Graeme Obree sets new world speed record for prone cycling

48-year-old Scot posts 56.62mph in Beastie to take the record

by Dave Atkinson   September 15, 2013  

Graeme Obree Beastie Channel 4 03

Flying Scotsman Graeme Obree is the new World speed record holder for cycling in the prone position. The 48-year-old has been competing at the World Human Powered Speed Challenge at Battle Mountain in Nevada, and posted 56.62mph through the 200m speed trap to take the record.

We've been following Obree's attempt on the record for well over a year. The smooth lines of the faired bike don't really do justice to the home-workshop engineering that's gone into Beastie; for the record here's a picture of what's going on under the hood, from the original road test:

Obree's chin rests less than an inch from the front tyre, and the shoulder supports are made from a repurposed saucepan. One of Obree's major innovations was to use push levers instead of a circular pedalling motion. The bike ran a maximum gear of 290 inches for the record attempts.

Battle Mountain is a favourite location for human-powered speed attempts. The road allows riders an acceleration zone of up to 4 miles before being timed over a 200 meter seciton. The road was also resurfaced in 2009, with a smooth surface specially prepared for human powered vehicles.

Originally the plan was to go for the overall human powered speed record of 82.819mph, set by Canadian Sam Whittingham at Battle Mountain in 2009. However the exposed course highlighted some design flaws in Obree's design, and after crashing the bike, and admitting that the new prone record was "close to the maximum" for the machine, he was forced to give up on that mark, plus the British record of 67.4mph, currently held by Ron English and set on the same course in 2002. In the end the human powered record did fall, but not to Obree: Sebastiaan Bowier recorded a speed of 83.13mph in Vortex 3 to set the new mark. [thanks to user ped for pointing that out]

Obree was scheduled to have another attempt at that record in Vortex, the back-up bike of the University of Toronto team who are also at Battle Mountain. However, he has abandonded that attempt now after several test runs of the unfamiliar machine.

Speaking to The Daily Record, Obree said of his record breaking weekend, "I don’t feel a sense of failure. I came away with a world record and it has been a privilege to be taken into the heart of this community of cyclists.

“I had this idea my bike would be competitive way beyond the level of previous prones and I could put a good punt on and reach great speeds. It turned out not to be the case, but you never know until you try.”

17 user comments

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Possibly worth mentioning that as well as Graeme's fantastic prone world record, a new 'fastest human on the planet' HPV world record was actually set at the event: a lung-wrenching, thigh-burning, 83.13mph.

I wish the interweb coverage had been a little better, as the event fascinated me.

posted by ped [165 posts]
15th September 2013 - 22:42

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thanks for that, i've added it in to the story.

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7324 posts]
15th September 2013 - 23:38

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You might want to edit it again, but that record is not confirmed yet, it still pending IHPVA approval, which may take some time.

So the 83.13mph does not actually stand as we speak.

Here are the full results of all runs http://www.recumbents.com/wisil/whpsc2013/results.htm

Some of the speeds are poor, I can do Obree's speed coming off a downhill for about 1/2 a mile on my unfaired trike, I would love to try and set a supine record by going down feet first, totally flat on my back Devil

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posted by Gkam84 [8825 posts]
16th September 2013 - 0:48

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Some great pictures here, including the annual citation of everyone who broke the 70 limit on the road

jnyyz.wordpress.com/category/hpv/

Some great looking machines and technology this year

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ohpv/sets/

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [8825 posts]
16th September 2013 - 1:31

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My car struggles to go that fast.

well done Graeme

Trek Navigator 200
Old, heavy and upright, but that's enough about me!

posted by behemothprocycling [31 posts]
16th September 2013 - 8:07

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Wow! Fascinating event perpetrated by a fascinating chap.

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posted by Ghedebrav [1091 posts]
16th September 2013 - 9:13

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Great to see Graeme back on form again- I for one have missed him.

