Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The History of Motorcycles in the Korean War

By Mel Raskinski

While the motorcycle is a taken for granted vehicle on the road these days, its role as a vehicle in war is often overlooked. In this article, the role of the motorcycle is explored in the context of the Korean War and the important role which it played during this conflict.

Motorcycle manufacturers have a long history of stepping up to the plate and delivering when their country is in need. During WWI and WWII, manufacturers such as Indian, Harley Davidson and Triumph provided machines to the military which were equipped to the exact specifications of the Pentagon. In fact, Harley Davidson produced over 90,000 machines for the U.S. military during WWII alone!

Early in the Korean War (August 1950), at least 45 motorcycles were destroyed during an abortive attempt to retreat. No, these weren't Harleys that were captured - they were North Korean motorcycles captured by the U.S. 25th Division, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines. In fact, the newly formed North Korean Army (aided and trained by the Soviets and Chinese) had among its 90,000 men an entire motorcycle reconnaissance regiment. On this particular day, however,
the motorcycles met their match in the Corsairs that swooped down on them with their 20mm guns and rocket attacks.

On the North Korean side, the North Korean Army (NKA) used motorcycles equipped with saddlebags extensively. When the NKA took over Seoul in July of 1950, the 12th Motorcycle Regiment secured key crossroads at Ch'ungju that helped secure the central region and allow the NKA to capture the city. On the allied side, the 17th Motorcycle regiment assisted in routing
the NKA out of Seoul a short time later.

The main shift that took place during the Korean War was the replacement of the motorcycle by the Jeep in the U.S. Army. The motorcycle had apparently been replaced as the preferred vehicle for difficult terrain. The introduction of the Jeep was part of a comprehensive program the U.S. Introduced to replace aging vehicles from WWI (among which were the motorcycle and sidecars). While newer motorcycles were certainly used during the Korean War (as noted above), the Jeep replaced it in numerous areas where it had formerly known prominence.

Perhaps the real history of the Korean War and the motorcycle is one that will not be found by browsing through the history books or looking up dry numbers such as how many motorcycles were used in this or that raid for this or that purpose. The real history - the human history, may be summed up in the story of Mark Nozzolillo and his Honda Shadow. This is a picture of Mark's father, Vince.

Vince is a veteran of the Korean War who lost a friend on the battlefield in August of 1950. So shocked to see his buddy's body being carried out, the young man (then 20 years old) turned to his first sergeant and clung to him in an almost fetal position, sobbing uncontrollably. Nozzolillo himself said he "just went nuts" when he saw the sight. His son took the old photograph (first published in 1955) and had it airbrushed to the gas tank of his Honda.

The story here is one of the tragedies of war that we must all remember, and the tribute a father paid to his son. That this tribute was paid on airbrushed motorcycle is something all motorcycle enthusiasts can be proud of. It's a memory that Mark will have every time he rides his bike.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Motorbike Insurance - Are You Securely Covered?

By Andrew Regan

Motorbikes are becoming a more and more popular method of commuting in cities throughout the UK as roads become grid-locked with cars, trucks, buses and roadworks! Yet motorbikes still manage to weave their way through traffic and reach their destination on time - highlighting another benefit that biking has in comparison to driving a car. Not only can a motorbike traverse spaces that would be impossible in a car, motorbikes are also cheaper to maintain, have better fuel economy and it is much easier to find parking spaces in busy areas. In 2006 there were over 1.1million motorbikes registered in the UK, a figure which has gradually grown as popularity for biking rises.

In the UK, it is a legal requirement to be insured when driving on public roads. So, whether you’re a commuter who uses a motorbike to squeeze past gridlocked cars to get to your work on time, or a recreational rider exploring the UK’s country roads at the weekends, you’ll need adequate insurance cover to keep yourself and others protected while on the road.

However, it's not only when driving a motorbike that you need motorbike insurance. Due to the design and size of motorbikes, they can be stolen and removed by thieves far more easily than a car, and as a result most general insurance companies deem insuring motorbikes as a high risk. However some companies specialise in motorbike insurance and appreciate that this is not necessarily the case. In fact, providing the owner implements some basic security measures a motorbike can be as low risk to own as a car.

For example, motorbikes should be parked in well lit areas and the frame should be secured to a fixed object with a sturdy security chain. To further deter would-be thieves, fit an approved immobiliser to prevent the engine being started without the key, and install a Thatcham approved alarm. You could also have a tracking device fitted to help the Police track your motorbike in the event it should it be taken.

Owners should also buy an ultraviolet pen to mark their motorbike with personal details and keep a copy of the serial number of their motorbike, so that if their motorbike is stolen it can be traced back to the theives by the authorities. By taking precautions such as these, you can reduce your motorbike insurance premium.

The most common type of insurance chosen by owners is a comprehensive policy. This level of cover ensures that in the event of an accident the policy holder will be fully insured for the market value of their motorbike, as well as the repair cost of any damage caused to a third party by the policy holder. Some policies even cover policy holders for personal claims against them, which in today's litigious climate is certainly a comforting safeguard. This ensures that if you are unfortunate enough to have an accident, you won't have to cope with a huge financial burden too.