By the early ’40s, though, improvements to battlefield communications and the introduction of the versatile, tough Jeep relegated the motorcycle to military obsolescence. Even if the Jeep hadn’t overtaken the motorcycle as an integral part of military operations, the motorcycle would have been sidelined sooner or later. Unlike other vehicles first used in WWI — submarines, tanks, and airplanes — the simplicity of the motorcycle stunted its development; it simply couldn’t be improved at the same rate as other military machines.
While WWI ushered in the era of the machine, WWII gave birth to the nuclear age. Man harnessed the power of the atom and with it the ability to destroy itself. The horrors of the Great War were dwarfed by those of the Second World War; over 60 million people perished in the deadliest conflict in human history.
When it was over, the U.S. military owned thousands of surplus motorcycles. Homeward-bound G.I.s bought bikes at a fraction of their cost, then established motorcycle clubs across America and catalyzed the growth of motorcycle culture as we know it. To this day, there is an undeniable relationship between veterans and motorcycles, with many MCs dedicated to those who served.