can expand to about 9" deep. I still don't think this will pass the test, because that will hold probably on one or two tall bags. Then what about the other two bags. Alternatively, I can remove the box and replace it with a 70 liter, Nelson Rigg bag that I believe is much taller. This will cost me over $100, and I don't need it except for the Challenge, and I still may not pass the test. I don't have the financial or mechanical know how to create a custom box and don't have the motivation to do so if I did. I kind of pride myself in simple, cheap luggage solutions that doesn't negatively affect fuel economy, which is what I've already got. And the only items I can't carry that I'd like to carry are very long items, and neither can streamlined bikes, so I don't really see the point of trying to force everyone into oval luggage choices, but it is what it is.

Any suggestions: should I even worry about the grocery test and just ride as a non-contestant, or should I try and pass the test and possibly fail anyway.

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Old 06-27-2014, 09:21 AM   #2 (permalink)
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You can still participate in the Challenge if you don't carry the groceries, but won't be scored - as far as I understand.

I would contact Craig and ask for advice concerning how, specifically, the groceries need to be carried. If just adding the $100 bag will do it, buy that.

I think Craig would be happy to have you participate either way. Just try to satisfy the rules to compete, but if you don't just have fun. I don't understand a lot of the reasoning behind some of Craig's rules and requirements - but it's his game.

The impression I got was that everyone started with a full tank, and filled-up at the end to get the amount of fuel used on the trip. Running ethanol-free (at the start) would certainly be an advantage.

Good luck.


Jay
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Old 06-27-2014, 12:50 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jkv357 View Post
You can still participate in the Challenge if you don't carry the groceries, but won't be scored - as far as I understand.

The impression I got was that everyone started with a full tank, and filled-up at the end to get the amount of fuel used on the trip. Running ethanol-free (at the start) would certainly be an advantage.

Jay
Yeah there is a detailed rant addressing previous complaints about the grocery bag test on Craig's website, which addresses some of the arguments some have made against the strict regulations, which have gotten more strictly enforced since 2011, even though, as far as I know, the rules have not changed; only the enforcement of the spirit of the rules.

Alot of traditional motorcyclist want to compete for a score, but think that not being able to rearrange the groceries to fit anyway they can is sort of an unnecessary and unusual requirement put in there just to favor the rounded shapes of the streamlined vehicles. From what little I know, I have to agree, since many top cases and saddle bags are actually more conveniently removed and ported into our houses (as in groceries) than it would be to remove the grocery bags and carry them in, and so, to me, it doesn't make sense that groceries must stay in bags and in all cases why the bags should have to remain upright as long as everyone can carry them without damaging the goods and they can be totally zipped up.

The best I can understand his reasoning is that he wants everyone to streamline, because there is nothing else that can be learned without streamlining. I'm not very physics minded, but I don't see how that's possible considering the automobile manufacturers keep making more horsepower-capable machines with equal or better fuel economy with heavier curb weight, and in some cases, no less drag, even after lots and lots more engineering work has been done with automobiles than we've seen with PTWheelers. If it were true that all we need do is keep reducing the required hp to run the course due to reduced drag and that nothing else effect fuel economy, then how come the bike winning the races has a 670 cc engine, is not fully streamlined like his scooter, and has a peak output of at or about 31.

Sorry to go on a little rant; I'm not really that upset or anything and will be glad to participate in any context, but do wish that Craig would give up this idea that everyone will one day see the advantages of his style of streamlining and that, although other bike and scooter types may not have all the efficiency advantages as his image of the future of bikes, and many riders will still want to ride their styles of bikes even if they are far less efficient. If the rules weren't so restrictive, maybe there would be more contestants and we could compare different styles and different makes from different manufacturers, modified or not.

As for pure gas, yes it would give me advantage mpg wise, but would hurt me in the contest, because the contest winners are ranked in dollars and cents, and while I can get 3% better fuel economy, I'd be paying 10% or more for the ethanol-free gas, and I would write what I paid on the receipt at the end point. In other words, I would be honest and not just let them calculate the E10 price when I actually paid a higher price; whatever that might be.

