Graeme Obree’s World Speed Record

Graeme Obree will be soon attempting to break the World human powered speed record on a home built bike.

After a break from the sport where he become world champion (4Km pursuit), Obree talks about his motivation for coming back and attempting to  go for this unique record and new challenge:

“So I thought to myself, what was my passion before? What were my strengths? I thought bike design, bike building, and pumping out a lot of energy from my legs. I thought the human powered land speed record is the perfect solution to all those three things. It is actually the complete embodiment of what I am as a human being. No rules and regulations, and it is about pure speed and how fast a human can go – it doesn’t get more exciting than that for me. Flying up a road at 85 MPH! I thought, oh yeah, I am going for that.”

Obree has always been an innovator. His bikes revolutionised track cycling and time trials (his designs also led to a rash of UCI regulations and restrictions on bike design, but that’s another story). Clearly to Obree building and designing the bike is part of the attraction of this record.

When he set the world hour record, it was perhaps over-documented that he use a part from his washing machine (a small bearing) and also a part from a bmx. This sometimes  overshadow his great athletic ability.

But, this time he seems quite happy to explain how he will be recycling different spare pieces to build his bike For example,ehe will be using an old frying pan, that was sitting around his kitchen. He will use it to rest on when in his supreme aerodynamic position. Obree told the Daily Record.

“I used an old pot that I had burned so I won’t miss it – it was ideal for what I needed.”


Obree speaks about the process of bike building.

Well, I am building my bike in my kitchen. That is the first difference. The reason being, despite people offering me advice and help, I do things my way. I enjoy the thought process. I like to think, ‘I want that like this’, and then to challenge myself and say, but is that right? Should it actually be like this? I enjoy using my logic.

And also for me, all the pleasure would be taken away if it was manufactured and cut and dried. For me this is a form of artistic expression. It isn’t just about the human land speed record.

“The main thing is about designing the bike yourself and using the components yourself, and then testing yourself as an engineer. I knew roughly what I wanted in terms of the gears and the step up, but building this bike and then riding it is for me the purest form of artistic expression. It is like singing and writing your own songs, no hold on… it is like choreographing your own dance moves to your own music.”

Obree is unfazed by his age (46). He is a real believer in the art of the possible. Racing at 90mph may leave many fearful of skin loss, but Obree says his main concern is getting to 90 years old and regretting not doing more.

Obree is definitely one of the great characters of cycling. It would be great to see Obree achieve it. He will be attempting record in September in Nevada this year.

- Quotes from  return of the flying Scotsman

Video of Graeme Obree Talking about Record

5 Responses to Graeme Obree’s World Speed Record

  1. Andrew May 11, 2012 at 10:00 pm #

    Amazing. Far too many people are not willing to face the fact that they will not have their body forever. Living in a bubble where they distance themselves from fear and challenge. whether he manages it or not, what a journey he will have!

  2. Doug May 10, 2012 at 5:19 am #

    I really like this post as well. It’s quaint, it’s very English.

    The bit which stands out the most for me is “.Obree says his main concern is getting to 90 years old and regretting not doing more….” and that is one of the things that keeps me going; trying to avoid too many regrets for when I’m in my “old man” slippers and arm chair.

  3. Hurumph May 8, 2012 at 8:26 pm #

    What fantastic news! Graeme Obree is nothing short of a genius in several (well, two at least) areas. He is a world class cyclist AND a world class engineer. I think all of us, including lumpy old men like me, will benefit from the things he develops whether ideas, designs or new ways of producing something more efficient and faster. A Ford Fiesta benefits from Formula One engineering – eventually!

    I wonder how fast a younger person, like a 2012 Olympic cycling champion, could go on a machine he produces? I would be amazed if Obree doesn’t break the world record and, whilst aknowledging his undoubted talent and determinition, how fast could someone younger go?

    I hope Obree gets the support he needs

  4. SM May 8, 2012 at 8:00 pm #

    Nice piece and good luck Graeme. A frying pan eh? I wonder how much weight is a consideration when building the bike? I’d love to be able to build my own bike, must be immense. I get a thrill just putting new bar tape on mine!

    ps: pedant aler – that video seems to be the wrong one and you’re missing an O in the final para: “Obree is definitely _ne…”

    • tejvan May 8, 2012 at 8:22 pm #

      Thanks simon,

      Have updated video and fixed typo!

Leave a Reply

1 + = 8