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Military Motorcycles in World War 2

Military Motorcycles

In World War II, many vehicles were produced and developed to be used in war, whether it’s cars, tanks, planes, and even airships. One of the vehicles that are used and not mentioned above is “Motorcycle” with its unique identity, lightweight, flexibility and able to move quickly. It can also be modified and give them greater battlefield mobility.

CAMEL TIRE would like to tell you about the military motorcycles of World War II that outstanding and being used in each country.

During World War II, the German Army was one of the most used motorcycles in the war. In particular is motorcycle with sidecar that we often see in the media that all German officers must always be in this motorcycle. The two main German military motorcycles were the Zundapp KS750 and the BMW R75.

As for motorcycles on the Allied of World War II whether it’s a motorcycle from a legendary like Harley-Davidson WLA, that was produced to US Army. For the British Army, there will be two motorcycles model in use, the BSA M20 and Norton 633 and finally a motorcycle from the Soviet Army, the Ural M-72 which is designed based on a German military motorcycle.

The roles of motorcycles used by the armed forces of each country during World War II were not much different. These motorcycles were used in a wide variety of missions such as a fast-moving unit, patrolling, sending messages, sending munitions and supporting various attacks because it is small, lightweight especially in fast-moving over uneven terrain and can also equipped machine gun to give them greater battlefield mobility. In addition, it can be able to remove side car and to be transported by parachute. Therefore, motorcycles are important parts that effect on the tactics or outcomes of the war in the same way as heavy vehicles.

The “Zündapp KS750” is the first motorcycle of the German military choice. From the production capability and stable financial status of the company including the strong performance that can be able to run in any conditions from muddy soil, mountains track, deserts, snow to normal or even smooth roads. From the outstanding performance, the Zündapp KS750 was hailed as the best sidecar for military missions that BMW had to develop to the BMW R75 later.

“BMW R75” was one of the stands out motorcycles chosen by the German military during World War II, due to its proven performance and speed capability in numerous motorcycle races during the pre-World War 2, no matter which motorcycle races, “BMW R75” won almost every award. From the outstanding above has caught the attention of the German army until the R75 has been included as a vehicle in the German army. At the end of the war, the R75 served as the prototype for later BMW motorcycles, such as the R51/3, R67 and R68. More importantly, the R75 is still a favorite among motorcycle collectors today.


The “Harley-Davidson WLA” is a Harley-Davidson motorcycle built specifically for the US Army during World War II. It was based on an existing civilian model, the WL model.

There are many differences between the civilian models and the military version. Starting from painted surfaces were generally painted in non-reflective matte colors for easy maintenance and reduced enemy visibility. There is a button for turning on and off the light in order to reduce nighttime visibility. The fender is raised higher than usual to reduce mud clogging including an air filter system designed specifically for riding through water or in dusty condition.

The versatile capabilities, the Harley-Davidson WLA acquired the nickname “Liberator”. Beside the WLA, Harley-Davidson also produces the WLC for the Canadian, British, South African and other allies countries.


“BSA M20” is a genuine British motorcycle. Most of the BSA M20 motorcycles were made specifically for the British Army. Only some will be distributed to allied countries such as Sweden, South Africa and India.
The majority of the M20’s duties are primarily used as a general-purpose motorcycle for convoy escort and dispatch use. The M20 also the one of the longest serving motorcycles in the history of British military motorcycling.

“Norton 633” is another British motorcycle used by the British Army. Norton 633 is a successor to the Norton 16H, offering more engine power and the ability to mount a machine gun or auxiliary weapon for use in the military. Moreover, Norton 633 is the only motorcycle in the British Army that driven by Sidecar wheel.

The “Ural M-72” originated from the concerns of the Soviets about German invasion. The Soviet Army had to prepare the army and find a motorcycle to use in the army because the motorcycles used at that time were already obsolete.
The Soviet Army secretly ordered five BMW R71s, passed through Sweden and gave to engineers from Moscow. The body and shape of the BMW R71 began to be reconstructed as the Ural M-72 and later loaded into the Soviet Army.

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