War Bike Project

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War Bike: Is a Research Project aimed at recording the History of British Military Motorcycles from 1899 to the present date. These pages will build to provide a central Archive for data relating to all aspects of Military Motorcycling. If you wish to contribute information or documents please contact us at warbike@fenlandclassics.co.uk

WarBike: British Military Motorcycling 1899-1919 is available from our shop. Click here for more information.

Pioneers: 1899 to 1910

Military Motorcycling started as soon as the pioneers began bolting engines into bicycle frames. Research to date has identified photographs that show motorcycles being used by the military. The image on the left dating from 1899 shows a motorised tricycle pulling a maxim gun.   

Birth Of The Dispatch Rider:1910 to 1911

Keen motorcyclists attended manoeuvres on an informal basis. Some Officers discovered the advantages of motorcycles in speeding up communications in the field. At this stage the War Office were not interested in motorcycles, which were still no more than motorised bicycles. Albert Trapmann a visionary cyclist Officer lobbied for the War Office to take up the concept of Despatch Rider, eventuallyforming is own "Private Corps" of riders. 

War Office Trials: 1910 to 1913

This was a period of great change within the Army as mechanical transport was being considered to replace horse and mule driven wagon trains. Motorcycle enthusiasts were quick to see opportunities and The War Office carried out experimental manoeuvres before considering motorcycles for use as convoy support. At this stage the Cavalry was still the main mobile fighting force.


Brooklands & Military Motorcycling: 1910 to 1915

After becoming the primary location for military motorcycle testing, the Brooklands race track in Surrey came alive again on three occasions in 1915. Members of the armed forces and factory workers took to their motorcycles and for a few hours the Great War felt a long way off.


The Motorcycle goes to War: 1914 to 1918

The Military Motorcycle came of age as war was declared on 4 August 1914 100's of motorcyclists reported to their units whilst thousands more rode to local recruitment centres to volunteer for active servic

Now considered a vital means of communication, manufactures were pressed into service to provide huge numbers of motorcycles for use on every Front. Triumph, Douglas and Phelon & Moore were the primary suppliers. Later other manufacturers such as Scott, Royal Enfield, Clyno, Sunbeam, BSA and many more saw action both with British and other Allied Forces.

The Post WW1 Period

The military motorcycle proved a vital asset, and remained an essential part of British Forces until the present day. Research is currently being undertaken on the Period from 1920 to 1945. If you have any information, images or documentation please get in touch at warbike@fenlandclassics.com