Comparative test of military motorcycles


Comparison test, Dnepr military team, Hercules K 180, KTM 400 LC 4, Moto Guzzi V 35/50/65

Military motorcycles

When enduro professional Jutta Kleinschmidt competes with military motorcycle professionals, the heather wobbles.

In truth, the following story did not happen, but people and motorcycles are not fictitious. But read for yourself: “Berger?” “Here.” “Kremer?” “Here.” “Schafer?” “Alexander Schafer?” Silence in the chain. Alexander Schafer, motorcyclist in the Bundeswehr – missing. A hand goes up shyly: “Uh, I think I know where it is. Alexander got a call last night. After that he only mumbled something about ‘Exercise’ and Drover Heide ’.“ Jutta Kleinschmidt has never lost a course participant. Not in France, not in Spain and not even in the Sahara. And now someone disappears from the motocross course in Kleinhau-Hurtgenwald? That can not be true. “Where is this Drover Heide?” “Ten kilometers northeast of here, in the direction of Cologne. But that is maneuvering area. ”But the last part is already drowning in Jutta’s 400 KTM LC 4. The dust cloud over the camouflaged truck and the group of military figures on the Drover Heide tells Jutta her destination from afar. “Wait a minute, you can’t be here … but wait a minute: I know you, don’t I?” A woman must be lucky.

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Comparative test of military motorcycles

Comparison test
Military motorcycles

Moto Guzzi V 50 III, the Belgian on a Bombardier 250, the German on a Herkules K 180, the French on a Cagiva W 12 and the Austrian on a KTM 250. «So, so. Well, look what I can do with my LC 4 against them, «says Jutta, and off we go – with a fountain of stones, dust and gravel. After a few hundred meters, the military route leads into the undergrowth.

The path of the fast troop is not only recognizable by the blue pennants. The smell of two-stroke exhaust gases soon hangs in the air, and in windless corners there are even billows of smoke. “Great cover,” thinks Jutta. And two more are in pursuit: the Russian maneuver observer Brandikov stows his writing pad and Laika camera in the Dnieper team’s boat and signals to his driver, machinist Holgitschev, to take the swampy shortcut. “Interesting machine, the colorful one,” mumbles the commander against the bubbling of the boxer engine: “Let’s see what it’s good for.” The ground becomes soft and muddy. Here comes the hour of LC 4. Jutta plows through the clay with relative ease. Even with the long TÜV translation, she makes faster progress on her LC 4 than the military bikers.

“She does it well,” nods Commander Brandikov in his archaic Dnieper vehicle and continues to turn the transport crank on his Laika. “Like a foil next to a blacksmith’s hammer,” the comparison runs through his head. »Small, light, fast and handy. That’s it! ”Brandikov notes in his notebook. Churned up lanes and footprints give Jutta an inkling that the motorcycle reporters had problems before her. She certainly has a bit of an advantage with her civilian KTM, as the defenders of the fatherland still have a lot of heavy equipment to carry with them.

The path now leads steeply upwards, becomes firm and dry. Jutta breaks out of the undergrowth and finds herself one meter high in the air with the KTM. Up there on the horizon – a cloud of dust and a few black dots. Jutta accelerates what the four-valve single has to offer. It’s not that much, though. Your 400 LC 4 delivers 32 HP, which is TÜV-compliant. The military machines also produce between 26 and 32 horsepower – only the German Hercules drops significantly with 19 hp. But even without a performance advantage, Jutta quickly comes closer to the group. The path with jumps and dips is nothing more than a gravel stage on a desert rally – almost an everyday exercise for Jutta. The KTM LC 4 also feels at home on such routes. The tightly damped suspension with long spring travel can handle waves and jumps unmoved, the chassis, handy in tight bends, offers stable straight-line stability even at higher speeds, the front wheel, 21 inches tall, easily rolls over stones and holes and does not get stuck in every lane.

In terms of off-road capabilities, the military machines can hardly keep up with the LC 4. The Guzzi and Hercules in particular are more based on street motorcycles than on real enduro bikes. Both only roll through the country on 18-inch wheels. However, what makes the motorcyclists particularly behind are the long outdated chassis of their camouflage-colored pedestals, the constructions of which are deeply rooted in the early 1970s. Only the Cagiva W 12 and the KTM 250 have the luxury of a central spring strut, albeit poorly coordinated. “Machinist Holgitschev, would you mind driving around the potholes?” Commander Brandikov slides his pen off the block, while machinist Holgitschev enthusiastically sweeps through the heather and wrestles the short spring travel of the Dnieper team worth seeing in the air. »Machinist Holgieeeeee …« The »… tschev« is lost in the depths of a five-meter steep descent.

