Electric motorcycles are increasingly winning favor with armed forces all over the world. The latest example sees the popular Sur Ron Firefly trialed for use in military airdrops.
The exercises are currently underway, being performed by the UK’s 16 Air Assault Brigade.
Motorcycle New’s Laura Thompson had the chance to join the soldiers during a recent drill that took place in France.
There she reported on the tactical advantages provided by the lightweight and stealthy electric motorbikes.
With around 6 kW (8 hp) of peak power, the bikes reach top speeds of around 40-45 mph (65-72 km/h). They’re built with long travel suspension and trail tires that make them well-suited for rugged off-road riding.
We’ve seen Sur Rons out maneuver gas bikes time and again, often besting them in organized races.
Perhaps most importantly for military applications, the Sur Ron bikes do all this with much lower sound and heat signatures. They idle 100% silently and are significantly quieter at full rev.
Upgradable belt kits like those from Gates Carbon Drive that replace the drive chain with a quieter carbon fiber-reinforced belt reduce the sound signature even more.
The feature that helped the Sur Ron bikes make the final cut for this military drill with the UK’s 16 Air Assault Brigade was the low weight of the bikes, at just 47 kg (103 lb).
That lightweight design makes them better suited for aerial use, such as parachute drops from planes and helicopters.
That’s exactly what Captain Dan Lauder explained:
The experiment aims to understand two things. How we could employ bikes tactically and what advantages do they offer over other vehicles, and what are the implications for supplying them with power and interacting with other in-service vehicles.
One of the main reasons that we are interested in using motorbikes is because of the need for air portability and, in particular, airdrop. The good thing about such a small vehicle is that you can get it in the back of helicopters; you can undersling it from a helicopter; you can get several in the back of a plane, and then also, potentially you’d be able to drop it from the back of a plane under a parachute.
So, it gives you a whole load of options to be able to get mobility in an expeditionary sense forward, in a way that a jeep or even a quad bike just can’t do. So that’s the main reason why we, as an air assault brigade, are interested in it, because it has what we call good strategic mobility. You can get a motorbike quite far, quite quickly, relatively easily.
Electric motorcycles gaining increased military attention
It’s certainly not the first time that electric motorcycles have been explored for battlefield and military use.
Last month we reported on the UAE’s special operations forces testing the use of Zero electric motorcycles mounted on Black Hawk helicopters for rapid insertion of stealthy reconnaissance troops.
Just a month earlier we covered multiple special operations forces that were undergoing testing of high-powered electric bicycles for tactical use, some even outfitted with solar panels for charging in the field.
UBCO’s all-wheel-drive electric motorbikes are also being evaluated by the New Zealand Defence Forces for patrol use, where their low-signature operations have proven to be key advantages.
Electric motorcycles are taking off in the commercial sector as more riders discover their benefits, but now we’re also seeing armed forces increasingly turning to the new technology to take advantage of the unique features found in stealthy electric motorcycles.
Know of any other cases of electric motorcycles and e-bikes getting drafted? Let us hear it in the comments section below!
Lead image credit: MCN; Black Hawk image credit: Janes
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