Our Six Motorcycle Movies Worth Watching
There weren’t a lot of criteria applied to these choices, in fact, a couple of them are just plain bad. But like anything in life, how good some things are is often defined by knowing what isn’t good.
Motorcycle movies have the virtue of a made-to-be filmed subject, motorcycles in motion, and for the most part, these flicks fit the bill.
Born to Ride
This is a “famous motorcycle movie” (but not necessarily a good one) featuring some stunts involving military Harleys and a love story which has John Stamos playing a motorcycle mechanic who falls in love with a Colonel’s daughter. Not ideal, but on the list for being notorious, Born to Ride is a sorry effort, but that’s part of what makes it the Plan Nine From Outer Space of motorcycle movies.
The script is pathetic, the dialog tips over into the unintentionally comedic, and the performances are, well, not entirely professional.
Electra Glide in Blue
From the ridiculous to the sublime, Electra Glide in Blue is everything Born to Ride is most certainly not. Robert Blake played a Harley Electra Glide-riding motorcycle cop, Big John Wintergreen, just back from Vietnam and looking to do some good in the world.
This darkly existential film from director James Guercio and cinematographer Conrad Hall is one of the best-looking movies ever made and the dirt bike versus cop bike chase scene is a breathtaking achievement in its own right.
Electra Glide in Blue gets it all right. Superb performances, beautiful cinematography and a coherent and interesting plot make this movie a forgotten gem.
Easy Rider is a given on this list. The 1969 classic launched the careers of Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson. It’s the cool point of view, the “road movie” plot and Nicholson playing the foil to Fonda and Hopper’s quasi-hippy characters made sure that Easy Rider would enter the pantheon of great motorcycle movies and set the bar for what we want from them.
Girl on a Motorcycle
Girl on a Motorcycle stars Marianne Faithful, a woman so dissatisfied with her life that she leaves her husband to go back to her former flame, Alaine Delon.
Rebecca, the main character, played by Faithful, chucks her life of comfort and security with a boring teacher husband in search of freedom and excitement. That’s heady stuff in the year before Easy Rider made it a staple of motorcycle movie plotting. It’s a bit dated with its psychedelic and now-hackneyed camera work, but some of the riding scenes and the sight of the lovely Marianne Faithful in a skin-tight leather riding suit make it all worthwhile.
Never meant to be a “Hollywood Movie,” Roadside Prophets features the bass player from the LA punk band X, John Doe, playing Joe, a Harley-riding loner who kisses off his factory job and sets out to find Eldorado, Nevada where he plans to spread the ashes of his pal Dave.
Joe places his buddy Dave’s ashes in motorcycle gas tank, straps it on the back of his 50’s vintage bike and heads out to take care of his solemn duty. On the way, he meets up with Sam, played by Adam Horovitz of the rap band The Beastie Boys.
Guest appearances by Arlo Guthrie, 60’s hippy icon Timothy Leary, David Carradine and John Cusack make this movie a must-watch bit of entertainment.
Cusack steals the movie as an activist with an enormous appetite and a penchant for stuffing his face at restaurants and then beating the check…
The Wild One
Based loosely on the famous 1947 Hollister incident, the plot of this 1953 classic motorcycle flick revolves around a local townie girl (Mary Murphy) and the bad boy motorcycle gang leader (Marlon Brando) who wants her approval and love.
The Hollister riot went down during the Gypsy Tour motorcycle rally in Hollister, California, over the July 4 to July 6, 1947, weekend. The press at the time had a field day sensationalizing the event which reports said featured outlaw bikers “taking over the town,” and that provided the basic structure for The Wild One.
Originally, the rally was sponsored by the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) and attended by some 4,000 people there to race and trade parts.
Somewhere around 50 people were arrested for public intoxication, reckless driving, and disturbing the peace, and it was this event that launched the Boozefighters Motorcycle Club into the public consciousness.
This 1953 film about the incident which starred Marlon Brando was inspired by the event and based loosely on an article LIFE magazine. In what has since become an iconic photograph, a LIFE photographer staged picture featuring a drunk man resting on a motorcycle amidst a carpet of shattered beer bottles.
The Hollister event was also famous for spawning a moniker which is still used by outlaw motorcyclists today to describe their status. A representative of the AMA trying to put a good spin on a public relations disaster for the group and motorcycling in general, said: “the trouble was caused by the one percent deviant that tarnishes the public image of both motorcycles and motorcyclists.”
And there you have it…
We’ve no idea what this is; looks like a flying pig at first glance.
June 26 – June 28
Jun 26 at 12:00pm to Jun 28 at 5:00pm
Val Du Lakes
Mears, Michigan 49455
Make sure you don’t miss out on this years hottest Midwest bike event.
Unlike any other event with fun activities and awesome live bands to be announced…
Bikers and Babes…
Camping on site, call 231-837-2267 for reservations.
Hey, don’t be a cock. Sack up and ride in for the day.
