Do It Yourself 214 MPG Motorcycle Project

214 mpg Honda recumbent motorcycle

214 mpg Honda recumbent motorcycle

We have a lot of serious bicycle riders and mechanics who visit The Kneeslider on a regular basis and, as they will be quick to tell you, a streamlined recumbent can reach some pretty high speeds due to its slippery shape, you're taking a very efficient vehicle and making it even more efficient. Well, if you're the do it yourself sort, you might start thinking about doing the same with an efficient motorcycle to see what results you can achieve. Motorcycles can quickly reach speeds where aerodynamics have a major effect.

214 mpg Honda recumbent motorcycle

214 mpg Honda recumbent motorcycle

Allert Jacobs, of the Netherlands, designed the Quest velomobile, a streamlined recumbent tricycle, and then decided to go to work on a Honda Innova ANF125i, a 125cc motorcycle popular in Asia, to see if he could dramatically improve on the already high 107 to 122 mpg of the stock bike and provide the comfort and weather protection inherent in the design. He fell a bit short of his goal of 235 mpg, managing "only" 214 mpg.

214 mpg Honda recumbent motorcycle

214 mpg Honda recumbent motorcycle - fairing open position

The mechanical changes were fairly minor and included a new sprocket and converting to a manual clutch, everything else involved changing the seating position to feet forward recumbent and then designing and building the fiberglass aerodynamic shell. He also experimented with various tires which can definitely affect rolling resistance.

He did the work in stages and documented the mileage along the way, but think about it, he doubled his mileage, it went from 107 mpg to 214 mpg. That's quite a change!

Lots of guys have built recumbent motorcycles before and many more certainly will, but this is a good example of what a dedicated do it yourself builder can do. It's well designed and very well documented. Nice project.

This pointer is from Jean Des Rosiers, who is a pretty talented builder, himself. Thanks, Jean!

Link: Velomobiel

214 mpg Honda recumbent motorcycle

214 mpg Honda recumbent motorcycle

Comments

  1. WRXr says

    This is the best thing on this blog yet. Not another Chopper, bobber, or cafe racer. A true custom bike that fits one man’s vision, and works beautifully.

  2. Paulinator says

    Looks really well done but I think he should’ve raised the turtle deck and wind screen about 6 inches for obvious reasons.

    p.s. This thing could conceal a couple of air tanks.

  3. bndgkmf says

    I may just be dense, but how does it stay up at stoplights? I don’t see any outrigger wheels, or can you stick your legs out the bottom. Other than that it is totally jangleplatz.

  4. JC says

    His fiberglass work is very professional looking! I wonder what the top speed is like relative to the original bike?

  5. iliveforcurves says

    @ Phoebe: I wonder if his house is the same color and he had some leftover paint.
    I like the idea of the fully faired front wheel. I think it’s about time the OEM’s look into dustbin fairings for improved fuel mileage.

  6. Wave says

    I’ve just read the site, it’s very impressive. I like the reasonably scientific way in which he has gone about making the changes such as the tyre resistance testing. A very impressive DIY project, and different to the normal build.

    Paulinator, if the windscreen was full height then it would need wipers and washers, which add complexity, weight and aerodynamic drag. Also, as the builder mentions, the more enclosed you are the louder the engine noise, so it may be a bit tiresome having your helmet inside an echo chamber with a 125cc Honda.

  7. SteveD says

    I wonder about safety issues. You have a much higher chance of staying with the bike during a crash. I wonder if that’s better or worse. The Hayabusa has that beautifully streamlined shell that can accommodate a rider sitting in a normal fashion. I wonder how that would adapt to a smaller bike.

  8. Nicolas says

    it’s like he built a giant helmet around the moped, solving 2 problems at once …

    Besides the laudable vision and engineering skills and the hard work, ain’t that thing ugly ? I hope no OEM come anytime soon with a full-fairing …

  9. Paulinator says

    If the rider cannot bail from this bike, then he should benefit from roll-over protection. (maybe Albert has a retractable head?). For most of us there would also be the added gain in fuel ecconomy …

  10. bblix says

    Ugly? No. But, I can see why it might not appeal to some folks design aesthetic. For a home built recumbent (even in Celeste Green) it is a nice piece of work.

    The beauty here is efficiency and execution. It happens to appeal to me. Doing more with less is a true engineering challenge…actually, it is the definition of engineering.

    Nice work!

  11. todd says

    Great job, much more efficient than an electric bike, for sure. It does look quite dangerous, like if he was rear-ended, would the body shell lop off his head?

    This should probably fit over the Symba (maybe Trail 90′s too) so he could get some sales from the US in kit form.

