Mike Nightengale photos
It was February of 2011 when Ryan Suchanek set his first Guinness World Record for fastest wheelie on ice at 95mph. An impressive feat in itself but what made it even more astonishing is that Suchanek made that run after having lost his left leg in an accident. He recently entered the record book again with a 109.5 mph wheelie on ice, so we talked to Ryan to find out what it took to break into the triple-digit range:
“As you know, I lost my leg on October 5, 2007 when a car crossed the center line and hit me while I was riding home. My 2005 GSX-R1000 was destroyed that day but my love for riding proved indestructible. Once I recovered, I got back on a bike and set my sights on the Guinness World Record for fastest wheelie on ice. Pingel put an electric shifter on my ‘05 ZX-10R which i use for my fast ice wheelies. I also perform stunt shows almost every weekend throughout the summer months riding my 636 or a Harley-Davidson Sportster 883. I really don’t need to shift too much so i usually use my hand to grab another gear!”
“My 95-mph record was bested last year by a 108.5-mph run,” said Ryan. “That’s considerably faster so I knew I had to do something. Tires were always the weak link but I had no traction issues at all last year. Since I was riding a stock ‘05 ZX-10, I knew it was time for more power. I added a Brock’s Alien Head full exhaust system with a Power Commander III tuned for VP 108-octane race fuel and the bike really came alive. I was able to download all kinds of cool data from the GPS tracking devices on my bike to verify speed, acceleration rate and G forces. My runs were pulling just over 1G!”
Suchanek tested for two weekends prior to making his next attempt. “The bike was running good, I felt like i had a good map in the PCIII but it proved to be a bit lean due to the cold weather,” he said. “I couldn’t find a dyno to tune tune the bike in zero-degree temps. And on the day of the event it was snowing pretty heavily. I ended up sucking snow through the air filter and icing it up a bit so my power was down. Another problem I had was my front tire started throwing studs into the radiator. Six studs flew out during the triple-digit speed runs and that resulted in six holes in my radiator! Still, I was able to lay down that record 109.5 mph run, but for the rest of the day I was refilling the cooling system after every couple runs.” A video recording of the record run can be viewed here.
On regaining the Guinness title for fastest ice wheelie, Ryan said, “I’m proud of beating the record once again but what I really want to do is hit 120 mph! To accomplish that, I hope to be on a 2013 ZX-10R by next winter. That’ll give me more power and less weight for my next attempt.”