Technology

First tests of '130mph' lawnmower

The Stig driving a lawn mower
Image caption The lawnmower could potentially reach speeds in excess of 130mph, its makers say

The first test runs of a lawnmower that could reach speeds of more than 130mph have taken place.

The vehicle, made by Honda for Top Gear magazine, goes from 0-60mph (95km/h) in roughly four seconds.

The team behind it may attempt to have an official go at the lawnmower speed record, which stands at 96.5mph.

In a test run, Top Gear magazine clocked "just over 100mph" on the back straight of the Circuit de Charade testing course in France.

The lawnmower was also put through its paces by Top Gear's "the Stig".

Honda said it was working on the project to increase its "sporty" credentials.

"The main engineering challenge stems from the need to retain the look of the lawnmower on which it is based, and the ability to still cut grass while achieving the speed and the handling characteristics required for this type of vehicle," said Peter Crolla, team manager at Team Dynamics - Honda's UK motor racing team partner - which is overseeing the project.

"To our knowledge, this has never been done before, certainly using this mower and engineer combination, and as such there are no previous learnings to draw upon."

Flaming roar

The current lawnmower speed record was set by fuel additive firm Gold Eagle in September 2010.

However, there are strict guidelines over the point at which a modified lawnmower "isn't really a mower anymore", a spokesman for the British Lawnmower Racing Association told the BBC.

While the Top Gear magazine mower does mow grass, the original cutting mechanism has been replaced to accommodate the engine modifications necessary to make it reach the top speeds.

"Honda has fitted two 4,000rpm electric motors with metal brake cables attached to flail the green stuff into submission," writes Piers Ward, the magazine's senior road tester, in the latest issue.

But to get up to the 100mph mark, the improvised cutting mechanism needs to be removed "because with the cutting deck attached, the ground clearance is about 1cm [0.4in]".

The high-powered motorbike engine gives the mower a 130 decibel roar - and creates flames from the exhaust.

"Hearing it for the first time, and seeing flames spitting out of the exhaust, didn't exactly help make me feel relaxed before I drove it," added Mr Ward.

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