Could Stealthy E-Bikes Be Australian Army's New Reconnaissance Transportation?

Making for a speedy, silent, and safe on-the-ground choice for soldiers.
Fabienne Lang
Australian Army e-bikes.The Department of Defence Australia

The subtle whirring of a battery-powered motor, the crunch of dried grass and leaves, and the whizzing of wind are all you will hear from the 2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment of Australia's Queensland Mounted Infantry as its soldiers rush through the brush on stealthy e-bikes. 

The e-bikes are being trialed to see if they can provide a worthy option for speedy, silent, and safe on-the-ground reconnaissance.

The Department of Defence Australia showcased the e-bikes' prowess in a promotional video on YouTube, and it's easy to see how they could prove to be useful. Some of the tasks the bikes have been used for during their testing period have included reconnaissance work, as well as route sighting for accompanying combat reconnaissance vehicles to help them navigate uneven ground and unknown territory. 

The Department of Defence reported that these e-bikes can reach a top speed of 55 mph (90 km/h) with a range of 62 miles (100 km). This speed enables soldiers to move around quickly and quietly, as well as more easily going undetected. Even if they have less range than the new BMW e-bikes, they're still pretty decent considering the specs.

Generally, a fair amount of Army reconnaissance has been carried out by soldiers on motorbikes or on regular bikes. These are either too noisy, with the thundering of a motorbike's motor, or don't move quickly enough, with the regular pedal push bikes. 

Combining the nimbleness of a motorbike and almost the full quietness of a traditional bicycle means that an e-bike could give soldiers that much more ease of movement. 

"The footprint is minimized due to less power, less noise, and you’re not kicking up much dust that could be seen by enemy forces," explains Corporal Thomas Ovey — one of the first soldiers to pioneer the Army e-bike. "It’s much more effective than a standard motorbike," he continued. 

As Corporal Ovey said, "It allows us to do safe-handing of information, whether that’s information people have found on the battlefield, or even if one of the troops takes photos on their phone and wants to send it back to headquarters."

"They’ll call us up, we’ll get the stealth bikes out, head down there and grab the information. It’s a lot quicker," he mentioned. "We cover more ground much faster, and it saves time instead of waiting for troops to come to us when they’ve found something."

When explaining just how easy the entire process is compared to traditional methods, Corporal Ovey said "It’s easier to punch out the e-bikes and return."

The benefits seem clear, but no information about exactly how loud the e-bikes are was provided, or if they'll be adopted. If they do join the Army's ranks, they'll certainly be less loud than motorbikes, and will provide more power and range than regular bicycles.

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