- "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 even 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 shall he find renown."
A Space Marine Bike Squad is a tactical formation utilised by the Adeptus Astartes to serve a wide variety of strategic uses. Some Chapters employ them to perform reconnaissance manoeuvres, or as hit-and-run raiders behind enemy lines. Others field their bikes as outriders for armoured columns, scouting ahead for potential ambush sites and guarding the tanks' flanks and rear from assault. Some Chapters have even been known to use their Bikers to spearhead line-breaking assaults, a role in which the White Scars, Iron Hands and Howling Griffons Bike Squads excel. When expecting heavy resistance, Bike Squads incorporate Attack Bikes into their ranks. Fitted with an armoured sidecar and pintle-mounted heavy weapon, these vehicles strike down enemy war engines or massed infantry with ease. So effective is this combination of firepower and speed that many Chapters field whole squadrons of Attack Bikes, using them as highly mobile fire support.
Legion Outrider Squads were specialised units of the ancient Space Marine Legions that was employed during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy eras in the late 30th and early 31st Millennia. These squads were formed from experienced Space Marines expert in operating independently and often deep behind enemy lines. These specialised troops were the eyes and ears of their Legion in the field. They took to the field mounted upon ruggedly constructed, all-terrain armoured ground bikes and scramblers. These squads were utilised for scouting missions and hit-and-run attacks deep behind enemy lines, the chief advantage of the Outriders being their speed. Their Assault Bikes enabled them to cover ground far quicker than infantry and go where heavier vehicles could not. It would be from these formations that the later Adeptus Astartes Bike Squads were created after the Second Founding in the early 31st Millennium.
A Space Marine Bike Squad carries out fast-moving assault missions using 8 one-man Assault Bikes and sometimes with the addition of a single two-man Attack Bike, often operating on intelligence gathered by infiltrating Scout Squads or Land Speeder reconnaissance flights. A Bike Squad at full strength, for a total of eight bikes and one Attack Bike, can split into two combat squads. If this is done, one combat squad consists of five bikes and the other of three bikes and an Attack Bike.
Bike Squads attack at incredible speeds, using surprise and unstoppable momentum to punch holes in the enemy formation, accelerating away as the enemy recovers his wits only to circle back and attack once again from an unexpected direction. For a Space Marine biker to operate at full potency, the superhuman rider and his mechanical steed must function flawlessly as one. To this end, the Codex Astartes dictates that all of a Chapter's Assault Marines, Scouts and the entire 6th Company should master the art of mounted warfare as part of their training regimen. A few Chapters take this further, with every Space Marine required to maintain his mounted training, even though he may have long passed into the 1st Company, or perhaps even into the exalted ranks of the Chapter Council. Few Chapters exemplify this better than the White Scars, who proudly employ Bike Squads as the main body of any strike force. Other Chapters are less enamoured of a Bike Squad's tactical value, preferring to send assault forces into battle in Rhinos or Razorbacks.
The Space Marine Assault Bike itself is a robust construction. It needs to be, for it must be powerful enough to propel a fully armoured Space Marine at dizzying speeds, and yet responsive enough to perform a full range of death-defying combat manoeuvres. Even at low speeds the combined impact mass of bike and rider is no small thing to encounter. Indeed, many experienced Space Marine bikers can boast of riding through rockcrete walls at full speed, suffering neither harm nor impediment. For the heaviest assault missions it is common for a Bike Squad's Assault Bike firepower to be further augmented through the attachment of an Attack Bike. Each Attack Bike is a highly formidable mobile firebase, with the twin Bolters of the bike itself augmented by a Multi-melta or Heavy Bolter mounted on a sturdy sidecar. So potent is the striking power of the Attack Bike that many Chapters field them in entire squads, employing them as fast-moving fire-support units to complement Scouts, Assault Marines or other Bike Squads. On those rare occasions when Attack Bikes are deployed en masse, as they were by the fabled White Scars Chapter during the Third War for Armageddon, they prove to be a nigh-unstoppable foe.
During the final stages of a Space Marine Scout's training, he is attached to a Scout Bike Squadron. Scout Bikers are employed as fast-moving reconnaissance and disruption units. They operate on a far longer leash than other Scouts, often operating as a separate and distinct adjunct to the main Space Marine strike force, answerable to none save the commanding Sergeants of their Squadron. While Scout Bikers continue to perform the hit-and-run tactics they perfected in their earlier years of service, their repertoire of combat skills is broadened by hard-won experience and further augmented by supplies of special issue equipment. While the enemy concentrates on the main Space Marine attack, the Scout Bikers ride rampant behind his lines, calling down orbital bombardments and reserve deployments with pinpoint accuracy.
Variant Bike Squad Organisation
Some Chapters do not abide by the Codex Astartes and operate their Bike Squads in a different manner. The Dark Angels' 2nd Company, the Ravenwing, is completely mounted on Assault Bikes, Attack Bikes and Land Speeders. The Salamanders are organised into less than the standard 10 companies but put more Astartes in each and so they only make use of bikes in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Companies. While the Space Wolves do make use of Bike Squads, the only members of the Chapter known to ride bikes are the Blood Claws. Even then only a few Blood Claws make use of this option, as the Space Wolves consider the use of bikes to be an overly headstrong approach to warfare. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the White Scars make extensive use of bikes in every company due to the open plains on which they train on Mundus Planus and their historical and cultural connection to the nomadic warriors of that world.
Unit Composition (Scout Bike Squadron)
- 2-7 Scout Bikers
- 1 Scout Biker Sergeant
Wargear (Scout Bike Squadron)
Optional Wargear (Scout Bike Squadron)
- Grenade Launcher
- Melee Weapon and/or Ranged Weapon (Scout Biker Sergeant Only)
- Melta Bombs (Scout Biker Sergeant Only)
- Locator Beacon (Scout Biker Sergeant Only)
Unit Composition (Bike Squad)
- 2-5 Space Marine Bikers
- 1 Biker Sergeant
Wargear (Bike Squad)
Optional Wargear (Bike Squad)
- Special Weapon
- Melee Weapon and/or Ranged Weapon (Bike Sergeant Only)
- Melta Bombs (Bike Sergeant Only)
- Attack Bike w/Multi-Melta
- Codex: Blood Angels (7th Edition), pp. 155-156
- Codex: Dark Angels (7th Edition), pp. 97-98, 276-279, 314-315
- Codex: Dark Angels (6th Edition), pp. 46-47, 82-83
- Codex: Dark Angels (4th Edition), pp. 26-27
- Codex: Space Marines (7th Edition), 52, 89-90, 341-346
- Codex: Space Marines (6th Edition), pg. 84
- Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), pg. 68
- Codex: Space Wolves (7th Edition), pp. 163-165
- Codex: Space Wolves (5th Edition), pg. 33
- Codex: Space Wolves (2nd Edition), pg. 61
- Index Astartes, "Lightning Attack - The White Scars Space Marines Chapter," pp. 40-47
- Index Astartes IV, "Salamanders"