The Baikal Mile isn’t your normal speed record event and the bikes that turn up are as bonkers as the surroundings. It’s Bonneville on ice…
ICE SPEED RECORD RACER
Indian’s ice cold thriller
You’re about to race a one-off bike for a mile down this frozen Russian lake. What do you think the main problem will be? Freezing your arse off? Mechanical issues? The vodka hangover? Nope, it’s much, much worse than all those.
‘As speeds increase, there’s so much centrifugal force on the spikes in the tyres that they can tear out,’ says Brice Hennebert, who built this extraordinary Indian Scoutbased drag bike. The result is not only that you get very sharp bullets flying out randomly, but also that the tyres disintegrate. Sub-optimal at 150mph.
‘Last year the tyre shredded on a Hayabusa doing 155mph and tore the swingarm in half’
‘One of the modifications we made was building a guard to stop ice and spikes from hitting the rider,’ says Brice. But you can only do so much: ‘Last year the tyre shredded on a Hayabusa doing 155mph and tore the swingarm in half. In half! And have you seen how massive those swingarms are?!’ Brice runs Belgian custom house Workhorse Speedshop and built the bike in 2019 to compete in the Sultans of Sprint race series for modified street bikes. The Indian Scout motor has a nitrous oxide injection system, racing ECU, Power Commander and a handbuilt Akrapovic exhaust.
It makes 130bhp – 30 more than standard. It’s also 42kg lighter thanks to mods ranging from titanium fasteners to a new longer swingarm.
To prepare it for the -25ºC speed run Brice built a new nose fairing which directs air around the bike rather than through onto the engine. ‘There was too much cooling with the old fairing,’ says Brice. ‘Now we just have a pair of air scoops.’ What Brice hadn’t reckoned on was the difficulty of just starting the bike. ‘Because it was so cold, the oil wasn’t really oil any more. The starter couldn’t turn the engine over, and if it did, the oil wouldn’t go where it’s meant to. We had to warm the engine up with heat guns.’
In the end, a misfire limited the top speed to 112mph, which doesn’t sound much until you allow for power loss thanks to the spikes. ‘At high speeds you get a 30% drop in power compared with a normal tyre,’ says Brice. ‘I’m happy with what we achieved and can’t wait to go back next year.’
Tacho is only mildly optimistic – the Scout redlines at 8300rpm. Lake Baikal is five hours east of Moscow. It is 600km long and 80km wide.
Two discs per Beringer caliper meant stopping was no problem.