Bicycles & Motorcycles

Bicycles and motorcycles were usually intended as individual transport.

Bicycles became very popular in the late 1800s and military forces adopted them. As late as World War I (1914-1919) there were entire Cyclist Battalions. By the time of World War II (1939-1945), bicycles had largely been replaced with motorcycles or other small vehicles with engines. In WWII bicycles were however used, especially in the Japanese and European Armies. In the British Commonwealth they were mainly used on army and air force bases to get around, and indeed are still used this way on some air force bases. In WWII, BSA in England developed the folding “Airborne Bicycle”. These were intended for use by the British Airborne Forces. The early gliders were small but could accommodate a bicycle for a “Runner” to use to deliver messages. The folding bike could also be parachuted with a paratrooper.  Ironically the largest use was for the second wave landing on Gold, Juno and Sword beaches on D-Day, though they were very quickly abandoned. 

Motorcycles began to appear in military use by World War I. In WWII they started out as being very common, but for the Allies, the Bantam, Willys and Ford produced “jeeps” quickly made most motorcycles obsolescent, except for messengers (Runners) and traffic control.