The drowsiness gives way to pressing pain: “Machinist Holgitschev, climb down from me at once.” The Dnieper team is neatly wedged between two beech trees at the foot of the wall. “No problem, my commandant, we have the ax.” I definitely won’t mess with German conservationists. «The Russian heavy metal is released again with a jerk and reverse gear. But: “Machinist Holgitschev: What do you have to say in your defense?” “My commandant, I just wanted to stick to this brightly colored motorcycle. I’ve already seen the slope, but you know our brakes, don’t you? ”“ That’s true again, ”sighs Brandikov, dusting his boots off. Such problems also plague the western military motorcyclists. The brakes on their motorcycles are a tragedy. The braking performance of the simplex half-hub drum brakes on the Husqvarna, Bombardier and Hercules is terribly poor.

The front disc brakes of the KTM, the Rotax-Harley-Davidson and the Cagiva from the French motorcycle reporter bring the necessary safety on the road. In off-road terrain, however, the rear brake becomes a more important instrument. A drum is easily sufficient here if it works properly. But after longer diving trips, the drum-braked vehicles show slight signs of failure. Only the proud Frenchman has a disc brake in the rear wheel, which dries up and engages much faster, on his W 12. When Jutta has just really started to move on the rough terrain, the way to the destination suddenly leads over a longer road stage. For the first time, Jutta also fights against the problem of the object. Hard vibrations from the engine without a balance shaft and the coarse studded tires turn the asphalt trip into a horror trip. Like Jutta, many motorcycle reporters fare. The drivers of motorcycles with two-stroke single-cylinder engines are plagued by pithy vibrations that do not leave the material unscathed. Subsequently welded fender and exhaust mountings are evidence of this.

The Armstrong Rotax four-stroke single, built under license by Harley-Davidson in the USA, does not have a balance shaft either, but its vibrations are tolerable. The Cagiva with a balancer shaft and above all the Guzzi with its 90-degree V-two-cylinder engine enable the driver to work on the road without getting tired. And this is the main focus of the work of a motorcycle “reporter”: nowadays, military motorcyclists serve as signposts, traffic stewards and companions in columns and no longer as message transmitters or terrain patrols. while at the same time trying not to be thrown out of the Dnieper team’s boat.

The troop finally turns back into the terrain: stones, dust and mud. The swampy armored cave demands the last effort of all those involved. Jutta is best served with the long-legged KTM. Then a short intermediate sprint – and Soldier Schafer is finally hers: “Alexander, march back and then off to Kleinhau for Motocross.” Easier said than done, because the Hercules tank is slowly ebbing. The only 19 hp “small motorcycle” K 180 needs six liters of the vital juice. “Well, that’s a big problem, the range,” the Swede on the Husqvarna has to admit. Its air-cooled two-stroke engine with 27 hp can take ten liters of fuel per 100 kilometers. And the 250cc Bombardier of the Belgian and the 250cc KTM of the Austrian need hardly less than eight liters over this distance. The modern, water-cooled four-valve four-stroke engine from Jutta’s KTM LC 4, on the other hand, is content with just five liters under the same circumstances, despite its 32 HP output. The military four-stroke colleagues from Rotax-Harley, Moto Guzzi and Cagiva were just as frugal. “Then you caught up with your lost shepherd before the end of the military, Frau Kleinschmidt,” laughs Captain Endert, who suddenly breaks out of the forest. “You know what, captain? If you like, “pack your things here and come with your fast troop to Kleinhau. It’s going to be a lot of fun for everyone. ”All’s well that ends well.

And what does this story want to tell us? Even if the plot is fictitious, the military machines in it are sad reality and actually ripe for the museum for a long time. One can be particularly sorry for the Swede who falls from one performance gap to another with the four-speed fully automatic transmission on his Husqvarna, which is always his undoing, especially in tricky off-road sections. Even the Guzzi driver from Holland has nothing to laugh about off the asphalt road: 193 kilograms on road tires has nothing to do with a sporting challenge. The Belgian Bombardier driver has to put up with the worst of brakes and therefore act extremely farsighted. On the other hand, it is less the lack of delay than the lack of acceleration that thwarted German heroic deeds. The narrow-chested Hercules demands a courageous strangle on the throttle. The Austrian’s KTM and the Englishman’s Rotax Harley show good approaches, but unfortunately not more, their technology is also not up to date, even if not from the Second World War like the Dnieper team. The Frenchman is allowed to drive the one-eyed among the blind, his Cagiva is most likely suitable for military service.

To call the KTM 400 LC 4 the measure of all things would be too bold. Although it is completely convincing in extreme terrain, the lack of a balancer shaft sometimes causes loose seals in the dentition on road stretches, which is why Commander Brandikov scribbled in his notepad: “Better to lose a few seals than a battle.” Never reach Moscow with this message, given the reliability of his boxer team.

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