We see some awesome machines coming from the OEMs, but when you have elite troops with heavy gear and ammo traversing the most hostile territory in the world, you need some extra special machines to get the job done. Check out these cool Special Forces Motorcycles, built just for the toughest warriors on earth!
A few Marine special operators showing off their bikes and guns in Afghanistan, c. 2012
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 a the Zero MMX
The Zero MMX is a badass, blacked-out, near-silent electric motorcycle made exclusively for special operations forces.
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.
The Hayes M1030 is the mountain goat of military motorcycles; it will eat anything for fuel and go anywhere.
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
The Christini AWD 450 is a 2WD 450 dirt bike the military uses to get big riders and heavy gear over the roughest terrain on earth.
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!