Ice Speed Records made in Sweden.
Since I can think back, I am infected from Landspeed records, the endless white of the Bonneville salt flats, this holy ground of speed. The place, the people who go there and their machines were always in a way magic for me. For an European fuel head Bonneville is far, far away, so I was thinking since years about an alternative.
When UK Buell Stuntrider Craig Jones came 2007 with the idea of stunting a Buell XB on the ice of a frozen lake the things started coming together. In the moment when I saw Craig first time accelerating the bike on more than 100 km/h in this great white environment I knew that it is possible and I am sure one day air streamers will go on the ice 300, 400 km/h.
Craig got the same feeling and at the evening of the first day on ice, we took a beer and said “let’s do it”. It took another two years and many unexpected resistances before finally at begin of March 2009 on lake Dellen, we reached as an first step 238 km/h. The dream comes true.
After we had done some winter test runs in the last 2 years on the ice of the big lake in Åre / Sweden supported by the local Buell dealer Powerhouse, we felt okay to go for an first ice speed record.
We got some experiences about spike systems, and wheel building from the past, but we were not sure what pattern, size and mounting system will be right for a real highspeed run.
After the tests of the last years we were sure that we will go out of the box beyond 200 km/h, and there the centrifugal forces will effect a major stress on the carcass of the tyre. Especially in combination with the drive forces on the rear wheel we surly await problems.
To minimize the load moments on the rear tyre our plan was to accelerate the bike on a 5km ice track very smooth. We couldn’t prepare the track on the ice of lake Dellen, because of several reasons, as early as we would’ve wanted. After we had a detailed inspection one week before at -20 C, at the beginning all looked fine. 4 days later the thermometer showing +2 C and we found water in our tracks.
Changing the plans was, regarding Craig’s calendar not an option, so we needed to make the best out of the situation. Our time window all in all was 4 days max, not much for a all new thing like that. The track preparing started well and a first 1,5 km long part was quick race ready.
The bike, a stock Buell 1125 R was additional equipped with a NOS System to get the bike later when we know that we can trust the stud tyres over the 250 km/h.
As expected, Craig speeded directly on the second ride the bike up to 206 km/h. For the time measurements, we used two independent Garmin GPS systems. One was mounted in front of the rider under the fairing, the second behind Craig on the passengers seat cover.
After month of hard work in organisation and preparing of track and bikes, this first result pushed us all to get the maximum out.
The tractor drivers prepared the half night the track, but what a shock in the morning, water on the track in the direction we planned to extend it another 2 km. At lunchtime, we knew that also in the other direction water under the snow cover would block us to go further. For many years, lake Dellen was not covered with so much snow, but we are dealing with mother nature. Building a complete new track on another spot of the lake, was in the short time impossible, so we decided to squeeze all out of the 1600 meter we got totally, including the deacceleration – and the safety zone.
Craig tried another run and lifted the speed up to 216 km/h, the problem is that the short track required a much harder acceleration than planned, what gave the tyres a lot of uncalculated extra stress. At the next run, one of the 22mm spikes fly out of the tyre and hit like a bullet a hole in the undertray. Craig was not happy…. If we like to go faster we need an other rear tyre and we need to use the NOS system, because otherwise we could not pick up more speed on that short track.
So we build over night another spike rear tyre and on the next day under NOS, Craig speed the bike up to 228 km/h, than this tyre is also showing clear deformation marks on the carcass. We are entering now the area were the spikes dragging with kilo forces on the tyre because of the gyroscopic effects. We know that we can go quicker, but how safe are these tyres?
We say we took what we have, nobody had heard that anybody ever was going faster with a motorcycle on ice. That’s the record, fine. In the evening, we discussed what is left in rear tyres we didn’t tested under high speed. One old tyre from the beginning we had repaired, that’s the only one what’s left and could have a chance to make it. But the luck was not with us. Next morning out on the lake, standing water app. after 1/3 on the track, nearly 10cm deep. We measure the track from there, less than 1.100 meter are left for starting, picking up speed and braking the bike down again.
We changed overnight the setup of the NOS system and hoped to find that way some extra power, everybody was fully concentrated, only one ride was left with this rear tyre. Craig then had the nerves and balls to speed the bike up to 232 km/h. Very well for the shorter track, but we were looking for more. We changed the NOS bottles and inspected tyre deformations and each spike. Than we removed the marking cones at the end of the track, in case Craig shoots over. Time to hurry up, icy fog is coming down from the mountains and its start slightly to snow. The wind is with 2,9 meter/sec still ok. Now or never, we give our dream one final try.
Craig is rolling the tax way down on the track through the rising water what is now nearly 20 cm deep. Seconds later, the Buell 1125R stand in the starting position, everybody is listening to Craig’s voice from the onboard radio, checking NOS and fuel pressures, than: 1st gear, 2nd gear, 3rd gear, 4th gear, 5th gear, 6th gear, NOS! Craig hold the throttle longer open, took the risk that he need to go into the snow, and brake the bike near the cones hard down: 238, 238 km/h showing both GPS units. YES!
Craig, the crew, the great people in Delsbo / Sweden, our friends and everybody who helped to make it happen, thanks to all of you. This is not the end, it’s just the beginning…