Monday, September 26, 2011

5 Minute History: Space Marine Bikes

The Space Marine Bike is a relatively common mode of transportation for Space Marines in the Warhammer 40,000 tabletop miniatures game. It is a two-wheeled vehicle reminiscent of modern motorcycles. Though classified as a "vehicle" for obvious reasons, in-game, bikes are treated as infantry models that can move further and are a bit more resilient. Space Marine Scouts can also make use of Space Marine Bikes, with slightly different rules from those of Space Marine Bikers.

Space Marine Bikes first made an appearance in the late 1980s with the 1st edition of Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader, where they are referred to as the "Vincent Black Shadow". The original model was a two-piece cast. The fairing (the handle bars and front head light) was separate, made entirely of metal, though it was already armed with the twin-linked bolters that the latest version is armed with. The standard Space Marine Bike plastic kit still in use today was introduced in 1993 along with the second edition of Warhammer 40,000. While they have been in the game since the 3rd edition of the Space Marine Codex, official miniatures of Scout Bikers were only released in 2008 during the 5th edition of the game.

In the game's background, bikes are used primarily by the Space Marines, although use by the Imperial Guard is not unheard of. Each bike is equipped with twin-linked bolters as standard armament. Riders sometimes carry a support weapon such as a flamer or meltagun. Scout Bikers were given different weapon loadouts in the 5th edition Codex, including options for grenade launchers and mines. Other Space Marine chapters have their own, specialized configurations of their biker squadrons. Biker squadrons of the Space Wolves chapter come entirely from the younger members of the chapter, the Blood Claws. These Blood Claw Bikers as they are called, are sometimes armed with powerful melee weapons such as power weapons. The White Scars Space Marine chapter is known for having the most bikes compared to any other Marine chapter. Like the Blood Claws, White Scar bikers are also known to commonly carry melee weapons] The Ravenwing, the Second Company of the Dark Angels Chapter, is composed entirely of bikes and Land Speeders.

Outside of the Warhammer 40,000 game, Space Marine Bikes are also featured for the Epic large-scale battle tabletop game. In Epic 40,000 (3rd edition) released in 1997, the standard Space Marine Bike design was redesigned to look sleeker and more rounded (similar to modern racing motorcycles or Eldar jetbikes). However for the current edition of Epic: Armageddon (4th edition), the design of the bikes were reverted to match the appearance of their Warhammer 40,000 counterparts. So far, Space Marine Bikes have not been featured in video games making use of the Warhammer 40,000 franchise.

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