Experiments in Speed is our short documentary following bicycle builder Tom Donhou. Tom has long been an admirer of the great men of the salt flats in Utah, pushing the boundaries of what speeds are achievable. The inspiration to build a bike with the basic raw materials and using what was available came directly from what the guys back in the 1960′s were doing, with very little funding but the desire to take themselves to the limit.
We started filming with Tom back in November 2012, documenting the basic assembly of the tubes that would eventually form the speed bike. Tom went with Columbus tubing, a steel that he uses to build bikes for his customers. The oversize nature of the tubes would hopefully provide the strength and stability needed for the high speeds the bike would endure.
January saw us travel down to Royce on the south coast, a British cycle component company steeped in sporting history. It was on the journey down with Tom in the car that we got to know a bit more about him, the story of him cycling across Asia and having a roadside camping epiphany to start his own bicycle business, plus his respect for the Bonneville pioneers. With Royce on board to provide the 102t chainring, the project would be fully underway by the time it came to filming the building of the spoiler for the Ford Zephyr that Tom would be drafting in.
On a cold February morning, we met in a car park adjacent to the A47, the road that Tom would make his first shakedown test. The road is an open dual carriageway, so we had to be constantly aware of traffic. After the initial run we took the bike to the backroads around Ringland, to test the stability at lower speeds and identify any kinks that would need to be ironed out.
With the kinks ironed out, a sharp paint job and a new set of ENVE carbon rims hand built by August Wheelworks, the bike was ready for it’s international debut at Bespoked in Bristol. With the press picking up the story and photographs of the bike being shared on blogs across the world, the pressure was on.
We found a gap in the dismal spring weather and set the stage for the speed run at Bruntingthorpe proving ground, an old WWII airstrip. The rest, as they say, is history.
We’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in this project, without whom we’d never have been able to produce something that we’re so proud of. Huge respect to Tom, we’ll see you for part two!