S&S “Big Boar” Sportster speeding on ice. In Sweden.
Thomas Weigl from W&W Cycles Germany is a well known Flattrack racer on Harley and got in 2012 the idea to take W&W’s project bike “Big Boar” to the ice.
The bike is based on a Harley-Davidson 4 Speed Sportster and motor-wise equipped with an 1458cc S&S Sidewinder bigbore engine. It’s a wonderful Custombike with a Ceriani fork, JMC Swingarm and finest Öhlins shocks. The body work is a very well picked mix of Storzparts (fuel tank and seat) and an Avon fairing. In combination with a load of other cool parts, like PM wheels and controls, this makes one of the nicest Harley Caféracer builds in the last years.
The first contact with the ice Thomas and “Big Boar” had in 2012 at the Orsa Speed Weekend in Sweden. Soon both found out, that the strongest foot is nothing without the right shoe. The home built icespeed tires didn’t work so well and the black Big Boar turned into a wild donkey. Both didn’t have so much fun that year out there on the ice and the result was not as expected.
In January 2013 at the MC mässan in Stockholm, Thomas and Jens had a talk at the impressive yellow W&W US-bus parked on their stand and found out that they know each other from the past, but hadn’t been in contact for more than a decade. Of course they talked about the ice, regarding our successful projects in Sweden since 2006.
After having a bigger amount of original Wrecking Crew beers, we all agreed, that NCCR with just 2 weeks ahead to the 2013 Orsa Icespeed event, would overtake the responsibility for the icespeed tires.
There are Icespeed tires for next to any situation, there are “shot in”, “screw in” or “bolt through” solutions. There are different length, materials and patterns. Early ice, late ice, stunting, Speedway or speed record, all that requires different setups if you take it seriously. And that is what you better do, if you deal with Thomas and he believes in your skills – to fail is not an option…
It was decided, that after his problems in 2012, to be on the save side and use Moto Cross tires with long fine “shot in” studs that are additionally glued. Regarding the rolling resistance not the fastest solution, but as we had no test time before the event, a setup was expected that allowed the bike to go safely with a relative comfortable ride.
The W&W crew showed up 2 days before the event at the NCCR workshop in Delsbo. Wheels out, tyres on and after checking all clearances we could give it a go.
Next day we all headed to Dalarna where at Orsa Scandinavia’s craziest fuel heads would come together to find out who can with whatever go fast on the ice. There are jet and rocket powered sledges, high tuned cars, Hotrods, Trucks, Trikes and of course also Bikes, to prove their performance on two 3 and 5 km long highspeed ice racetracks.
We arrived at the early evening and found the ice in the expected condition, the weather forecast was telling us not too cold but unfortunately head/sidewind with 3,5 m/s. Not a problem but not good to go very fast. After setting up the paddock, the bike passed the safety and technical check.
Next morning, Thomas went out for the first shakedown and was not very enthusiastic when he came back – the fresh track showed big bumps and also already deep wheel ruts. That all would make it this year a challenge to go really fast, Thomas is more riding in Moto Cross style and is not able to fold himself proper behind the fairing, what in combination with the wind cost a lot of speed.
We adjusted the suspension and changed the geometry of the bike and at the end of the day we got a first top speed of 167 km/h, but Thomas’ average speed in the measurement zone was lower.
The timing at Orsa follows the Bonneville landspeed record rulebook. In the middle of the track starts a 1 Kilometre measuring strip with speed traps (light barriers) before and after. The average speed on that “Flying Kilometre” is what it is about.
Ready for the last run of the day, the bike was not willing to start anymore and when we jumpstarted it, we had a bad sound coming out from the primary. A measurement of the voltage let us think about a common problem of 4 Speed Sportsters, falling off magnets from the Alternator. The oil drain showed some metal debris but not parts from the magnet. So Sebastian and Thomas removed the primary case and the clutch basket (4 Speed got the alternator behind in the clutch basket) and we could confirm our diagnosis: lost magnets from the rotor.
As all bad have a good side, we prepared the bike for the next day to run on battery, so we expected some extra horsepower from having the generator off.
After fixing the bike we had a great evening with the W&W crew. Tom and John from Denmark who competed last year with their Knuckleheads at Bonneville (Pass Me The Salt Please) cooked a great meal for us spiced up with some original Wendover salt and again the original Wrecking Crew beer was the brew for the night.
Next morning the wind had speeded up to 5 m/s and the track was more worth, but Thomas found a quite flat strip on the absolute right side of the track beside the snow wall what had less ruts and managed to speed up the bike for a moment on 203 km/h before he needed to close the throttle when his ride was getting too rough again.
Later we managed another timed run with a top speed of 173,076 km/h and an average on the flying Km of 169,491 km/h. With that we ended the Speed Weekend on the Ice as second best of our class and the fastest Harley of the event and we were all very happy with the result.
Again we learned a lot and the experience has given us a lot to think about what we can do better to go faster for the coming years.
Thanks to everybody who helped that it worked out so great, Michelle, Sebastian and Mark from W&W Cycles, the Danish Bonneville Knucklehead Team and Birgit, Pär and Titus from Team NCCR.