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World human-powered speed record broken (+ video)

British record also falls to The University of Liverpool Velocipede Team

Canadian Todd Reichert and his AeroVelo team have claimed the world record for human powered speed. Reichert achieved a speed of 85.71mph (137.9km/h) in a recumbent bike named Eta at the 2015 World Human-Powered Speed Championships at Battle Mountain in Nevada in the United States.

At the event, competitors are given 8km to gain momentum before reaching a 200m flat section where the speeds are measured and recorded. The new record is 2.58mph faster than the 83.13mph record set by Sebastiaan Bouwier in Velox 3 in 2013.

Although they got there in the end, Gizmag reports that not everything went to plan for the AeroVelo team on the day. Eta toppled over on launch in the first qualifying heat of the day, sustaining damage that saw it sit out the second heat while repairs were made. The mark was then set in the third heat.

There’s a bit more information about Eta in this video.

A former speedskater, Reichert is said to be capable of producing one horsepower for a minute and those legs have seen him involved in other notable feats. He powered the flight of the world's first human-powered ornithopter (Snowbird) in 2010 and he was also the pilot of the Atlas helicopter when the AeroVelo team claimed the 33-year-old Sikorsky prize for the first human-powered helicopter flight.

In 2013, Graeme Obree made an attempt to beat the human-powered speed record at Battle Mountain. However the exposed course highlighted some flaws in ‘Beastie’ – the vehicle that he had designed – and after crashing the bike, he admitted that the new prone record of 56.62mph that he had already secured was "close to the maximum" for the machine.

Obree gave up on the British record of 67.4mph, held by Ron English and set on the same course in 2002. However, that record has also fallen this week. Ken Buckley of The University of Liverpool Velocipede Team managed 69mph in the heats.

The project to achieve this has involved all three universities in Liverpool; mechanical engineering students from the University of Liverpool having worked with sport science undergraduates and staff at Liverpool John Moores University and Hope University. They could still improve upon their record as well – the event at Battle Mountain doesn’t finish until tomorrow.

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