World human powered vehicle speed record upped to 83.13mph

Dutch students pilot VeloX3 to new mark in Battle Mountain, Nevada

A team of Dutch students have set a new world record for the fastest unpaced cyclist in a human powered vehicle, clocking 133.78kmh (83.13mph) in their VeloX3 fully faired recumbent.


The record – also initially chased by Graeme Obree and his Beastie bike – was taken at the World Human Powered Speed Challenge at Battle Mountain in Nevada, USA.

Sebastiaan bowier pilots velox3 during world human powered speed challenge

Video:  The world record braking VeloX3 in action

Sebastiaan Bowier piloted the aero recumbent, which was designed and built as a joint project between students from Delft University and Amsterdam’s VU University.

During the record attempts, the team used computer simulations to forecast how fast the bike should travel at certain power outputs. The teams also found that the aero shell – painted in a super-smooth, lightweight paint used on F1 cars – deformed slightly when it was being pedalled hard.

When they corrected the issue for the final run, which started with an 8km run in and measurement taking place over the 200m stretch of road, they broke the existing record, held by Canadian Sam Whittingham, by 0.6km/h. 

Pilot rider sebastiaan bowier poses with the world’s fastest bike, the velo x3: pilot rider sebastiaan bowier poses with the world’s fastest bike, the velo x3
Bas de Meijer

Pilot rider Sebastiaan Bowier poses with the world’s fastest bike, the VeloX3

The project’s team leader Wouter Lion said it had been a dramatic week: “It was unbelievably exciting. We had six days in which to secure the world record, but encountered technical problems at the start. This created some headaches and a lot of overnight work. When you manage to break through the world record on the last evening after three days of bad weather, it just feels fantastic.”


Scotsman Graeme Obree had also hoped to break the record on a home-made designed and built bike dubbed Beastie, which he powered in a headfirst position. But Obree had to settle for setting a new record for cycling in the prone position: 91.12kmh (56.62 mph).