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:
Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.