Between Shanks’s Pony and larger vehicles like Land Rovers or Jackals there sits a class of vehicle that might be regards as ‘personal transportation’ i.e. those with only 1 seat
As a result of operations in Afghanistan and general lack of funding, the Army’s All Terrain Mobility Platform (ATMP) and Harley MT350 Motorcycles are now out of service, only the Yamaha Grizzly 450 quads remain, those purchased under an Urgent Operational Requirement with Logic trailers and minor modifications by Revolve/Roush.
These replaced the Honda 450 quads purchased previously. I think the Army did end up buying some Kawasaki KLR’s and Honda XR 250/400’s for specialist users, purchased from CJ Ball but these are mostly or all gone and the MoD has even started disposing of the Yamaha quads.
The use of motorcycles in a military context is hardly new, German and Russian forces in WWII made extensive use of them for reconnaissance, seeking out gaps and Israel suffered at the hands of motorcycle borne forces.
The use of quad bikes as infantry patrol logistics carriers and immediate casualty evacuation vehicles has been well established in Afghanistan and conventional motorcycles are also used for convoy marshaling and despatch rider duties although both these tasks have been largely superseded by navigation and communications technology.
Obviously they sacrifice protection for mobility but logistics requirements are tiny, especially fuel and this has seen them retained for special forces use in Afghanistan.
The image below shows one in use in Afghanistan with an Australian soldier
If it does, there is no shortage of off the shelf motorcycles that could be painted green and fitted with a switch to turn the lights off!
I will look at quads in future post, but, a few options of the two wheeled variety that are not from Honda or Kawasaki…
Christini AWD 450
In 2011, the specialist US manufacturer Christini supplied 90 of their innovative 2 wheel drive motorcycles to the 82nd Airborne Division.
The Christini All Wheel Drive technology does as it says, powering both wheels, from the Christini web page
The CHRISTINI AWD Military Edition is based on the CHRISTINI AWD 450 E or CHRISTINI AWD 450 DS, and has a multitude of add on parts for added protection and longevity. It can be either off road specific or an on road based bike with all the options to make it extra tough! Each bike is built to order and you can choose from the accessory parts shown on our specifications tab. The Military Edition is used by the Navy Seals and Special Forces groups overseas, as well as other branches of the military. It features a powerful liquid cooled 450cc four-stroke engine, precisely tuned suspension, and an All Wheel Drive system that provides unbelievable traction, handling and stability.
The AWD Military has been refined over a number of years in conjunction with Highground Gear, the US Army and US Navy, it features foam filled tires, GPS, anti stall automatic clutch and additional protection for vulnerable areas.
A number of SF teams have used them in Afghanistan where their light weight allows them to be carried on medium sized helicopters, providing a great deal of mobility for small teams.
KTM and Kawasaki have also developed all wheel drive motorcycles with different approaches, hydraulic and mechanical connection to the front wheel.
All wheel drive cannot substitute for skill but it does help a skilled rider although the extra weight might not be welcome.
If serious off roading is required in a lightweight package the Rokon Ranger and Scout have been in production for decades.
The King Abudlla II Design and Development Bureau in Jordan has developed a specialist military version of the AB32 Rokon Desert Ranger and it is in service with Jordanian forces.
If the WWII Excelsior Welbike retro look is needed, DiBlasi have something similar.
The DiBlasi Express folding motorcycle costs less than $2,000
If stealth is the main criteria Zero Motorcycles have developed a military version of their all electric motorcycle, the MX.
The press release has some very interesting information;
The MMX was developed exclusively for military use in the U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) and provides Special Operations riders with unique tactical advantages over traditional combustion motorcycles, as the electric powertrain allows for rapid movement over hostile terrain in near silence and minimal heat signature. Zero Motorcycles’ engineering team worked under military contract to develop the motorcycle. The MMX has met the most stringent standards set forth by the U.S. military, as an undisclosed number of MMX motorcycles are currently undergoing full operational testing.
2013 Zero MMX Military Motorcycle – Key Features
- Specialized military dash for quick and centralized mainline controls
- Keyless ignition engaged with dash toggle for quicker departure
- Modular and quick-swappable power packs
- Wet operational abilities in up to one meter submersion
- Switchable headlight for night-time stealth
- Integrated wiring to accommodate quick installation of front and rear infrared systems
- Safety override and reserve power capabilities to extend range during extreme situations
- Aggressive foot pegs and hand guards for optimal control
- Tie down eyelets with integrated tow cable and rear seat strap
The 2013 MMX Military Motorcycles are built off the 2013 MX platform, which is incredibly tough and lightweight, and uses a finely tuned and fully adjustable suspension system to absorb aggressive terrain. Combined with state of the art Z-Force™ technology and an ultra-light frame design, the Zero MMX is agile and fast where it counts.
The 2013 Zero MMX features the all new Z-Force™ motor. With 54 hp and 68 ft-lbs of torque, the Zero MMX accelerates hard, with incredibly smooth throttle control, to allow riders to tackle bigger obstacles and corner faster. When rolling off the throttle, riders can take advantage of regenerative braking to both modulate speed and extend ride times. The performance characteristics of the Zero MMX are also adjustable via Bluetooth and a compatible smart phone mobile device when using the Zero Motorcycles mobile app.
The 2013 Zero MMX integrates the world’s first truly modular power pack system and is available in two configurations: ZF2.8 (one module) and ZF5.7 (two modules). The lockable modules can be individually added or removed, regardless of state of charge, in less than a minute. Charge times can be cut down to around an hour using a scalable quick-charge accessory system or with the CHAdeMO accessory (CHAdeMO charging requires a supporting charge station). Owing a Zero has never been easier as the sealed Z-Force™ motor virtually eliminates all routine powertrain maintenance and drives the rear wheel by way of a beefier 520 chain.
The low heat and noise signature provide obvious advantages but the equally obvious disadvantage is range. The single power module is said to provide 170 miles range but on difficult terrain, this would be reduced. Additional modules can be carried but that just increases the burden although a module can be charged in an hour.
Regenerative braking can extend the range and there is even an ‘app’ for managing the electronics.
From Russia with…
I don’t profess to understand Russian but this looks similar to the Rokon
I like the way it packs into two bags and looks very lightweight
Watch more videos at their YouTube channel
This looks like a lot more fun than wheels so I thought I would sneak it in.
It is more or a less a tracked skateboard, designed and manufactured by BPG Werks
It weighs just under 150kg and can travel in excess of 25mph over very challenging terrain, there is even a trailer, the military version is called the Jackal
I think riding one looks like hard work, especially with any loads, but watch the video
Going Old School
Read about the BSA military bicycles here
Bringing it right up to date is the Montague Paratrooper Folding Bike
Must admit, I always think of this image when anyone says military bicycle!
— Chris Buckley 储百亮 (@ChuBailiang) April 14, 2014