Thanks for the advice. I thinking about a Rubbermaid Action Packer, which was a finalist back when I was shopping for a cheap top case, but at the time, I thought it a bit too big. But for this event, it may be the cheapest and easiest way to go, if I decide to try to meet the grocery bag test.
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Old 06-27-2014, 02:52 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by gregsfc View Post
As for pure gas, yes it would give me advantage mpg wise, but would hurt me in the contest, because the contest winners are ranked in dollars and cents, and while I can get 3% better fuel economy, I'd be paying 10% or more for the ethanol-free gas, and I would write what I paid on the receipt at the end point. In other words, I would be honest and not just let them calculate the E10 price when I actually paid a higher price; whatever that might be.
If it's not in the rules...

Play by the rules, but I wouldn't penalize yourself if it's not specifically noted.

It is a competition after all.
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Old 06-28-2014, 06:41 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by jkv357 View Post
If it's not in the rules...

Play by the rules, but I wouldn't penalize yourself if it's not specifically noted.

It is a competition after all.
Well I'm not dead set on running ethanol free, and it will be sort of a hassle in central Ohio where it's not available in every small town like it is here in TN. There will be others using different fuels, e.g., electricity and biodiesel that will not be available at the end point fuel station, so there is nothing wrong with using a different fuel as long as the price paid is reported and road tax is added in. It may put me in the alternative fuel category, but I don't care about that. My rationale for hurting myself follows:

I'm not going to win; not even close, but running ethanol free may possibly cause me to lose one place at the most, even if I do carry the groceries and am deemed a qualified contestant due to the amount it raises my cost versus what I gain in MPG. The last time the event was ridden on this course, lots of riders did their personal best. Fred came in at or about 160 mpg on his diesel, and I can't see myself exceeding 81 mpg, because I rarely exceed that here at home, even on a trip at slow highway speeds. But here is the hard part about me filling up with E10. It's not what I usually do. I want to ride in the event, as much as possible, the way I ride at home, and I've used E10 only once, and couldn't stand seeing that loss in mpg. One of the reasons I want to ride in this ride, other than seeing these other fuel misers, is to see what kind of mpg that I'm really getting compared to my own records, and if I run E10, it's going to be skewed.

And now back to my luggage dilemma...I've decided to go with a collapsable, water-proof, zip-top hunters bag strapped to the right side of my tool box. It was $39 with free shipping from LLBean. The box is strapped to the pillion half of the seat and doubles as a back rest. I'll probably velcro and strap the bag to the box. I will probably not pass the grocery test, but it will be close, so I might. I don't think I'll have enough space that is tall enough vertically for the four bags, but it's possible it will work.

I looked at the previously-reported Rubbermaid Action Packer. I could get it for only $7 more than the bag I just ordered. It would definitely hold the groceries. It's longer, wider, and taller, and interior space is much bigger than my box, because my box has alot of indentations cutting down on interior space as compared to exterior dimensions. The Action Packer does not.

The Action Packer is just small enough to where it would sit solid on my pillion seat as long as I bolted it to a 2x12; cut slits in the 2x12 and in the box and then ran my 2 lashing straps around both the 2x12 and the bottom of the box and around the seat; and then latch the seat to the bike. It would be secure, but it would never be used except for this event, because it would be wider than my body and wider than the fairing, and I think it would cause extra drag; plus it would sit farther back than what I want and is bigger than what I want, and I don't like the way the top latches on. My Dewalt Tough box is much better for what I need as a daily commuter, is much stronger, and has a regular tool box latching system that is real strong and real convenient. I want to run in the event with my box, because it's always there when I ride. The bag, unlike the Action Packer, I will use from time to time if I wanted to add extra luggage space for a particular reason. It will be removable, and if I use it, instead of the Action Packer, I will be following the spirit of the rules more closely, because then I'll be riding like I really ride.

