It's a bike... it's a tank... it's the Kettenkrad!
If you, like me, are a huge WWII nerd along with being a bike nerd, you may have heard of the Kettenkrad. Officially the Sonderkraftfahrzeug 2, the Kettenkrad was produced for the WWII-era Wehrmacht as a light, multi-purpose, off-road vehicle. Roughly analogous to the contemporary Jeep, the bike/tank/tractor/jeep hybrid thingy could tow artillery, traverse the roughest terrain, carry troops, haul cargo, lay comms lines, and do just about anything else asked of it.
Thousands of Kettenkrads were made during The War, and after the allies kicked seven kinds of hell out of the Nazis, surviving Kettenkrads found their way on to German farms where they served in place of tractors. Kettenkrads are exceedingly rad, and are available for sale if you look hard enough. There's even a place called DriveTanks.com where you can go drive one yourself. That's where today's extremely rad motorcycle history video comes in.
Forgotten Weapons is a YouTube channel that produces extremely cool videos about weird, rare, and one-off weapons throughout history. It's basically the firearms equivalent of my Cycleweird series. The host Ian is extremely knowledgeable and goes in deep on things like puckle guns, pinfire weapons, LeMat pistols, and yes, the Kettenkrad.
In the video, Ian goes into a bit of the Kettenkrad's history and talks a bit about its development. Then he gives us an in-depth look at just how it works and answers some questions we've probably always wondered about it. For example, did you know that the Kettenkrad was powered by an Opel inline-four car engine? I didn't. I figured it had a BMW boxer. He also explains the Kettenkrad's most enduring mystery: how do you steer the damn thing? Spoiler alert, it has a very German—read: overcomplicated—steering mechanism.
If you have a few spare minutes today, definitely check this video out. The Kettenkrad is awesome, and Ian's clear and simple descriptions make everything easy to understand.