Cycling troops, bicycle infantry or, as they were called earlier, “scooters”, are combat-ready highly mobile units that appeared long before the First World War. Despite their seemingly archaic nature, they not only existed in many countries, but also unsuccessfully took an active part in hostilities during both world wars and many local conflicts. Scooter formations were created by the beginning of the twentieth century in all the leading armies of the world. The military had an important task: to make the bicycle troops as efficient as possible in terms of combat power and tactics of application, taking into account their strengths and weaknesses. Special military models of bicycles began to be developed, including the Swiss Militärvelo MO-05.
Initially, in the armies of European countries, cyclists were used only as signalmen. But in the future, infantry units began to be transplanted onto bicycles. Bicycles were also used as ambulance vehicles and for transporting supplies and ammunition. Often they were used by scouts and mountain rangers. And with the development aviation - paratroopers.
The advantages of cycling units should include their ability to move faster and farther away from infantry, moreover quietly and silently. They were carrying more cargo than the infantrymen could carry, and were completely independent of fuel or fodder. Bicycles provided troops with patency comparable to that of motorcycle troops and even higher. Where a person could pass, could drive a bicycle. The maintainability of bicycles was quite high, and repair of average complexity in the field did not take more than 30 minutes. The bike was always near the fighter, and he could use it at any time. If the bike could not be fixed on the spot, it could be rolled next to him. If this could not be done, then it can be carried on itself, which is impossible for a motorcycle or car. Driving a bike did not require long special training, usually such a course was calculated on 1 a month. And a lot of soldiers from childhood already owned riding skills. Bicycles were very convenient for landing and conducting operations in the rear of the enemy. The cost of the most difficult bicycles was incomparable with the simplest motorcycle of that time. On dry, but poor roads, military cyclists were moving at 8 kilometers per hour. Patrols and individual scooters at short distances developed up to 20 kilometers per hour. With good roads, the speed increased. That is, with normal traffic, they could go up to 80 kilometers per day, and when forced, they could go up to 120 kilometers. Scooter units fought like ordinary infantry, with the difference that the strike group or reserve acted using their mobility. The main feature is the ability to hold down the enemy with a minimum of personnel and maneuver the main forces and means. The parts could suddenly appear from different directions, and if there were roads, they were quickly transferred from one combat sector to another, from the center to the flank and vice versa. Especially valuable were scooters when pursuing, moving defense, maneuvering troops, delivering surprise attacks. In addition to the purely technical properties inherent in scooter parts, their quality was also influenced by the training of personnel in terms of sport. Riding a bike required and developed a good physical shape of a military man.
The main disadvantage of Velovoisk is a strong dependence on weather conditions and a limitation in weapons and ammunition carried with them. If a strong wind and muddy dirt roads are only a hindrance for motor vehicles, then for a cyclist this can be a critical factor making the ride very difficult. It also requires advanced endurance cyclists. The marching speed of the column is determined by the speed of its slowest member. Bicycle can not be transported artillery guns, although such attempts have been made. Only manual rifle transportation is possible. weapons, light mortars and machine guns, grenades. Transportation of prisoners by bicycle troops was very difficult. Therefore, cyclists almost never took prisoners. Because of this, the infantrymen developed a hatred for the enemy cyclists, and they were often killed instead of being captured.
The beginning of the formation of bicycle units in Switzerland dates back to 1891, when the Swiss parliament adopted a resolution on the establishment of bicycle units in the cavalry. In the first stage, these were small groups of 15 people who used their own civilian bicycles. Just as the cavalrymen did with the horses. In 1905, a regular army bike, the MO-05, was put into service. In 1914, the Swiss army consisted of 6 scooter companies attached to the divisional headquarters. One company was assigned to the army headquarters and one more to the headquarters of the cavalry division. Each company had 117 scooters.
By the beginning of World War I, there were already 14 scooters in the army. During World War I, military cyclists were more used as signalers. They delivered field telephones and laid communication lines.
Also units of cyclists took part in combat and reconnaissance operations. World War II was marked by the complete neutrality of Switzerland. But this did not mean that the country's army was inactive. The Swiss soldiers on bicycles, which were equipped with three bicycle regiments (Rdf Rgt), moved along the border to the most dangerous areas of possible violation by the warring parties. Especially in the second half of the war. Such maneuvers have led to the fact that at the end of the Second World War, the Swiss army experienced big problems with the supply of rubber for bicycles.
In 1961, units of army cyclists were transferred from cavalry to mechanized troops. 9 cycling bikes were formed. 1993 year became a turning point in stories swiss army bike. The replacement for the reliable but already outdated "MO-05" came "MO-93". This model was technically more advanced. In 2012, the MO-12 bike with an aluminum frame was adopted by the Swiss cyclists. It is equipped with 24 speeds and weighs 15 kilograms. Now there are more than 5 thousand cyclists in Switzerland under arms.
