Motorcycles have had a place on battlefields around the world since the beginning of mechanized warfare, and even today, in Russia’s war on Ukraine, we find electric bikes making a difference on the front line.
For example, Ukrainian company Delfast’s e-bike, the Top 3.0, a hybrid dirt bike/bicycle that could be categorized as an enduro moped, is currently being used by Ukrainian fighters. It has an impressive range of up to 200 miles on a single charge. And even more impressive? It can be equipped to carry rocket launchers.
As reported by Electrek, Kyiv-borne Delfast’s e-bikes are being employed by Ukrainian ground forces to carry Next Generation Light Anti-Armor Weapons (NLAWs), think Javelin anti tank missiles, which are lightweight, line-of-sight, shoulder- fire weapons to the front lines. Remember seeing all those burned out Russian tanks lining Ukrainian roads? These e-bikes could be partly responsible.
The Delfast bikes are pretty neat machines, outfitted with 3000 watt electric motors that deliver a peak output of 6000 watts, plus 134 ft lbs (182 nm) of torque, which translates to a top speed of 50 mph , plus plenty of useful tractability. And save for the potential whisper of belt and tire noise, these bikes, equipped with motorcycle tires, are super quiet, a major asset when a soldier is maneuvering within sight of enemy troops.
Delfast’s CEO and co-founder, Daniel Tonkopiy, shared some feedback received from the soldiers: “The bike was great and can really work for mobile groups. Plans to use it – for reconnaissance tours and with equipment for work on tanks.”
Being relatively lightweight (154 lbs) the Delfast e-bike is highly maneuverable and can also handle rough terrain thanks to eight inches of travel delivered via an adjustable KKE fork and rear coil shock. A true hybrid, the Top features pedal assist, as well as regenerative charging during braking and coasting. Some of the cops in Mexicali, Baja’s capital city, have been using Delfast Top e-bikes, dubbed Top Cops, since 2020.
Another Ukrainian company, ELEEK, has been supplying similar e-bikes to frontline fighters, including to snipers, who value these machines for their stealthiness and ability to reach rugged outposts. The company has commissioned designated bikes by Ukrainian forces, “Atom Military” units. On ELEEK’s website it claims the Atom models can deliver a top speed of 62 mph (100 km/h) and can travel up to 93 miles (150 km) on a single charge.
Both e-bikes being used by Ukrainian fighters are designed to handle heavy payloads in relation to their light weights (the Atom is also listed as weighing 154 lbs) and the military versions have been equipped with 220 V output as well, which allows charging from any standard outlet. Yet another profound benefit is a smaller heat signature of these small e-vehicles, making them harder to detect by Russian drones equipped with thermal imaging.
While it’s awesome to see these innovative motorbikes helping Ukraine stand up to Russia’s invasion, e-bikes aren’t new to military arsenals. In 2020 we reported about the New Zealand defense force’s use of electric utility bikes built by UBCO, while Norway equips its border patrol with fat tire e-bikes. One of the coolest e-bike operations is happening in the UAE, where Black Hawk helicopters are being fitted with side-mounted Zero FX motorcycles.
Of course many other e-vehicle technologies are being tested by military outfits around the world and being kept under wraps. In fact, Delfast’s CEO stated: “We’ve been providing electric bikes to the Ukrainian Army since the first day of the war. We transferred electric bikes to the front line, but we did not talk about it – we do some things quietly.” Ukraine’s military command only recently allowed the e-bike companies to publish photos of what the bikes were being used for.
Somehow a silent, off road ready moped capable of 50-plus mph sounds all at once thrilling and terrifying. Interestingly, Delfast is now headquartered in Southern California and units will be available in the States this summer. A Top 3.0 starts at $6,599, and no, you won’t find rocket launchers on its list of options.