Published: 17 February 2015

Olympic cyclist to pilot world’s fastest bike attempt

An Olympic silver medallist is among the riders chosen to pilot the University of Liverpool’s attempt to break the fastest human powered vehicle world record in the Nevada desert in September.

Rob Hayles, who secured silver at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, was picked alongside Ken Buckley and Natasha Morrison following exhaustive testing of 35 hopefuls by Liverpool John Moores University sports scientists.

Rob said: “I am delighted to be chosen as one of the riders. The testing was rigorous and I can’t wait to start putting into practice the specialist training needed to top the current 83.13mph record when we compete in the Nevada desert in September.”

Pedal-powered

The pedal-powered machine, known as ARION1, is now out of the design stage and manufacturing has commenced, following extensive work by the University’s School of Engineering.

It will be shipped to the USA to compete against other international teams in the World Human Power Speed Challenge (WHPSC) in Battle Mountain, Nevada. The current male land speed record is 83.13mph and current female land speed record is 75.69mph.

Joining Rob will be 28-year-old Direct Sales Executive, Ken Buckley, from Reading and Acute Nurse, Natasha Morrison, from Kenilworth, near Coventry.

Natasha said: “I have three passions in life, one of which is cycling. To each I apply my personal proverb – aim high then work even harder. The ARION1 project is a really exciting chance for me to push to the extremes and fulfil my proverb.”

Ken said: “I’m excited to have been selected as a pilot for the ARION1 project and so grateful for the opportunity to push the boundaries of human performance. Bringing the best of science, engineering and human physiology together is going to produce something really special.

“I’m a small part of the puzzle and it’s the guys creating the machine that have the toughest job ahead. They’re putting incredible amounts of effort into this project and analysing every last detail of the bike.

“I’ve got every faith that the riders will be given the best possible shot at the record.”

Each rider has been given a personalised training regime to prepare, and their progress will be monitored every four to six weeks in the lead up to the event.

The fittest riders

Patrick Harper is Lead Ergonomics Engineer and Commercial Manager of the University’s Velocipede Team (ULV Team). He said: “Our pilots were the fittest riders and they just stood out from the rest in terms of how committed they sounded.

“Everything feels like it is falling into place. We’ve spent a long time planning the project, putting the structure in place and testing for the best riders. Now it’s time to go and break some records!”

The ARION1 machine is 35 times more aerodynamic than a regular pedal cycle and boasts a 1:17 gear ratio, aiming to generate 800 to 850 watts of power from a female or male rider respectively after a 4.5 mile acceleration.

Follow the ULV team’s progress on twitter @ULVTeam.

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