Posting in Design
The refurbished Kawasaki bike, retrofitted with an engine from an electrical generator, reportedly gets 100 miles per gallon of veggie oil.
People have been running their cars on biodiesel fuel - often little more than recycled vegetable oil - for years. But a mechanical engineer named John Petsche recently brought vegetable oil to the next level.
He took a second-hand motorcycle, a Kawasaki KZ400, and reconfigured it with a six-horsepower diesel engine from an electric generator that he retuned to run on vegetable oil. Not only did the bike work, it hit a record-setting 56.535 mph at the Loring Timing Association this month.
Petsche says it took 18 months to retrofit the motorcycle's original design for land speed racing. "I am interested in alternate energy and mechanics and this seemed like a great way to combine the two," Petsche said.
According to its owner, the bike gets a jaw-dropping 100 miles per gallon of vegetable oil. At the Loring Timing Association, the motorcycle reached a top speed of 56 mph, claiming the record in the 350-cc Alternate Fuel class.
The bike currently uses a single-speed drive and a centrifugal clutch, which limits its performance, but Petsche already has improvements in mind: he plans to upgrade the drivetrain to improve acceleration, so he can beat his own record at next year's event.
Petsche says he would eventually like to build a version capable of making it to Alaska on vegetable oil.
Photos by Daniel Falkenstrom via Make
Sep 19, 2011
A 100 mile/US gallon motorcycle that goes 56 miles per hour seems pretty ordinary to me. What was the record sanctioning body and what was the category for this achievement? I respect and admire John Petsche for what he did here, but it really doesn't seem very far out of the custom motorcycle fabricator tradition. And I wish it had a muffler. 99% of sane people hate loud motorcycles.
After a bit of Googling, I was able to find out that this is a 325cc Diesel engine. Funny thing is, I had a 1971 Honda CB100 (99cc gasoline engine) that got 100 mpg, and it topped out at about 55 mph. I'm amazed that 56 mph set a record in this class. Perhaps the centrifugal clutch is the problem. I'll be interested in seeing how he improves it for next year. At 325cc, if geared properly, it should be able to do 100 mpg, and continue to get 100 mpg at normal speeds.
can we buy them? with part numbers or fab techniques? this would be an awesome project for this winter , then ready for summer !
Article says right out: "At the Loring Timing Association, the motorcycle reached a top speed of 56 mph, claiming the record in the 350-cc Alternate Fuel class." And if you're chasing speed/mileage records, you don't want the added weight of a muffler. The bike is "purebred" for "land speed racing" (also right there in the article).
I'd speculate that your 99cc engine got most of its HP from high rpm. I'll bet the diesel, coming from an electric generator, was more designed for higher HP at a lower, steady rpm, and probably wouldn't max out at the same rpm as your 90cc. Remember, the speed is probably important on the generator because it has to come up with 60Hz AC (assuming this was an AC backup generator like the gas one I use when hurricanes and blizzards blow through the neighborhood. He may need an overdrive of sorts, like the 4th gear on an old VW Beetle (I recall it was something like 0.9:1, engine:transmission). I do like the pull-start on the side! It's just an overgrown diesel lawnmower engine. Your 99cc was a weed-wacker on steroids and speed! :- D
Your Honda was using pump gas, correct? Most people tend to assume vegetable oil doesn't have the octane (OK, cetane--and just how do you equate octane ratings to cetane ratings, anyway?) to compete with petroleum-powered motors.
Come on. This ain't rocket science. A little research, some imagination and innovation and there you are. The guy just said, "why not?" then put in the work to get'r done. Great article to inspire, Channtal.
I need to read more slowly. http://lta-lsr.com has lots of information about their activities. They seem to be pretty new and I wish them lots of success. It looks like this was the only alternate fuel vehicle to compete so far. If I still had my old 40 hp Rabbit diesel I'd love to put a little soybean oil in the tank and set a record myself.