The history of the Windcheetah

The Windcheetah, or 'Speedy SL' to give it its correct nomenclature was originally conceived as a winter training vehicle in the early 1980s. Around that time the UK's human powered vehicle movement was in its infancy and bike designer Mike Burrows had started creating some very interesting recumbent cycles for record breaking purposes. Mike lives in Norfolk, a low lying area of England and it can be hazardous riding a recumbent bicycle on the icy winter lanes in the area. Mike built an intriguing three wheel recumbent which he thought might help him maintain fitness safely throughout the winter. The concept proved popular, and slowly but surely the reputation and popularity of the Speedy began to grow. Author and publisher Richard Ballantine, an American living in London, purchased one of the early machines, and soon the Speedy was regularly appearing in books and articles and from there the legend of the Windcheetah started to spread internationally. In those days they were still made in tiny numbers, Mike had a successful engineering firm and Windcheetah production was squeezed in between the busier, more lucrative side of the business which was the manufacture of packaging machines.

In the mid 90s Mike sold the engineering business and took up a permanent position with Giant cycles. By this time Mike had designed the now famous 'Lotus Bike' which Chris Boardman used to bring Britain its first Olympic Gold for many years. His reputation as a designer was growing and Giant spotted the potential of having the Burrows name associated with its products. Mike designed many things during his time at Giant but is perhaps best known for the TCR road bike. The TCR was ground breaking in many ways so much so that a well known Italian cycle manufacturer started to copy it. For many years Italian bikes and accessories had been copied and imitated by Asian companies. This was surely the first time a European company had copied a Taiwanese bicycle, albeit one created in Norfolk.

Due to his commitments in Taiwan Mike transferred production of the Windcheetah to Manchester where it was manufactured by The Seat of the Pants Company. At this stage the Windcheetah underwent some minor design changes in order to bring some consistency to the production and was formally renamed 'The Burrows Windcheetah'. Windcheetah front wheel size grew from 17" to 20" [406] in response to feedback from US customers who found supplies of the original 17" Moulton tyres difficult to source. Exports, particularly to Germany and the US, were climbing and the company began developing a range of four wheel electric vehicles under the name of AVD. The company embarked upon a series of ambitious record breaking projects with a highly developed Windcheetah ridden by amateur cyclist Andy Wilkinson. Technical developments learned through the record beaking programme soon found their way into production machines and the Windcheetah range expanded to two main models; the ClubSport, which was essentially the old 'Speedy', and the SuperSport, which was a high spec machine incorporating carbon tubes and high end componentry.

In the late nineties Mike Burrows left Giant to concentrate on his own design projects and during this period conceived a brand new Speedy incorporating many new features. The new machine was significantly lighter than the earlier machine and became known as the HyperSport. The HyperSport featured some very exotic engineering including a unique carbon fibre leaf spring arrangement for the seat. It set the benchmark for production recumbent tricycles and sales soon accounted for over 50% of Windcheetah production. The SuperSport model was dropped from the range because customers looking for a high specification Windcheetah invariably chose the HyperSport. Within a couple of years of the launch of the HyperSport AVD sold off the electric wheel business and took the decision to concentrate solely on sports recumbent based around the core of the HyperSport . The Compact Sport was developed using a modified HyperSport chassis, it was initially aimed at the Japanese market but soon found favour amongst hard core Windcheetah enthusiasts and is now firmly established in the range.

In 2009 the  chassis production was rationalised and  ClubSport, CompactSport and HyperSport chassis all shared the lightweight HyperSport castings and two piece main tube design. Production and manufacturing has been continually refined and the current 2013 model features a large number of evolutionary changes.