147 miles per hour is fast in a car. On a bike, it’s a world record.
Denise Mueller set the world record for the fastest woman to ride a bike on flat ground on Saturday at Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats. She hit 147 mph while pedaling a highly specialized bicycle behind a pace car.
Mueller set the Woman’s “Paced Bicycle Land Speed Record” while drafting a vehicle driven by professional auto racer Shea Holbrook. Holbrook’s precision driving, just inches ahead of Mueller’s front wheel, punched a hole in the air to minimize wind resistance for Mueller.
For this record, cyclists are towed to about 90 mph, then set free to pedal on their own power in the car’s slip stream. They are towed up to speed because they could not turn the massive, single gear on the bike from a stand-still.
“It is uncharted territory,” Muller told Women Who Cycle. “Something no woman has done before, yet men have been setting these records starting with Charlie ‘Mike A Minute’ Murphy in 1899… I want to give women a voice on my bike at Bonneville.”
Mueller, 43, of Carlsbad, Calif., is the current U.S. National Criterium Champion.
Bike For World Record Speed
Her bike was custom-built by Chris Garcia of SD Wheel Works with technical support from DaVinci Bikes and KHS Bicycles. It has a range of technologies that enable Mueller to maintain stability and minimize wobble at high speeds while generating maximum power.
These innovations include double-reduction gearing, massive 60-tooth chainrings, custom 17-inch dragster wheels with shaved tires, an elongated frame, steering stabilizers, and a BodyFloat isolation seatpost that dampens harmonics and vibrations, ensuring a smooth pedaling cadence and optimal traction at speed.
“The BodyFloat isolation seatpost is an incredible performance enhancer that helps me stay connected and smooths my spin. It allows me to keep the bike extremely stable underneath me,” Mueller said.
On Monday and Tuesday, Mueller will attempt to top 147 mph and beat her coach John Howard’s old record of 152.2. “We fully expect her to beat 152 and maybe hit 155.”
The men’s world record, 167 mph, was set in 1995 by Fred Rompleberg of the Netherlands. “We don’t have enough track to beat the men’s world record,” Howard says. “We’ve got four miles and we’d need six.”