British precision engineering team, Graham and Diane Sykes, recently etched their names in the annals of motoring history by setting a new world record for the fastest standing 1/8th mile time for a steam-powered motorcycle. Showcased at the Elvington Speed Week, their revolutionary vehicle, dubbed the “Force of Nature,” is an intriguing combination of classic engineering and modern design.
Graham Sykes, who piloted the motorcycle for the record-breaking attempt, achieved a standing eighth time of a mere 3.878 seconds, with a recorded exit speed of 163.8 mph (264 km/h). Interestingly, the bike maintained its acceleration momentum post the record-breaking attempt, touching a thrilling speed of 180 mph (290 km/h). Despite achieving this incredible feat, the team believes there’s still more room for improvement.
The design of the Force of Nature is a striking departure from typical motorcycles. Unlike most drag bikes, there’s no need for a wheelie bar on the Force of Nature. This is because the bike’s rear wheel isn’t driven, so there’s no propensity for the bike to stand up.
Instead, Sykes mounts the bike superman-style, gripping on for dear life as the bike propels forward with a brutal force that could only be compared to a rocket blast. The propulsion comes from steam, pushed backward through two nozzles causing the bike to surge forward. The surge of speed is utterly intense, as showcased in the video below (courtesy Graham Sykes / Facebook):
This steam propulsion mechanism is akin to the system that Scott Truax built for Eddie Braun’s Evel Knievel tribute. Braun’s steam rocket soared high into the sky, covering a vast stretch of the Snake River Canyon before making a parachute-assisted landing. Generating a whopping 10,000 horsepower, Braun’s vehicle accelerated to about 430 mph (~700 km/h) within five seconds, which underscores the potential that steam power holds for Sykes’s bike.
However, in the realm of rocket bikes, the ultimate speed seems to be the only boundary. The fastest motorcycle ever to complete a quarter-mile was a hydrogen-peroxide rocket bike. Expertly piloted by Frenchman Eric Teboul, the bike produced around 6,000 pounds of thrust and had a power-to-weight ratio of approximately 10:1. Last September, Teboul astounded the racing world by completing the first ever two-wheeled quarter-mile in under five seconds, clocking 4.976 seconds at 290.51 mph (467.53 km/h). His final run can be seen in the video below.
While Teboul’s accomplishment remains unmatched, the Sykes’s steam-powered motorcycle shows that there is still much to explore in the area of steam-powered propulsion. Given the couple’s passion for pushing boundaries and their technological prowess, we anticipate seeing even more impressive feats from them in the near future.
Source: Force of Nature