The land speed record has been claimed for different types of vehicles such as cars and motorbikes. This year, however, Francois Gissy has set the world record for an unsuspected mode of transportation – the bicycle.
On May 19th of this year, Francois Gissy, almost broke the record with an astonishing speed of 263 km/h which was just 5 kph short of the record set in 1995. The 1995 record was set by Fred Rompelberg, who used the slip stream of a dragster to allow his bicycle to reach a speed of 268.8 km/h. This minor setback did not stop Gissy who made another attempt on October 7th at Interlaken, Switzerland. This time he shattered the previous record by reaching an unbelievable 280 km/h on his rocket powered bicycle.
The bicycle used 350 meters of the 790 meter track to accelerate to the top speed, while the remaining length of track was used for braking. The fuel used for the rocket of the bicycle is just as surprising as the speed it helped to achieve. Concentrated hydrogen peroxide was the fuel used by Gissy, who also built the bike. The propulsion system was designed by Swiss engineer Arnold Neracher. The working of a hydrogen peroxide-powered propulsion system is explained by Gizmodo in the words below:
“Concentrated liquid hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)—about 90-percent concentrate, compared to the 3-percent stuff sold in drug stores—is fed from a storage tank into secondary chamber filled with a catalyst, typically silver. This causes the chemical bonds to break down and the hydrogen peroxide to decompose into heat, water (H2O) in the form of 650 degree F steam, and oxygen (O). The steam is then forced through a rocket nozzle to provide thrust.”
The attempt was sponsored by Swiss watchmaking company, Hublot. The bike used by Gissy was completely stripped down and no stability system was incorporated into the design, Gissy has to use all his skill to keep the bicycle going in a straight line. The ride was so rough that the rear axle was significantly loosened, but the bicycle still managed to reached it’s amazing top speed. The attempt has yet to be certified, but there is little reason for it to be rejected.