North Pole Motorcycle

Engine pre-heater

Starting a through and through cold engine will guaranteed damage it. Besides that, starting it takes a lot more effort, or it won’t start at all. That’s why I will mount a pre-heater in the cooling system. An aggregate will produce the necessary 220V to operate it. The glow spiral in the pre-heater warms up the coolant. Hot liquid rises, so a circulation starts that eventually will heat up the engine. Actually, it’s a reversed cooling process.


During the 2013 Polar Ice Ride, I had a 220V – 100W resistance wire winded around the carburettors to pre-heat them. Roughly half an hour before starting the bike I connected the wire to the power, delivered by an aggregate. To get as much as possible from the generated heat into the carburettors I had the whole unit -including the resistance wire- covered with a layer of aluminium tape. This combination turned out to work very effectively. It really made a huge difference! That’s why I will use the resistance wire, which was given to me by Ride-on MotorTours, also during the North Pole Adventure.
Extreme cold requires a different carburation, namely with more fuel. That’s why Yamaha uses jets from 150 instead of 130 in their 4-stroke powered snowmobiles, which are fitted with virtually the same engines as the R1’s. In 2013 I coincidentally discovered this knowledge while I was searching for a cause for the far to light colouring spark plugs. That indicates a lean combustion, which eventually could cause damage to the cylinder head and valves. Luckily those 150 size (snowmobile)jets were available in Barrow at the time. During the North Pole Ride I will mount them in the carburettors beforehand. By the way, those bigger jets will give you problems high up in the mountains, because of the lack of oxygen. But there’s no need to worry about that on the polar cap. ;-)


Regular oil solidifies around -25°C/-13°F. During a cold start this ‘gel’ cannot get pumped around. Through lack of lubrication the engine could get internally damaged and that we need to prevent from happening. Especially for the 2013 Polar Ice Ride Challenge, Putoline Oil developed the 4T POLAR-Oil, which still remains liquid at temperatures of -50°C/-58°F. Besides that, their product has the same or even a better protection than the standard prescribed oil, even at normal temperatures. Of course, I will use their 4T POLAR-Oil also during the North Pole Challenge.

Oil filter

Overpressure deforming the oil filter, immediately after starting the ice-cold engine, happened twice during the 2013 Polar Ice Ride. Once in Barrow and once on the frozen Beaufort Sea. A too thick oil couldn’t have caused it, because that poured out like it was water. Maybe the thin oil made it possible for the oil pump to build up a pressure that the ice-cold filter couldn’t handle. Every oil filter holds a valve or O-ring inside, which should open a bypass in case of overpressure. In extreme cold this can fail, with the result of blowing up the oil filter. After I winded a 220V – 100W resistance wire around it and pre-heated the filter it still occurred. Because this didn’t solve the problem, I’m going to try to have a special filter developed for the North Pole Ride. For sure I’ll take an original filter with me as a spare and make a hole on the inside beforehand. This way the oil can circulate without having to pass through the filter material itself and overpressure will be avoided.
If there is a company out there willing to do this for me, please inform me!