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posted by Shaun Audane [733 posts]
16th September 2013 - 9:35

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Ahem: * VeloX3 * : http://www.hptdelft.nl/en/ (good vid too)

I was told there would be Cake. Luckily there's http://TestValleyCC.org.uk

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posted by KiwiMike [474 posts]
16th September 2013 - 9:41

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KiwiMike wrote:
Ahem: * VeloX3 * : http://www.hptdelft.nl/en/ (good vid too)

That's a different record to Obree's - VeloX3 is ridden in a supine (on your back) position rather than Obree's prone (on your stomach) position.

Cracking looking machine though

posted by eric [48 posts]
16th September 2013 - 10:15

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Gkam84 wrote:
Some of the speeds are poor, I can do Obree's speed coming off a downhill for about 1/2 a mile on my unfaired trike, I would love to try and set a supine record by going down feet first, totally flat on my back Devil

Ha! Easy to type that when you're sat (or lying) down. You've surely got access to some saucepans and a bit of fibreglass...

I know he didn't achieve what he'd hoped for but he's given it his best shot. That's all you can hope for.

A short interview with Chris Hoy about Graeme:
http://www.humansinvent.com/#!/13498/sir-chris-hoy-graeme-obree-is-my-hero-mentor-and-friend/

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posted by Simon E [1947 posts]
16th September 2013 - 10:31

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Well done Graeme Applause

posted by Roberj4 [193 posts]
16th September 2013 - 11:36

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It seems fundamentally flawed - how fast would Obree have gone in the faster machine?

posted by DrJDog [108 posts]
16th September 2013 - 11:40

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Simon E wrote:

Ha! Easy to type that when you're sat (or lying) down. You've surely got access to some saucepans and a bit of fibreglass...

I know he didn't achieve what he'd hoped for but he's given it his best shot. That's all you can hope for.

A short interview with Chris Hoy about Graeme:
http://www.humansinvent.com/#!/13498/sir-chris-hoy-graeme-obree-is-my-hero-mentor-and-friend/

Plenty of pans and I'm sure I could get some fibreglass, I just don't have the skills to build something with it. Laughing

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posted by Gkam84 [8825 posts]
16th September 2013 - 14:14

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ped wrote:

I wish the interweb coverage had been a little better, as the event fascinated me.

Totally agree. Was scratching around a bit to get updates during last week. I believe they have been making a documentary on Graeme though, so hopefully we will get some good footage when that surfaces.

posted by Ad Hynkel [47 posts]
16th September 2013 - 23:41

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FYO there was a daily blog all week on the cycling weekly
website including about 50 photos and a video of Graeme's
52 mph run earlier in the week.

http://www.cyclingweekly.co.uk/news/blog/540343/beastie-blog-4-graeme-ob...

The first photo was 'lifted' off the Humans Invent website - free content eh? Cost me 1300 quid to cover
supplying content to humans invent, cycling weekly, the Independent, The Daily Record, The Scottish Mail, The Daily Mail and others.

Rick

cyclesportphotos.com

Rick Robson

posted by Rick Robson [11 posts]
17th September 2013 - 19:32

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Rick Robson wrote:
FYO there was a daily blog all week on the cycling weekly
website including about 50 photos and a video of Graeme's
52 mph run earlier in the week.

http://www.cyclingweekly.co.uk/news/blog/540343/beastie-blog-4-graeme-ob...

The first photo was 'lifted' off the Humans Invent website - free content eh? Cost me 1300 quid to cover
supplying content to humans invent, cycling weekly, the Independent, The Daily Record, The Scottish Mail, The Daily Mail and others.

Rick

cyclesportphotos.com

like i said in our private conversation rick, we 'lift stuff' from humans invent because their model is to offer their content to other providers, and that normally includes photo rights. if that's not the case in this instance then i'm happy to not use your image, and i've removed it.

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posted by Dave Atkinson [7324 posts]
17th September 2013 - 22:45

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Thanks for removing the image Dave, that content was not cheap to capture and defo NOT rights free.

R

Rick Robson

posted by Rick Robson [11 posts]
18th September 2013 - 6:52

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