Donhou Bicycles Flying Miler

Donhou Cycles Landspeed

What middle-aged male raised in the British Commonwealth wasn’t entranced by stories of the Blue Bird land speed racers, attempting to break the ‘Flying Mile’? Or the streamlined Golden Arrow? Numerous airstrips and Royal Air Force bases in the United Kingdom have played host to record attempts over the years, a list which is about to include a Donhou Bicycle.

Donhou Cycles Landspeed

To build a serious land speed record breaker you need to be both a brilliant engineer and a little nutty, perhaps less so if it’s a bicycle. Still, Tom got the bug and, with a disused airstrip just near his house and the skills to fabricate any beautiful bicycle he likes, designed a contender for the British land speed record on a motor-paced pushie.

Donhou Cycles Landspeed

Tom maintains that despite appearances, this is a relatively ‘normal’ bike, similar in construction to one he’d build for any customer. There’s extra rake on the forks to increase stability at speed, assisted by the frame’s oversized Columbus Max tubing and the extra low bottom bracket supporting that incredible chain ring.

Donhou Cycles Landspeed

The 104-tooth ring was machined by Cliff Polton and the team of four engineers that make up Royce UK LTD, who also donated the rear hub to the project. The hubs were laced into tubular ENVE SES rims by August Wheelworks, to minimize the risk of losing a clincher tire at untested speeds. Naturally, an Avid disc brake was used to brake the front wheel and avoid cooking the rim.

Donhou Cycles Landspeed

By the way, I came up with the name ‘Flying Miler’ myself, as Tom’s land speed bike didn’t have a romantic title such as ‘Bluebird’ or ‘Golden Arrow’. Perhaps it should be named ‘The Gannet‘, after one of the United Kingdom’s fastest birds—although it can be used as reference to someone who eats too much, similar to ‘glutton’. Still, that chain ring does bear a certain resemblance. What do you think?

For the full build process and complete component list, head to the Donhou Bicycles website. Tom is also producing a short film in association with Spindle Productions. The full length version will be released shortly but here’s a teaser to tide you over:

Donhou Bicycles: Experiments in Speed from SpindleProductions on Vimeo.

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  • itsmefool

    Love, love, love this! What a great idea and a beautiful bike for the attempt! As for a name, how about the Spirit of England? If you recall, Craig Breedlove (who drove the Spirit of America LSR vehicle) was slated to drive Donald Campbell’s Bluebird after Campbell died, but the deal fell through. To me, the Spirit of England (or Britain, if that’s more appropriate) has a nice ring to it and pays a little homage, too.

  • dbehrman

    Aye! That’s a manly gear!

  • JP Ferguson

    Why is it “natural” that you’d use a disc brake on the front wheel to “avoid cooking the rim”? A rim, being larger, builds heat slower and sheds it faster than a disc. This is one reason why road bikes have been slow to move to disc brakes–the difficulty of shedding head fast enough on long descents to avoid brake fading.

    • BOOM

      It’s not the amount of heat that’s so important as where the heat is. A rim brake on alloy runs the danger of heating up the rim and melting the tire glue (if you are using tubulars, which I’m sure they are on this bike), unseating the tire and causing a wreck. This is even worse on carbon frames, where heat transfer is even more problematic, not to mention the way that carbon wears is much different than alloy.

      A disc brake might build up heat faster, but the metal disc will not fail under the higher heat load, where the complications of a rim/tire system would.

      There are a bunch of reasons why disc breaks haven’t caught on in the raod market, but this, sir, is not one of them.

  • Eric Baumann

    fantastic. any idea how long the cranks are?

  • Phill

    Love the idea behind it and the finished thing looks amazing, but there’s some strange choices going on in the design. Assuming it’s not a UCI backed record and I’m guessing it’s not given the disc brake and deep section wheels, the design seems a little half hearted.
    Surely for a speed record attempt aero is everything, so why not use a disc wheel on the back? How about teardrop down tube and seat tube? Why drill holes in the chainring? Look at the height of the handlebars, why not attach them to the fork crown and drop the spacer tower?

    • Bryan White

      The record attempts will be motor-paced so aero is not so important.

  • Lewn

    I would have used a Shimano Zee or Saint four pot caliper on an ice-tec rotor for anchors, oh Sram sponsorship, d’oh.

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