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Watch: How to ride at 200kmh on a pedal bike

Joe Robinson
25 Jun 2018

Neil Campbell set the new European speed record for a bicycle clocking 217kmh

What's the fastest speed you have managed on your road bike? I would hazard a guess it is not much more than 80kmh. It could be higher if you've had the pleasure of riding in the mountains but there aren't too many of us that have ever reached triple figures.

In fact, most professional riders have not even managed to reach the mythical 100. Despite the closed roads and incredibly long downhills, it's a number that eludes many riders. The likes of 1990s hardman Sean Yates, who is rumoured to have clocked the fastest speed at the Tour de France ever, did hit three figures but not by much.

One man who most definitely has broken the 100kmh barrier is 42-year-old architect Neil Campbell. In fact, he's also reached the 200kmh marker – 217.7kmh to be precise.

Campbell broke the European cycling speed record at the Elvington Airfield in North Yorkshire last week, hitting that impressive 217.7kmh speed (135mph in old money) on nothing but a self-powered pedalled bike. This new record surpassed Campbell's own British bicycle speed record of 114mph and broke the original European record of 204kmh.

As can be seen from the video, the speed Campbell reaches on the bike is phenomenal bordering on terrifying. 

Making Campbell's efforts ever more impressive is that he did not use the natural force of gravity to build speed either, but simply some rather clever engineering and his own leg strength. 

Your bog-standard carbon road bike would not be able to handle such speeds so Campbell turned to custom bike builders Moss Bikes for a unique £10,000 bike which used custom 3D-printed parts and components from KTM motorcross motorbikes in order to provide a stable machine that could handle such incredible speeds. The bike also had smaller wheels and wider tyres than normal to add stability.

Reaching such speeds would be unachievable without some form of drafting help and for that Campbell used a turbocharged Porsche Cayenne. The choice of car was just as important as the bike, with his vehicle of choice capable of producing 1,000bhp and 1,000Nm of torque.

To protect himself from the possibility of crashing, Campbell also opted for full motorbike leathers as well as a motorbike helmet.

When asked why he would attempt such a death-defying challenge Campbell said, 'I have always been fixated by speed. and I feel like this is the ultimate challenge of mind over body.'

Campbell's speed is still some way off the world record set by Fred Rompelberg in 1990 on the Bonneville Salt Flats of Utah, USA, in which the Dutchman managed to reach a staggering 245kmh.

Photo credit: John Bearby. Video credit: Adam Roberts

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