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What Does it Feel Like?

Samuel leaning on ice!

The straight answer is that it simply feels like nothing else! One thing is sure, it’s a LOT easier to save a mistake on ice compared to an asphalted circuit. For two main reasons: the first is the weight of a dirt bike being smaller than a superbike (235 lbs VS 450 lbs), it makes it easier to pick up as you see in both videos below, and the second reason is that those 960 pins per tire are definitely gripping differently than a slick tire!

If I analyse the feeling on ice compared with dirt or asphalted circuits, I would definitely say that the ice feelings are closer to road racing. In some areas it actually grips more on ice compared to asphalt, and as you can see in both videos below, there’s no way to lean that much on asphalte, slide big time, pick up the bike and keep going…!

Ice, Dirt, or Road Racing?

There’s nothing like riding a superbike on a circuit. That said, on the other hand, it requires so much preparation and logistic (at high level), that I really do appreciate to simply jump on my dirt bike and ride it off the garage (almost). Riding on ice is somewhere very close to road racing and these g-forces and speed are my things 😛 But again, in order to ride on ice, the track requires a lot of preparation and maintenance. So the real dirt riding surely has its advantages and own awesome feels! But now I start feeling like a politician, giving many words without answering the question 😛 Haha All in all, every style has it’s pros and cons, but feeling wise only I do prefer road racing.

So let’s check this out! But first I must say that I’m probably the luckiest man in the world having such an amazing mate on my side to help me out sharing these adventures with you… Although she’s far from working in this industry (filming), she has been the one that filmed all the footage you saw last summer, and let me tell you that this ice video project haven’t been the easiest to roll in such freezing conditions!

A little glimpse at the end for Valentino Rossi, wishing him the best of luck for 2017. If you don’t know this amazing person, check it out because he is absolutely a living legend!

What is defining a maximum lean angle?

There’s refined parameters such as chassis and suspensions settings, and these are what play the most in road racing (alongside with tire compound). But let’s get to the basics here. On ice, the most important details to keep in mind is the 960 pins per tire that are making the contact patch. There is also a numbers of different pins as well as a numbers of ways to build these tires, and that’s also playing an important role on the so called “grip level”. In the first video, the tire I had were made of old generation pins. Riding it was more like a flat track feel as the rear was always stepping away in corner entry. In opposite style, the video short sequence below was filmed with the new generation of pins as well as a better pattern. As you’ll see, the rear is NOT stepping away at all while I enter the corner. I personally prefer this as it’s closer to what road racing feels like.

The second most important factor is the ice. A “brand new” ice won’t actually grip as much as a rubbed ice surface. In other words, if there’s grooves from previous laps, the tires will be gripping more compared to a brand new ice surface. That said, the most you’re doing laps over and over, the more you rip the ice and the more you create scattered fragments of ice. This “snow” will start to interfere with the tires and directly affect the grip level… Most of the time this will be the main reason for crashing. So every 15-20 laps you have to clean the entire track with a snow shovel… No needs to say it’s a real pain!

I want to show you something interesting, so let’s watch the video below. Play it 2-3 times while keeping your focus on what happening with the front wheel.

If you watched carefully, you should have seen it bouncing up and down while I was reaching the maximum lean angle. This is what we call a “dribbling” tire. It’s the very first sign that the grip level is very poor and that you’re about to loose it entirely. If you’ve watched some Moto GP races or any other motorcycle road racing, we are sometimes “lucky” to have a slow motion playback of a crash happening while the rider is approaching the apex on the brake. Although, in road racing, a dribbling tire will be much harder to see, and much more subtile to feel by the rider.

That’s just one little element that makes road racing such an art to succeed at! But as any other things in life, we all have the strength to succeed, we just need to stay focus, work our abilities, and be confident! I’m not saying it’s easy, neither it was for me when I crashed twice for technical reasons that should have never happened… One thing is sure, I encourage you to follow your dream to the fullest, and most important to be proud of every step you get to achieve them because the journey to get to the main goal is what it’s all about :)

To finish this post with respect to all my sponsors in 2016, I would like to once again thank them to the fullest for the wonderful support they gave me during my first ever Professional road racing season. Some of them are leaving, but one thing is sure, the journey together was very appreciated. Plus nothing would have been possible without my #1 teammate Beata Marszalik. I also want to thank Hervé Remetter, Robin Lafitte, Team Levil, and again all Blysk Racing sponsors for their support:

ELLE Skin Perfection, LP Tent Canada, Macmac.Agency, BED Serigraphie Montreal, Bickle Racing, Shark Helmets, Ohlins USA, MM. Carrosserie & Mecanique, Ipone Oil, Nadon Sport, ASM Motosport, Lettrage T2 Design, Turcotte Performance, TSBK, Pro 6 Cycle, Hindle Exhaust, Karting St-Zotique, Euromoto, Fab-Mac inc, Sport Bike Track Gear USA, Hotbodies Racing, Franklin Motosport, Dunlop, and BMW Motorrad.

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Cheers!
Sam