Graeme Obree puts his Beastie speed record attempt machine through its paces (+ gallery)

Camille McMillan on hand with camera as driving rain prevented Obree going flat out at former RAF base

by Simon_MacMichael   November 20, 2012  

Flying Scotsman Graeme Obree has been testing out Beastie, the bike he has built for an attempt on the human powered vehicle land speed record.

Website Humans Invent, which has been following his progress throughout the project, was on hand last week as he put it through its paces at an airfield in Scotland, and took along top cycling snapper Camille McMillan of Le Metier and The Collarbone fame.

The venue chosen was Machrihanish airport near Campbeltown on the Kintyre peninsula.

The former RAF station was once home to a US Navy SEAL unit whose members would have felt right at home in the elements with driving rain instead of the forecast dry weather.

With the spray hampering Obree’s visibility, he admits he couldn’t fully test Beastie by going flat out.

“It wouldn’t have been prudent to put a proper punt on, when I couldn’t see where I was going. I couldn’t get a speed on because it would have been irresponsible to blindly fly up the runway. If I had gone into the grass it would have been quite nasty.”

Intstead, he confined himself to assessing how the bike performed with its fairing at a slower speed, and he said he was happy with the results.

“I’m actually quite uplifted because with the full fairing on it’s highly controllable as long as you can see where you are supposed to go. It was disappointing that it was wet and the water was spraying everywhere but I am ten times more confident in terms of the control of the bike.

“Later on we thought let’s have a punt without the skin on. Ok it’s wet and there is water spraying everywhere but let’s try it with just the bike, which isn’t terribly aerodynamic but I was probably going about 40mph. It was good to see the bike was stable, it’s steerable, usable and the system works.

“The vehicle itself is good, it’s now about sorting out the perfect skin, which I’m pretty confident we can do.

“The plan is to build the proper skin, which we will slightly modify in terms of headroom, and the front and tail will be shorter.”

Once Obree has finished working on the fairing, he will undertake more tests at shorter distances before a full test at an airfield in which he plan to take Beastie to its limits.

“I’m thinking we should go to an industrial estate to try out the handling at slow speeds and the vision control, then go to the airport for a right good punt when we see a good weather window,” he explained.

Graeme Obree quotes courtesy of Human Invent, which also kindly supplied the pictures taken by Camille McMillan.


12 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Apart from his mad genius outer persona, Obree is an absolute legend.

Yes his idea's may be mad, but he see's them through and proves us all wrong most of the time. I can't wait to see a video of it all faired and flying down the run way.

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [9361 posts]
20th November 2012 - 23:18


I just bloody love this. As you say Gkam84, the man's a legend!

Exercising my rights by taking them cycling

posted by pedalingparamedic [94 posts]
21st November 2012 - 0:44


I sometimes wonder if he's sane, and it is the rest of us that are barmy?

posted by Al__S [884 posts]
21st November 2012 - 9:30


Great piece of design - I'm still not convinced by the drive system he's using but I really hope he can prove me wrong.


posted by OldRidgeback [2580 posts]
21st November 2012 - 10:00


Seal me up Scotty! Love this.

posted by Ducci [81 posts]
21st November 2012 - 10:30


I have to concur with Gkam84 and pedalingparamedic: Obree is a legend.

Obree's legendaryness notwithstanding, I'm sure there's a design flaw here - He hasn't left room in the Beastie for his MASSIVE BALLS!

posted by lows100 [22 posts]
21st November 2012 - 13:28


His main mistake seems to be in his plan for testing to my mind

To expect to "go to the airport for a right good punt when we see a good weather window” - seems optimistic at best in Ayrshire during November & December

Buddha said:

Believe nothing, No matter where you read it,
Or who has said it, Not even if I have said it,
Unless it agrees with your own reason
And your own common sense.

mad_scot_rider's picture

posted by mad_scot_rider [586 posts]
21st November 2012 - 14:06


Indeed - why not do the ride further south where it's not subzero all year round? (Apologies to any Scots - I did used to live in Newcastle upon Tyne and it can snow horizontally there...)

If cycling is indeed a sport of self-abuse why aren't more cyclists sectioned under the mental health act?

posted by hairyairey [295 posts]
21st November 2012 - 19:50


What point is there to use disc wheels in a fairing?

Sir Velo

Raleigh's picture

posted by Raleigh [1734 posts]
21st November 2012 - 22:49


they're still turning in air, even if out of the wind. discs move more easily through the air than spoked wheels. marginal gains and all that...

jezzzer's picture

posted by jezzzer [339 posts]
22nd November 2012 - 0:06


Try putting your bike in a work stand and pedaling the back wheel around in top gear - the wind coming off the tyre is being pulled in at the hub and fanned by the spokes. The spinning wheel is basically a crude air pump. Fairing in the spokes with a disc makes the wheel a less efficient pump and allows the rider to waste less effort fanning air.
There's also the important area where the wheel comes out of the fairing onto the road and a disc wheel also helps reduce losses here.


posted by griggers [15 posts]
22nd November 2012 - 0:07


Ingenuity, plus courage, plus work, equals miracles. (Bob Richards)

Kinda sums it up nicely for me.

mingmong's picture

posted by mingmong [242 posts]
22nd November 2012 - 14:49

1 Like