Streamliner shakedown: Guy Martin completes slow speed tests of 400mph record attempt bike

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Guy Martin has completed a slow speed shakedown run on a 1200shp land speed streamliner ahead of attempting to eclipse a new 400mph record on the Bolivian salt flats.

The veteran road racer turned television star appeared at North Weald Airfield in Essex to carry out a series of tests to assess the machine’s ability to steer and brake.

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Called The 52 Express, the bike is powered by a 1200shp (shaft horsepower) Rolls-Royce Gem helicopter gas turbine engine and will attempt to beat the existing record of 376.363mph currently held by Rocky Robinson in the Ack Attack streamliner.

The final attempt will take place at the Salar de Uyuni salt flats in Bolivia, with slower test runs below 200mph due to take place in the UK first.

Guy in the cockpit ahead of testing

Led by former GP and TT sidecar racer Alex Macfadzean and managed by former British Superbike team owner Bernie Toleman, the linear machine has previously undergone a series of hub dyno runs, which showed it both started and ran well, however tougher final drive gears were added prior to this latest test.

Body shape and air intake research is also underway at engineering firm HORIBA MIRA, with more details set to be released soon.

Alongside Guy’s ability to stop and control the liner, the Essex day was also used to assess how sedately it could be driven upright on two wheels – with videos appearing on the team’s Facebook page showing the craft being towed behind a van.

Using stabilisers complete with kart wheels attached for initial launch, the results showed Martin could get the enclosed two-wheeler up into a controlled, balanced state from as little as 30-35mph – with the final design instead using integral side skids for balance once they reach the salt.

An engine fire up was also done at the start of the day, with the machine raised on stands to check key elements and bed in the rear brake pads.

The latest test took place at an Essex airfield


British 400mph record bid boosted by classics sales

First published on 12 May 2021 by Andy Calton

The team are hoping for 400mph with their creation

The man behind a bold British attempt on the motorcycle world speed record is selling some of his classic bikes to fund the project and help get the streamliner to salt flats in South America.

The 52 Express is a 1200bhp streamliner built by former GP racer Alex Macfadzean and powered by a helicopter gas turbine. Talks are even underway to secure Guy Martin’s services as rider and Channel 4 may turn the campaign into a TV show. 

The current outright world motorcycle record of 376.363mph was set in 2010 by American Rocky Robinson at Bonneville in the twin Suzuki Hayabusa-engined ‘Ack-Attack’ streamliner.

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Macfadzean hopes to break 400mph in his attempt, which he expects to take place at the high salt desert at Uyuni, Bolivia in July 2022.

To raise further funds for the project, Macfadzean is selling off his BMW collection including a 1968 R69S, 1967 R50/2, 1970 R60/5, 1961 R50S and 1964 R27 at Silverstone Auctions’ sale on May 22.

"We are delighted to be offering the five BMW motorcycles in our May Sale in order to help fund this motorcycle land speed record attempt," said Mark Bryan, Motorcycle Manager for Silverstone Auctions. "This is a fantastic opportunity for all involved."


Guy Martin could pilot 400mph bike in world record attempt

First published on 26 April, 2021 by Andy Calton

Guy Martin may pilot the machine in Bolivia

This British built streamliner will attempt to become the first motorcycle to smash the 400mph barrier next year… and Guy Martin could be at the controls!

The turbine motorcycle streamliner has machined, billet aluminium bulkheads and transfer cases, aircraft-grade steel tubing, a riveted alloy sheet cockpit monocoque and a 1200bhp, 50-year-old Rolls-Royce helicopter engine. Carbon-fibre body panels will be fitted later this summer.

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The fully-enclosed two-wheeler has been designed and built over the past decade by team principal Alex Macfadzean, team manager Bernie Toleman (ex-endurance racer and British Superbike team owner), technical manager Dave Blundell, design engineer Alastair Smith and their small team, working from Alex’s Essex base.

Carbon bodywork will be fitted later

The next steps for the ambitious project are rolling-road runs, wind tunnel testing and 'low-speed' (under 200mph) testing of all systems in the UK (on former RAF airfields) beginning in June 2021 with initial world record attempts planned for the Uyuni, Bolivia high salt desert in July, 2022.

The absolute motorcycle record today stands at 376.363mph, set in 2010 by American Rocky Robinson. The British team hope to crack 400mph. Alex said: "It is a great target – and just one of those things I have to do. I was asked recently where the line was between commitment and obsession. I laughed, because I couldn’t say – I guess I have always been too obsessed to have noticed."

The team is hoping Guy Martin will pilot the bike, with talks of a TV show to go alongside, but nothing has yet been confirmed. Guy has been riding a heavily modified Suzuki Hayabusa recently and has been closing in on 300mph, so this latest offer could well appeal to the speed-mad ex TT racer.

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Dan Sutherland

By Dan Sutherland

Senior Writer (motorcycling), sportsbike nut, currently riding a FireBlade