Cycling land speed record smashed on Bonneville Salt Flats

Denise Mueller-Korenek breaks cycling speed record at 183mph/295km/h

Former US national track, road and mountain bike champion Denise Mueller-Korenek has smashed the land speed record on a bicycle, covering one mile at 183.932mph/296.009km/h on a custom-built carbon KHS.

The attempt on Sunday at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah beat the previous record of 167mph/268.76km/h, held by Dutchman Fred Rompleberg and smashed the women's record of 147.7mph/237.7km/h.

Denise Mueller-Koronek and Shea Holbrook stand with their respective vehicles
Denise Mueller-Koronek and Shea Holbrook stand with their respective vehicles

Mueller-Koronek drafted a modified 1,000-horsepower converted dragster with farings, which was also used by the previous men's record holder.

KHS Bicycles created a custom carbon frameset for Mueller-Koronek's record. The elongated design and 17-inch motorbike wheels encourage stability at high speeds, while a suspension fork reduces the vibrations over the salt flats.

Mueller-Koronek's custom KHS bicycle
Mueller-Koronek's custom KHS bicycle

The gearing is a double reduction setup, which can only begin to be pedalled effectively at around 50mph/80.46km/h.

Reaching record speed

The dragster towed Mueller-Koronek to around 50mph/80.46km/h before a release switch allows the American to begin pedalling the huge gear under her own power.

Mueller-Korenek drafted a custom-built drag vehicle for the record attempts
Mueller-Korenek drafted a custom-built drag vehicle for the record attempts

A padded bumper attached to the head tube of the bike is aligned with a perpendicular bar on the rear of the dragster to allow Mueller-Koronek to get as close as possible to the car's faring without touching the front wheel.

The view of Mueller-Koronek from inside the fairing
The view of Mueller-Koronek from inside the fairing

Alongside a 4kg race suit made from leather, Kevlar and neoprene, Mueller-Koronek is equipped with a two-way radio with the driver of the car to communicate.

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Land speed history

The first bicycle land speed record was attempted by Charlie Murphy in 1899 who drafted a steam train and hit speeds of 60mph/96.56km/h also in the USA, a phenomenal feat in the day. Since Murphy's record, the record has been broken ten times since across Europe and the United States.

Mueller-Koronek's team consisted of former record holders John Howard and Fred Rompleberg, who broke the record in 1985 and 1995, respectively. 

"Denise Korenek has extraordinary power but her spirit is the key to her success. The unique combination is why she was able to smash the World Paced Bicycle Speed Record with a staggering speed of 183.9mph." Coach John Howard said in a team press release. "She now owns the distinction of being the fastest human ever to ride a bicycle!"

It is unclear who Mueller-Koronek's record is corroborated by.

The famous Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah
The famous Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah

The 26-foot long converted dragster had been in storage for 23-years after Rompleberg's previous record. Restored and overhauled the methanol fuelled engine was driven by professional driver Shea Holbrook.

"For the first time pacing for Denise I drove outside of my comfort zone to get the job done." Holbrook added in a press release. "Every second of the day I'm a tad anxious but when Denise and I leave the starting line all my nerves calm.

"This is the most intense thing I've ever done for obvious reasons but you know what's crazy? I'd do it again. We made history at the Bonneville Salt Flats and it's a day I'll never forget."

Thanks to Jason Gay and Matt Ben Stone for allowing BikeRadar to use their images.

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Josh has been a fan of road racing since a youngster, partly due to an obsession with a certain Texan during his earlier years. Josh is now based in Bristol via running a popular cycling cafe in Surrey near where he grew up.
  • Discipline: Road
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