"MO-05" is a classic army bike used by the Swiss bicycle infantry. Officially named “Ordonnanzfahrrad Modell 05”, also known as “Militärvelo”, it was introduced in the 1905 year and was in service until the 1993 year. The bike was produced between 1905 and 1989 for years by Schwalbe, Cäsar, Cosmos, Condor and MaFaG, all produced over 68 000 bicycles. The 68 614 serial bike numbers are currently installed. The most recognizable feature of Swiss army bikes is the large wardrobe trunk mounted between the frame tubes. It was accessed from the right side, and on the left side there was a compartment for documents and maps. The trunks were painted completely black, although some later models were olive green. Frames and accessories were painted in black, brown or olive color. Each frame had its own unique serial number.
There were many variations in the base model because it was adapted for use for various purposes. Some of them were adapted for use as a parcel transport. The bike had a frame of the same size (57 cm) and was designed for people from 155 cm to 195 cm in height, had “650В” size wheels (26 inches x 1-1 / 2 inches) and was equipped with an 20-toothed rear sprocket and 50 link chain . Militärvelo tires were made by Maloya. There were two-wheeled trailers used to transport goods or stretchers for the wounded. The pedals are large, black, with large protrusions.
The base MO-05 had a weight of 23,6 kg. Models after 1946, weighed less - 21,8 kg. Since the transfer was only one, and some soldiers had to carry up to 30 kilograms of equipment, and given the fact that Switzerland is a mountainous country, the fighters should have very good physical training.
The bike was equipped with a set of front headlamps combined with a bottle-type dynamo-electric generator, which was mounted on a fork opposite the front wheel rim.
Other attachments included mud flaps and a rear trunk. The bag, which was often mounted at the front of the bicycle, was intended for carrying a combat helmet, but was also often used by soldiers to carry other items. Quite often, a blanket rolled into a roll was transported tied to a steering wheel. A soldering bag with soldering bicyclists usually carried in the rear trunk. It could also be removed and worn over the shoulder as a satchel using a separate shoulder strap. This bag had two belts that held it on the trunk, and one safety belt was attached to the frame of the bike. Behind the frame seat tube, a cartridge pouch was fastened with a tool to carry out the maintenance of the bike and, if necessary, field repair. The sprung leather saddle helped soften road bumps and make the ride more comfortable. Each saddle was numbered and stamped with a Swiss cross.
The spokes and front hub are nickel plated. Depending on how the bike was equipped, a large bicycle pump was transported either over the coffer or mounted on the upper tube of the frame in front of the saddle.
The brake system of this bike is very interesting. MO-05 was a single-speed bike (single-speed) with a rear drum brake and a stock brake on the front wheel. Many readers can remember the drum brake on Soviet bicycles when braking was required to press the pedals in the opposite direction. With 1941 (according to other sources, with 1944), these bikes began to be equipped with a rear roller brake with “Böni” cable management. Some models (supposedly intended for use by physicians) also had a front roller brake, which was installed instead of the standard rod brake.
The stock brake was probably the very first type of bicycle brake and was used with a hard rubber tire that historically preceded the pneumatic tire. This type of brake was used on bicycles with one large, and second small wheel - “penny-farthing”, which appeared in the 70-ies of the nineteenth century, and continued to be used after the appearance of the modern type of bicycle - “protected bicycle” (bicyclet) with pneumatic tires 1885 year. "Penny Farthing" can now be seen only in the museum or as a circus bike. The rod brake consists of a cushion (often made of leather) or a metal shoe with a rubber pad, which is pressed against the top of the front tire with a rod. The brake was activated with a cable and a lever on the steering wheel under the right hand. In developing countries, the primitive leg form of this brake was often used. It is a spring-loaded pedal-pad, attached to the rear of the plug. This allows the cyclist to push his foot on the wheel. The stock brake is very sensitive to road conditions and significantly increases tire wear. Despite the fact that it quickly became obsolete due to the appearance of the "duck brake" in 1897, and then other types of brakes, the rod brake continued to be used in western countries on bicycles for adults up to 1930's, and on children's bicycles up to 1950's yo In developing countries, it has been used until recently.
The roller brake (also known as roller or cam), mounted on the rear wheel "MO-05", is actually a drum (but not shoe) brake and has a slightly different principle of pressing the roller-pads against the drum. Schematically, the mechanism is the same design as the internal (sub-diving) cam mechanism of the drum drum brake; or roller cam friction of the freewheel, deployed against the main direction of rotation. Roller brakes are typical for road transport, but are rare for bicycles. They use the cable as a drive to the brake, and not the hydraulic line, as in cars. The inner diameter of the brake drum per bike is usually 70-120 mm. Unlike traditional drum brakes, roller brakes can be easily removed from the wheel hub. Also other advantages of roller brakes are their power and complete independence from dust, dirt, water and snow. They do not affect wheel rim wear. Their long work without adjustments and settings is possible, and also there is an opportunity to go with the bent wheel geometry. Drum brakes are most often used on utility bikes in some countries, especially they are common in the Netherlands. Also, they are often found on cargo bikes and velomobiles.
