Home
Former Hour Record holder unveils bike he'll use for speed record...

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.

24 comments

Avatar
OldRidgeback [2658 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Utterly bonkers and fantastic at the same time - let's hear it for eccentric British genius. I really hope he can crack the record.

Avatar
joemmo [1164 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

he wants some mudguards on that. Wouldn't want to hit a dog pile with my face that close to the tyre,

Avatar
lewskisdub [14 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

This guy reminds me of someone who is slowly losing the plot. Possibly turning into a hermit and coming out with these crazy ideas. This may be a prototype but could you imaging doing 100mph on that?!

Avatar
andyspaceman [249 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

legend

Avatar
Raleigh [1667 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

He's having a kevlar shell though isn't he?

Probably not much dog crap where he's doing the attempt anyway.

Avatar
andyspaceman [249 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

but...will he be able to use his body to it's full aerobic capability with his weight at least partially supported by his chest, as it appears to be?

I'm guessing he's already thought of that, but just saying...

Avatar
pmr [198 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Totally mental idea, but who am I knock him! I'm guessing there may be umpteen failed efforts before he gets this record, but you cannot write him off. I'm not sure a teadle drive can deliver the same power as a pedle stroke, that'd be my worry, but hey what do I know!
Good Luck Greame!

Avatar
Dutchie [74 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

I can't imagine he can deliver the same power with that pedal construction as when pedaling normal cranks. But it's Obree, so i won't be surprised if he succeeds with this strange contraption  1

Avatar
OldRidgeback [2658 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Hope his beastie has better luck than Rabbie Burns'

Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim'rous beastie,
O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty
Wi bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,
Wi' murdering pattle.

Avatar
antonio [1134 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

I just love the guy's drive, never count him out.

Avatar
WolfieSmith [1327 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

As he'll be travelling behind a car I would've sacrificed a little aerodynamic drag for a standard pedalling action. Turning equal circles has be more stable than kicking back and forwards? It seems a bit like thinking the 100 metres sprint might be more efficient if you run it straight legged.  39

I believe he can break the record in that position - but not with that method of motivation.

Back to the old drawing board.

Avatar
StickyBottle [4 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Got to love Graeme! Really wish him well.

In these days of Sky and other mega teams this type of venture is really refreshing.

Avatar
pmr [198 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

This is such a great story, it doesn't really matter if people laugh, and he doesn't ultimately get anywhere near the record, he's nothing to prove and he's following a dream.
I suspect he will go faster than people think though.

Avatar
kcr [134 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
Quote:

As he'll be travelling behind a car...

No cars involved - it's the IHPVA world speed record he is going for:
http://www.recumbents.com/wisil/whpsc2012/speedchallenge.htm
I had a wee shot of a procumbent with a similar riding position that Venom built in the mid 90s, and I seem to remember the steering was quite twitchy.
The treadle drive is an interesting idea. For similar reasons, the Dutch team from Delft university are using an elliptical drive this year, which has allowed them to make their fairing more aerodynamic:
http://www.hptdelft.nl/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3...
I think the 100mph target is just good publicity. The additional power required to get beyond the current record of 82mph makes 100mph pretty unlikely, but good luck to Obree with his attempt on the record. He is a great athlete and an inspirational character. He is going to have to get his skates on to build and test a fairing before September, though!

Avatar
Campag_10 [153 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

An extreme design which appears to need significant development to achieve high straight line speeds. In fact, it looks as though achieving a straight line at any speed will be a challenge. Good luck to the fella though.

Avatar
jonboy0011 [5 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Why doesn't he go even further and move the wheels apart so that he can lie between them, reducing frontal area? He would obviously need to turn the chainwheels flat to get the most benefit, but I'm sure there's something in his washing machine that will let him do that...

Avatar
cavasta [216 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Go Graeme!!!  41

Avatar
mr_leemur [35 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Obree is an inspiration!!

What ever happens (and i hope he succeeds) he should be applauded for trying, thinking out of the box, and not caring if people might ridicule him.

As someone already pointed out...

Legend!!!

Avatar
fatbeggaronabike [834 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Can anybody tell me the where and the when of his record attempt because if possible I would like to be there.

Avatar
phax71 [287 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Well, thats your opinion and you're more than welcome to it..... but if mankind had always been so CONSERVATIVE (scared) in his thinking, we'd still be living in caves ..

Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.
STEVE JOBS

I don't know whether Graeme will achieve his goal, but I certainly applaud him for giving it a bash, life is full of people who CAN'T, WON'T, SHAN'T, Etc ..... How about a little CAN, WILL SHALL eh ..

Good Luck Graeme!!

Avatar
phax71 [287 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Sorry

That was in response to lewskisdub ... I hit reply rather than quote ..

Avatar
Baldy1alex [55 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

Keep her lit Graeme and in the words of an old homeguard chappie I hope yer Not (Doomed)! in your quest. All the Best of British mate!  4

Avatar
smudgegs [14 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes

If anyone can do it, he's the man, and *if* he doesn't succeed it wont be for lack of courage ability or vision.
The man is an inspiration and deserving of more recognition than he has had.

MBE campaign anyone?!?

Avatar
PhilRuss [390 posts] 4 years ago
0 likes
lewskisdub wrote:

This guy reminds me of someone who is slowly losing the plot. Possibly turning into a hermit and coming out with these crazy ideas. This may be a prototype but could you imaging doing 100mph on that?!

[[[ LEWSKIS--no, I can't. He can barely steer The Blob at 13mph, let alone 100. This will only end in tears.
P.R.