Graeme Obree chasing new human powered bike speed record

Flying Scotsman fine-tuning homemade Beastie machine

A transparent prototype of the Beastie

Graeme Obree hopes to head into the record books with a new human-powered land speed record on his novel bike, dubbed Beastie, this week.


The 47 year-old known as the ‘Flying Scotsman’ hopes to break the current unpaced record of 133kmh (83mph) at the World Human Powered Speed Challenge at Battle Mountain in Nevada. The current unpaced world record is held by Canadian Sam Whittingham, which he set in 2009 at Battle Mountain. 

The Scot, famed for giving the UCI’s technical department a collective headache thanks to his innovative homemade designed and built bikes in the 1990s, told the BBC that beneath Beastie’s super-aero shell, it used parts salvaged from old bikes and roller skates. Even a saucepan was cut up to for the shoulder supports.

Obree, currently at the event, rides with his head just centimetres over the front wheel. And instead of a traditional circular pedalling motion, his legs pump push/pull levers.

Obree had hoped to break the 100mph mark, but his run up to the attempt has been beset by bad weather during test runs and surgery in April. But he still believes hitting a ton, with muscle power alone is possible.

He said: “Having studied the physics of it, I do believe a human being in perfect physical condition, with perfect aerodynamics, a perfect drive-system, perfect air and atmosphere conditions, could do 100mph.

“On this occasion I don’t think it’s going to be me. But if I can up to the high 60s then sprint as hard as I can towards the world record, I’ll just see what happens.”

In 1993, Obree broke the hour record on a bike dubbed ‘Old Faithful’, with his arms tucked in under his chest. Shortly afterwards the UCI banned the bike and the position.


In 1995, he won the individual pursuit with a new position, Superman. The UCI banned the extended handlebars and the position they facilitated.