"MO-05" can still often be found on the roads of Switzerland. Swiss army bike became an icon for the Swiss themselves. This is partly due to the tradition of national service. All Swiss men must serve in the army for many years: the course of a young fighter (Rekrutenschule) for several months, and then annual camps (Wiederholungskurs). Some of these militias continued their service as cyclists (Velofahrer). They were given bicycles on which they had the right to ride in their free time. When they retired, they could buy their bike at a low price. Thus, over the last century in every Swiss city you can meet people traveling on the "MO-05".
Many bicycles were sold to private individuals after the Swiss army replaced them with a new model “MO-93”. Also, some of the MO-05 are still used in the armed forces, for example, pilots and ground personnel to move around the airfield. Thus, this bike, due to its high performance and excellent reliability, having served in the army for more than a hundred years, is used to the present day, even despite such an anachronism as the old rod brake coming from the 70-ies of the nineteenth century. The combination of all these qualities in its design makes it a desirable acquisition for bike fans from around the world.
MO-93, officially called the Militärrad 93, was the first major conversion of a Swiss army bicycle, carried out by Villiger and Condor from 1993 to 1995. The basic frame layout has been retained for compatibility with existing equipment and looks similar in appearance to the MO-05, except for its green color (technically: RAL 6014 F9 Gelboliv — olive-yellow). MO-93 was also distinguished by the presence of a front trunk, already installed as standard equipment, in addition to the rear one. The front trunk also serves as the basis for mounting a new headlight unit and a dynamo-electric generator. The bike is equipped with modern handles with switches like on MTV (mountain bike). New modern technologies were also used, such as Magura HS-33 hydraulic rim brakes, ceramic rims, Shimano XT XNUM-star gear system. Characteristics of the coffer on the frame has not changed. Condor produced 7 units for the Swiss army at 5500 2 Swiss francs per piece. This bike is quite heavy, but durable, the average weight of the loaded bike was 200 kg. The equipment attached to the bike, includes: a coffer under the frame; cover bag; metal basket for mortar mines; holder for 25-mm mortar, grenade launcher or machine gun; cargo trailer or stretcher.
Some of these bicycles are still used in the 17 reconnaissance parachute company based on special operations forces and a school of paratroopers stationed at the military part of the local airport of Locarno in southern Switzerland. According to the website of the Swiss Army, bicycles are currently used by cadet officers, sergeants, quartermasters, cooks, guards as an addition to physical training and for movement between barracks and a shooting range.
A distinctive feature of the new bike was the use of hydraulic rim brakes "Magura HS-33". In these brakes, the braking force is transmitted using the generated oil pressure in the system, along the hydraulic lines to the brake pads. Brakes of this type belong to the upper price category and are mainly used in such sports discipline as bike trial. The brakes have extremely high power and low weight, modulation can be almost absent. Magura special oil “Royal Blood” is used as a brake fluid. The brakes are manufactured in Germany, the manufacturer gives a 5-year warranty on them.
In 2003, the bicycle cavalry, which was part of the "light mechanized troops" of Switzerland, was completely abolished. It served up 3000 soldiers. There was no point about the revival of the bicycle battalions in the future and in the annual "Report on the state of security of Switzerland." It would seem that the bicycle troops of the country could put an end. But bicycles are the passion of Defense Minister Ulrich Maurer (Ulrich Maurer). The minister often goes to work by bicycle, the journey takes him half an hour - a good replacement for charging. Maurer himself, while serving in the army, was listed as a "soldier-cyclist" and later commanded a bicycle infantry battalion. In 2009, he stated in a television interview: "My secret dream is to be a federal adviser who will return the bike to the army." This is his predecessor, Defense Minister Samuel Schmid, delivered a fatal blow to the bike. No one paid any attention to Ulrich Maurer's “secret dream”, but in 2012, it came true. The Swiss Department of Defense, Civil Protection and Sport (Eidgenössisches Departement für Verteidigung, Bevölkerungsschutz und Sport) bought 4100 units of the new model of military bike, officially called «Fahrrad 12», cost 10,2 million. Swiss francs (approximately 2,490 Swiss francs per share, including the costs of maintenance for 10 years) from Simpel, since the original manufacturer of 93 Models, Condor, stopped producing bicycles. Ulrich Maurer personally conducted a “stress test” by riding a new bicycle from his home in Münsingen to his workplace - the federal palace in Bern. The only criticism caused Maurer saddle: in the rain it absorbs water. "Soldiers can only hope that in a torrential downpour their commanders will choose a more convenient mode of transport." As explained to the newspaper "Le Matin" a member of the parliamentary commission on security Christian vann Singen, he was not aware of the transaction. “I will talk about this at a meeting of the Commission ... but there are more serious problems with expenditures in the army than this. In general, I am ready to state that the army continues to spend money, often not knowing why. This applies to both fighters and bicycles. "
The decision of the leadership of the Swiss Ministry of Defense to return the bicycle parts is dictated by concern, which is associated with the increasing incidence of unsuitability of military conscripts caused by obesity and sedentary lifestyle. The Swiss army is recruited from contract soldiers and draftees - in this country, all healthy men must serve in the army 260 days. According to Ulrich Maurer, at least 20% recruits, despite the formal suitability to perform military service, are not physically ready to perform the tasks. For this reason, he decided to return the bicycles to the ground forces, which were abolished. Thus, according to Maurer, recruits will very quickly be able to get the necessary physical form.
