XS650: Ice and Snow   Leave a comment

Back in the day I was a geologist. Used to take winter contracts in the Yukon and NWT. I’m a night-owl. Just as well. The days are short. Winter contracts also solve logistical problems: lack of roads and abundance of water. Snow and Ice. Snowmobiles can go anywhere and there are no bloody bugs. You have to be somewhat ‘special’. Cabin Fever is a real problem. Violence and murder are real risks. For women-so is pregnancy.

One of my fascinations was the Trans Canada Snowmobile Trail. Had a lot of fun exploring this.

 

trans-canada snowmobile trail

 

everyone needs a distraction

 

My distraction was Ice-racing. Had an old Jawa. Similar to a speedway bike. Longer wheelbase. More rigid frame. 2-speed box. And spikes! Around 90 in the front. 200-250 in the rear. Up to 30mm long.

 

ouch!!!!!

 

screw heads

 

more screws

 

sensing a theme here?

 

for more normal snow/ice riding these claws are handy

 

Longer guards are mounted. Affords a modicum of protection.

Riding style differs from flattrack. The spikes (or studs) bite. No drifting around corners. Need to lay the bike down. Handlebar almost scraping the surface.

 

feel like you’re going to crap out

 

a leaning sidecar outfit with leaning wheel … takes some getting used to … hard to keep the lean in a corner … need to coordinate effort righting as you exit the corner

 

more conventional sidecar setup

 

Believe me. That air is cold. Wind chill factor XXX. You don’t feel it til later. As you start to warm up again.

Was chatting with Jukka from the XS650 Group in Finland. Asked if anyone was ice-racing an XS650. Thought maybe there was a vintage class running.

From Jukka…

      Greetings from the north
      The snow is still over 1000 km northward, but slowly approaching every day. This autumn has been abnormally warm (means between +5 … +10 C), but forecasts expect cooling closer to freezing point at the end of next week.
      Anyway I just put my XS650 for a winter sleep today. The garage season is at least as important for me as the riding season. I have some plans….not big things but minor modifications as usual.
      For a real-thing-ice-racing I think XS650 is much too heavy and underpowered. There have been some sidecar buildups but sidecar ice racing is almost nil. Mostly they use lowered motocross bikes here for solo ice racing.

the beast!

 

      But we have some tongue-in-cheek ice races also. To keep speeds down studs are forbidden. I attached some pictures and videos from 2005. That year we gathered leftover XS650 parts and built a project bike for a local fun games on snow & ice.

# 47 … ready! set! ….

 

      First it was real a pain in a ass to get it started after hauling it 40 km on open trailer at -15 C. Even if we had an infra red heater. But first it started run with one cylinder only and we managed to keep it running until it heated enough the cylinder block to start the other cylinder too. After that we kept it warm all the time.
      But it was too heavy to handle and power pulses made it impossible to steer even one meter to one direction. (I did not dare even try to ride it.) Starts were so slow that everyone was already in the first curve before xs650 was on the move. 47 is the number of our brave rider.
      Since then the project bike has been taken to pieces and returned to owners.
      But we also have one local winterized xs650 nut living countryside nearby. At
      you can see him driving his XS2 around the used-to-be-cowshed, january -21 C temps. He managed to adapt motocross tyres with studs to his XS2 and says it’s perfectly rideable in snow. Bare ice is still a bit problematic.
      He also build a “newer” version (of XS650) this year.
        We can only wait for the winter modifications to be seen.
          Jukka sent me some short video clips. When I figure out how to upload them I will.

cool XSice

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