- "Use your Bike Squads as a blade, striking the enemy and turning aside his counter-blows in equal measure. But in all things, beware that speed is nothing without direction, just as the mightiest weapon is worthless without careful aim. A biker's stance should always be resolute and dauntless, but never immobile or rigid. Speed is his advantage, and surprise his deadliest weapon. In fluidity he will find success, and in success he will find renown."
The Assault Bike, also known as the Space Marine Bike, is a light vehicle that is used throughout the Imperium by most Adeptus Astartes Chapters, and even by Renegade and Chaos Space Marines. The Assault Bike is an extremely powerful machine, and is capable of propelling a fully armoured Space Marine at dizzying speeds while remaining responsive enough to perform a full-range of death-defying combat maneuvers. There are tales of experienced Space Marine Bikers who have driven their bikes through solid rockcrete walls at full speed without harm. Assault Bikes usually operate in squads of up to eight and are used for fast-moving assault missions, intelligence gathering, infiltration, and general reconnaissance.
When Assault Bikes are used for assault missions they will attack the enemy at incredible speeds, using both surprise and unstoppable momentum to rip through enemy formations. Before the enemy can regroup and go on the defensive, the Astartes Bikers will turn around and attack once again from an unexpected direction. Bike Squad tactical strikes are often likened to thunderbolts, as by the time the enemy hears their approach, the damage has already been done.
In order for Space Marine Bikers to use their mechanical steeds at maximum efficiency they must function flawlessly as one, and to this end the Codex Astartes dictates that all Assault Marines, Scouts, and the entire 6th Company of a Chapter must master the art of mounted warfare as part of their training regimen. There are several Chapters that take this further, with every Space Marine in the Chapter being required to maintain his mounted training, even if the Space Marine has long since passed into the ranks of the Chapter's 1st Company. There is no Astartes Chapter that better exemplifies this philosophy better than the White Scars, who proudly employ Assault Bike Squads as the main body of their strike forces. There are many other Chapters who are less enamored of an Assault Bike's tactical value, and prefer to send their assault forces into combat in Rhinos and Razorbacks instead.
The Assault Bike, along with its Attack Bike variant, have been used by the Adeptus Astartes since the dawn of the Imperium. The Space Marine Legions that fought during the Great Crusade maintained deployed entire companies of Assault Bikes to use for lightning fast attacks on their enemies. These vehicles were deployed during the Horus Heresy by both Loyalist and Traitor Legions alike. During the Heresy many Assault Bike Squads were used by the Traitor Legions to hunt down Loyalist survivors of the virus-bombing of Istvaan III, and the Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V. During the Siege of the Imperial Palace on Terra, at the climax of the Heresy, the White Scars Legion and their expert use of Assault and Attack Bikes helped keep the Traitor Legions away from the walls of the Imperial Palace, and after the walls were breached they were successful in capturing the Lion's Gate Starport and denied the Traitors many of their reinforcements. After the death of the Arch-Traitor Horus, the Traitor Legions made a hasty retreat from Terra into the Eye of Terror, all the while being harried from world to world by White Scars Bike Squads.
The standard Assault Bike used by both the Adeptus Astartes and the Chaos Space Marines is armed with twin-linked Bolters that are attached to the Bike's forward armour cowling, fixed to fire in the direction of travel. The sheer amount of Bolter shells that can be brought to bear at whatever target that might stand in the way is often enough to make the enemy break and run before a Bike has even reached them. While the Assault Bike itself is only lightly armed by most Adeptus Astartes vehicle standards, the vehicle's real firepower comes from its rider, who is always equipped with Frag Grenades, and can also employ Krak Grenades. The rider is usually also equipped with a Bolt Pistol and a Chainsword, and can optionally make use of Flamers, Grav-Guns, Meltaguns, and Plasma Guns.
Bike Squad Sergeants, and sometimes regular Battle-Brothers from very well-equipped Chapters may also possess Hand Flamers, Infernus Pistols, Plasma Pistols, Grav-Pistols, Power Swords, Powerfists, Lightning Claws, Combi-Weapons, and Melta Bombs. There are several less common Assault Bike armaments, such as Bikes adapted to be used by Chaplains, or to accept non-standard upgrades such as smoke launchers. Assault Bikes used by Chaos Space Marines are usually equipped with the same Bike-mounted and rider-carried weaponry as their Loyalist counterparts, but there are some Chaos Space Marine Bikers that add various items and weapons to their vehicles, such as Doom Sirens, Chaos Icons, and spikes and hooks for cutting and impaling anyone who gets too close.
Chaos Bikers also make use of weapons that have long since vanished from most Space Marine armouries, such as Power Scythes and Chain Axes. During the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras of the late 30th and early 31st Millennia, Assault Bikes could be equipped with weapons that are no longer commonly used by the Adeptus Astartes in the late 41st Millennium, such as twin-linked Flamers, twin-linked Meltaguns, and twin-linked Plasma Guns used in place of the standard twin-linked Bolters.