    -todd

  12. FREEMAN says

    Some of you guys are ridiculous. Can’t you understand that he’s doubled the mileage of a stock bike that already gets 107 mpg? That’s incredible.

  13. says

    Hideous colour indeed, but other than that the fairing looks rally neat, unlike some of the other high-mileage bikes out there. Could be tricky in crosswinds or when buzzed by large trucks, though.

    The shortlived Quasar recumbent (or Feet Forward) motorcycles of yore reportedly were rather safe in a crash, as long as you kept you hands on the handlebars and just slid with the bike.

  14. says

    Come to think of it, if it was painted black and had the famous logo up front, it could be Batman’s new, eco-friendly motorcycle.

  15. grayband says

    if he can double the mileage of the stock bike he is working with, imagine having gixxers and R1′s that get nearly 80 mpg. I think this is a big statement as too how little the big companies REALLY care about aerodynamics and fuel economy. I never see articles or advertising showing real world motorcycles in the wind tunnels as opposed to the auto industry and even the bicycle industry where aerodynamics are much more focused upon

  16. don says

    I live and ride these i25′s daily in an asian city, the body work would restrict the bikes manoueverability in dense traffic , the way asians ride. totally impractical for asian society, but I would sure ride it in the west where you ride with the flow of traffic.
    good on him I say.

  17. Joe says

    The headlight inside the windshield seems to be a very bad idea, as anyone who as ever driven a car at night with a dome light on could tell you. also, turn signals?

    that being said, fantastic feat of engineering, especially considering there was no engine modification at all, unless you count the tranny and final drive.

    still a better “proof of concept” than an actual vehicle.

  18. Walt says

    I like this build, though there are plenty of practical issues.

    Mileage (and air resistance) is almost beside the point for machines like the Gixxer and R1. They have enough power for stunning acceleration and top speed far higher than anyone should use on the street. That’s what they’re for. Motorcycles have notoriously bad drag characteristics, but few sport bike riders (or manufacturers) care. Just twist the grip. More important: aerodynamic issues like heat management and protection from wind blast. Mileage is a bigger concern for commuters and touring riders. Bicycles have little power, so aero efficiency is important for cyclists.

  19. AlwaysOnTwo says

    Let’s see…we gain awesome mileage and LOSE EVERYTHING desirable about motorcycles/scooters/two wheelers. If you wanted a more cramped and confined version of the Austin Mini, here it is. In a world where gas mileage and green-before-grins becomes the driving force of two wheel design, I’ll fill the tank on my V-Max and take out a second mortgage to keep me in rear tires. Great engineering work and research on his website, a tribute to an awesome amount of free time, ingenuity, intellect, and a totally misguided mind. Pass me some free air and elbow room, please!

  20. FREEMAN says

    @ AlwaysOnTwo:

    Just what is so misguided about this guy’s mind? No where on his site does he claim that this is a “green” machine except for the color of the bodywork. He mentions he drew inspiration from Craig Vetter and the fuel economy contests from the early to mid ’80s and motorcycle racing from the ’50s. This guy isn’t preaching the green religion.
    Just because it doesn’t fit your tastes doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with the guy that built it. To each his own.

  21. AlwaysOnTwo says

    @FREEMAN

    At the risk of stating the obvious, you agree that “to each his own”. I stated mine.

    In my opinion, this is a clever guy that along with his contraption should be featured in one of the eco-forums devoted to abstract and absurd attempts to wring the most mileage from a “vehicle”. Doing so, however, by creating a monstrosity that serves ONLY that specific purpose is laughable as 75 LB solar long distance cars that must be run only on sunny days and followed by a support crew.

    Those are not “cars”, they are experiments. His vehicle is not a motorcycle, it is an enclosed vehicle with two wheels. An experiment with only a single purpose for a specific person. Kudos on the personal accomplishment.

    You certainly missed my tongue-in-cheek usage of “misguided mind”, but let’s be serious. The materials, power and time used during the construction of this mileage egg undoubtedly used more fossil fuel than will ever be regained. As another reader posted, some things should just never be done…they serve no purpose other than to just say “I did it.

    And likewise, I stated my own misguided mentality in wastefully filling my VMax tank with fuel that will be used at a ridiculous rate while simultaneously reducing even more petro-chemicals to mere black strips on the road.

    I grin, we all grin. Lighten up!

  22. says

    I prefer someone do this with something like the Piaggio MP3 that can lock coming to a stop and is more stable.

    It still leans and is very narrow, and the fairing should then not only be for aerodynamic aid, but perhaps house a small trunk in the front. Would make a great commuter.

