Site Overlay

Ice racing bike – what is it like?

In the previous article, we talked about circuit ice racing, which is often called Ice Racing, Ice Speedway. In winter, enough motorcyclists are tempted to ride on the ice of rivers or lakes to picture themselves as a hero on the Bonneville Salt Lake, setting a new speed record. Athletes who choose a circuit in the form of a circular icy road must have a special motorcycle, which over the years of motorsport has acquired a regulated nature to participate in a professional race. As practice shows, decisions on the technical condition of a motorcycle were made for a reason. Let’s take a look at what a motorcycle ice racing bike should be like?

What were motorcycles like in the beginning?

We mentioned the pioneers in the previous article. Many pilots turned out to be masters of motocross. The first motorcycles to adapt to ice racing came from there. However, their equipment did not help much in controlled drifts; studs alone were clearly not enough.

Since the incline in the turn of such races is extremely large, then in the slope under the knee, the motorcycle was scratched with pipes on the ice and did not allow to make a maneuver. On modern motorcycles, the exhaust pipes are retracted to the opposite right-hand side (because all corners must be left-handed).

The first motorcycles started with a modest engine size, but then gradually the appetites grew and stopped at the bar of 500 cm³. It is simply irrational to use more volume. It is difficult to maneuver when your speed is higher than your chances of getting into a controlled skid.

Important differences between motorcycles for motorcycle racing on ice:


If we are still talking about a professional approach to motorcycle racing on ice, then the solution that is widely used by the manufacturer JAWA – a 4-stroke engine with 2 valves – has proven itself best here. High compression engines on motorcycles look ugly, but that’s not the point. And yes, you understand correctly that JAWA is firmly in the lead in this market. Wait, it’s too early to run to the grandfathers shed for the “old woman” / “check”!

It so happened that JAWA successfully occupied this niche, developing such motorcycles to order. There were also attempts at other eminent concerns. The Italians, representatives of GM, have their engine ready. Even under the KTM brand there have been developments, but they do not go into large mass production for the consumer market. And the modest JAWA has motorcycles for motorcycle racing on ice quite a running position, albeit on request. Therefore, many manufacturers have ceded such a narrow direction to the familiar from childhood JAWA.

Practice has established that motorcycles with a different engine structure behave on an icy race track in a basic combination of the necessary conditions from the structure of the gearbox, electrics, fuel supply and exhaust system, not at all as successful as the unsightly outwardly 4-stroke 2-valve.


Jokes about “on” and “off” are here! Professional ice racing bikes typically have only 2 gears. And you don’t need more, you still skate in a skid.


When you look at an ice racing motorcycle, it looks like it’s flat. And for good reason. Elongated and lowered structures for stability have a flattened frame tube. The building, which is often called “cracker” among the people, is as close as possible to this. The frame triangle does not provide shock absorption to the rear wheel, but it does make it easy to transfer weight and control the motorcycle in a corner. When the rear wheel is directly connected to the frame as much as the “cracker” design allows, then when tilting, you instantly tilt the wheel, you feel it much more efficiently.


Since the “cracker” does not imply proper mobility of the rear suspension, the designers are pumping the front fork. It is more mobile and is also developed for driving in a skid on the verge of a wheel breakdown.

Wheel size and width

The wheels are much larger than normal. This is done for additional stabilization. First, when you have a large wheel, it is easier to swallow small bumps in the road. And if you ride on the ice of a river or lake, they will be common. Secondly, when you slide in a prolonged skid, the wheel practically lies on one side of the ice and the more studs hold you, the more reliable your skid.

The wheels are predominantly spoked! There is absolutely nothing to do on ice casting. The spoke wheel is lighter in weight, provides more shock absorption and is easier to replace after a fall!


Everyone talks about thorns as if it were the most important thing. Important, but not essential. Spikes are also regulated. They should be no more than 28mm! Since the turns on professional tracks are only left, they cover the left side of the tire with spikes. The rear wheel always has more studs to transmit power. On the right side, there are symbolic spikes that are required by safety rules outside the track to get to the start.

Spikes on the right side can be added for river and lake races where the track departs from the classic oval and includes additional right turns.

By the way, there is no question of the contact spot, because all the grip of the motorcycle is exclusively spikes and the pilot’s likely touching with his foot or knee.

Wheel protection

Ice racing motorcycles are easily recognizable by their huge wheel fenders. At first, everyone is indignant, they say – why, it’s overweight! And when they see the first ten epic falls, how the equipment is shredded with thorns, the question disappears by itself. Motorcycle racing on ice is extremely traumatic, so the wheels are covered with wings primarily for the sake of other pilots. Many people leave a solid wing made of plastic, but make a metal frame.

Volume of the tank

As in motocross, the tank should only last for one race. Excess fuel means excess weight.

Electronics and additional options

There are practically none. Everything is kept to a reasonable minimum. Everything we can go without is in the trash. Yes, there are no brakes on motorcycles either … not at all! The speed is extinguished in a skid, if the pilot has not calculated, then the turn will not pass and will fly off the track or crash into someone. This is the true drive of winter motorcycle racing!

They don’t even improve aerodynamics, they don’t put extra plastic, so that there are no visible advantages in the condition of the motorcycle, except that it is there and rides.


A real motorcycle ice racing bike is far from just add the spikes. It is not distinguished by the complexity of the electrics or the sophisticated engine, because its task is to become a tool in the hands of a skilled pilot, but it still has a number of characteristics to match the task at hand.

If you do not have a goal to participate in professional racing on ice, then knowledge about motorcycles of athletes can help you for your own rides on ice for fun.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *