Can the new-look Beastie bike break the 100 mph barrier?


July 10, 2013

Graeme Obree's redesigned Beastie (Photo: Rick Robson)

Graeme Obree's redesigned Beastie (Photo: Rick Robson)

Image Gallery (15 images)

Graeme Obree has redesigned his Beastie prone bicycle ahead of an attempt to break the human-powered land speed record and, potentially, the 100 mph (161 km/h) barrier at the same time. The radical changes made to the now complete bicycle have improved both visibility and aerodynamics. It was tested at Prestwick airport at the end of June.

The new-look Beastie has a reshaped Kevlar and fiberglass shell. "The front section is rounded," Obree tells Humans Invent, "then it widens out and widens out and then comes back in, in a very smooth curve and narrows down to the back end … the most important part in terms of dividing the air and then pulling the air back in again with the least amount of energy is to have a laminar (non-turbulent) flow over the sides of it."

Visibility has been improved by the addition of a window panel for Obree to see out of when cycling (Photo: Rick Robson)

However, improved aerodynamics have their costs. "I wanted to go at a great speed right away but the guys couldn't launch me," he says. "Back when I tested it at Machrihanish airport, I only needed one person to launch it so I assumed it wasn't that hard to keep me upright and push me in a straight line but because it's now all slippery and fish-shaped it's hard for them."

Visibility has been improved by the addition of a window panel for Obree to see out of when cycling. Though he can see more, Obree's vision is still highly restricted due to his proximity to the ground. For this reason, the June tests were limited to speeds of around 50 mph (80 km/h) as Obree couldn't gauge how much runway he'd covered during test runs. Combined with a smoother service, conditions at Nevada's Battle Mountain should prove much more conducive to high speeds.

According to Humans Invent, the record attempt is slated for September.

Source: Humans Invent

About the Author
James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life. All articles by James Holloway

To launch with one person just make a form fitting padded handle that fits the top and is lifted off when appropriate speed is achieved. .

Leif Knutsen

Hmmm - surely primarily about frontal area - height should be dictated by the wheel size - surely he needs a longer wheel base and to tuck the rider down in between the wheels? (might need a camera and screen for visibility!

Mark Eastaugh

Is he wearing a helmet in picture 4? Because of his seating position it looks like the part of the helmet on the forehead would eliminate any visibility to the end of the runway. That is probably at least partly to blame for his visibility issues.

My Kevlar helmet used to be the same way when I shot from the prone position till I moved it.


Leif Erik Knutsen

Yes a form fitting padded handle would do the trick plus maybe help catch him and hold him upright when he's coming to a stop.


Graeme Obree is a hero of mine- a highly individual, bloody minded, exceptionally determined, and iconoclastic genius.

He takes the most unlikely concepts and makes them work, even if they are done on an absolutely shoestring budget and using bits of old washing machine, and ridden in some pretty unlikely riding positions,

He has had battles with cycling officialdom, mental health issues (he is bipolar), and been fired from teams. He's had a troubled life, and yet those very things that could have held him back have most likely spurred him on.

You cannot emulate Graeme Obree- the only way to be like Graeme Obree is to be Graeme Obree. A genuinely unique individual doing the very best he can to be the best he can possibly be. I wish him well in his endeavour and have the highest possible regard for this flawed and very human genius.


100 mile per hour in that. fair well and ah due my fair Spanish maidens fair well and ah due my maidens of Spain.


I'm just trying to imagine driving along at 100 kph and having a guy on a bicycle go flying past me at 160....


If launching is difficult, what is the strategy for stopping?


I wish him all the best in his speed challenge, although prone cucling is a non-starter for practical, everyday riding. I was made aware of this very early on, in the mid 80's when I attended a California university engineering schools recumbent bike racing event where I watched the valiant prone riders fighting to stay upright yet carrying on with bloodied knees from pedalling to deep into turns. Still feel for those poor guys.

I also saw that while team-assisted launching is a common feature for fully faired bikes, so is unassisted solo crashing to stop. Ouch !

I ride recumbents too, by the way -- ICE, Challenge, HP Velotknik -- all of which are, of course, slower (but more forgiving) than the "Beastie".

Good luck Mr. Obree for the 160 !


Genius he may be - but "tests were limited to speeds of around 50 mph (80 km/h) as Obree couldn't gauge how much runway he'd covered during test runs" could surely have been solved by any one of the number of the helpers standing by. How about 1 'orange witches cone' at 500metres, 2 at 1000m 3 at 1500 meters and 4 at 2 kilometres or some such coding???

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