The Windcheetah has an enviable reputation in Human Powered Vehicle Racing circles. Designed by Mike Burrows in the early eighties it was the first high performance recumbent trike in the world. There had been other high speed machines, streamliners such as the Vector, but none before the ‘Speedy’ had such an enthusiasm for going around corners. Ballantine had one, and famously claimed that a Speedy could out-corner anything. And it could. Smaller and lighter than anything else on the road, a Speedy can make short work of a Porsche in a switchback. The only downside of the machine’s joi-de-vivre is a high bill for front tyre replacement! The ‘Speedy’ has won races and broken records all over the world, including a LEJoG for a faired machine which still stands. (As per usual – right click and ‘view image’ to see full size)
Demand for the Windcheetah, first from friends, then other BHPVC members and then the wider world meant that Mike was devoting more and more time to making Speedies, but Burrows never wanted to be a bicycle manufacturer, and so he licensed production to good friend and Speedy fan Bob Dixon. Burrows went on to design bikes for Giant in Taiwan, his own long-tail cargo bike the 8 Freight, and a whole bunch of racing bikes. Bob meanwhile manufactured and sold Speedies to customers all over the world, did a bunch of development work and evolved the design, but now, after being located in Cheshire for almost 20 years Windcheetah production has moved north to new premises in Lancashire. It’s entering a new phase.
Karl Sparenberg and his company Advanced Velo Design Ltd. based in Darwen, have recently taken over responsibility of producing the iconic recumbent tricycle on behalf of designer Mike Burrows and has outlined his plans for the future.
“The Windcheetah has always been regarded as the most uncompromising high performance trike on the market and in pure performance terms it would be hard to improve on Mike’s classic design. However, the workshop relocation offers an opportunity to overhaul and improve the Windcheetah manufacturing methods, which in turn will bring improvement in engineering quality. With this in mind we have invested in new jigs and production tooling to improve the consistency and quality of the product. The Windcheetah will remain a hand built product , manufactured in the UK to very high engineering standards.”
Sparenberg’s commitment to continue manufacturing in the UK is unusual at a time when many specialist cycle manufacturers are outsourcing production of frames to Taiwan and China .
“A major part of the appeal of a Windcheetah is the superbly engineered chassis built by artisan engineers. Our customers know that when they order a Windcheetah it will be a hand built machine, manufactured up to a specification and not down to a price. An increasing number of customers also appreciate our policy of sourcing as much as we can locally. From an environmental viewpoint it would be hard to justify having our frames made in Asia, importing them to the UK for assembly and then shipping them back to our markets in America, Europe and Australia. It isn’t possible to source every component in the UK but where possible we do. The chassis is such a fundamental element to the character of the Windcheetah it would be unthinkable to outsource its production. We’re very proud to be a UK company manufacturing a UK product ”
We’re big fans of the Speedy around here. I’ve owned three of them (including, separately, numbers 002 and 003) and Jim still owns 007. Although it’s changed in detail over the years, (the chain doesn’t run down the left hand side these days). it’s a testament to the soundness of the original design that it has remained fundamentally unchanged since it first hit the road.
Windcheetahs are very special. They are iconic, legendary, revered even, and they are held in such high esteem for good reason. Riding a Speedy – flat out, hanging out of the seat to keep the inside wheel down whilst clipping the apex of a curve – should be on every cyclists ‘101 things do to before you die’ list. Nothing else comes close.