I'm going to go with what I've got coming and have fun. Thanks for the feed back. Please share any ideas that could help me have a good run for a one-time event.
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Old 06-28-2014, 09:01 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Craig will be interested in having your CTX700 in the group as it is one of the few new motorcycles offered with a true fuel economy engine. I wouldn't bother trying to carry the groceries. You can still ride.
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I hope you are an experienced group rider because the group is run very tight and very fast. "The way we really ride" with no "tricky riding" such as pulse and glide or engine off coasting up to the stop sign. 10 mph over speed limit and 10 foot staggered groupings on narrow roads with bad shoulders. The same guys always seem to claim the front ( Fred, Vic) where you set your own spacing, while the newbies get relegated to the back where the group gets packed really tight when Craig tries to pass you to "tag" you out of the competition. If you get uncomfortable with that, just let him past and enjoy your ride behind him. Your result will say "failed to keep up" but you can tell us here how you did.
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Don't bother trying to skew the results. Just fill up with 87 pump gas.
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Old 06-28-2014, 12:21 PM   #7 (permalink)
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There is a method to the grocery rule. Part of it is to make motorcycles more useful to more people. The practical reasons being cited for not owning a motorcycle include no cargo capacity, no weather protection, and no rider safety. Streamlined bodies can address these problems and retain the essential riding experience. The goal is to challenge cars and buses in passenger-miles per gallon of fuel. The target is 500+ passenger-miles per gallon. Motorcycles are slowly catching up. The question we are looking at now is whether a larger engine run at low rpm is more efficient than a small engine running at higher rpm to get the same power and mass rate of flow.
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Old 06-29-2014, 06:53 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Grant-53 View Post
There is a method to the grocery rule. Part of it is to make motorcycles more useful to more people. The practical reasons being cited for not owning a motorcycle include no cargo capacity, no weather protection, and no rider safety. Streamlined bodies can address these problems and retain the essential riding experience. The goal is to challenge cars and buses in passenger-miles per gallon of fuel. The target is 500+ passenger-miles per gallon. Motorcycles are slowly catching up. The question we are looking at now is whether a larger engine run at low rpm is more efficient than a small engine running at higher rpm to get the same power and mass rate of flow.
Thanks for the comments. This gives me some things to contemplate. Obviously, you've got experience with the rides and appreciate you giving me some insights into the ride. I'm not an experienced group rider. I'm a daily commuter. I've ridden in a couple of charity rides, which were very slow. On the last one, I went out front with the sport bikes once, and stayed in tight with my partner who was on a Hybusa, but we weren't going all that fast. I didn't realize it was like how you've stated. That Craig tries to pass like it's a race or something. I guess this is real-world riding for some riders, but not normally the way I commute, but I can deal with that. If I can't keep up, or if I think it is unrealistically fast compared to real-world commuter rides, I'll just let him pass; and hopefully, the way you've described it, I can still have my numbers posted in the results. I don't ever do any kind of hyper mileing stuff around home. I just ride at speed limit and ride steady, don't rev up or idle unnecessarily. I don't normally ride at 10 mph over the speed limit, but I don't normally go under either, but I do understand that most auto drivers do average 10 over, so I've got no problem with that kind of ride.

I'll just run regular E10, because that's what it seems like everyone so far wants me to do, and it will be much easier logistically, since I'm not trailering my bike up there. If I were to run ethanol free, I'd have to ride up to Ashland after a seven-eight hour ride (because that's the closest place with e-free gas); buy a small gas tank; fill both my bike and the gas tank up, so that I can start out full with the rest of the group; check in at Motel 6 in Mansfield (the only room I could find around); then ride down to the Bellville Comfort Inn by 6:30; then ride back up to Mansfield; then ride back down by 8 the next morning; and then ride one-hundred and forty something miles. Then rest, and then do the long ride back on Saturday.

Running E10 will not be skewed with regards to the rest of the group, but it will be skewed for me, because I never run with it, and when I do, I'm not happy with the mpg number that I record. I'd would much rather compare my results in the event with my records back home to see how I'm really doing with respect to mpg in a controlled test; and I'm not so concerned how I do versus everyone else. But I regress. I do understand why some may not like just one gas rider running w/o ethanol. I guess I can just multiply my results in the event by 1.03 to get a good indication of how I would have done running my preferred fuel, but that may not be the actual difference that would have occurred.

I've read all the stuff about the reasoning for the grocery bag test on Craig's website, and was just shaking my head in confusion at Craig's rationale; the airplane analogy and all; it just doesn't seem like it's got any relevance to an MC event that is supposed to encourage usable and fuel efficient motorcycles, and just don't believe that the average American is going to suddenly decide to ride on powered two wheels no matter how much stuff it holds. I don't think that's what keeps non riders from becoming riders, and the current, average rider wouldn't even think of riding that low and being that covered up. I think the reason most folks don't ride powered two wheelers is mostly because we've become an overly-cautious and pampered society, and it's the fact that it's on two wheels, and that people would actually have to do something extra besides sit down and push a button or turn a key in order to transport his or herself to another location. I'm not stating that I personally disagree with the concept of streamlining motorcycles; I do agree with streamlining if that's your thing, but the idea that everyone who rides is going to be riding one of those, "this is how it should be done" machines is no more likely than everyone will start driving 2,000 lb roadster with low-drag cars, because they are more efficient than pickup trucks and minivans.

