North Pole Motorcycle

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aRctic1‘A standard motorbike which is capable to ride over the polar ice to the North Pole does not exist.’ This is my believe after riding on the frozen Beaufort Sea, north of Alaska. So to reach that desolate spot on the Arctic, we have to build one. A frame and an engine from a 2001 model Yamaha YZF-R1 will be used as a base. Many of the parts that are going to be placed around it, will be far from stock. Yet I will try to give it a ‘Superbike look’ as much as possible and name it “aRctic 1”

Below you find the most important adaptations and the reasons why.


The widest tyres which fit between the front legs and the swingarm of an R1 -even if they have a much larger diameter than the original ones, which make them roll a lot easier over obstacles and give them more carrying surface- turned out not to bring sufficient carrying capacity on sections of the polar ice with less compact snow. Especially the rear wheel sank in it and in most of those occasions it only found enough grip after the studs got to the polar ice surface.

• The rear tyre should be approximately 60 cm wide. For the front around 40 cm will be sufficient.
• To benefit the steering of such a wide front tyre I am in favour of one which has a bulging tread over its width.
• The tyres are preferably developed for vehicles that ride in snow or mud.
• The more pliable the tyres are the better it is, because in combination with reducing the pressure, it brings you the best grip and especially more carrying capacity.
• In contrast with the wish to have pliable tyres stands the fact that the tyres will need to have several ply because the ice ridges can be razor-sharp. That became clear to me after I heard what happens with 4-wheel-drive cars that set out on the polar ice around Barrow. Regularly they blew a tyre to pieces, especially when their speed was high.
• The tyres must be suitable to use in temperatures around -40°C.
• The existing profile is of less importance, as there can be put on a suitable tread.


During the last two winter challenges I used BestGrip studs. I experienced that they improved the grip and the (road)holding enormously. They made such a difference that I am going to use them again, for sure. The fact that Bestgrip studs don’t wear quickly on asphalt is of less importance this time.


After I know which tyres there will be used, rims can be made. This could be existing rims which are suitable for the tyres, in which a bike hub will be mounted. Or they could be milled out of one piece.
If there is a company out there willing to do this for me, please inform me!