Bicycles

Interview with a madman: Francois Gissy hits 333 km/h on rocket-powered bicycle

Interview with a madman: Franc...
Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle that took him to 333 km/h (207 mph) (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle that took him to 333 km/h (207 mph) (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
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Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
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Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
A top speed of 333km/h is nothing to sneeze at (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
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A top speed of 333km/h is nothing to sneeze at (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle at Circuit Paul Ricard in the South of France (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
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Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle at Circuit Paul Ricard in the South of France (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle races a Ferrari F430 Scuderia – the car never had a chance (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
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Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle races a Ferrari F430 Scuderia – the car never had a chance (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle races a Ferrari F430 Scuderia – the car never had a chance (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
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Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle races a Ferrari F430 Scuderia – the car never had a chance (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle races a Ferrari F430 Scuderia – the car never had a chance (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
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Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle races a Ferrari F430 Scuderia – the car never had a chance (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
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Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
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Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
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Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
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Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle that took him to 333 km/h (207 mph) (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
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Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle that took him to 333 km/h (207 mph) (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
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Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
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Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle – fueling up (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
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Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle – fueling up (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle – fueling up (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
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Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle – fueling up (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle – fueling up (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
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Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle – fueling up (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle – fueling up (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
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Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle – fueling up (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
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Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle beside the Ferrari F430 Scuderia (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
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Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle beside the Ferrari F430 Scuderia (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle beside the Ferrari F430 Scuderia (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
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Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle beside the Ferrari F430 Scuderia (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle beside the Ferrari F430 Scuderia (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
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Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle beside the Ferrari F430 Scuderia (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
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Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
Francois Gissy on the way to 333km/h (207 mph) on his crazy rocket bicycle (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
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Francois Gissy on the way to 333km/h (207 mph) on his crazy rocket bicycle (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
Ferrari F430 vs. bicycle – the car never had a chance (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
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Ferrari F430 vs. bicycle – the car never had a chance (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
Rear view as the rocket bicycle accelerates to 333 km/h (207 mph) in just 4.8 seconds (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
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Rear view as the rocket bicycle accelerates to 333 km/h (207 mph) in just 4.8 seconds (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
Francois Gissy – madman
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Francois Gissy – madman

Last November, Frenchman Francois Gissy hit 285 km/h (177 mph) on a rocket-powered bicycle. Now, at the Circuit Paul Ricard in the South of France, he's knocked his own world record out of the park. Dialing in a massive 4.5 kN of thrust, which generates roughly the equivalent of 560 horsepower, Gissy took his rickety-looking rocket bike up to a monstrous 333 km/h (207 mph), hitting top speed in just 4.8 seconds and generating about 1.96 Gs worth of acceleration. We had a quick chat with Gissy, who tells us he's hoping his next run will put him over 400 km/h (249 mph) in less than two seconds on a machine he's calling the "Spine Crusher."

Francois Gissy could be described as a bit of a madman. There's really no other word for a guy who straps rockets to a pushbike and goes around setting speed records. I've been above 250 km/h several times on motorcycles, and the force of the wind is absolutely furious at that pace. Gissy is going far quicker, without the benefit of aerodynamic fairings, rear suspension, or even disc brakes. Not only that, consider the sheer acceleration required to take a person from standstill to more than 200 mph in less than five seconds. Absolutely ridiculous.

Francois Gissy – madman
Francois Gissy – madman

We had the chance to ask Gissy a few questions after his record-breaking run.

Gizmag: Can you describe the setup of the bicycle and its rocket components.

Gissy: The bicycle is pushed forward by a rocket thruster. It’s a variant of downhill riding, like on a speed skiing slope, which is relying on a gravity engine. Except that the rocket-propelled variant is much ballsier.

Now the bicycle is equipped with a cluster of three small thrusters instead of two. The fuel is highly concentrated hydrogen peroxide. With this setup I have reached 333 km/h in 4.8 seconds. The thrust was 4.5 kN, which is equal to 416 kW of power at 333 km/h, which is a lot on such a skinny machine…

Gizmag: Can you talk us through your top speed run?

Gissy: How did it feel to accelerate so quickly? In the moment it is scary, but as soon you stop, you also realize how amazing that was! You cannot describe it, you have to live it.

Gizmag: What does 300+ km/h feel like on a naked bicycle?

Gissy: You better understand why the wind can do so much damage during powerful storms. I’m lucky my head is still bolted on the body!

Gizmag: Why no aerodynamics? Why not a motorcycle?

Gissy: Because it’s a true challenge. We also have a very powerful motorcycle waiting in our drawers, but I guess I like the craziness of the bicycle too much. Maybe when I will get too old I will start to think about the comfort of a motorcycle.

Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)
Francois Gissy's rocket bicycle (Photo: Gerard Toutin / Exotic Thermo Engineering)

Gizmag: Now that you have broken the 300 km/h barrier, what's next?

Gissy: If we can find some serious sponsors, then we would like to build a monstrous bicycle, which will be called “Spine Crusher.” The goal would be to accelerate to more than 400 km/h (249 mph) in less than two seconds. I just cross my fingers that we will have the green light soon in order to start the construction. But it doesn’t depend on me.

Gizmag: What happened to the relationship with Hublot (which sponsored the 285 km/h run?)

Gissy: Good question! Ask them yourself; maybe they will give you the answer we are still waiting for. As for us, except [for a] lot of promises a year ago, there is nothing else. We assume they thought the project was too crazy. That’s sad because if all went as planned initially, the bicycle would be three to four times more powerful as it is today.

Gizmag: Are you still driving buses for a living? Is it hard to go back to something so big and slow after riding something so tiny and fast.

Gissy: No, I don’t ride buses at this time. On four wheels we also have a crazy project, but it doesn’t involve a bus.

We wish Gissy the best of luck finding sponsorship for the Spine Crusher and we hope it doesn't live up to its name! You can keep up with Gissy's exploits at his Facebook page.

Anyway, the video is pretty mind-boggling, check it out.

François Gissy Bicycle World Record 207 mph 333 km/h

15 comments
Mel Tisdale
Rather him than me!
Brian M
Hydrogen Peroxide rockets - Otherwise known as a bomb! Hate to thing what his life insurance premium is!!
wle
we all are going to die this guy, i predict will go pretty soon wle
Frank Lee
I wonder if standard bicycle components, especially tires and wheel bearings and the like were used?
Kyle Wagner
Just wondering how he stopped this thing at the end of the run? I see no parachute or even disc brakes as a backup. I don't imagine V-brakes would be very effective at those speeds! I'm guessing maybe the poor aerodynamics and low mass means he rapidly slows to sane speeds just by shutting down the rockets?
warren52nz
0-400 kph in 2 seconds??? That's 11 g's average. He'd blackout but before that he'd fall off because if he weighs 80 Kgs the force backwards will be 880 Kgs!
Schuyler19
Would anyone else like to achieve something like this? Or am I crazier than he is?
Rehab
He is working his way up the speed scale, perhaps 600 km/h in the near future? Next he will choose vertical flight for altitude records. Hey this guy could ground Virgin Galactic for good. Very brave!
bergamot69
Astonishing, absolute lunacy, and somehow very admirable. All the same, I'm not sure this man should be driving buses for a living...
Yonian Anda
"Francois Gissy", the new definition for "Shock and Awe". I wonder how long it took him to pedal back to the starting line? :-)