When you think of military motorcycles, you might think of the legendary Afrika Korps sidecar rigs, or Harley-Davidson WLAs, or (more recently) diesel-powered Kawasaki KLRs. Here’s a new one for you, with a much different design: New Zealand’s military is evaluating the UBCO 2×2 electric motorcycle, seeing if this battery-powered ag bike is a good fit for its purposes.
The versatile UBCO 2X2 electric motorcycle was originally built for outdoorsmen, farmers, hunters, conservationists, delivery personnel and other practically-minded riders. It’s lightweight (65 kilograms), with a 1-kW hub motor front and rear, making this a rare 2WD motorcycle. Light weight and 2WD should make it easy to ride, and there’s no gearbox, either. Plus, with no gasoline engine, the UBCO 2×2 is quiet, and doesn’t put out a big heat signature. The quick-swap 48Ah, 50V lithium-ion battery pack is supposedly good for a 120-kilometres of range, and recharges in 6-8 hours.
While there are definitely drawbacks to battery bikes, New Zealand’s military sees advantages in having a motorcycle with features like this. It’s easy to train soldiers to ride the UBCO 2X2, and it should need less maintenance than a gasoline-powered motorcycle. For that reason, New Zealand’s army, navy and air force are all evaluating the machine for tasks like “reconnaissance and surveillance, airfield security, and other transport roles.” The military would limit the bike’s top speed to 50 km/h.
New Zealand also says the electric bike trials are “part of the Defence Force’s wider goal of becoming a more sustainable operation.” New Zealand’s isolation and rugged geography means its military needs versatile equipment, and the UBCO 2X2 certainly looks like it could fit that bill, and maybe help the environment at the same time.