Riding down a 45-degree slope in the Chilean desert, Austrian Markus Stöckl reached a speed of 167.6km (about 104mph) and beat the world record he previously set in 2011 on a volcano in Nicaragua. He completed his record-breaking ride on December 13 but it took until this week for an independent party to verify the speed.

He said his 2011 ride “wasn’t fun enough — it wasn’t a real challenge.” So, he set about breaking the record again and got the challenge he was seeking. “When above 160km/h, each and every extra kilometer per hour requires an enormous effort. If you want to get an idea of the air resistance, you only have to stick your hand out of the car window when you’re driving at 150 or 160 km/h. This force has an impact on the bike and the entire body. Even though I’m no weakling, physically it is something that I have to contend with too!”

There are a number of downhill speed records on the books. The particular mark that Stöckl set is for production bicycles on a surface that is not snow. He also holds the world record for a production bike on snow, 210.4kph, which he did in 2007 at Les Arcs in France.

“It’s a standard mountain bike so there’s no part on the bike that you cannot buy,” he said. “Sure, it’s a high-end bike with the best parts of it but you can buy any part, nothing has been specially made.

“The whole project is an adventure. This is the top bit of it but also traveling here with all the stuff and making our way through the middle of the desert.”