A married couple who specialize in precision engineering has achieved a new world record for the fastest steam-powered motorcycles in a short 1/8th mile distance. Their creation, called the Force of Nature, is like a rocket on wheels and they believe it can go even faster in the next attempt.
Graham and Diane Sykes, a British couple, brought their steam-powered dragster to Elvington Speed Week and set a record-breaking time of 3.878 seconds for the 1/8th mile. The bike reached an impressive speed of 163.8 mph (264 km/h) at the end of the run. Graham, the husband, rode the dragster during the attempt and mentioned that the bike continued to accelerate even after crossing 180 mph (290 km/h).
“There is still lots more power to come, and I feel sure we will run quicker in the coming months,” the team wrote in a blog post.
The bike is designed like a dragster, and Graham positions himself on it in a superman-like manner, fully aware of the risks involved. Unlike regular drag bikes, this bike doesn’t require a wheelie bar because the rear wheel isn’t driven, so it doesn’t try to lift off the ground.
When the race starts, Graham holds on tightly and tries to keep the bike straight as steam shoots out from the back through nozzles, propelling the bike forward like a rocket. The acceleration is incredibly intense, as shown in an un-embeddable Facebook video.
This type of propulsion system is similar to what was used by Scott Truax for Eddie Braun’s remarkable tribute to stuntman Evel Knievel. I witnessed Braun’s steam rocket launching off a ramp, flying over the Snake River Canyon, and making a controlled parachute-assisted crash landing about a mile away in a field.
Braun’s machine had approximately 10,000 horsepower and accelerated to around 430 mph (~700 km/h) within five seconds, almost vertically upwards. Although the Force of Nature is a smaller steam rocket compared to the Skycycle X-2, Graham Sykes isn’t joking when he says his dragster still has a lot more acceleration potential. These machines can get quite insane.
Considering the realm of rocket-powered bikes, why limit ourselves to steam? The fastest motorcycle to complete a quarter mile was a hydrogen-peroxide rocket bike, fearlessly ridden by Frenchman Eric Teboul.
That bike generated around 6,000 pounds of thrust and had a power-to-weight ratio of approximately 10:1. In September of last year, Teboul marked the end of his 40-year racing career by achieving a legendary status, completing the first ever sub-five-second quarter mile on two wheels.
His final run, clocking in at 4.976 seconds and reaching a speed of 290.51 mph (467.53 km/h), can be witnessed in the video below. It’s truly mind-boggling.