  23. smithmotorwheel says

    I think of Teddy Roosevelt’s “The Man In The Arena” speech when I read some of these comments. It’s not about aesthetics or engineering, it’s about setting a goal and the journey to attain it.

    Regardless of whether I think it’s viable or the styling appeals to me, this man’s work inspires me to complete my own motorcycle projects. Congratulations, Allert. I’m impressed.

  24. boog says

    All right! A bike you could ride in the rain and not get all wet…not to mention the cold….

    Yeah, it is ugly, but so was my Subaru sedan….

  25. FREEMAN says

    @ AlwaysOnTwo:

    Well, I disagree with you. This vehicle is a motorcycle. This is a motorcycle forum. This is a forum dedicated to “doers” and innovation and creativity and inspiration. I see nothing wrong with this post and believe the builder and his streamlined Innova featured here today deserve their spot here on thekneeslider. You could argue all you want about the carbon cost of producing something, many people out there, myself included, don’t care and are here to read about motorcycles and the fruits of the builder’s labor.

  26. Chris Robson says

    Without even reading the article, I knew it either had to come from someone European or a dream of a bunch of tree huggers. It looks like an offspring of the mating of some Goldwings. It is nothing more than some creative fiberglass work on a moped. It might improve fuel economy, but let’s be real world, the numbers won’t add up or practical, unless of course you what to sell billboard space on the side of it. Sorry, just a Rednecks opinion.

  27. F0ul says

    Very impressed!

    Not sure if it will catch on, mainly because it seems to make the whole concept of motorcycling more complex – It should be a bicycle with an engine – not a really thin car!

    Having said all that, this would be really useful for scooters which are ridden because they are cheap transport, not because its a fast and stylish style statement!

    Maybe the next step should be to try and adapt it to make it a retro kit for popular scooters. Get the cost down and it could start a hell of a trend!!

  28. QrazyQat says

    It’s amazing this can be done to a bike that already makes such good mileage numbers. Makes you wonder what could be done with the standard auto-clutch still stock and a simpler fairing, or just a decent fairing on the stock bike, seating position, two-up capabilities and all.

    Frankly it’s amazing the fuel injection system made for an 18% increase in mileage over the carbed models, as well as better low end from what I’ve read.

    OTOH, sad that some people still can’t see motorcycles as having any range of types.

  29. says

    Doubling the MPG is quite incredible. BUT I like to think of a BIKE as “Would it still be there if I left the keys in, fully fuelled up, overnight in one of the less desirable parts of town” – in this case YES.

  30. Chris Williams says

    He’s not just doubled the mpg – he’s also upped the speed by 60%. Why that stat doesn’t appeal to rednecks is beyond me – it certainly appeals to me. 86mph out of 125cc: what’s not to like? Well, the colour, obviously – it’s a good colour for a front door (in fact, it’s the colour of my front door) but not for a bike.

    Colour aside, there’s an old saying that “An engineer is a man who can do for sixpence what any fool can do for a shilling” and I think it make just as much sense if you re-tell it as “an engineer is someone who can do with seven kilowatts what any fool can do with fifty.”

    • Klaus says

      Here in Thailand it would be blown off the street during rainy season on a stormy day! But it would keep you dry.

  31. Andyj says

    His last run bettered 214mpg to 236mpg (US).
    Some facts many people miss out on is he can tour Europe on a dime. This sort of mpg makes the notion of flying across the EU on holiday while missing all the good bits in between, pointless. The seating which he made to measure will not break his back either.

    Now, does anyone know how to gear up a Honda SCV100 scooter (CVT) for something a little more radical?

  32. Klaus says

    I agree with most of the comments above, from safety issues to practicality in traffic to the color (personally I can’t imagine the seat to be comfortable) but that’s all besides the point. This is not a project to design a faired scooter for every day street use; this is a one-off project to show that streamlined bodywork can double the mileage and improve top speed.
    I ride this same bike (Honda Wave 125i) around town every day and wouldn’t apply this fairing if I got it for free because I’m more than happy with the bike the way it is. The FI works great, the bike uses on average 1,8L/100km, less than the crabed 110cc version I’ve had before.
    Motorcycle makers should perk up their ears and develop full-body scooters. Interestingly BMW is producing again the C-series scooter – a good idea but people weren’t ready for it when it came out. Full-faired small displacement scooters are the future, we will see lots of them, like it or not. Hopefully someone will be able to make them look better!

  33. Klaus says

    My Honda Wave 125i shows a top speed of 110km/h (about 70mph) on its speedo on a straight, sitting upright. Even though the speed is not correct I doubt there’s a 60% speed gain. But cutting fuel consumption in half is already impressive!