Vetter Mystery Ship

Vetter fairing: the Vetter Mystery Ship
I’ve never quite been sure what to make of Craig Vetter. One the one hand, he’s the man who gifted us the Triumph X-75 Hurricane and helped create the Triumph T160. On the other hand, he’s responsible for the Windjammer fairing (and worse).

So is Vetter a visionary, or is he one wave short of a shipwreck? I’m inclined to err on the side of visionary, because he designed the 1980 ‘Mystery Ship’. Just ten of these Kawasaki KZ1000-based superbikes were built, and if you think the fiberglass styling looks outrageous today, imagine the impact it had thirty years ago. Underneath the Flash Gordon aesthetics were a reinforced and cleaned-up frame with a repositioned steering head, a new swingarm and rear suspension set-up, magnesium Dymag wheels and a Yoshimura four-into-one pipe.

It’s still a showstopper today, and you’ll find a Mystery Ship in the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum. And talking of showstoppers, take a look at what Craig Vetter rode to the Quail Gathering. [Thanks Jonathan Whittles.]

  • Srfox

    I remember this bike. It appears to be designed to generate a lot of front end lift at speed, perhaps as a challenge to one’s riding skills and basic level of courage.

  • Daniel S

    Look carefully at the profile of the fairing… looks like a wing, doesn’t it?

    Craig was definitely doing some wild stuff for 1980, but he had no clue about aerodynamics- with that fairing profile, the bike would loft sufficiently that at somewhere around 120 mph, the front wheel would feel like it wasn’t on the ground.

  • Fred X1

    Visionary is not synonymous with tastemaker, or doesn’t have to be. If I had to choose between the two I’d say Visionary. I’d like to know what the grocery bags will carry and if he fills them with the same things every time?

  • phil

    I’ll admit I grimace when a see an old airhead BMW for sale with a Windjammer installed. But their very ubiquity says a lot about the demand they answered. I think aesthetically the ‘jammer’s failing was the desire to have one shape/size that could be marketed to almost any bike. That and that tastes have changed. The Windjammer was pretty cool looking in their time, especially compared its the minimal competition. I’ve wondered about the high-speed dynamics of the Mysteryship since it debuted. Don’t think I’ve ever read a rider review …

  • Emmet

    nothing wrong with the windjammer! it was a factory option for a lot of bikes and worked great!

  • Aaron

    I’ve always had a soft spot for these bikes; I have an old friend and riding buddy who owned #7 – the one originally sold to Malcom Forbes. When he sold it, I took the photos for him for the eBay auction, the best two of which I have in my photostream @ Flickr:

    http://farm1.static.flickr.com/228/494110584_d946a64c6b_b.jpg
    and
    http://farm1.static.flickr.com/229/494144359_5c982e1113_b.jpg

  • Buzz

    Craig Vetter is definately eccentric. He’s also trying to use aero aides to get 100 miles per gallon of petrol in a competition he’s sponsoring. He has been trying since the 70′s first gas crisis. He knows alot more about it then one might suspect by casual observance of his popular designs. Cycle World just did a big write up on him within the last couple of years. I think he also has a web site. I know my Windjammer equipped SOHC 750 Honda worked very well all year round even though it looked too big for the application. I wouldn’t be afraid to try this bike, on my way to the disco, of course!

  • Pamberjack

    Do the wheels retract once it’s airborne?

  • T140

    I always wondered if BSA should have not waisted their money on the Hurricane and instead hired Ray Hensley of Sonic Weld, who made Trackmaster oil frames that worked? The 71-72 Triumph and BSA would have been far better bike and without all the frame related problems.

  • Greg

    abomination…

  • kidchampion

    Bless him for trying but with summer temperatures in my state, that Freedom Machine he’s developing might as well be an oven. 500 miles to the tank, or until the human meat starts to separate from the bone.

  • Cap’n

    It looks like a check mark, or a Nike swoosh. I am at a loss… how / why? This is the ugliest thing I have seen in many, many months.

  • http://ridethetorquecurve.blogspot.com/ hoyt

    if more riders painted their windjammer purple & learned to play the guitar extremely well, then the windjammer would not suffer its “brown” reputation as a bad design. It is still cool after all these years in the right condition (and paint).

    —-

    I like the Mystery. Imagine the visual affect it would have when one does a wheelie

  • Dawg

    We need more folks like Graig Vetter. I’ve just been looking at his website. He looks like a real enthusiast and whether he’s a visionary or an eccentric he loves what he does.

  • BryanRay

    Yeah eccentrics make the world go round in my books. Vetters a hero.

  • Matt

    I kinda like the Alcan fairing!

  • powermatic

    His ‘Great Ideas That Didn’t Go Anywhere’ is a fantastic read. I’m pretty sure the ‘invention’ at the top of the page is not a joke-please Lord, let me be wrong.

    I was wondering if he has become more daffy as the years have taken their toll, but after seeing the black-and-white pics of a young CV tooling around on a motorbike with his ‘cardboard box muffler’, I’m pretty sure this has been a life long affliction.

    http://www.craigvetter.com/pages/Other_Designs/Bad_ideas.html

    Still, as others have said, the world needs guys like this, and he’s probably great to sit around and shoot the shit with. At least for a little while.

  • Kilian
  • BM

    I wonder if it can time travel back to the 80′s.

  • Rich Tegethoff

    I knew Craig Vetter when he first started making fairings – both full body and half – in Champaign and then later in Rantoul, IL around 1973-75. He was definitely a different soul – tall, long hair and full of ideas. He not only built fairings but sidecars as well.

    He used to have a yearly party in Rantoul for his distributors and close friends. I was fortunate enough to attend the party in 1973 along with a lot of well know m/c parts and accessories vendors including Darryl Bassani. The original or one of several prototypes of the Vetter BSA, as it was originally called, was sitting in a field next to the factory and everyone who was sober enough was given the opportunity to take a shot – literally – with a small rifle at the bike about a hundred yards away – so much for Craig’s opinion of the bike. At this party he also gave sidecar rides to the brave and foolhardy – usually with the sidecar at 45degrees to the ground. Craig was a fairly good rider and raced a lot in central Illinois. If anyone else attended the party in question – I need to know what happened concerning the belly dancer – I left the party before the entertainment!

    I have not seen Craig since 1973 but remember when he sold out to Bell and moved to California and started on the Mystery Ship. As some of you have commented that Craig’s design(s) were a litlle off – so be it. He did what he wanted and provided a product that you still see on m/c’s today – including my 1982 Suzuki GS650G with a Windjammer V fairing – all of which I bought in 1982.

    Just the ramblings of old diehard Vetter fan.

  • TheKHAI

    influenced by japanese mob bike gang bikes?