Two-wheeled War Machines at Work
With all the talk about post-apocalypse survival strategies going around (don’t lie, you know you do it too), and we’ve been having some interesting discussions around the office about what kind of bike we’d want to be riding when the world ends. Some important questions have been asked, such as: What kind of terrain should it be suited to? What would it use for fuel? How much should it be able to carry? How important is stealthiness?
But before we get too carried away developing our imaginary post-apocalypse survival bikes, let’s take some cues from the people with the most experience operating motorcycles in hostile environments, in all weather conditions, on all types of terrain, loaded down with supplies, guns, and ammo: the US military special forces.
Motorcycles have a long and interesting history filling niche roles in combat, primarily where speed and agility is needed, such as doing reconnaissance, security patrols, and messaging when routine comm is down. To accomplish these objectives, a number of unique two-wheeled designs have been fielded in recent years - some of which may surprise you. Here we showcase the latest and baddest currently in operation, so doomsdayers take note, hit the drawing board and get to welding!
Stealth Fighter – the Zero MMX
Developed by Zero on a defense contract for US Special Operations Forces, this blacked-out, high-tech assassin gives operators fast movement across rugged terrain in near silence and with minimal heat signature. Built on Zero’s MX dirt bike platform, the MMX was purpose built to military specs, including a specialized dash with toggle switches for all controls, keyless start, modular, removable power packs, total blackout mode, and can operate submerged in up to a meter of water.
Besides being silent, the electric motor delivers almost 100% of its torque on demand – 68 ft/lbs to be exact, along with 54 hp – and uses regenerative braking and rolloff to recover power. The best part? While developing the MMX, Zero made a number of design innovations that are being used in their new civilian models, like the off-road MX and its street-legal variant, the FX. While the model name “Ninja” was taken by Kawasaki long ago, I can’t imagine a machine more deserving of the nomenclature than this stealthy machine.
Keep Going… And Going – the Hayes M1030
No matter how hardcore your machine, operating anything motorized in a remote environment means you’re beholden to one thing – a fuel supply. With anything that runs on gas, you need to consider not only the availability of fuel, but availability of the right fuel.
The Marine Corps’ solution: order up the billy-goat of motorcycles, with an engine that could run on almost anything. Developed by Hayes with their own engine dropped into the rugged KLR 650 platform, the M1030 runs on diesel, biodiesel, JP8 aviation fuel, and four more fuel types used by the military and found throughout the world.
It also runs remarkably efficiently: on diesel, its primary fuel, it gets an incredible 96 mpg cruising at 55mph, giving it a range of over 400 miles! This means a lot less post-apocalypse fuel raids, meaning you can happily bypass the brutal shootouts taking place at gas stations, stopping only occasionally to siphon fuel from abandoned trucks. Supply and demand is a beautiful thing.
Think Baja is Rough? Try Afghanistan – the Christini AWD 450
Most off-road vehicles are all-wheel drive - why not motorcycles? Well it’s an engineering challenge, and usually not necessary since most riders don’t typically carry a great deal of weight over impassable terrain. But guess who does? If you said “Special Operations,” you’re right.
The Christini AWD 450, currently in use by Navy SEALs and Army SF in Afghanistan, uses an innovative all-wheel drive system propelled by a beefy 450 four-stroke engine. This gives the Christini some incredible off-road capabilities, able to pull fully armored troops loaded with gear over terrain that would leave a normal dirt bike stranded.
The bike also uses an automatic clutch for simplicity; a beefed up suspension and foam filled run-flat tires for added ruggedness; and GPS navigation, because getting lost doesn’t look cool, and we all know looking cool is the most important requirement for being in Special Forces.
Here to Stay
While the motorcycle will surely never again see military production numbers like those of the two World Wars, its speed, agility, and versatility make it an ideal tool in unconventional warfare which, in the post-Cold War era, has become the norm.
Motorcycles like the ones featured here demonstrate that not only does the motorcycle have a unique and lasting place in expeditionary warfare, but more interestingly - as we especially see with the Zero and the Christini - that while military requirements push manufacturers to invent and innovate, ultimately we consumers are the ones who benefit, as these new technologies are used in their civilian counterparts. In other words, the coolest part about these bikes is that, with very minor differences, you can actually own one!
So stop dumping your doomsday fund into that experimental bulletproof SUV you're trying to build, and grab yourself one of these badass military bikes instead. The apocalypse may or may not come any time soon, but we're pretty sure that all of us two-wheeled fanatics can find a use for a battle-tested electric dirt bike, a long-range diesel adventure bike, or an AWD rock-crawler between now and the end of the world!
One thing the motorcycling community and the military have in common is a lust for GEAR. Just because you didn't make it through BUD/S or USMC Sniper School doesn't mean you can't rock the gear to look like an operator while you're out reconning on your bike. Check out some of these military inspired products to keep you and your squad geared up for the next mission (weapons and ammo not included.)
Carry all your mission critical essentials with a tac vest from Ogio, which includes a hydration system. Hydrate or die gents - nobody wants to deal with your heat casualty while on patrol!
Ogio Flight Vest
When riding out in the field, you need to be protected from both riding hazards and detection by the enemy. Check out our camo motorcycle gear to stay protected and concealed.
AFX FX-17 Camo Full-Face Motorcycle Helmet (Also comes in a youth version)
AGV Sport Assault Kevlar Cargo Pants 2013
Icon Stryker Battlescar Vest Protector
Comm is everything when you're out in the field. Make sure you're never out of touch with the team using a communication system from Uclear, which utilizes the same multi-hop technology found in military tactical communications.
Uclear HBC200 Force Boomless Bluetooth Communication System
A soldier is only as good as his boots. So get the very best, like these do-anything boots from Sidi.
Sidi Adventure Gore-Tex Motorcycle Boots