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Wednesday, 05 December 2012 17:58

Alan Smith of Castro Valley with the “Silver Bullet” motorcycle which he designed with renowned racer Craig Vetter. Its futuristic teardrop shape eliminates much of the wind resistance and more than doubles its mileage per gallon of gas.

By Robert Souza




Alan Smith’s motorcycle, with its aerodynamic styling, looks like something out of a sci-fi movie. But it wasn’t built just for looks.

Designed by Smith, who lives in Castro Valley, and racer-inventor Craig Vetter, the bike’s futuristic teardrop-shape enables it to achieve unbelievable mileage on a single gallon of gas.

“Most motorcycles are about as aerodynamic as a barn door,” quipped Smith, a self-described tinkerer who has spent many hour poring over a library of aerodynamic books to find ways to minimize wind-resistance and drag.

Smith and Vetter’s original goal was to build a motorcycle that would get over a hundred miles-per-gallon while traveling at 70 mph. It seemed impossible, but as motorcycles became more refined, they not only met that goal—they exceeded it.

Remarkably the gas reduction is achieved with a stock Ninja 250 motorcycle that would normally get about 43 miles per gallon. Smith said he could ride it coast-to-coast on less fuel that it takes for a single fill-up of his pickup truck.

Smith has been preoccupied with fuel-savings since the 1973 oil crisis, when fuel shortages resulted in long lines of cars at service stations.

Over the last four years, he has competed in the “Craig Vetter Motorcycle Fuel Economy” contests around the country, designed to show America that streamlining vehicles does save fuel.

“When future generations ask why didn’t we do something about the gas problem, I can say I did something about our reliance upon foreign oil,” said Smith.



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