BBC News

Wooden bike distance record attempt by Norfolk joiner

By David Keller
BBC News, Norfolk

image captionMichael Thompson spent more than 1,000 hours building his record-breaking SplinterBike

A joiner from Norfolk who created the world's fastest bicycle made entirely of wood has revealed plans for a new record attempt.

SplinterBike 3, being designed in a shed on the Norfolk Broads by Michael Thompson, will be used in a 60-minute distance record bid.

It is hoped the bicycle will be ready for a record attempt in the summer.

His previous bike set a land speed record last year, reaching 11.25mph (18.1km/h) around a velodrome.

SplinterBike 2, held together only by wooden joints and glue, set the first land speed record for this type of vehicle after being clocked with the speed at Quibell Park Velodrome in Scunthorpe in August.

The original two bicycles - one a replica - were made by Mr Thompson after a £1 bet with rider and friend James Tully.

Mr Thompson said the triathlete was raring to undertake the new task and hoped new ground would be broken once more.

He said the current one hour distance record for a normal bike was 35 miles (56km), set by former Olympic champion Chris Boardman in 1996.

There is not currently a separate record for wooden bikes.

'Trial and error'

"James is going to have to ride the bike continuously for 60 minutes without putting his feet down and then we'll measure the distance he managed to travel within the hour," said Mr Thompson.

"[The bike] is still on the drawing board. It's very time consuming to design and prototype and make these bicycles because there's a lot of trial and error.

"If we've got to make a bike that's got to last 61 minutes or more, that's quite a lot of strain that's going to be taken."

Mr Thompson added that the new bicycle would be made using computer-aided design, rather than being developed by hand, to ensure "everything is perfectly round and all the gears mesh together correctly".

The new record will likely be attempted at Millbrook vehicle testing facility in Bedfordshire or at a local airfield to save the costs of hiring a velodrome and Mr Tully passing official track cycling exams.

The original SplinterBike has now returned to its owner after being displayed for a few months at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

SplinterBike 2 is being used as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad celebrations in Wales.

A documentary of the land speed record - SplinterBike: The Movie - is being shown on the big screen at Cinema City in Norwich on 4 February, along with a question and answer session with Mr Thompson.

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