Harley Davidson WLA / WLC
First known as the Harley Davidson XE, for “experimental, the WLA was one of the foremost motorcycles used by Allied forces during WWII. This meant that the WLA was being mass produced for military purposes and sent to countries such as Canada (known as the WLC), Great Britain, and Soviet Russia via the Lend-Lease program. In the end, over 90,000 of these bikes were produced for military duty. After the war, the bikes were sold as army surplus, and were snapped up by civilians and modified for street use. In fact, it’s believed that it was this action that gave birth to the custom bike trend, which is still alive and well today. Powered by an air-cooled 45 V2, 4-stroke 739cc engine along with a 3-speed gear box. The military design incorporated an ammunition box, scabbard made for a Thomson submachine gun, along with leg protectors, optional windshield and reinforced luggage rack. Unlike other military cycles of the era, it did not have a sidecar. Instead, it used saddlebags to carry supplies, as saddlebags kept the bike agile and easy to manouvre. Known as one of the quickest bikes during WWII, it could hit a top speed of 65 mph. This versatile cycle was used for a variety to tasks such as recon, communications and all-around military service.
Royal Enfield WD/RE
The Royal Enfield WD/RE was designed and developed by Ted Pardoe of Royal Enfield for the war effort. Also known as the Flying Flea, this lightweight, 130 pound powerhouse was made to be able to drop onto a designated area via parachute or glider. Employed as a means to deliver messages on the battlefield where no radio presence existed, this 126cc bike is one of the best motorcycles of WW II. Produced from 1939 to 1941, The Royal Enfield WD/RE ran on a 126cc, air-cooled, two stroke engine and could reach a top speed of 45 mph. Add to that, the bike was designed simply so it could be easily repaired, and you have a little bike that was capable of great things, one of those was to go 130 miles on one tank of gas.
Norton WD Big 4
The Norton WD (War Department) Big 4 was a bike built to handle military duty. In fact, just one of these bikes could carry 3 fully equipped soldiers. This bit of metal muscle also came with a versatile sidecar, which could be fitted with a Bren gun. The Big 4 actually is known as the first motorcycle to be tested in used for military service in 1907. Designed to get ammo to the troops as well as recon missions, these WW2 motorcycles could handle off-road terrain with no trouble. In fact, this bike had the option of being equipped with a Bren Gun, if necessary. Not only that, but the sidecar could be eliminated so bombs could be carried to their destination. The engine that gave this bike its get up and go, was a 633cc, air-cooled single cylinder engine. The Norton Big 4 performed admirably during wartime until the introduction of the military jeep in 1941.