April 08, 2014 Volume 10 Issue 14

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Honda's custom Mean Mower shreds 'Fastest Lawnmower' world record

How fast can a lawnmower go? Engineers at Honda finally have their official answer. It's 116 mph.

The successful Guinness World Records attempt took place under the watchful eye of a Guinness World Records Adjudicator at the IDIADA Proving Ground in Tarragona, Spain, on March 8, 2014.

Honda's European team re-engineered a Honda HF2620 Lawn Tractor from the ground up, adding an all-new fabricated chassis, custom made from high carbon steel, and a 1,000-cc Honda motorcycle engine.

Piers Ward of BBC TopGear Magazine was behind the wheel, breaking the Guinness World Record for "Fastest Lawnmower" with an average speed of 116.57 mph. Ward achieved a speed of 87 mph on an earlier incarnation of the Mean Mower back in May 2010.

The previous official speed record of 96.5 mph was held by American Bobby Cleveland, which he set at the Bonneville Salt Flats in September 2010 on his 104+ Octane Boost Snapper mower.

The speed was measured through a 100-m speed trap on the 2,000-km North Straight, overseen by official timers Timing Solutions Limited. To meet Guinness World Records regulations, the mower had to record the same run, in both directions, within an hour -- with the average speed taken of these two runs.

To qualify for the record, Mean Mower also needed to cut grass (of course!) and to look like a lawnmower; both of which it did successfully.

The impetus for Mean Mower was to demonstrate Honda's sprit of innovation, its motor sport heritage, and to push the idea that Honda makes more than just cars. In other words, it was a publicity stunt, but it was a pretty cool one.

Mean Mower was designed and built in the United Kingdom by Honda's British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) partner Team Dynamics. The team re-engineered a Honda HF2620 Lawn Tractor from the ground up, adding an all-new fabricated chassis, custom-made from 4130 chromoly (high carbon steel), to provide a strong, safe, but very light platform. A 1,000-cc engine from a Honda VTR Firestorm motorcycle was used, along with a custom suspension and wheels from an ATV. (The Firestorm cycle is known as the SuperHawk in the United States.)

Every effort was made to retain as much of the look of the original mower as possible. The cutter deck was custom made in fiberglass to reduce weight, while the grass bag provides a clever home for the fuel tank, a high-capacity oil cooler, and a secondary water-cooling radiator.

The ability to cut grass was also a key element of the challenge, and the super-fast mower still can, admirably, thanks to two electric motors on the cutter deck that spin 3-mm steel cutting cable at an incredible 4,000 rpm. The mower can cut grass at around 15 mph, more than double the flat-out speed of the original HF2620 from which it is derived.

Based on feedback from Honda Yuasa Racing drivers, three-time BTCC champion Matt Neal, and 2013 champion Gordon Shedden, the mower features a custom-made paddle-shift six-speed gear system. It has a custom-made Cobra sports seat, a Scorpion exhaust system, and a steering rack taken from a Morris Minor.

The result of this engineering feat is a lawn mower that is set up and geared to achieve a top speed in excess of 130 mph, weighing just 309 lb, producing 96 Nm of torque, an incredible PTW ratio of 532 bhp/ton, and an estimated 0-100 km/h acceleration time of just 4 sec.

Safety was paramount to the project, so every effort was made to make the mower stable and secure. To achieve optimum balance, ATV wheels were used, which proved ideal because ATV racing is held on rough, off-road tracks. Super-soft tires ensure optimum grip and excellent handling on the tarmac.

Additionally, every effort was made to use Honda parts where possible, including brakes and several motorcycle components. Almost everything else was custom made by Team Dynamics and its partners.

Source: Honda

Published April 2014

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