The motorbike industry has been going strong for over 100 years and there have been some amazing machines developed over the decades. These range from the elegant Norton Commando, to the incomparable Honda CB750. There’s also been a number of unusual motorcycles as well. We’re looking into four weird motorbikes that you didn’t know existed.
The Welbike was introduced during World War II so British troops could move across the battlefield. Developed by the Inter Services Research Bureau based at Welwyn, the Welbike became the smallest motorbike to be used by the British Armed Forces. Between 1942 and 1943, 3641 units were built. A Welbike could reach a top speed of roughly 30 mph.
The machine could fit into a small container and they were often used by paratroopers after landing in enemy territory.
Have you ever heard of a flying motorbike? You’d be surprised at how early some engineers started thinking about creating one. A good example is French designer Ernest Archdeacon, who developed the aero-motocyclette in 1906. Archdeacon was an aviation specialist and created a machine that made use of a propeller and motorcycle frame.
The aero-motocyclette featured a modified Buchet motorbike frame and had a wheel installed on the end of the propeller shaft nearest the rider. The wheel started the engine and racer Alessandro Anzai was chosen to test it. The aero-motocyclette reached a top speed of 50 mph, and though it was never intended to be sold to the public, it demonstrated the efficiency of a certain type of aircraft propeller.
During WW2, the German military developed a vehicle called the Kettenkrad, which was named after the German word for motorbike. It started out as a light tractor and transitioned into a half-track vehicle that resembled a small truck. The front end looked like a motorbike, while the bottom half had tank-like wheels. This made the Kettenkrad an ideal off-road vehicle.
Many vehicles relied on the forecar design at the start of the 20th century. The motorbike forecar involved a passenger seat being placed in front of the engine. Usually, the seat was placed above the front axle, leaving the passenger vulnerable to a head on collision. Given how dangerous the risk was, it’s not surprising that the forecar quickly fell out of use.
Can you think of any other weird motorbikes? Let us know by showing us your photos on the Inside Bikes Facebook page.