Video: Obree explains design of his record-attempt bike

Flying Scotsman gives the lowdown on the bike he'll use for his tilt at the human-powered land speed record

by Mat Brett   May 31, 2012  

Here’s a treat for you: a video of the great Graeme Obree explaining the design and building of the bike that he’ll be using for his attempt at the human-powered land speed record in September.

We’ve featured one video from the Humans Invent website before, where The Flying Scotsman explains the motivation for his attempt. This time around, he talks in more depth about how he arrived at his idea of riding head first, and the actual development of the bike.

The mainstream media’s perception the former world hour record holder and 4000m pursuit world champion, now 46, is that he’s an eccentric inventor who knocks up stuff from spare parts in his kitchen… and that’s about right. He comes across as someone with a hell of a passion for both the engineering and the riding.

Obree talks about the advantage of being both the engineer and the rider for his record attempt, in that he can adapt the design immediately to suit his requirements rather than having to go through a time-consuming back and forth to get it right.

He also explains how he’s ended up using that old saucepan – the best known part of his record attempt story – to produce the shoulder supports for his bike.

“I thought the perfect thing would be a piece of stainless steel which will be relatively light and accessible, and it will probably end up lighter [than a component made from other materials] because if you use aluminium you’ll have to bolt that onto the steel… and if you use glass fibre then you’ve got to use an awful lot of it so as it’s not going to give way at some point.

“I thought, ‘Hold on: sacrifice a saucepan.’ The whole job from that point – shaping and silver soldering – took about two hours. There was no going anywhere to search for glass fibre or getting an engineer to make that component for me. It was saucepan to shoulder support in two hours without leaving my kitchen.”

Anyway, we’re giving away the plot. Take a look for yourself.

16 user comments

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British ingenuity at its best, love the tartan touches.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2189 posts]
31st May 2012 - 12:02

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spindoctore's picture

posted by spindoctore [49 posts]
31st May 2012 - 16:01

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Bit of a mad genius there I think. As much as I love my recumbent, I know I'd be faster facing forward and I'd love to have the skills to build something like that, not for speed, just for the pleasure of building and riding my one of bike.

Looks pretty cool though, once its all finished and given a touch of paint Big Grin

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [8825 posts]
31st May 2012 - 16:01

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spindoctore wrote:
hes mad !

Maybe, but he's brilliant as well, isn't he? The world needs more people like this.

posted by Mat Brett [1863 posts]
31st May 2012 - 16:20

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Hope he has something left to cook enough pasta to fuel his record attempt.

posted by wild man [279 posts]
31st May 2012 - 16:40

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I could be missing something here BUT how exactly is he supposed to pedal in that position?

posted by londonplayer [671 posts]
1st June 2012 - 8:00

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londonplayer wrote:
I could be missing something here BUT how exactly is he supposed to pedal in that position?

Think of a recumbent bike, Upside down apart from the wheels and you won't be far off I think Thinking

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [8825 posts]
1st June 2012 - 13:43

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Mat Brett wrote:
spindoctore wrote:
hes mad !

Maybe, but he's brilliant as well, isn't he? The world needs more people like this.

Mad or an eccentric genius? I'd tend towards the latter description. I think he's a star - not enough people like him in fact.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2189 posts]
1st June 2012 - 15:52

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I so want this man to succeed.

boffo's picture

posted by boffo [30 posts]
1st June 2012 - 17:24

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OldRidgeback wrote:
British ingenuity at its best, love the tartan touches.

Except he's Scottish.

posted by badbadleroybrown [17 posts]
1st June 2012 - 19:35

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.

posted by badbadleroybrown [17 posts]
1st June 2012 - 19:36

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he is as said in earlier post a little bit mad but also a real genius and i think he will succeed Big Grin

Pain is weekness leaving the body

road ronin's picture

posted by road ronin [57 posts]
1st June 2012 - 19:51

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You do realise Scotland is in Britain right?

andrew streit

posted by andrew streit1 [26 posts]
1st June 2012 - 23:29

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andrew streit1 wrote:
You do realise Scotland is in Britain right?

And was for a while known as 'North Britain.' Thankfully that didn't stick.

I can see why some people get confused though - isn't it The Guardian that each year during Wimbledon has a barometer graphic of how 'British' or 'Scottish' Andy Murray is, depending how he's doing?

Wink

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8025 posts]
1st June 2012 - 23:47

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In this year of all years, I'm making sure people know i'm Scottish (part of Britain for the moment) Wink

Come 2014 we'll be able to show the world our stars, no matter if independence comes or not, It'll be Glasgow 2014 where Scotland will compete as Scotland Big Grin

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [8825 posts]
2nd June 2012 - 13:27

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boffo wrote:
I so want this man to succeed.

Amen to that. He's a brilliant, eccentric, genius as well as an incredible cyclist. This is what British (or, OK, Scottish) engineering does best, and he's a lovely example of it. Shine on, Graeme!

posted by Pierre [79 posts]
6th June 2012 - 14:38

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