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Canadian firm aims to beat human powered vehicle record (+ videos)

Team including students from University of Toronto last year built world’s first human powered helicopter

A Canadian company has raised more than C$30,000 through Kickstarter to fund an attempt at beating the human-powered land speed record of 133.8 kilometres an hour.

AeroVelo’s attempt on the International Human Powered Vehicle Association (IHPVA) record will be made at Battle Mountain, Nevada, where last year Dutch cyclist, Sebastiaan Bowier set the current benchmark.

The fully-faired bicycle they will use in the record attempt is called Eta, which as AeroVelo explains “is the Greek letter used in engineering as the symbol for efficiency, and for us this means examining every aspect of the design to reduce or eliminate the forces resisting our forward motion.”

They add that “we’re set not only to break the world record, but we calculate that our improvements in aerodynamics, drivetrain efficiency, and rolling resistance will make it possible to achieve speeds in excess of 140 kilometres an hour.”

Past projects undertaken by AeroVelo, working with a team of students from the University of Toronto, include the Snowbird Human-Powered Ornithopter, which in 2010 became the world’s first successful human-powered flapping-wing aircraft.

Last year, the company’s Atlas Human-Powered Helicopter, funded through Kickstarter, won the American Helicopter Society’s Igor Sikorsky Human-Powered Helicopter Competition, a challenge that had been open – and not beaten – for 33 years.

If you're wondering just why and how a faired recumbent like the Eta is so much faster than a standard road bike, here's project engineer Victor Ragusila with the explanation:

Simon has been news editor at since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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