Ice Road Bikers

By: On: August 16th, 20082 Comments »Updated: February 26, 2014

wheelie on ice

Riding motorcycles on an ice road, on hard packed snow, or an actual ice racing track sounds like a fun way to spend a winter day if you don’t mind taking a few spills.  Motorcycle ice racing, similar to flat track or speedway racing, but the motorcycle tires typically have to have metal spikes in them to get a grip on the ice. It takes a lot of courage to be out there. Imagine crashing and getting run over by spiked tires!

You don’t have to be an ice racer to ride motorcycles on an ice road, frozen lake or on hard-packed snow, but you will still need some help with traction.  Aside from tire spikes, tire studs, and ice screws, there is another way to get traction called a Snow Claw.  Snow Claws are available from MV Motorrad Technik GmbH in Germany and can be ordered online for about 115 Euros for a set of 5 to fit one wheel, but they also sell a set of 3 for about 69 Euros.


Snow ClawSnow Claw strapSnow Claws are sort of like strapping an old-fashioned metal snowmobile cleat around your motorcycle tire.  If you ever rode snowmobiles back in the 70’s, you will remember well that those metal cleats often came off while riding.  So, with that in mind, don’t get any ideas about using snow claws to go fast – they are only to help keep you from getting stuck as you are going very slow on an ice road or hard-packed snow.

Snow Claws are not riveted into the rubber motorcycle tire as the old metal snowmobile cleats were riveted into the rubber snowmobile track.  These are simply fastened around the tire with nylon straps and a pad to protect the wheel.  Obviously, their not intended for speed or ice racing.  They do seem a little pricey, but If they work, then they’re probably worth it if you’re adventurous enough to try them out on an ice road.

Getting back to ice racing, Canada, some European and Scandinavian countries, and Russia have a long history with motorcycle ice racing.  If don’t live in those places, you still might have a chance to see a race in person at a touring indoor motorcycle ice racing series event.  The motorcycle of choice for ice racing for many years has been the Czech-made Jawa.  Not a lot of Jawas are found in the US, so many of the amateur ice racers in the US ride on modified dirt bikes or motocross racing motorcycles.  Street bikes are not very well suited for ice racing; however, some folks will try just about anything.

To keep your feet warm and dry and to avoid injury from snow claws, tire spikes and general chunks of ice and snow, don’t attempt this without wearing rugged Motorcycle Boots instead of just wearing regular work boots!

Some of the basic ice racing rules are as follows, but they vary with the different sanctioning bodies:

  1. Ice RacingAn engine kill switch tethered to the rider to turn off the engine in case of a crash.
  2. Front fender and rear fender usually needs to cover a large portion of the tires and sometimes needs to me made of metal.
  3. For circle or flat track racing, Ice racing tires that have studs only on the left side of the tire. A single stud per knob may be placed in the knobbies on the right side of the tire for staging purposes. The referee shall have the authority to decide what constitutes a legal stud under this rule. The incorporated washer of the screw must be touching the knob of the tire, and no additional washers are permitted under the screws.
  4. Front brakes usually must be removed or disabled by removing the lever.

Ice Racing MotorcycleSome of the common spikes for converting tires into ice racing tires are Gold Ice Screws, Cutter, Holiday Ice Screw, Maverick Ice Screw.

There are several sanctioning bodies involved in motorcycle ice racing.  Here is a partial list which includes international as well as local organizations:

Alberta Endurance Ice Racing Association – Edmenton, Alberta Canada

Albright Shores Ice Racing – Beaverton, Michigan USA

Franz Zorn Motorcycle Ice RacingAmerican Motorcyclist Association (A.M.A.) – Ohio USA

Canadian Motorcycle Association – Hamilton, Ontario Canada

Central Wisconsin Ice Racing Association – Wisconsin USA

F.I.M. – Switzerland

Greater Kamloops Motorcycle Association – Kamloops, BC Canada

International Championship Events (indoor ice racing) – Myrtle Beach, SC USA

If you are involved with motorcycle ice racing, have taken a ride on an ice road, or want to add a link your ice racing club or ice racing organization, please leave a comment.  If you just have some ice road riding or snow riding tips to share, please share the motorcycle info in a comment below.

About John Clay

John Clay is the author of MotorcycleInfo.Org. He and his family reside in North Carolina in the United States. A graduate of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's Experienced Rider Course, he enjoys riding his Moto Guzzi in charity rides and serves as a volunteer motorcycle marshal for an annual bicycle charity event in the Carolinas.

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2 Responded

  1. Colin says:

    Good stuff! Tire studs are the way to go!

  2. carol says:

    Its time for nite ice racing at morelands, on a 3/8 mile oval track under the lites starting every sat nite Dec 27th through march 17th. sign up is at 4pm practice at 5pm races at 6pm. go to or call 989-235-5400