Fastest speed on a bicycle 152 mph!


New Member
Aug 3, 2003
Is John Howard the world record holder of speed on a bike? anyone know how he did it? towed behind a corvette? i am riding El Tour Tucson this weekend here is part of an email i received today.

I'll be riding El Tour with cycling legend John Howard, 18 time
National Masters Champion, 3-time Olympian, world class
cycling coach and the fastest cyclist alive (152 mph!), amongst
his other incredible accomplishments!

I found an article here after i posted, pedaled behind a rocket car on Utah flats

I wonder hww big of chain rings he had and what kind of bike, anyone know?

On a bright day 15 years ago, when John Howard was 37 years old, he strapped on a helmet and cinched his feet tightly to the pedals of his bicycle. Howard gripped the custom handlebars tightly as he stared into the rocket thrusters of the sleek racecar that was barely a foot ahead of his front wheel. His incredible goal was to break the world speed record for bicycles by pedaling as fast as he could behind the rocket car as it streaked across the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.

Once again, John Howard was taking it to the limit. The three-time member of the U.S. Olympic cycling team and world-class endurance athlete had already won the 1981 140-mile Ironman Triathlon world championship in Hawaii by swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles, and running 26.2 miles. He'd also placed second in the 1982 Race Across America, a non-stop bicycle race from Santa Monica to New York City. Not content to rest on his amazing laurels, the lanky Californian wanted to add the prestigious bike speed record to his long list of athletic accomplishments.

Howard risked his life that day as he furiously pedaled to a speed of 152 mph. He broke the speed record and was awarded the world title − an improbable record that remains unchallenged to this day.

In his fifties now, and in excellent physical shape, Howard coaches world-class athletes at his School of Champions in Encinitas, California. A motivational speaker and entrepreneur, Howard is always looking for ways to challenge himself, both mentally and physically. One of his primary interests these days is marketing the WaveWalker, a high-tech pedal-powered watercraft he designed more than a decade ago. Howard envisions Americans one day pedaling the WaveWalker across waterways as an effective and fun way to get an aerobic workout. In the accompanying exclusive FitLinxx interview, Howard talks about the powerful force of his ambitions.


New Member
Oct 7, 2004
zaskar said:
I wonder hww big of chain rings he had and what kind of bike, anyone know?
If i remember correctly it was a multiple gearing system. Meaning that a "normal" crank turned a small gear which was attached to a big gear that turned another small gear.


Well-Known Member
Oct 3, 2006
dhk2 said:
Yep, a most impressive record. The photo shows the multiple gear set up on the bike. Looks like great fun to me, maybe a trifle risky though :)
Yeah, the bike had a jackshaft system to get the big gear ratios without a chainring that would have dug a trench in the ground. He also drafted a serious speed machine on the Bonneville Salt Flats with a large rear faring on the pace car that all but shielded him as he rode. One detail I remember was him getting flat tires in the early attempts because the valves in his tires (Schraders if I recall correctly) opened up under the centrifugal forces and nearly killed him at 100+ mph. I also remember reading that he trained by hanging out at the top of downhill freeway on ramps waiting for big rigs to come by then sprinted downhill and drafted them.


New Member
Jun 15, 2005
the car used was a "normal" engined land speed record car, modified with a big enclosed "ramp" for JH to draft. There was a bump bar in that little housing and a rubber ball on the front of the bike so he could bump into the car with no ill effect.

he went about 1 rpm per mph or so. he got towed to 40 mph so he could pedal and balance.

the effort was considered equal to doing a pursuit. less a sprint effort than it might seem. JH was not known for his sprint but more for his pursuit type efforts.

Bicycling Magazine did a "review" of the bike, geared for more reasonable speeds (I think 60 or 70 mph). If I remember, the gear was an effective 180", which is not too much higher than a 53x11 (120"), at least relative to 300" or whatever his gear was. they had a hard time going 50+ mph behind a truck or van, and their rider was no slouch. so a very impressive effort by JH.

I was in CA in Feb 2005 doing some riding with a friend when suddenly some "old guy" went flying past me on a short climb, warning me "the group is right behind me". I looked back and tried to latch on to a flying group led primarily by pro women. I came off pretty quickly, within a minute. After regrouping at a church, I was able to stay with them for a bit. I was amused by the site of a woman pushing a struggling man up a hill. It may sound like I'm mocking her but it's with all due respect - I got dropped on the same hill. My friend pointed out that the "woman" was the current world tri champion (Michelle something), pushing her less fit friend. And the "old guy" was John Howard. The ride is the Swami's ride in the San Diego area. JH is still flying.

JH broke the 24 hour paced record in NYC. The local team asked for volunteers to pace him. I didn't go but apparently he asked them to go hard on the flats and downhills and much easier on the hills. Makes sense as he benefits from drafting more on flats and especially on downhills. He was hard core - used a catheter so he wouldnt have to stop. And he broke the record of course.



Active Member
Aug 8, 2006
Yeah, cool insider info on JH. The guy is certainly an inspiration to old guys like me.

Hope El Tour goes well for you this weekend.


New Member
Aug 2, 2005
Here is a great picture of John Howard on his bike.