Monday, February 14, 2011

My First Two Rides on Ice Racing Motorcycles

This past Saturday, I watched the NWIRC ice race in Bloomer, WI. After the ice racing was finished, the track is opened up for riding.

I’ve been wanting to ride an ice bike since the first time I saw them on TV, and then again after I saw them in real life. Kevin suggested that if I came out to watch him race, I’d get a chance to ride his bike. I couldn’t resist an offer like that!

I was fortunate enough to ride two ice bikes back to back on the same day. I am still smiling when I think about it! There are three videos embedded/linked at the end of this post.

The first bike was a 450 Kawasaki owned by Trent. He was extremely kind, and offered me a ride on his bike. His generosity amazed me as I had only met him a few hours before. This was my first chance to ride a ice racing bike, and it was a blast!  THANK YOU!

2011-02-12 Ice Racing in Bloomer, WI

Kevin from Scrambler Cycle seen in blue below

2011-02-12 Ice Racing in Bloomer, WI 

He couldn’t resist the opportunity to come out and pass me a few times with his 1964 Bridgestone. He’s getting pretty good.

2011-02-12 Ice Racing in Bloomer, WI

Riding an ice bike is a lot harder than it looks. I really struggled to wrap my brain around how much the bike could lean over due to the amazing traction of the studs on the ice.

My first lap I was nearly vertical. I was riding it like a street bike.

2011-02-12 Ice Racing in Bloomer, WI

I rode a few laps, and then came in. Trent gave me some good advice and then sent me out again. His biggest tip was to support all my weight on the outside peg. This helped a lot!

2011-02-12 Ice Racing in Bloomer, WI

I finally started to lean the bike over more:

2011-02-12 Ice Racing in Bloomer, WI

Kevin passing me some more. It was good practice for him. Notice how much further he leans.

2011-02-12 Ice Racing in Bloomer, WI

I rode about two dozen laps and then my legs were very tired. My right leg was jelly by the time I came in. Who needs the gym? Just ride an ice bike every day!

2011-02-12 Ice Racing in Bloomer, WI

Kevin also let me ride his Bridgestone. Thanks Kevin!! I did a number of laps with it. The bike was a bit more wild than the Kawasaki, but just as much fun. I really enjoyed riding it as well! A fun fact: the Bridgestone is now the oldest bike I’ve ridden. Cool!

2011-02-12 Ice Racing in Bloomer, WI

Kevin built his ice racing bike from spare parts he had. It’s a combination of a number of different bikes. You can read more about his build here.

What a difference in the two bikes both in power, suspension, and even shifting! The Bridgestone shifts with neutral on top and then one through five down. The Kawasaki is normal with the one down and four up pattern. I really enjoyed riding them. Thank you Kevin and Trent for the privilege!

I see my WR250R getting studded up in the future, but I’ll need a lot more practice (and fitness) to keep up with the racers I saw today!

Full Flickr Set here


Video of me riding a 450 Kawasaki Ice Bike: This one is a bit long, but has some good advice mixed into the middle and end

Video of me riding the Bridgestone:


If you want to get a feel for how the Bridgestone SHOULD be ridden, here is a great video of Kevin riding the wheels off it. Link here


  1. That really does look like a lot of fun. I've ridden four wheelers and snow machines on show and ice but never even considered a bike. It looks like there is a significant amount of understeer, do the studs work better on ice of snow?

    Great video. Thank you for posting!

  2. How cool was that! Slow to begin with on the Kawa, but by about lap 12 you were much quicker and leaning into the bends, which I am sure cannot be easy on ice. Riding the Bridgestone was obviously great fun – in fact riding any bike that is older than you is always a pleasure. The guys were good to you letting you ride their bikes. You have got to get some studs for your WR250R.... I see a new challenge coming up next winter!.....

  3. Interesting stuff Chris....I don't think I would have lasted as long as you did.

    I wonder how the Ural would have done....was the surface the same "slickness" as when you ride on frozen lakes?


    Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

    Redleg's Rides

  4. RichardM: Apparently, there are different kinds of studs for snow and ice. Long ones for snow, short ones for ice. The bikes I rode had short studs. The understeer was caused by me not wanting to fall. Much more traction than my brain would accept.

    Gary: The bridgestone was fun to ride. Makes me appreciate vintage bikes a bit more. now if they didn't cost so much...

    Dom: It was very tiring. Just imagine a squat with one leg. The Ural without studs would have had trouble. The surface is different than the regular frozen lakes. They plowed all the snow off and made the ice smooth similar to a skating rink, so much more slippery than a regular lake. The knobs on the Ural work well because they dig into the snow. On ice, they'd just spin. They also kept plowing the ice/snow chunks off periodically throughout the day.

    Kevin and I did think it'd be fun to race un-studded sidecars though. I thought left, he thought right. either way, with the slippery surface, there would have been a LOT of drifting.

  5. nice riding i like this bike ....i have same bike in india.......