Words and photos by Simon Smythe
Here’s a dinner plate to satisfy somebody with a super-sized appetite for speed. This 104-tooth chainring (right), paired with a 13-tooth sprocket, is what frame-builder Tom Donhou hopes to wind up to 100mph on a bike specially built for the attempt, behind a tuned, customised vintage Ford.
Donhou, 32, was inspired by the land-speed record breakers of the 1960s. “I love reading about those guys who were going head to head, Art Arfons and Craig Breedlove,” he told CW at the Bespoked Bristol bike show in April. “I was thinking, how can I do something like that?”
The idea sat in Donhou’s head until he met a film-maker who wanted to make a video about his bikes. “I don’t really want to see another ‘builder guy’ video,” explained Donhou, “so I suggested doing something on this.”
He built the bike out of Columbus Max, the stiff, bi-ovalised steel tubing that first appeared in the 1980s and is now being made again. It has extra trail built into the front end for stability, and a reinforced double-crown fork. There’s a front disc brake for stopping power and hand-built Enve wheels with Conti Sprinter Gatorskin 25mm tubs.
Donhou has already tested the bike up to 60mph, using a gear of 104×19. “We went out early one Sunday morning and did a run on the southern bypass around Norwich, got it up to 60mph and it felt good. Now we’ve looked into some testing grounds and have an airstrip in the Midlands lined up.
“We’re just going to get out there and try it. That’s where we can see if I’ve built the frame right and Gav has built the wheels right. It’s all the unknown for us.”
Donhou will not reveal the location of the airstrip, nor the exact timing of the attempt. “We’re waiting for a break in the weather,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it but it’s going to be pretty scary.”
Go to www.donhoubicycles.com for more information.
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This article first appeared in the April 18 issue of Cycling Weekly. Read Cycling Weekly magazine on the day of release where ever you are in the world International digital edition, UK digital edition. And if you like us, rate us!