The way things are today in the real world without manufactured streamlined bikes, if one wants to ride a steamlined bike, he or she has to have alot of money to do it or alot of mechanical skills, and time, or a combination of all three. I have none of those, but I do have an MC that I ride in all seasons to work, that I can use for just about everything when I'm solo, except if I need to carry something very long, or if there is icy roads. I appreciate good mpg with highway capability and am excited to finally go somewhere and meet other people who think the same way. With all that I've got going with my ride, I feel like it is within the spirit of the Vetter rules, without having to carry four tall bags of groceries in an upright position, so I've decided not to make the changes that would let me pass; only to make the changes I need to make this long trip, which is adding a thin, tall bag to my current box.

Anyway, enough with my useless philosophy. I can't wait to get up there; check out all the rides and riders, and do as well as I can with ethanol fuel.
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Old 06-29-2014, 07:59 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I use a diy luggage system with a large duffel bag for cross country trips. It is actually more aero too.
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Old 07-04-2014, 07:57 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Really like the soft-bag, plywood or 1X idea with any kind of soft or hard bag or box. I love luggage that is cheap, inventive, useful, and easily undone. That flat-bottom rope system passes all my likes for luggage.

My first top-case choice was a garage sale, Dewalt soft tool bag with hard bottom rails; about 28" long, but not tall enough for the groceries upright. Doesn't look like the previous pics are tall enough either but very functional, useful and practical just the same and would carry the groceries, just not the way the rules call for them to be carried. My Dewalt tool bag was too long strapped to my seat and drooped down too much rear of the seat and around the sides; no operational issues with it, but just not very functional if I'd ever put any kind of weight in it. Plywood or 1X would have let that system work the way sendler has pictured it.

I just got to thinking that I believe there is something in the Vetter Challenge rules that states the luggage must be part of the body work and that no soft bag will be allowed anyway. This second thought makes me believe that my soft bag, attached to my box, will not be allowed and neither would a plywood-based soft bag, and possibly, since my hard box is strapped around the seat, it may not pass either. I'm still not going to do anything out of the ordinary to pass the grocery-bag test. I need the LL Bean bag (Bean bag; no pun intended) for my trip anyway. If I don't pass due to something stupid like a particular rider preferring a soft bag to a hard bag or the bag and box being strapped, instead of bolted or welded on, I'm not going to stress over it.

The streamlining folks are trying to push an agenda and trying to keep things equal among all the steamlined bikes, but for only slightly modified bikes, I don't see the point of forcing any kind of structural standard other than it holds the groceries w/o damaging them and the load and bike or trike being safe. I understand their point of useful, future bikes and trikes, and it is Craig's show, so he and they can do what they want, since no one else is doing any kind of similar event, but it would be nice if a regular guy, on a regular MC, could show up and be a legitimate competitor, since he or she is going to be at a disadvantage anyway being non-streamlined.

Of course it can be stated that nothing more can be learned other than what we know about necessary horsepower to accomplish the rides, but saying it doesn't make it true. An average pickup truck gets far less fuel economy than an average car, but that's no reason why folks in pickups shouldn't be able to show up a 4-wheeler fuel economy event and compete just to illustrate how all different kinds of techniques and technologies may improve fuel economy in pickups. That's my point about this 2 and 3 wheel event. It's not like MC folks have other choices with less restrictive rules that include them.

I'm not even asking for more classes of winners; just to be allowed to compete without having to spend big bucks to do it. I can still show off my bike anyway w/o passing the grocery-bag test, but I won't get a placed score if I can't, and that's a shame, because I can carry the groceries just as easily, and my bike is just as useful; past, present, or future as the streamliners in a practical, every day sense. And my bike doesn't have all the cross wind issues either. It just doesn't have quite the top speed or achievable mpg as it would if I were rich and didn't work full time and could streamline my Honda.


Last edited by gregsfc; 07-04-2014 at 08:05 AM..
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