Jan Bos travels at 124.73 km/h in Speed Challenge on high-tech recumbent bike designed by TU Delft and VU Amsterdam

News - 18 September 2016

Earlier today, students attending TU Delft and VU Amsterdam became the third fastest student team at a bicycle speed race in the USA. Former Olympic ice skater Jan Bos raced on behalf of the student team in the World Human Powered Speed Challenge. Bos recorded a top speed of 124.73 km/h on the lightning-fast Velox 6: a high-tech, aerodynamic recumbent bike designed and built by TU Delft and VU Amsterdam students. The world record was also broken at last night’s event, with Canadian Todd Reichert achieving a speed of 144.15 km/h.

TU Delft - Launch of high-tech, aerodynamic recumbent bike Human Power Team Delft and Amsterdam

Jan Bos’ speed was recorded during the World Human Powered Speed Challenge on a 10 km-long, straight stretch of road in America’s Nevada desert. The former speed skater was disappointed that he was unable to break the world record, but was nevertheless pleased with how the race went. “I couldn’t wait to race every single day. Improvements were being made to the bike all the time, the team was constantly learning, and each run brought me new experiences. And a speed of 124.73 km/h on a recumbent bicycle is certainly a result to be proud of,” enthused Bos. The students themselves were also satisfied with the result. Hugo Lambriex, Team Manager of the Human Power Team, added, “Jan Bos was in good shape and the engineering worked perfectly, but the wind was unfortunately not in our favour. We had naturally hoped to secure a world record, but it is great that we were able to come away as the third fastest student team with our recumbent bike.”   

The team plan to return next year for another world record attempt. A Dutch student team succeeded in breaking the world record there in 2013, when Sebastiaan Bowier clocked a top speed of 133.78 km/h.  

Aerodynamics and training

This bronze medal is the result of a close collaboration between students attending TU Delft and VU Amsterdam. They call themselves the Human Power Team. They spent a year working with Jan Bos fine-tuning the technical design of this completely human-powered recumbent bike and scientifically honing the movements. Jan Bos worked on his endurance level and extensively practised his sprint technique with the Amsterdam students. For their part, the TU Delft students optimised the aerodynamics and stability of the bike using wind tunnels, computer models and testing facilities.  



While last year's record attempt failed partly because of the blustery side wind, this year’s new aerodynamic hood proved a success for the students. “This innovation makes the new recumbent more stable and faster,” says Lambriex, a student of mechanical engineering at TU Delft. Riding in a straight line is quite a challenge, since Bos can only see using a camera system and screen fitted to the bike. There are no windows, because they would cause too much air resistance. “Thanks to the various test rides in the last year, I have mastered the art of using this system to navigate, but it's still weird not to be able to see the road when you are riding over 120 km/h,” explains Bos.

Healthy and sustainable

As well as achieving high speed and winning a bronze medal, the students in the Human Power Team feel that it is important to show the world what the human body is capable of achieving. “Using a superbike like this, an adult could cycle to work at a speed of 50 km/h. If applied and implemented properly, this technology has the potential to make the Netherlands healthier and more sustainable,” argues Lambriex. 

More information

Hugo Lambriex
(Team Manager Human Power Team), teammanager@hptdelft.nl ,
+1  415 919 7242 (VS),
+31 6 54 29 09 41.

Claire Hallewas (Press Officer TU Delft), c.r.hallewas@tudelft.nl ,
+31 6 40 95 30 85.

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