Armor: Bikes In Battle


April 13, 2009: For nearly a decade now, the U.S. Marine Corps has been using diesel powered M1030M1 (Kawasaki 650cc, KLR650) motorcycles on the battlefield. The KLR650 itself came out in 1991. The marine versions are used for reconnaissance, security and courier duty, as well as getting key people (artillery forward observers) quickly around the battlefield. The U.S. military began using motorcycles again in the 1980s, having dropped them after much success in World War II.  The bikes have become very popular in combat zones, and several thousand military bikes have been purchased so far.

The M1030 diesel powered bikes replaced the less powerful, gasoline powered, Kawasaki 250s. The diesel engines are not as lively as the gasoline ones, but they do supply better mileage (40 kilometers per liter, or 100 miles per gallon, and max range of 650 kilometers on a tank of fuel.) The 370 pound bike has held up well in the combat zone, and is easy to transport by aircraft or landing craft. 

Noting the marines success with this bike, it has been bought by the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force. Several NATO countries have also bought the bike (as the M1030M1E). Four years ago, a civilian version became available, costing $19,000, and became quite popular.

Motorcycles have been used by the military for nearly a century, since the time when motorcycles first became available. Motorcycles survive because they are useful, easy to maintain and don't require a lot of fuel. The military bikes have proper mufflers, so they make less noise than larger vehicles. They are popular with recon troops and military police. In both cases, a couple of guys on bikes can keep an eye on a lot of territory, and do it cheaply and quickly. The bikes can also handle very muddy, or sandy, roads that give four wheeled vehicles trouble. In short, the motorcycles survive in the military because they make themselves very useful.



Article Archive

Armor: Current 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close