Taking a 2001 Yamaha R1 to the North Pole!
Ask any motorcycle enthusiast about their favourites and the Yamaha R1 will feature amongst the top, for this supersport does not only look one of the best but also has the performance to scorch racetracks. But then will you take the Yamaha R1 on a cross-country 3,000-mile road trip? Only if you are Sjaak Lucassen, a Dutch national who wants to reach the North Pole from Anchorage, Alaska, in an extremely challenging weather condition in two years beginning in 2021! This crazy idea hatched in Sjaak's mind when he was doing an around-the-world trip in 1995 in Pakistan.
To add to the challenges of the weather, Sjaak wants to do this solo support without a backup vehicle. He plans to carry his own food, fuel, sled carrying camping equipment and sleep in a tent. To battle the bone-chilling freeze, Sjaak will be carrying a heat gun, generator and also additional fuel. Lucassen believes that the 2000/2001 Yamaha R1 engine is highly reliable and hard to wreck, which comes from his experience of using the supersport in his previous trips. Additionally, he knows how the engine is assembled which will be of great help in a situation where the motorcycle drops dead at -40 degrees. Sjaak mentions that the modifications will make his R1 look tough and extreme but at the same time will continue to look awesome!
The Arctic 1 uses a stock engine with a modified radiator and heating elements along with a tweaked drivetrain of multiple chains
The modified Yamaha R1, called the Arctic 1 rides on 40cm wide front and 60cm wide rear tyres. Considering tyres of such dimensions are not available in the market, Sjaak went ahead and got it custom-manufactured from a company. He has also made changes to the swingarm to accommodate the wide tyre and also to the triple clamp in the front with a larger fairing to house everything neatly. The drivetrain has been modified with primary and secondary chains to power the wider rear wheel. In terms of mechanicals, Sjaak's Arctic 1 sports a larger radiator with greater cooling capacity and also provisions for heating the carburettors. Also, the Arctic 1 will be equipped with special oil that will not freeze in the chilling weather. It will also have a generator that will help crank the engine in the mornings.
Sjaak plans to do this epic trip in three phases: 1) Anchorage Alaska ? Tuktoyaktuk Canada, circa 1,800km - This first part of the adventure is expected to be comparatively easy for Sjaak will ride on the existing roads, and at the same time get used to the climate and bike while there is time to make small modifications. 2) Tuktoyaktuk ? Ward Hunt Island, circa 2,300km - This route will depend upon the ice conditions as he will have to avoid areas with pressure ridges. Sjaak will have to be close to the coastline ride and ride hundred or more kilometres offshore. Further, he will be dependant on locals to guide him on this route. 3) Ward Hunt Island ? North Pole - Since there is no exact route, Sjaak will have a challenge of riding the R1 on the frozen ocean. This route, too, will be dependant on the condition of ice as well as ridges that could compel him to take detours.
The Dutch national has already done a trial run of the North Pole ride in 2013 where he rode from Barrow, Alaska, over the frozen Beaufort Sea and on to Key West in Florida, making it the northernmost point from the USA to the southernmost. "The challenges took place on solid ground and maintained roads. On the polar ice the conditions will be much more difficult, are my thoughts. This for sure, keeping in mind the weather and the surface that I have to ride on," explained Sjaak.
He mentions that fuel, transport, and filming and photography will be left to an external crew who would need a hardcore off-road 4x4 with the right set of tyres for tackling the snow. Also, carrying fuel for the whole trip will be difficult but will have to be managed due to the shortage of pumps in and close to the North Pole. Sjaak aims at taking the shortest possible route that will run through remote villages and airports. Also, the eventually chosen transport mode for the guide/support does also effect the total amount of fuel consumption and amount of spare load that can be taken, claims Sjaak.
For more details on Sjaak Lucassen and also links to sponsor him, click here.
Sjaak during his trial ride on the frozen waters of the Beaufort Sea in Alaska, USA, in 2013