Battle Buffs Like Replica German
Army Bikes


Words and Photos: John Gunnell

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WThis motorcycle was on exhibit at the Iola Military Vehicle Show on Aug. 8-9, 2015 in Iola, Wis. This event includes World War II battle re-enactments that are based on skirmishes between German Nazi and American troops that made the history books.

This bike is a BMW R-71 with a sidecar. It was restored as a replica of a German army version of the R71. BMW actually started making this model in 1938. The R-71 had a reputation for being highly reliable, capable and maneuverable. It was a bike that the majority of  German motorcycle troops rode. The BMW R-71 was used by the Wehrmacht, Luftwaffe, Fallschirmjäger and SS.

The 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact provided for the transfer of technology between Germany and the Soviet Union. As a part of this pact manufacturing plans for the BMW R-71 were given to the Soviet Union. This Russian version of the R-71 became the Ural, which is still being sold today. In the ‘50s the plans were given to the Communist Chinese. China today produces a version called the Chain-Jiang 750.

The military bikes are so popular that companies have taken to producing replicas. The replicas generally include a sidecar and other  original WWII BMW parts. Custom designed replicas can be purchased with different military color schemes and markings. They can be shipped to many countries and licensed and registered as antique motorcycles. Some even come with a two-year warranty.



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