Motorcycle Marines For Marine air-ground task force commanders, the need for more power and durability motivated the drive to acquire bigger and better motorcycles. The M1030B1 Dual Purpose Military Motorcycles (Kawasaki KLR 650s) will replace the aging fleet of Kawasaki KLR 250s, which have been in use since 1986. The motorcycles were intended to deliver messages when radios weren't working and to conduct route reconnaissance for large units. Chief Warrant Officer 4 Don Kaufman of Marine Corps Systems Command, motorcycle project officer, is coordinating their distribution to the FMF Several factors went into the decision to purchase the 650s. "The 250 is a little under-powered," Kaufman said. "The 650 has a more robust suspension and frame, and it's not as susceptible to damage due to rigorous off-road use." Kaufman said MarCorSysCom had another reason for choosing the KLR 650. "An ongoing development program will produce a diesel-fueled engine based on the KLR 650 gasoline engine." The gasoline engines will be removed and replaced with diesel ones. With the motorcycles then being able to run on the same fuel that every other vehicle in ~ operating force uses, the logistical problems associated with having to provide more than one type of fuel would be eliminated. The motorcycles are generally as-signed to regimental and Marine expeditionary unit commanders but often are detached to units upon request. Currently, the bikes are assigned to infantry, artillery, military police and communication units. The mission of motorcycles today is somewhat different than simply carrying messages. "I've had units tell me that they've sent their sniper teams out with them," he said. Overseas or in combat zones, streets may be narrow or obstructed, making it difficult for Humvees to negotiate terrain quickly. "Particularly, we've demonstrated that in urban reconnaissance, [the motorcycles~ are excellent," Kaufman said. Kaufman described the motorcycles as utility vehicles that can be used in garrison as well as in the field because they are inspected, registered vehicles and their operators must be licensed by their commands. The motorcycles are also legal to ride on public roads. New additions and modifications were made on the 650s, partly due to lessons learned from using older bikes and partly to accommodate the mission requirements of a military motorcycle. Kaufman said that the Marine Corps has added rider handguards to protect riders' hands during spills or when riding through foliage. The bikes also have a heavier shock absorber and better tires than those found on the commercial version. The Marines who operate the bikes are not chosen because of their military occupational specialty. Instead, Marines must be selected by their command and must pass a demanding, two-week school that consists of 80 hours of training conducted by certified Motorcycle Safety Foundation military motorcycle instructors. MSF is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating Americans about motorcycle safety. "By the end of the course, these guys can really ride motorcycles, not only off-road, but on-road," Kaufman said. The new motorcycles, which cost the Marine Corps $6,300 each, will be maintained differently than the old ones. "Maintenance on the old 250s was always a problem because we tried to fix them ourselves," he said. Since there are only about 400 bikes in the fleet inventory, there are no formal schools for such mechanics. Kaufman said that the Marine Corps ~ will use contract vendors to provide all parts. The Marines will no longer break down the parts in order to repair them; they will simply exchange whole parts for serviceable replacements from the vendors. The contractor will have a three-day tumaround on parts, thus ensuring that the motorcycles are back in operation as soon as possible. All preventive maintenance will be carried out by organizational automotive mechanics, the Marines who normally maintain most of the Marine Corps' vehicles. Kaufman said that MarCor SysCom will decide what to do with the old 250s. One possibility may be foreign military sales, but no final decisions have been made.

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