Motorcycles

Briton Richard Brown aims for world two-wheeled land speed record

Briton Richard Brown aims for ...
The Jet Reaction during a test run in England
The Jet Reaction during a test run in England
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The Jet Reaction during a test run in England
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The Jet Reaction during a test run in England
The Jet Reaction, looking more like a land torpedo than a motorcycle
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The Jet Reaction, looking more like a land torpedo than a motorcycle
The Jet Reaction shows its 3-wheeled configuration during a test run
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The Jet Reaction shows its 3-wheeled configuration during a test run
The Jet Reaction undergoing testing at a British airfield
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The Jet Reaction undergoing testing at a British airfield
The man and his machine: Richard Brown and Jet Reaction
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The man and his machine: Richard Brown and Jet Reaction
The business end of the Jet Reaction motorcycle
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The business end of the Jet Reaction motorcycle
Jet Reaction at rest – the tricycle "training wheels" on the back will be removed by the time the machine hits the salt this fall
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Jet Reaction at rest – the tricycle "training wheels" on the back will be removed by the time the machine hits the salt this fall
The profile view of Jet Reaction
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The profile view of Jet Reaction
Jet Reaction on its transport trailer
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Jet Reaction on its transport trailer
Jet Reaction on its transport trailer
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Jet Reaction on its transport trailer
Jet Reaction on display at The Goodwood Festival of Speed
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Jet Reaction on display at The Goodwood Festival of Speed
Richard Brown, engineer, designer and rocket motorcycle rider
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Richard Brown, engineer, designer and rocket motorcycle rider
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It takes a certain kind of person to take on Land Speed Record (LSR) racing. When you’re doing 300 mph (482 km/h), or more, things can go real wrong, real fast. Now imagine doing that on a motorcycle. Now imagine going over 400 mph (644 km/h) and you can see just how daunting, if not down right crazy, the task is.

Richard Brown is a man who finds the idea of going that fast to be more of a challenge than a terrifying likelihood of fiery failure. The British engineer is not a new-comer to the LSR game. In 1999 he rode his rocket powered Gillette Mach 3 Challenger motorcycle to an officially timed one way speed of 332.887 mph (535.729 km/h) on the Bonneville Salt Flats. Sadly, Brown’s speed attempt was not officially recognized, since he only ran the bike one way. The rules stipulate that any speed record attempt must be made in both directions, to account for variations in wind speed.

It’s also worth noting that what Mr. Brown and his fellow motorcycle speed seekers are riding are "motorcycles" insofar as they have two wheels. The modern LSR bike has more in common with a Sidewinder air-to-air missile than it does with a Harley-Davidson. The vehicles are fully enclosed in fairings that make them look like drop tanks, and if you want to turn out the really big numbers, a rider has to drop the internal combustion engine driving the rear wheel and opt for more exotic means of propulsion.

Unlike the rockets used in Richard Brown’s 1999 attempt, this time the design utilizes a turboshaft helicopter engine converted to a pure thrust turbojet, complete with an afterburner. Essentially what he has designed and built is analogous to an engineless Harley with an enormous hair drier attached to the rear end.

The man and his machine: Richard Brown and Jet Reaction
The man and his machine: Richard Brown and Jet Reaction

Richard Brown is a trained engineer, and he figures that if he has his sums right, by the time he’s on the salt his two-wheeled streamliner, dubbed Jet Reaction, will be capable of hitting 400+ miles an hour. That’s 586 feet every second or the length of a soccer pitch in little more than the blink of an eye.

Brown is advancing into new territory here for sure. No one has ever gone 400 mph on a bike before, but others have gotten close. The Castrol Rocket was a conventionally-powered streamliner built in 2013. We covered its development, but poor salt conditions resulted in no attempts in 2014 as planned. Denis Manning’s BUB 7 Streamliner hit a two-way average speed of over 350 mph (563 km/h) and the current World Two Wheeled Land Speed Record of 376.373 mph (605.713 km/h) is held by an American, Rocky Robinson since 2010.

The fact that an American holds the record no doubt rankles Richard Brown, since he points out that "You need to go back in the history books to 1937 to find the last British holder of the motorcycle record, Eric Fernihough riding a streamlined Brough Superior motorcycle to a speed of 169 mph [272 km/h]."

Unlike that streamlined Brough Superior, the Jet Reaction will be using the earlier-mentioned gas turbine engine. A turbine engine offers more throttle response than going with pure rockets, and a turbine is also quicker to turn around at the far end of the track for the required return run.

The business end of the Jet Reaction motorcycle
The business end of the Jet Reaction motorcycle

Mr. Brown represents the Jet Reaction project partly as "unfinished business" and goes on to say that "It's also an opportunity to demonstrate how a small team of talented individuals without vast financial support can produce a world-class vehicle."

The team is now in the final stages of testing in the UK before shipping the bike to the Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah, where the assault on the official world record will take place. Part of this testing means that Jet Reaction will run with three wheels as shown in the pictures. Running these "training wheels" allows the team to concentrate on data acquisition and power plant run-in without having to worry about vehicle stability and low speed accidents.

Before taking off for Utah in September, Richard Brown hopes to run the Jet Reaction on the famous Pendine Sands, Wales in May. If conditions permit, he looks forward to a number of UK speed records being challenged if not broken outright.

Source: Jet Reaction

View gallery - 12 images
5 comments
The Skud
Brave man! I wish him luck in his attempts on the records. He must find it hard to fit in the office space though, with his giant brass b**ls!
Michiel Mitchell
2 wheels... 3 wheels, meh, who's counting anyway... it's still bad-ass [As stated in the article: "The team is now in the final stages of testing in the UK before shipping the bike to the Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah, where the assault on the official world record will take place. Part of this testing means that Jet Reaction will run with three wheels as shown in the pictures. Running these 'training wheels' allows the team to concentrate on data acquisition and power plant run-in without having to worry about vehicle stability and low speed accidents." - Ed.]
Ernie Bee
TRIKE world speed record ONLY. No way is this thing to be considered a real motorcycle. If he claims it is, that's cheating, denying the REAL motorcyclists their genuine records. Definition: Motorcycle allows cornering at zero gees. Trike, regardless of "legal" definition, will NOT do that; he goes around a corner in that thing, his body will be forced outward. Therefore NOT a motorcycle. Stop beating around the bush on this issue; others have tried it before and it doesn't work. A trike is a trike. Two wheels in line is a motorcycle. Call it STV, Single Track Vehicle. A trike has THREE tracks, one more than a car, fer cryin' out loud. Shape up, guys!
Martin Hone
Big difference between 'wheel-driven' and rocket or turbine-powered machinery. However, given enough power and suitable aerodynamics, then he should be able to achieve it.
Griffin
The Original Spirit of America was 3-wheeled- there was MUCH controversy over that but Craig Breedlove officially got to 400 before Donald Campbell did with the Turbine-powered wheel-driven Proteus. The FIA would not ratify it as a car- The FIM DID as a "cycle-car". Most people no longer care and history references it as the first "car" to go over 400. Art Arfons' 4-wheel "Green Monster" was the first "car" to go over 400 and 500- AFTER Breedlove did it. "Goldenrod" was the First wheel-driven "car" to go over 400, featuring 4 Hemi's and 4-wheel-drive. No wheel-driven car has gone over 400. This one will likely set records as a 3-wheeler and then as a two wheeler. The only thing is that converted Turbo-shaft motor is not very powerful and neither are most home-made afterburners. Still, he'll set some kind of a record considering that there just aren't that many thrust-powered 2 or 3-wheelers. If you want to see a really silly class, look up streamlined "sidecars"- it's nothing but an outrigger.