81 MPH…On Only 1/2 Horsepower?

The Germans Are Coming!

It’s been almost ten years since the world bike speed record was set, so this may be old news to many of you. Nonetheless, I’ve embedded a video at the bottom of this post on the subject of the world’s fastest bike.

But who says old news is always irrelevant news?

Take my elderly neighbor down the street for example…the guy who greets me with ‘They don’t make movies like they used to, eh?’

He doesn’t think that old news is irrelevant at all. In fact, he spends an inordinate amount of time watching old news clips merely because they’re from simpler times and ‘they’re made like they used to be’.

Then again, he also wears tin foil beanies and worries about attacks by Germans drifting Zeppelins over Mount Shasta;  for aerial bombing and reconnaissance purposes.

But I digress…(ya think?).

Back to super-fast bikes that don’t look like bikes at all.

Read fast, cause you’ll want to get through this meaningless blog-drivel as fast as possible to get to the video at the bottom.

Here are a few teasers…

A human produces only 1/2 horse power of energy. That doesn’t sound so good…until you consider that we’d have to weigh an awful lot to weigh ‘half a horse’.

I went over to Answers.com to find out just how much a horse weighs and found out that, “A horse’s weight depends upon the horse’s size.”.

No foolin?

Anyway, trained speed cyclists are herculean in the power to weight category when compared to Roy Rodgers’ horse, Trigger.

When you consider that a horse eats 22.2 lbs of hay per day, humans are as efficient as a Toyota Prius in the highly competitive inter-species horsepower world.

A 200 pound man would have to eat 44.4 pounds of alfalfa sprouts per day to keep pace with Secretariat at the dinner table.

Limited Wheel Bulge Is Paramount!

But I digress…(ya think?)

Another teaser…

When you consider how much wind drag the bike has to overcome, the little openings where the wheels peek out produce half of the wind resistance on the entire human powered bullet.

I know that’s a very awkward sentence, but it’ll be cleared up in the video.

It’s amazing to consider that such a small part of the machine has such a profound effect on performance.

Of course that wind resistance figure was merely thrown out there by the world record holder on a casual basis.

In the ‘heat of the interview’, he may have been tweaking the stats a bit in order to get a bit more face-time.

But if you look closely at the image to the right, you’ll notice that the wheels bulge out less from the bike than does any ‘natural’ deviation in the contours of the cyclist’s shorts.

OK, that’s enough…’you’ll poke your eyes out’ trying to catch me in that exaggeration.

But I digress…(ya think?)


Those who keep track of these things have set a strict standard. The elevation of the course can’t lose more that two thirds of a percent, so the organizers found a strip of roadway near Battle Mountain (been there!) that slopes precisely at that rate.

Two thirds of a percent is a very small number. Just a smidgen smaller than the reduction in federal spending we can count on over the next two thirds of a year. I know that little political comment has a 66.66% chance of offending two out of every three of you readers.

I apologize in advance to both of you.

Here’s the video…

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