The Best Motorcycles of the 1940s

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By Joe Appleton

The 1940s was a particularly turbulent decade in world history, dominated by the Second World War causing widespread destruction all over the globe. As the Allies and Axis powers battled in different theatres, the world’s largest industrial manufacturers were forced to support the war effort in whatever way they could, and a wave of innovation swept across the planet.

There’s no doubt that war is bad, but generally, the military-industrial machine helps fuel innovation, and during the war years, and in the post-war period that followed, the motorcycle industry saw one of it is biggest shake-ups. It also saw many successful brands and their factories reduced to rubble, as traditional motorcycle manufacturing factories were repurposed into munitions factories, making prime targets for aerial bombing raids.

And of course, the end of World War II ushered in an era of economic hardship for many countries. As poorer populations sought cheap, efficient, and practical mobility, the motorcycle was the logical answer. In richer regions, the surplus of army motorcycles led to an entirely different boom, leading the way for the custom biker culture that flourished in the mid-20th century.

As you can see, the 1940s were anything but dull, and an important decade in the history of the motorcycle. So, without further ado: let’s look at 10 of the best motorcycles of the 1940s.



Let’s start with the most obvious and well-known 1940s motorcycle from World War II: the BMW R75. At the beginning of the decade, the Wehrmacht was in need of a heavy-duty motorcycle and sidecar vehicle with specific capabilities. It needed to have useful off-road capabilities, easy handling, and the ability to tow munitions of light artillery weapons. BMW Motorrad answered the call, and thus the legendary BMW R75 was born.

Driven by a 745 cc boxer-twin engine, with 26 …read more

Source:: The Best Motorcycles of the 1940s


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