Motorcycles Used in the Movies – Part 1

Motorcycles Used in the Movies – Part 1

There is some debate over motorcycles in movies, whether the bike makes the actor or the other way around and the actor makes the motorcycle. Whichever is the truth definitely the character riding the bike certainly takes center stage. There are some classic films remembered forever because of bikes and their characters zooming into the frame, in this blog we look at some of the most memorable films and their motorcycles.

Easy Rider 1969

A classic and cult film all about bike culture in the late 1960’s America, the film made big stars of the three main actors who were, Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson. The three characters were rebelling in their own way, and the motorcycle represented the hippy scene at the time with alcohol, drugs and free sex prevalent during the whole movie. The bikes were special, customized Harley-Davidson Hydra Glides, and so special hardly any survived the film being stolen off set.

The Great Escape 1963

This classic WWII film about a prison camp has one outstanding motorcycle scene, and it is where Steve McQueen is trying to evade the chasing Nazi’s on the back of a Triumph TR6. Interestingly the bike was customized for the film so that it looked German, of course Triumph was an English made machine. Interestingly, although McQueen did nearly all the road and hillside riding himself, he was not allowed to perform the barbed wire jumps because of insurance restrictions. He was known to be a capable a good motorcyclist capable of these stunts.

Top Gun 1986

The high-flying movie about fighter aircraft cadets in the navy, the hero was Tom Cruise playing the character Maverick who as his name suggests was a bit of a wild card who enjoyed danger and speed. Many scenes depicted Cruise on his Kawasaki GPZ 900 R assimilating the love for high speed that Maverick yearned for in any walk of life.

Rambo – First Blood 1982

Sylvester Stallone bought his love for motorcycles into the Rambo films as he often raced around on his XT 250. He spent most of his time with bows and arrows, large knives and guns and movie goers often forget his motorcycle scenes. Racing around trying to avoid the bad guys, Rambo swerves to avoid innocent pedestrians, jumps railroad tracks and scrambles up rocky terrain. Stallone was an accomplished rider and many of the motorcycle stunts he performed himself.

Terminator 2 – Judgment Day 1991

Arnold Schwarzenegger chose the perfect bike for his role as the Terminator in Judgment Day, the cyber space robot sat astride a Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy. Its mammoth tires and huge V-twin mill, got Arnold in and out of many scrapes. It was fitting that the directors chose this particular hog to pair with the alien, it was a classic Harley-Davidson meeting an interplanetary robot, great casting. The motorcycles chosen in each of these films perfectly represented what the directors were trying to achieve, they were all very much fit for purpose and support the character in his role and developed his personality. In part two of great motorcycles that have been featured in movies, we look at a Triumph Street Triple R, A Ducati 996, and a Honda Cota 4RT.