Special Operators Interested in ‘Motoped’
The Motoped Survival Bike was delivered to the special operations community for testing on Aug. 8, according to Jeffery Givens, president and CEO of Graystone Defense LLC.
Givens is a consultant who works with the American Performance Technologies Group, which designed the vehicle.
“It’s simply a ruggedized downhill racing mountain bike with a motor on it,” he said Aug. 26 at the National Defense Industrial Association's Joint Service Power Expo in Cincinnati, where the motoped was on display.
The bike is designed for off-road travel and is equipped with six-inch shock absorbers similar to those on professional Motocross motorcycles, Givens said.
The vehicle weighs 132 pounds and can carry a 300 pound load, including the weight of the driver. In testing it has reached speeds of more than 45 miles per hour, he said.
The motoped gets 140 miles per gallon or better, depending on the size of the engine and other variables, Givens noted. The bike carries three one-gallon fuel tanks, giving it a range of up to 480 miles, depending on the terrain and other variables, he added.
Givens said a key selling point for the bike is that it would enable special operators to drive across rugged terrain rather than march over it.
“The soldier is going 20 miles an hour … instead of 2 miles an hour with 80 pounds of gear” on their backs, he said.
U.S. Special Operations Command is already buying ATVs to help commandos go off road and reach their targets more easily. But the motoped offers an additional advantage in that special operators could turn their engines off on the final stretch of their journey to better maintain the element of surprise when attacking the enemy.
“You’ve got an option … [if] you want to come in on the [motor] power for a certain distance [and] then want to peddle for a little bit so you’re quiet,” Givens said.
He noted that the bikes, given their relatively small size, are easily transportable via helicopter. They are also less expensive than most vehicles the military buys, coming in at under $4,000 per unit.
Givens acknowledged that the vehicle does have some limitations in its current form, such as the difficulty of peddling uphill.
“I admit that a 132-pound bike with 300 pounds of rider and gear is a lot to pedal,” he said.
Another potential drawback, from the military’s perspective, is that it runs on gasoline.
“Everybody wants to go to heavy fuel,” Givens said. “[But] nobody has produced a single cylinder, small fractional horsepower motor that is diesel yet that has worked.”
He said some changes need to be made to optimize the bike for potential military customers. “There’s a little bit of developmental work that we’ll have to do,” he noted.
Potential upgrades include installing LED lighting, closing the fuel system and giving the vehicle the ability to recharge military batteries, he said.
Givens was asked if gun mounts could be placed on the bike. “We’ll look into that eventually,” he said. “It all comes down to weight and how much bulkiness you want to have.”
Special operators are not the only ones interested in the motoped. The APT Group is already selling variants of the vehicle on the commercial market. The company has sold more than 500 since February, Givens said.