Craig Vetter explains how to Live Better on Less

01 December 2016

Craig Vetter explains how to Live Better on Less

Craig Vetter is best known for inventing and perfecting the Windjammer—a line of aftermarket motorcycle fairings he sold in the 70’s.  He also was an avid pilot and creator of the Hippo Hands handlebar muffs.  Today, he’s continuing his efforts to “Live Better on Less Energy” with his fuel economy contests.  He challenges participants to create fairings—with space for a rider and four grocery bags—that are slipperier than his best effort, which he calls “The Last Vetter Fairing.”

“Back in the ‘80s I wondered what it really took to push a person down the road at 55mph. Nobody could tell me what we really needed. To find out, I put on fuel-economy contests between 1980 and 1985. After 5 years, we found you needed 8-10bhp. You had to make yourself small, you had to be streamlined, and you had to use the throttle judiciously. The bikes we used are in museums.”

“But, we didn’t change motorcycling. The bikes were too uncomfortable — they were just designed to win the contest. That’s where I learned that Bucky Fuller didn’t have it completely right. We did more with less, and it had no effect at all on motorcycling. What I’m doing now, with the newest generation of fuel-economy contests, is learning to live better on less energy. I’m hoping the result is dramatic changes in motorcycle and car design.”

“The worst condition you’re likely to face in this country is going about 75mph into a 30mph headwind. I started from scratch to design a motorcycle that would do just that, while carrying four bags of groceries and being extremely comfortable. It’s based on a Honda Helix. It’s everything I wanted it to be. After I got it figured out, I started having contests to have people challenge me to burn the least gas. This year will be the third year of contests. The Quail Challenge this spring is integrated with a charity ride through the most beautiful parts of California and is lead by a CHP officer. He leads, and about 6 or 7 of the fifty riders in the group are in the fuel-economy challenge. I’m in the ride too, and if the challengers drop behind me they’re out of the contest — that’s how I make sure they’re not sandbagging for better fuel economy. There is also a contest in Ohio. Electric competitors must add in the same road tax as I pay when calculating their fuel costs — the winners are judged on who had the least fuel costs.”

“If you’re interested in participating, Send me an email (address is at, but all you have to do is be there. The next challenge is in California— This is a charity ride . Pay the Quail officials (email: You fill your tank up and my wife will check to be sure you can carry four bags of groceries. If you cannot carry the groceries, you can still ride with us, but you can’t compete for fame and glory.”

“What I’ll say is this. Get yourself a second-generation Ninja 250 for between $700 and $1200, buy the nose kit from my website, make the rest from lightweight plywood and paper. You can do this. My web page shows you how.”

Find out more at

From Hell for Leather Magazine


Editor’s note: We republished this article, originally published on February 21, 2013, since it’s one of our favorites from the archives.  

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