This steam-powered motorcycle sets a new world record for standing 1/8th mile time

The distance was covered in a record time of just 3.878 seconds.
Jijo Malayil
Force of Nature's motorcycle on the track
Force of Nature's motorcycle on the track

Force of Nature 

Chasing speed records has been around since the invention of vehicles, often intended to showcase the pinnacle of automotive engineering. 

To that extent, a steam-powered bike has just set a new world record for the standing 1/8th mile time for a vehicle of its kind. The team at Force of Nature, run by a UK-based couple, propelled their motorcycle to cover the distance in just 3.878 seconds. The exit speed was rated at 163.8 mph (262 kmh). The motorcycle went on to hit a top speed of 180 mph (289 kph). The record was ratified by the UK & ITA governing body for UK and European land speed records at the Elvington Speed Week.

The Force of Nature team is a small family-run engineering firm founded by Graham Sykes and his wife, Diane. The former acts as the chief designer and engineer for the concept and has been involved in straight-line motorsport since 1979. 

A one-of-kind steam-powered speed rocket

Force of Nature is a steam-powered motorcycle built for drag racing, record-breaking exhibitions, and events. It generates the thrust necessary to move the bike ahead by using the latent energy of steam. 

In order to produce pressure, the bike superheats pure water. The water is then fed through a specially formed nozzle when the proper pressure has been reached. The superheated water flashes to steam as it exits through the de Laval nozzle, providing rocket thrust until the pressure vessel of the bike is empty. Vegetable oil that has been hydrogenated is used to produce heat that reaches 392°F (200°C) and 30 bar of pressure.

According to its makers, they have not used any proprietary motorcycle parts unless they were deemed unimprovable. "The idea was to build a steam-powered Rocket bike with a potential speed of 200+mph (321 kph+), which had never been achieved before," said a blog post from the firm. 

Temworth-based Pressure Vessel Specialists provided the team with the required custom-made parts and specific dimensions to help optimize the bike’s performance. "Initially, we made a 50-liter Stainless Steel 316/L vessel and then after testing we made a 130 Litre vessel to increase the capacity of the bike, heating tubes run through the vessel to get the water to 200°C," said a post on their website. The firm has been supporting Skyes on his Force Of Nature Steam Rocket Bike project for the past 10 years. 

The team is confident that its propulsion system has enough potential to offer, helping it to achieve a top speed crossing 200mph (321 kph). "There is still lots more power to come, and I feel sure we will run quicker in the coming months," said Skyes.

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