The most well-known military motorcycle other than the Harley is the BMW R75, a World War Two era bike with a sidecar. The BMW R75 was a heavy-class motorcycle with sidecar and featured prominently with German Army reconnaissance groups of World War 2.
The German Army requested that BMW (a German automotive company) begin to produce highly effective motorcycles for the war effort. The side car was added later, making the R75 less maneuverable, but able to carry more cargo and soldiers.
Widely known throughout Russia and North Africa, the R75 gave the user choices for both on-road and off-road riding. A four-speed, it was a wildly popular success for the German army. After production had reached over 20,000 units, BMW became synonymous with the Nazi war effort.
The success and overall reliability of the R75 led the United States government and army to ask Harley-Davidson to begin production on a shaft-driven bike for the American soldiers. Harley followed through with the Harley-Davidson XA, an almost exact copy of the BMW R75.
Powered by a two cylinder, four stroke, single horizontally opposed air cooled engine of 26 horsepower, the R75 series was designed to be heavy duty. It could carry one driver, one passenger, and one in the sidecar.
Many European Americans were increasing the efficiency of the motorcycle for the infantry by adding the side car. Up until World War Two, most bikes were used for civilians and fell apart fairly easily. The BMW R75 had to be made to withstand the harsh terrain and use that a military vehicle required.
Here are some of its technical specifications:
Country of Origin: Nazi Germany
Manufacturer: BMW – Germany
Initial Year of Service: 1941
Production Total: 16,510
Focus Model: BMW R75
Crew: 1 to 3
Overall Length: 7.87 ft (2.40 m)
Width: 5.64 ft (1.72 m)
Height: 3.28 ft (1.00 m)
Weight: 0.5 US Short Tons (420 kg; 926 lb)
Powerplant: 1 x BMW 2-cylinder, 4-stroke, air-cooled, 746cc horizontally-opposed engine delivering 26hp at 4,400rpm.
Maximum Speed: 58 mph (93.3 km/h)
Maximum Range: 215 miles (346 km)
NBC Protection: None.
1 x MG34 machine gun though any personal infantry weapons can be assumed.
R75 – Base Series Designation
So there you have it. The overview of the German military motorcycle. In my opinion, it’s much more aesthetically pleasing than anything Harley-Davidson was producing at the time. I mean, just look at it. It could be a wide-selling bike still to this day. Now collectors seek these bikes and pay top dollar to get their hands on a collectible BMW R75 military motorcycle.