- 2-7 Space Marine Bikers on Assault Bikes with 1 Space Marine Biker Sergeant or 1 Veteran Space Marine Biker Sergeant on an Assault Bike and 2 Space Marine Bikers on a single Attack Bike
Each Biker and Sergeant in a Space Marine Bike Squad is armed and equipped with:
- Bolt Pistol
- Frag Grenades
- Krak Grenades
- Twin-linked Bolters (Assault Bike)
- Twin-linked Bolters and a sidecar-mounted Heavy Bolter (Attack Bike)
A Space Marine Sergeant or Veteran Sergeant may replace his Bolt Pistol with one the following weapons:
- Lightning Claw
- Power Axe
- Power Sword
- Power Fist
- Power Maul
- Thunder Hammer
- Storm Bolter
- Grav Pistol
- Plasma Pistol
Any Space Marine Biker may replace his Bolt Pistol with the following:
Up to two Space Marine Bikers may replace their Bolt Pistols with the following:
An included Attack Bike may replace its side car-mounted Heavy Bolter with the following:
The following is a list of all known Adeptus Astartes battle formations that include Assault Bikes:
- Venator Kill Team - A Venator Kill Team is a formation used by the Deathwatch, the Chamber Militant of the Inquisition's Ordo Xenos. A Venator Kill Team consists of a squad of Deathwatch Veterans, a squadron of Deathwatch Bikers on Assault Bikes, and any number and combination of Deathwatch Librarians, Deathwatch Terminators and Vanguard Veterans. A Venator team is assembled when the Deathwatch must face a foe too agile or manoeuvrable for a more conventional strike force to contain it. Where such a xenos army could run rings around an armoured division or Gladius demi-company, the Venator team turns the enemy assault on its head, its bike-mounted warriors hurtling in wide sweeps to encircle the foe in their turn. When their designated quarry is located, the Bikers share the data of their previous forays with the rest of their team. It is then that cold vigilance turns to fiery, red-hot fury. As the bikers finally open fire, the weapon systems borne by the rest of the team's Veterans send salvos blasting in on the coordinates set by their bike-mounted brethren -- no matter how fast their prey, the pinpoint vengeance of these volleys strikes home with killing force.
- Ravenwing Attack Squadron - The Ravenwing Attack Squadron consists of one Ravenwing Assault Bike Squadron or one Ravenwing Attack Bike Squadron and one Ravenwing Land Speeder Squadron or a single Land Speeder Vengeance. Dust clouds billow behind the Ravenwing Attack Squadron as it hurtles into battle. Striking swiftly, the 2nd Company huntsmen drive hard into the midst of the enemy, many foes falling before they even realise their danger. With massed firepower, the Attack Squadron mow their victims down in huge numbers. They plough a bloody furrow through the heart of battle, bursting from the foe's rear ranks before wheeling about and diving back into the fray once more. It is these high-speed attacks for which the Ravenwing are rightly feared, yet this is not the only trick they have to play. Should some vital quarry be sighted, or a mighty enemy strongpoint need to be purged, the hunters activate their Teleport Homers and -- amid a crackling storm of light -- summon the merciless warriors of the Deathwing to join the fight.
Assault Bike Variants
The Assault Bike, like many other Imperial vehicles, has over the years had numerous variant patterns created by the Adeptus Mechanicus or various Space Marine Chapter Armouries with a wide array of different weapon and feature combinations. Out of these many variants those officially recognised by the Adeptus Mechanicus and most commonly employed by Astartes Chapters are featured below:
- Attack Bike - The Attack Bike is the most common variant of the Assault Bike and has been is use by the Adeptus Astartes since the Great Crusade. The Attack Bike adds a sidecar to the bike that is equipped with a heavy weapon and a passenger seat. The heavy weapon is operated by the vehicle's passenger and when an Attack Bike is attached to an Assault Bike squad it is used to add heavy firepower in the form of either a Heavy Bolter or a Multi-Melta. There are several Chapters that field Attack Bikes as part of their own, separate squads instead of attaching them to Assault Bike Squads.
- Scout Bike - During the final stages of a Space Marine Scout's training he is attached to a Scout Bike squadron. Scout Bike Squads are usually deployed as fast-moving reconnaissance and disruption units. These squads will operate outside of the chain-of-command and will only answer to their commanding Sergeant. Scout Bike squadrons are commonly used behind enemy lines to lay cluster-mine traps, call down orbital bombardments, and teleport homers to allow squads to deep-strike behind enemy lines. Space Marine Scout Bikes are nearly the same in all ways to the standard pattern of Assault Bike, except they are outfitted with lighter armour and quieter, baffled engines. Scout Bikes can also be armed with an Astartes Grenade Launcher instead of the standard twin-linked Bolters.
