A GRANDFATHER-OF-NINE has smashed the world land speed record for a steam powered motorcycle - on a machine he invented himself.

Graham Sykes, a self-described 'nutty inventor', reached a groundbreaking 163mph in just under four seconds on his three-wheeled steam bike at Elvington Airfield near York.

Mr Sykes designed his steam powered bike in his garden shed at the back of his house in Bedale, North Yorkshire.

It was the culmination of a 10 year effort with Diane Sykes, his wife, to create the fastest steam-powered bike in the world.

The 59-year-old, who turns 60 later this week, named his creation 'The Force of Nature' to emphasise his commitment to eco-friendly methods of travel.

He believes that there is no need to sacrifice speed when trying to invent vehicles in an environmentally friendly way. 

The Northern Echo: The self described 'nutty inventor' from Bedale in action

The bike uses hydrogenated vegetable oil to superheat water to create pressurised blasts of steam which launch it forwards.

Mr Sykes lies prone on the vehicle to achieve the most aerodynamic shape possible as twin nozzles propel steam out of the rear.

At the UK&ITA World Records Speed week at Elvington Airfield the 'Force of Nature' performed incredibly well - but Graham thinks it still has more to give.

Before this eco-invention the fastest steam-powered motorcycle speed was held by Bill Barnes, an American inventor, who reached 80mph in 2014.

Mr Sykes said: "It's just a big bomb really, and it all started in my shed.

"I've taken the principles of chemistry, and married them with precision engineering to create something I'm passionate about - fast bikes.

"I wanted to do this in a way that is sustainable for the planet and demonstrates that you don't have to compromise on speed, you just have to get creative."

The Northern Echo: The steam powered motorbike flying down the track at Elvington Airfield, near York.

Looking forward, he hopes to break 200mph over an eigth of a mile after a stationary start.

He believes that the full potential of the vehicle is "yet to be unleashed".

Read more

Grandfather and biker, 72, loses leg in horrific crash as family thanks helpers

Former councillor hits out at continued wait for new bus services to launch

Woman diagnosed with sight-threatening condition hopes to save others from sight loss

Get more from The Northern Echo with a Premium Plus digital subscription from as little as only £1.50 a week. Click here for details.

Graham has previously broken the British record for fastest three-wheeled vehicle in 2015 with a self-built V8 motorbike.

In that attempt he reached a peak speed of 180.3mph.

The 'Force of Nature' will be showcased by Graham and his team in Germany as part of the Nitro Olympics night show.