Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Movies: Best Bikes of Cinema
12 Feb, 2013
Even though we love cinematic car chases and stunts as much as the next guy, these scenes feel empty without the two-wheeled roar of motorcycles. From the bike that launched thousands of teenage rebellion to the bike that escaped from a POW encampment, these rides still rumble in our movie memories. We’ve gathered an octet of mean two-wheeled machines that drove an iconic tread in the following movies.
Four used police Harley-Davidson Hydra-Glides (1949, 1950 and 1952 models) were reconstructed as choppers for Wyatt and Billy’s trek across the South. As the two outlaws ride on their gas-guzzling steeds through scenic American vistas, it becomes apparent that choppers are the only way to take a road trip. It’s only a matter of time before we buy a Captain America-inspired patriotic helmet for ourselves and blast across America’s South on our choppers Easy Rider-style.
Only the heavyweight Harley-Davidson Fat Boy was sturdy enough to carry a cybernetic Arnold Schwarzenegger through the streets of LA. Perfect for literally riding shotgun and defending John Connor from a liquid metal machine man, the Fat Boy prevails as a macho, tough-as-nails chopper.
On her quest to assassinate the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, the enigmatic blond Bride (Uma Thurman) travels fashionably (albeit conspicuously for an assassin) on a canary yellow Kawasaki ZZR250. Like a flash of highlighter yellow through the Tokyo streets, the yellow-clad Bride sought her revenge. You can purchase similar yellow motorcycle helmets at BikeBandit.com to fully become the Bride and match your ZZR250.
If the renaissance fair featured knights jousting on motorcycles, you can bet that we’d go every year. In Knightriders the “king” of a traveling troupe rides atop a Honda CBX1000 with lance in hand. We’ll never be able to look at a Honda CBX again, without immediately recalling Ed Harris draped in medieval garb swinging a ball and chain.
The Great Escape
Steve McQueen’s character made his titular break-out by jumping a barbed wire border in the climactic scene of The Great Escape. The stunt was pulled off on a cosmetically modified Triumph TR-6 Trophy 650CC, made to resemble a WWII-era German bike. McQueen’s natural motorcycle riding prowess increased the Triumph TR-6′s cool factor, though it’s true that McQueen’s stunt double made the epic leap.
The Dark Knight
Director Christopher Nolan and crew devised a worthy successor to Batman’s modern Batmobile. The Bat-Pod emerged from the exploding remnants of the behemoth black Tumbler, just in time for a face-off with the Joker. With the bombardment of CGI in movies, you may be surprised to learn that the Pod was a fully functional bike, driven by a daring and incredibly skilled stuntman.
Motorcycle company Kawasaki donated many of their three and four cylinder late model demo bikes for the film crew to crash, destroy and otherwise mangle. Striking 1977 Kawasaki KZ100s were ridden by Max’s partner Goose and the diabolical members of Toecutter’s gang.
The Wild One
From the moment Marlon Brando’s rump sat on the 1950 6T Triumph Thunderbird, movie magic was made. The Wild One was one of first films to depict teenage rebellion and forever tied in this concept with biker culture.