Transport Theory

Record-setting motorcycle runs on vegetable oil

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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

via [AutoblogGreen, Make]

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Channtal Fleischfresser

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Channtal Fleischfresser has worked for The Economist, WNET/Channel 13, Al Jazeera English, Wall Street Journal and Associated Press. She holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure