Amazing record-setting bicycles


Bicycle designer Didi Senft sits on what he claims is the 'largest functional bicycle in the world' in Pudagla, Germany. His bike has a length of 7.8m, a wheel diameter of 3.3m, a height of 3.7m and a weight of 150kg. Photos: dpa

Bicycles of dizzying speed, weighing tons, and decadently expensive: Here's a look at not only the variety of bikes, but also the extremes – and entries in the record books:

With outside help and a slipstream: 296kph

According to the Guinness Book Of Records, the fastest ride on a bicycle ever was by Denise Mueller-Korenek, who achieved a speed of 296kph on her custom-built bicycle in September 2018.

She did so not on her own power, but towed by a car in the salt flats of the US state of Utah and then, after the tow rope was disengaged. The mother of three raced along in the slip stream behind the car and reached the speed that a Boeing 747 needs to take off. The 45-year-old US citizen, in what she called a "wild ride", broke the long-time record previously held by a man.

Record speed from pure muscle power: 144.17kph

Those who go bicycling know that one factor slowing them down is headwind. But despite this, in September 2016, Canadian rider Todd Reichert, cycling slightly downhill on a straight road in the US state of Nevada, hit a speed of 144.17kph. With his streamlined recumbent bike in the shape of an elongated egg, Reichert broke his own Guinness Book record set the previous year.

The longest distance covered in one hour: 56.792km

Speed champion among men in the "Hour Record" competition is Italian rider Filippo Ganna. In October 2022, the 26-year-old, riding in the Velodrome Suisse track in Grenchen, Switzerland, covered exactly 56.792km. In Mexico in October 2023, his Italian compatriot Vittoria Bussi set the women's record of exactly 50.267km, becoming the first woman ever to break the 50km mark. Both records are officially recognised by the international bicycling federation UCI.

Once around the world and even faster than Jules Verne

French science fiction author Jules Verne's Around The World In 80 Days triggered the 19th century fantasies about a balloon race around the globe. But faster than that was Scottish adventurer Mark Beaumont, who, starting and ending at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, circled the globe on a bicycle in 78 days, 14 hours and 40 minutes.

Jenny Graham at the Brandenburg Gate on her arrival after cycling around the world. She was the first woman to cycle around the world alone in 124 days and 11 hours.Jenny Graham at the Brandenburg Gate on her arrival after cycling around the world. She was the first woman to cycle around the world alone in 124 days and 11 hours.

The then 34-year-old cycled through 16 countries in covering the 29,000km distance. His feat of spending 16 days in the bicycle saddle earned him a spot in the Guinness Book Of Records. The fastest woman to circle the globe on a bike is Jenny Graham of Britain. In 2018, she accomplished the feat in 124 days and 11 hours.

Bicycle sizes: The longest, largest and tiniest

The longest ridable bicycle in the world is in Australia. In November 2020, inventor Bernie Ryan covered 100m on a monstrous 47.5m-long bike to gain an entry in the Guinness Book. As to height, the Guinness record was set on the Baltic Sea island of Usedom in October 2012 when German cycling icon Didi Senft rode a bike with a wheel diameter of 3.3m, a total height of 3.7m and a length of 7.8m. On the other extreme, Sergei Dashevsky of Russia secured a Guinness entry in September 2019 for the smallest ridable bike: 8.4cm.

Like something out of Mad Max: World's heaviest bike

His bicycle seems to be straight out of the Mad Max science fiction series: In June 2022, German scrap metal tinkerer Sebastian Beutler built "Klein Johanna" (Little Johanna) a 5.2m-long-and almost 2m-tall colossus weighing 2.18 tonnes. The world record was confirmed by the Record Institute for Germany, the German-language equivalent of the Guinness Book Of Records.

Weighing 2.18 tonnes, the heaviest bicycle was invented by Sebastian Beutler from Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. It took him three years to build.Weighing 2.18 tonnes, the heaviest bicycle was invented by Sebastian Beutler from Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. It took him three years to build.

Lance Armstrong's Tour de France bike: Half a million dollars

The most expensive bicycle ever sold at auction is one decorated with real butterfly wings. Designed by British artist Damien Hirst, the one-of-a-kind bike changed hands in November 2009 for US$500,000. The reason why someone at Sotheby's in New York would shell out so much money may have to do with the fact that it was the bike that US professional cyclist Lance Armstrong rode in competing in the final stage of the 2009 Tour de France. – dpa/Marc Fleishmann

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