Londoner Tom Donhou may not have even come close to breaking the speed record for cycling on his homemade bicycle (in the 17 years since it was set, no one’s been able to touch Fred Rompelberg’s 167 miles per hour cleared in Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats), but his attempt to push his bike to its limits–and the resulting video documentation–is still pretty impressive.
“Experiments in Speed” shows Donhou’s journey from the workshop–where he spends his days hand-assembling frames for his eponymous bike line–to the old runway where Donhou managed to get his bike up to 80 miles per hour, trailing behind his vintage Zephyr, a Ford built in the United Kingdom, used to cut down on the wind resistance in front of him.
“You get doubts in your head. You’re thinking why are you doing this. You just feel really lonely and vulnerable but as soon as you step on the bike that’s all gone,” Donhou says of the experience on camera. “You’ll just peddle that thing till the wheels come off.”
Ultimately, it was the car–not his legs–that wasn’t able to go any faster. Later, Donhou tested out his bike’s speed on rollers and cleared the 100 mph mark.
For Donhou, the project is more about engineering–“being resourceful, using my old car, using a bike I built and just seeing how fast we could go”–than setting records. He points out that both the bike and car are products of a long tradition of British-manufacturing, assembled only five miles apart from each other, but with five decades between them.