What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word cool? Explosions? Fighter planes? Ninjas? Magic? Catapults? Dungeons and Dragons? Throw a ball of paper in the trash the first time? Everyone’s answer will likely be a little different given their unique tastes and experiences, but there is one thing that is universally and objectively cool: motorcycles.
There’s just something inherently badass about motorcycles, and adding one to any situation immediately makes it cooler. Think about it. Colonoscopies aren’t cool, but they kind of would be if they were done on motorcycles. Breakups suck, but they wouldn’t be so bad if they happened while you were screaming down the highway in a Triumph Bonneville. No one looks cool crying, especially if you’re a lousy screamer, but imagine how cool you’d look crying in the back of a Harley doing a wheelie? It’s not that sad; it is poetic.
Motorcycles make everything cooler, even movies. For example, imagine how boring The great Escape would have been if Steve McQueen had fled through Nazi-occupied Germany in a station wagon rather than on this sweet TR6R. Evel Knievel wouldn’t be famous if he jumped over all those school buses in a Honda Civic. And remember how sad it was in that movie hot rod when Rod traded in his beloved motorcycle for his mother’s van? How you wanted to reach across the screen and grab Rod by the throat and yell, “No! Don’t do this, Rod! Don’t give up on your dreams just yet!”
We can’t quite put our finger on what makes motorcycles so cool. Their freshness is indescribable. Maybe it’s the speed, or the rebellion, or the fact that catching a bad bump will send you into partial orbit, or the incredible feeling you get driving at 200 mph with your eyes closed down a narrow highway at two ways. Or maybe it’s just that motorcycles represent freedom. That’s why they’re especially popular here in the Land of the Free. And also why they have long been a preferred mode of transportation for the US military. Sure, your Tesla can park itself, but will it do anything to overthrow an evil dictator or kill terrorists? We doubt it.
In honor of their composure and service to our country, we’ve compiled a list of the five most badass military motorcycles in American history in no particular order. Remember, you might be cool, but you’ll never be as cool as those badass battleground bikes.
When the United States entered World War I, Springfield-based Indian Motorcycle Co. (then called Hendee Manufacturing) answered the call to duty by supplying the U.S. military with approximately 50,000 bicycles between 1917 and 1919. The majority among these were militarized Powerplus models. The decision to commit almost all of its production to the war effort was a blow to the company, as it drastically reduced the availability of its motorcycles on the home front, leading to many sellers Americans to turn to other companies, such as Harley Davidson. , to meet their needs.
The Powerplus models purchased by Uncle Sam during World War II were modified for military service and proved popular with troops in Europe, who appreciated the motorcycle’s power, endurance and reliability. Off the battlefield, the Powerplus has been involved in a number of impressive feats. In 1915, American motorcycle racer Erwin Baker rode one of Vancouver to Tijuana in 3 days, 9 hours and 15 minutes. Several years later, his compatriot Gene Walker, pictured above, established a official motorcycle land speed world record on a Powerplus, pointing at 115mph.
Harley Davidson WLA
Did you know that Harley produced motorcycles for the United States Armed Forces in both World Wars and even built a custom motorcycle specifically for General John J. Pershing to go into battle against Pancho Villa’s army? Harleys have long been a staple on American battlefields – but by the time World War II rolled around, motorcycles were used less in direct combat and more used in support duties like police work, messaging tasks and some tracking.
Harley-Davidson began producing the WLA in small numbers in 1940 and significant increase in production cycling after America entered World War II. Nearly 90,000 WLAs were produced during the war. Dubbed the “Liberator”, the WLA military model was very similar to the civilian model except for a few key changes, such as an OD green or black paint job, blackout lights, fenders to reduce clogging and other utility-centric accessories. like luggage racks, ammunition boxes and a sheath for a Thompson machine gun.
WLAs were sold as surplus after the war and were popular among American veterans who lacked the motorcycles they used to ride in service. The WLA’s desire, combined with its low cost, contributed to the rise of biker culture and Harley-Davidson’s post-war popularity that persists to this day.
Yes, there is another Indian motorcycle on this list, and for good reason. Sacrifice is a necessary aspect of warfare, and it’s hard to argue that any other motorcycle company sacrificed more for American war efforts than Indian.
Although he never quite recovered from his World War I contributions, Indian answered the call again during World War II and provided Uncle Sam with a thousand Indian 841 – an experimental motorcycle specially designed for desert warfare.
Strongly inspired by BMWR71 motorcycle, the Indian 841 (8 for the new engine, 41 for the year) was a twin-cylinder, shaft-drive, side-valve test bike. Despite sharing a similar frame, rear suspension and four-speed transmission, the Indian 841 was not an exact copy of the BMW R71, with several notable differences including a V-twin engine with 90 degree longitudinal crankshaft and beam fork.
Although tested by the Army, the Indian 841 was never officially adopted for service and was instead bested by another classic military vehicle that the Army believed was better suited to desert warfare: the jeep. After the U.S. Army refused the 841, Indian sold its remaining stock to civilians and called it a day.
KLX 110 mini bike
The reduced size and weight of the KLX 110 means it is easier to transport and deploy by parachute. For this reason and others, US special operations units often use these mini motorcycles. You can fit more KLX 110s on a pallet than conventional bikes, and they easily fit in the back of off-road vehicles like the GMV. Infrared coated paint jobs, quiet mufflers and heavier suspension components are added to mini bikes used by SOF units to tailor the machine to the specific needs of military service.
Additionally, the KLX 110 and other mini bikes tend to be cheaper, easier to repair, and easier to maneuver over rough terrain if it becomes necessary to physically transport the bike around or over the road. obstacles and rough terrain.
Did you ever think you would see an electric motorcycle on this list? We haven’t, but here we are.
For a motorcycle introduced in 2013, the Zero MMX was way ahead of its time. Developped by Zero Motorcycles Exclusively for U.S. SOF units for use on operations where stealth and mobility are critical, the MMX’s electric powertrain allows it to cruise with near silence and minimal heat signature compared to a traditional combustion motorcycle, which which makes it the stealthiest bike on this list.
Based on the 2013 MX platform, the MMX is rugged and lightweight, capable of operating in up to 1 meter of water. Featuring a 54 horsepower motor with 68 foot-pounds of torque, the MMX is surprisingly powerful for an electric motorcycle and also features regenerative braking that feeds energy back into the battery. MMX performance characteristics can be changed via a smartphone app, and modular power supplies can be replaced in less than a minute. Like many military vehicles, the MMX also features keyless ignition for faster starting and easier theft by nearby National Guard units.
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