Graeme Obree bidding for hour record again

Flying Scotsman bringing new bike to BikeRadar Live

Former world hour record holder Graeme Obree is seriously considering another attempt at the record.


In an interview in Cycling Plus 224 (on sale 5 June), 43-year-old Obree says he has been training hard, built a bike that conforms with UCI regulations (you can see him and it at BikeRadar Live),  and set a date of late 2009 to make the attempt.

“I’m not saying that I will break the hour record, but I am aspiring to do it,” said Obree. “You know, last year was the first year since I was 16 that I didn’t win a bike race.

“I don’t think that you’re physically hampered from winning at the highest level just because of age. To diminish yourself just in terms of age isn’t justified. I don’t think you can use it as an excuse, not if you’ve kept it going.”

The current record, using ‘modern’ UCI rules, is 49.7km, held by Czech Ondrej Sosenka. In the past, when the rules allowed for more aerodynamic bikes, Obree twice broke the record: 51.596km in 1993 and 52.713km in 1994.

The bar was eventually raised to 56.375km by Chris Boardman in 1996, before the UCI banned the types of bikes and ‘superman’ riding style that allowed such speeds to be reached. Now, only traditional round-tubed diamond frames with spoked wheels and drop handlebars are allowed. Luckily, Obree knows how to build bikes:

A close up of Obree's hand built hour record machine. UCI legal too.
A close up of obree’s hand built hour record machine. uci legal too.: a close up of obree’s hand built hour record machine. uci legal too.
Andy McAndlish

Graeme Obree’s hour record attempt machine, which he’ll be bringing to BikeRadar Live (Photo: Andy McAndlish)

As he did with his previous hour records, Obree has built his own bike for this attempt. It’s made out of Reynolds 653 tubing and weighs over the UCI limit of 6.8 kilos. “I’ve built it within the limiting factors of the regulations,” he said. “It’s deliberately long so my arms are stretched onto the drops for the best aero position. It’s also longer at the rear as this puts weight towards the front of the bike.”

The bike also features another Obree trademark, a huge gear: 138 inches (67×13) to be exact. He’s been pedaling this on his evening training sessions, which typically last between two and two-and-a-half hours.

Obree was at his peak in the early to mid ’90s, when he twice broke the hour record and twice won the world individual pursuit championships. He has had a well documented battle with depression, highlighted in his autobiography, The Flying Scotsman, which was made into a movie.


Read the full interview in Cycling Plus 224, on sale 5 June. You can also catch Obree in person – and his new bike – at BikeRadar Live on 30-31 May, where he’ll be taking part in the Procycling Hot Laps on Saturday and holding a Q&A session in the big top at 12.45pm on Sunday.