THE army has spent a quarter of a million pounds developing a diesel-fuelled bike which goes 120mph on one gallon, but makes just 24bhp.
Based on a Kawasaki KLR650, the 580cc Combat Military Motorcycle has been designed by the British Army’s college at Shrivenham, Wiltshire.
It is the result of eight year’s work to address the military’s desire to have all their vehicles run on either diesel or aviation kerosene..
The engine, developed by Californian firm Hayes Diversified Technologies, slots straight into a KLR650 rolling chassis.
It uses some parts from the original Kawasaki – such as much of the transmission and the generator – but it has totally new crankcases, a new crankshaft and cylinder head.
It makes 33ftlb of torque and can hit 85mph. A full tank of diesel will give the bike a 600 miles range.
Dr Stuart McGuigan, who headed the project at the Royal Military College of Science said: " Those who have tested the bike say it’s beautiful at the low-end, which makes it perfect for getting out of bogs and holes when riding off-road.
" The US Marines would be happy with a tank range of around 400 miles so we are looking at reducing the size to suit.
The machine will be used for reconnaissance, despatch and general military police duties.
The US Marines want the machine to take over from the 350cc Harley-Davidsons it currently uses.
The British Ministry of Defence is to begin trials later this year with a view to replacing their current, long standing fleet of MT500 Armstrong machines.