Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Saving gasoline was goal of Royal Enfield Dreamliner

Royal Enfield Dreamliner brought streamlining to motorcycles.
It's no surprise that Royal Enfield motorcycles capture the attention of people who want to conserve gasoline. Yet I hardly ever write about fuel economy.

Any Royal Enfield Bullet motorcycle is capable of 70 miles per gallon without even trying. Why bother improving it? I'm almost convinced that more fuel evaporates from the tank in my hot Florida garage than I burn on the road.

With gas at $4 a gallon, perhaps it is fortunate that some people are more concerned about the mileage possibilities of Royal Enfield motorcycles. For instance, Peter S. on the Ecomodder website:

The Dreamliner was perfectly capable of going around corners.
But bodywork left little clearance for kick starting.
"Using the calculator this forum kindly provides and working through various fairing shapes and real world testing is interesting. For instance this Royal Enfield Dreamliner from 1953 that I've posted before works out at a CD (coefficient of drag) of .66 from the published speed and fuel consumption figures."

Ecomodder's motto is "wrench smart, drive smarter, save fuel." It describes itself as "an automotive community where performance is judged by fuel economy rather than power and speed." Members have built their own electric motorcycles and used pizza tins as aerodynamic wheel covers on pickup trucks.

The Dreamliner was far sleeker than the naked motorcycle.
Peter S. lives on the east coast of Australia. The magazine caption of the Dreamliner photo he posted notes that The Motor Cycle found the Dreamliner fairing added 45 pounds to the motorcycle, but saved 35 per cent of fuel consumption at 60 mph.

The Dreamliner was actually a 1956 experiment in cooperation with The Motor Cycle. The futuristic fairing was mounted to an old 350cc Royal Enfield Bullet.

Tests showed leaning down didn't improve performance.
The Dreamliner was not a production machine, but a less radical fairing, called the Airflow, was offered as an option on the full range Royal Enfield motorcycles starting in 1959. Airflow fairings did not enclose the front wheels. They seemed directed more at protecting riders from the weather than improving streamlining, although improved fuel economy was claimed.

Dreamliner had cooling ducts, but motor was boxed in by bodywork.
The Ecomodder website offers pictures of the Royal Enfield Dreamliner I'd never seen before, with full captions. One of them notes that the motor would ping (from overheating) on acceleration despite cooling ducts.

Elaborate bodywork was designed to be removed easily without tools.
According to Michael Moore of San Francisco, who posted the pictures, they are from Vic Willoughby's 1982 book "Exotic Motorcycles — A Tester's Privilege." Willoughby's book is said to be a compilation of unusual motorcycles he rides and tests. If you find an inexpensive copy, buy it. It's going for $100 on Amazon.

Saving gas is good but the Dreamliner's looks didn't please everyone. Blogger Jorge Pullin at My Royal Enfields has done repeated items comparing the Dreamliner to the Messerschmitt bubble car, "a sad frog" and an alien from outer space.
To me, Dreamliner looks best from above.


  1. I like it! Today, it could be made much more attractive.

    I've been keeping up with Craig Vetter's current streamlining project. He hosts a fuel mileage competition, and has built a Honda Helix scooter streamliner. At his last challenge, he got 92.9 mpg, but was not the winner. A competitor with a Ninja 250 (very modified bodywork!) got 95.9 mpg. These two looked very much cobbled together, but a very clean-looking Diesel streamliner won the event with 133.2 mpg. (Even an unfaired Diesel motorcycle got 95.3!) Have a look at if you're interested.

    I personally wouldn't mind having a clean, aerodynamic body kit for my B5.

  2. Anonymous4/05/2012

    Put one of those on a Fireball with a nice big drive sprocket and you would have something.. An ugly something anyway...

  3. Bazwick4/08/2012

    Looks similar to the german Maicomobil...

  4. Hi, I am Nitin from India. Can you please let know where can I get this dreamliner kit for my royal enfield motorcycle.
    My contact number is +919860190966.

    1. It was just an experiment. I don't believe it is available for purchase.

  5. Hi, is there any fairing kit available for my RE classic 500?


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