The German army had one of the world’s largest motorcycle forces of World War II. In order to stay speedy and mobile, combat units used two and three-wheeled vehicles for courier duty, scouting the enemy, hunting tanks, towing light cannons, and transporting fast-moving infantry units.
Military motorcyclists had a dangerous job. They were magnets for sniper fire, landmines, and strafing aircraft. Atop their small unarmored machines, the riders were also exposed to gunfire, shrapnel, and the elements.
History of the Artifact
The BMW R75 was one of Germany’s most popular and universally-used motorcycles. Developed specially for combat, the R75 was extremely hearty and dependable, even in the sands of North Africa and the muddy and snowy environs of the Eastern Front.
With a place for up to three soldiers, the R75’s side car had an axel-driven third wheel affixed to the rear wheel of the motorcycle. Many were equipped with a mount for an MG34 air-cooled machine gun. The vehicle’s horizontally-opposed 2-cylinder engine and resilient gearbox allowed the R75 to crawl over rough terrain for hours or move at reasonably fast speeds on roads. Over 16,500 examples of the BMW R75 were built.