LONDON

DM

For cycling enthusiast Tom Donhou, there has only ever been one mission. To ride as fast as he possibly can on two wheels.

As a child he was inspired watching and reading about the land speed world record attempts of the 1960s.

And now, in a bid to prove what can be achieved through backyard engineering, he has custom-built a bike which reached speeds of up to 80mph.

A London-based bicycle frame builder by trade, Donhou was determined to build a bike capable of top speeds using the same parts he normally sells to customers.

But to hit such dizzying heights, a departure from the norm was necessary. That came in the form of a 104-tooth chainring which was purposely built for the bike.

And in another tribute to British engineering, he wanted to use his old Ford Zephyr car to block the wind.

With the help of a friend, he built a frame onto the back of the classic car to act as a wind tunnel. ‘The idea had been in my head for a while,’ said Donhou, in a documentary made by Spindle Productions about the attempt.

‘It just needed a tipping point.’

The current land speed record for a bike is 167mph which was set by Fred Rompelberg using a dragster in the Salt Flats.

‘We didnt have a dragster or the Salt Flats,’ said Donhou. ‘But this isn’t about setting records. This was about using our imagination and being resourceful. We used my old car and a bike I built to see how fast we could go.’

During a first run out on the roads, Donhou achieved 60mph. But he felt the bike could definitely go further.

The 80mph top speed was set on an old World War Two runway strip, one of the few places in the UK with enough flat, straight track for Donhou to attempt it.

‘It was potentially, fairly dangerous,’ said Donhou. ‘I was screaming go, go go. Eventually I outran the car and ran out of road.’

Interested to see just how fast his bike is capable of going, Donhou tested it out on rollers back in his workshop and reached 102mph.

And that has given him determination to get back out on the road and go even faster.