As we've previously reported, former Hour Record holder and national treasure Graeme Obree is preparing for an attempt on the human-powered land speed record. True to form, Obree has been designing and building his own bike for the attempt, and he's just released a video of its maiden flight.
It's an intriguing machine. Previous speed record human-powered vehicles have been standard recumbents, as far as there is such a thing. Current record holder Sam Whittington used a supine position, leaning back but facing forward, and turned conventional cranks and pedals when he powered his Varna Tempest to 83mph in 2009.
Obree, as you might expect, has thrown out the rule book. For a start, he'll be riding 'Beastie' in a head-down, prone position. The idea is clearly to get into a lower and therefore more aerodynamic position, but it doesn't exactly look comfortable. In the video, though, Obree says it “feels great!”
A set of cranks needs quite a lot of vertical space, increasing the frontal area of the bike, so Obree has thrown them out too. Instead the bike has a treadle drive, with levers turning a chainring and chain drive.
It's a wobbly-looking beast, but that's not unusual – low-profile recumbents often need helpers to get them started. When you're that close to the ground, you don't have much time to correct a wobble before you fall.
Obree has previously said he'll have a carbon fibre and Kevlar skin to streamline the bike. He'll need it if he's to beat Whittington's record, let alone the 100mph mark he's set for himself. We can't wait to see Beastie in action with a full shell!
Meanwhile, here's the video:
Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.
Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.
Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.
The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.