- Mark IV Raven Pattern Assault Bike - The Mark IV Raven Pattern Assault Bike is used exclusively by the Space Marines of the Dark Angels Chapter's Ravenwing (2nd) Company. Ravenwing Black Knights ride to battle atop Mark IV Raven Pattern Space Marine Assault Bikes, powerful machines outfitted with deadly Plasma Talons. To signify their exalted status, Black Knights carry Corvus Hammers, which are patterned after an ancient Calibanite weapon used to hunt the Great Beasts of that lost world. The Black Knights' riding skills are supreme, and they can drive at top speed through almost any impediments to close on their foes. During this approach, their Plasma Talons tear gaping holes in the enemy lines before they literally ride over their prey, cracking armour and sundering flesh with their Corvus Hammers as they go. Against more formidable opponents, those Black Knights trained in the use of the Ravenwing Grenade Launcher fire a salvo of specialised rad and stasis shells, which can make even the most potent of enemies more vulnerable to a sustained assault. A Ravenwing Black Knight is a vengeful killer who will not rest until he has run his prey to ground. If his Plasma Talons do not kill the foe, the razor-sharp bill of his Corvus Hammer surely will.
- Legion Mark IV Outrider Assault Bike - The Legion Mark IV Outrider was an older variant of the Assault Bike that was used by the Space Marine Legions during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras. These Assault Bikes were used by Legion Outrider Squadrons to perform scouting missions and conduct guerrilla attacks behind enemy lines. What makes these Assault Bike variants different from the standard Assault Bikes used in the late 41st Millennium, other than their appearance, is not recorded in Imperial records. The Legion Mark IV Outrider, much like all other known Assault Bike variants, is armed with a set of twin-linked Bolters mounted on the lower front sides of the vehicle. They can be replaced with either a set of twin-linked Flamers, Meltaguns, or Plasma Guns for added firepower.
Chaos Assault Bikes
The Assault Bike is also used by the Traitor Legions and Renegade Space Marine Chapters. The Assault Bikes used by Chaos Space Marines are similar to the ones used by their Loyalist counterparts, although Chaos Bikes are usually covered in various spikes and spurs that are used to cut enemies apart as they pass by. Chaos Assault Bikes are used as fast-moving reconnaissance vehicles to scout out enemy positions and eradicate those units which are too slow to pose a threat.
Chaos Space Marine Bikers are recognised, even among other Chaos Space Marines, as ruthless and cruel individuals and will often pursue a foe for miles, due to both their determination to achieve the kill, and as a perverse method of torturing their victim. Originally, Assault Bikes were simply seen as another piece of hardware to its Chaos Space Marine operator, but over thousands of Terran years of exposure to the Warp, man and machine have become almost a single entity, much like the crew and pilots of other Chaos Vehicles.
Chaos Space Marine Bikers usually operate in squads of up to ten, which can include a Biker Champion. Chaos Assault Bikes are armed with similar weaponry to that of the standard Imperial Assault Bike, which includes a set of twin-linked Bolters located on the bike's handlebars. Chaos Assault Bikes can also be armed with sets of twin-linked Flamers, Meltaguns, and even Plasma Guns in place of their standard Bolters.
Assault Bikes that are aligned to the Chaos God Slaanesh can also be armed with Doom Sirens. The Chaos Space Marine who operates the Assault Bike may be armed with a Bolt Pistol or a close combat weapon such as a Chainsword, along with a Frag Grenade and a Krak Grenade.
Biker Chaos Champions can be armed with Plasma Pistols and Power Swords or Powerfists, and can also be equipped with a Melta Bomb. These Champions can also be mutated by their exposure to the Warp and as a result of the "gifts" bestowed upon them by the Gods of Chaos. The Assault Bike itself offers little protection to its operator, and as such all Chaos Space Marine Bikers wear their Power Armour at all times. A member of a Chaos Assault Bike Squad may also take into battle an Icon of Chaos, and may also carry Marks of Chaos.
Notable Chaos Bikers
- Doomrider - Doomrider is a Daemon Prince and one of the strangest servants of the Chaos God Slaanesh. His true identity has been lost to time and all that is known of his past is that he was once a Space Marine Biker of the Emperor's Children Legion. Having been granted Daemonhood by Slaanesh, Doomrider rode through both the Materium and Immaterium, always in search of new sensations. His love of speed would put an Ork Speed Freek to shame, and it is only equalled by his love of bringing agonising death to the denizens of the Materium. Servants of Slaanesh often attempt to summon him forth from the Warp to assist them in battle, but even when they succeed in attracting the Daemon Prince's attention, the vain and fickle Doomrider usually disappears back into the Warp soon after his arrival regardless of the outcome of the combat in search of the next happenstance that has caught his attention.