The new model of the bike includes commercial components. MO-12 is also available for purchase by civilian customers on the company's website (http://www.simpel.ch) at a price of 2.495 Swiss francs. The bike manufacturer is offered to people who attach great importance to Swiss quality and reliability, as well as appreciate the "true army bike." It is positioned as a bike for everyday life, working trips over long distances, cycling trips, fitness.
Frame: aluminum alloy A6.
Color: glossy black.
Plug: Fahrrad 12.
Transmission: Shimano Alfine SG-S500 planetary bushing, 8-speed.
Shifters: Shimano Alfine SL-S500 Rapidfire.
Drive Chain: Shimano CN-HG53.
Front Light: B & M Lumotec IQ Cyo R senso plus Headlight.
Rear light: B & M Toplight line plus.
Dynamo: Shimano Alfine DH-S501.
Brakes: Magura MT4 hydraulic disc brakes on both wheels.
Tires: Schwalbe Marahton Plus Tour 26x1.75.
Trunk: military type, front and rear.
Rims: DT Swiss EX500.
Seatpost: Gravity Gap.
Saddle: Sportourer Zoo Flow.
Takeaway: FSA OS-190LX.
Steering wheel: Metropolis.
Handles: Velo VLG-649AD2S.
Pedals: Wellgo LU-C27G.
Footboard: Pletscher Optima.
Optional: Pouch Abus Rim Bag Onyx ST 250 incl.
Weight: 16,8 kg.
A feature of this bike is the use of a planetary hub on the rear wheel. It is more reliable and durable than the usual system on sprockets, but the complex gear mechanism has a sufficiently high friction, which leads to reduced efficiency. These properties were decisive for refusing to use such sleeves in sports competitions. The device of planetary plugs reminds the mechanism of an automobile transmission. Inside is a gear mechanism for changing the gear ratio. The relative position and gearing of the gears is regulated by a speed switch, which, in turn, is driven by a handle on the steering wheel.
For the first time such bushings used on three-wheeled motorcycles. In 1930-e years, the market was full of planetarks, on almost every bike there was such a hub, they enjoyed particular popularity in the UK, Holland, Germany, Scandinavia. Then they were driven out by speed switches and cassettes of the modern type. Recently, they have again begun to gain popularity among manufacturers of components for bicycles. On planetary bushings, it is possible to use a belt drive instead of a chain drive. The Alfine SG-S12 bushing used on the Fahrrad 500 was first introduced by Shimano at Eurobike in the 2006 year. It has 8 transmissions at intervals of 22%, 16%, 14%, 18%, 22%, 16%, 14% and the overall gear ratio 307%. This allows you to use it when climbing uphill and for high-speed travel on flat terrain. The sleeve is available in black and silver colors. Needle bearings increase the reliability and efficiency of planetary gears. Labyrinth sealing improves sealing, which has a positive effect on the service life of the product. On the sleeve there is a mount under the disc brake.
The advantages of planetary bushings is that the gear shift mechanism is completely hidden inside the sleeve housing, which helps protect it from dirt, thereby significantly increasing the durability of parts. Shifting is possible even when the cyclist is standing still. The chain is constantly going straight, using sprockets with a high tooth profile. All this affects the reduction of wear on chains and sprockets. In addition, internal parts work in an oil bath. Therefore, the service life of planetary sleeves is calculated for years.
The experience of the Swiss army has shown that it is still too early to erase a simple bike from the vehicles of the modern army. Reliable army bike, created using the latest technology, is indispensable for creating and maintaining a high physical shape of military personnel. And also when performing special operations and in other cases where autonomy, secrecy and speed of movement are required.
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Used photos that are freely available on the Internet.