Notable Users of the Assault Bike
The Assault Bike has been in use by the Adeptus Astartes since the Great Crusade, and the Traitor Legions took theirs with them after the Horus Heresy. In the 41st Millennium most, if not all, Space Marine Chapters make use of the Assault Bike in some fashion or another. Below are some of the more notable users of the Assault Bike:
Space Marine Chapters
- White Scars - The White Scars Space Marine Chapter make the most widespread use of Space Marine Bikes of all variants. The White Scars' homeworld of Chogoris is comprised of large, wind-swept steppes and grasslands. The Astartes of the Chapter who are recruited from Chogoris are taken from the savage horse riders of the steppes, and thus the entire Chapter is already adept at mounted warfare. The White Scars deploy Assault Bikes during nearly all of their campaigns.
- Dark Angels - The Dark Angels Space Marine Chapter make heavy use of Assault Bikes in their 2nd Company, the Ravenwing. The Ravenwing is a highly specialised unit that is intended to make use of mobility and speed to defeat the enemy rather than heavy firepower. The Ravenwing is made up of Assault and Attack Bikes, along with Land Speeders.
- Space Wolves - The Space Wolves Space Marine Chapter gives the use of Bikes over to their Blood Claws Neophytes. These Blood Claws, known as Swift Claws, make use of Assault Bikes in lightning fast hit-and-run attacks. Since Blood Claws are considered very headstrong, the use of an Assault Bike allows them to give vent to their need for wild, head-on assaults at breakneck speed.
- Ultramarines - The Ultramarines Space Marine Chapter makes use of Assault and Attack Bikes for the purposes and in the manner dictated by the Codex Astartes.
- Raven Guard
Adeptus Mechanicus Technical Specifications
Technical specifications for this vehicle have not been released by the Adeptus Mechanicus.
- Codex: Black Templars (4th Edition), pp. 40, 59
- Codex: Blood Angels (5th Edition), pp. 30, 76, 93
- Codex: Blood Angels (3rd Edition), pg. 9
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (3rd Edition, 1st Codex), pp. 15, 24
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (3rd Edition, 2st Codex), pp. 16, 33
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (4th Edition), pp. 27, 99
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (6th Edition), pp. 37, 100
- Codex Adeptus Astartes - Dark Angels (8th Edition), pp. 43-45, 110, 113
- Codex Adeptus Astartes - Dark Angels (7th Edition) (Digital Edition), "The Hunt for the Fallen", The Ravenwing", "Ravenwing Bike Squads", "Ravenwing Black Knights", "Ravenwing", "Ravenwing Command Squad (Datasheet), "Ravenwing Bike Squad (Datasheet), "Ravenwing Black Knights (Datasheet)", "Ravenwing Attack Squadron (Formation)"
- Codex: Dark Angels (6th Edition), pp. 4-5, 46, 82-83, 101
- Codex: Dark Angels (4th Edition), pp. 17, 26-27, 66-67, 85
- Codex: Dark Angels (3rd Edition), pp. 8, 10
- Codex Adeptus Astartes - Deathwatch (7th Edition), pp. 39, 49, 83, 93-96
- Codex: Space Wolves (5th Edition), pp. 33, 60, 90
- Codex: Space Wolves (3rd Edition), pg. 11
- Codex Adeptus Astartes - Space Marines (8th Edition), pp. 32, 74, 168
- Codex Adeptus Astartes - Space Marines (7th Edition) (Digital Edition), "Space Marine Bikes", "Bike Squad"
- Codex: Space Marines (6th Edition), pp. 84, 174
- Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), pp. 68, 117, 140
- Codex: Space Marines (4th Edition), pg. 37
- Codex: Space Marines (3rd Edition), pp. 12-13, 19, 28-29
- Codex: Ultramarines (2nd Edition), pg. 70
- Deathwatch: First Founding (RPG), pp. 48-49
- Deathwatch: Rites of Battle (RPG), pg. 176
- Warhammer 40,000: Apocalypse (6th Edition) (Digital Edition), pp. 169, 173
- The Art of Warhammer 40,000 (Art Book), pp. 13, 145
- The Horus Heresy: Collected Visions (Background Book), pp. 75, 77, 155, 162, 228, 253, 277, 353, 357
- Imperial Armour Volume Eleven - The Doom of Mymeara, pg. 48
- The Horus Heresy - Book One: Betrayal by Alan Bligh, pp. 211, 237
- Warhammer 40,000 Compendium (2nd Edition), pp. 87-88
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (6th Edition), pg. 45
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (5th Edition), pg. 53
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (4th Edition), pg. 53
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (3rd Edition), pp. 40, 94
- White Dwarf 331 (UK) "Blood Angels Official Codex: Part II", p. 22
- Forge World: Legion MK IV Outrider Squadron