More details @ www.glorydaysmotorcyclerally.com
You’re going to need a bike with some storage space and a serious amount of range when civilization heads south.
The MotoPed Survival Bike has you covered.
This utilitarian ride boasts two side-mounted fuel tanks capable of a range up to 500 miles without refilling, and it has a universal rack so you can attach plenty of firepower and ammunition – and other gear.
Motorcycle Classics. Excellent writing and photography for the bike aficionado.
Oh dear lord.
I am, for once in my life, left completely without something to say.
On Ride To Work Day, bikers and riders around the world are being asked to show just how enjoyable their daily commute can be, and by riding to work we demonstrate that life would be better if more people rode motorcycles and scooters every day.
These guys say the time savings, less traffic congestion and reduced travel costs are worth the effort, so sign on and join up for Ride to Work Day on Monday, June 18.
And god knows what you can do with all the extra time you’ll have on your hands…
- Don't Leave Learning to Ride Your Motorcycle to Your Goofy Uncle
- If You Build It, They Will Ride – A Huge List of Custom Motorcycle Builders and Their Work
- Women Hit the Road In the Harley-Davidson My Time To Ride Video Series
You’re never too old to take on the challenge of cycle racing. The tight turns. Hitting the apex of every corner spot on the money and coming out hard on the throttle. The chance that, at any moment, you could be tumbling down the track after the smallest mistake.
And most of all, the thrill of victory in the world’s least dangerous road race.
Billed as “the only motorsport event…timed with a sundial,” the Isle of Nan TT is a satirical shot across the bow of the Isle of Man TT from the troop at Extremetrifle.
The latest record time? A blistering 66 hours 13 minutes and 4 seconds at an average speed of 0.56 mph, made all the more impressive as that time did include a stop off for the riders to get in an afternoon nap.
Check out the Facebook page for this daring event here where this wild bunch raises money for the Joey Dunlop foundation. Good stuff…
- Closer To The Edge – Motorcycle Speed Freaks at The Isle of Man
- Take A Look at Video of the Mugen TT Zero Class Entry For the Isle of Man Race This Year
- Isle of Man TT Zero Electric Class Motorcycle Race To Get Electric Honda Entry
It really is a miracle that anyone born before 1975 who rode a bicycle is alive today.
Between daredevil icons like Evel Knievel, a man who was a veritable mega-star with his own line of toys, and the generally agreed upon wisdom that wearing a helmet while riding a bike is for sissies, how is it that more ’70s kids didn’t break their necks while popping wheelies and jumping ramp-to-ramp over the family dog?
Below we present a list of famous motorcycle daredevils, some owing everything to the overwhelming influence of Knievel, some new to the game and less indebted to the madness of the ’70s, and each worthy of their own action figure. We’d also like to pay respect to the daredevils who are no longer with us. And remind our readers to please, please wear a helmet!
- Evel Knievel: Back in the day, before head gear became almost ubiquitous for bicycle riders under the age of 12, Evel Knievel’s name was invoked by many a concerned parent as an object lesson in how many bones you would break if you rode your bike like a crazy person. Born Robert Craig Knievel, “Evel” broke 433 bones in his career as a daredevil motorcyclist, earning him a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records. Not surprisingly, he was a strong public advocate for motorcycle helmet safety, and offered a cash reward to anyone who witnessed him stunting without a helmet. This icon of the ’70s is also the subject of a well-received rock musical.
- Robbie Maddison: Born in 1981, Robbie Maddison is a worthy successor to the “helmet for a crown” worn by Knievel. Part of what makes him so amazing is the fact that he survived viral meningitis and viral encephalitis, causing him to go blind in one eye, but regained the strength to pursue a career as a daredevil motorcyclist. On Jan. 1, 2009, live on ESPN, Maddison successfully jumped onto the top of a replica of the Arc de Triomphe and then rode down an 80-foot drop off of the monument. Most recently, Maddison attempted to jump 400 feet across the San Diego Bay, but ended up landing just two feet shy of his goal.
- Ken Mackow: Ken Mackow recently passed away, and given the daredevil nature of his stunts, should be given his due as “King of the Racetrack Thrill Seekers.” Mackow, whose career goes back to the Knievel-era ’70s, did more than his share of long distance ramp-to-ramp jumps. But he is probably best known for riding a motorcycle through a 157-foot-7-inch tunnel of fire, landing himself in the coveted Guinness Book of World Records. The stunt took place in 1975 at what must have been an unusually exciting church picnic.
- Bud Ekins: Though perhaps not as flamboyant as Knievel or Mackow, Bud Ekins, was indeed one of the greatest stuntmen of his generation. If he wasn’t technically a daredevil, he certainly performed some hair-raising stunts, including jumping the fence on a Triumph TR6 Trophy 650cc motorcycle in the classic Steve McQueen film The Great Escape. Although McQueen did do a lot of his own stunts, Ekins did that jump, and drove the Ford Mustang 390 CT in Bullitt. He also coordinated the stunts for the 1970s motorcycle cop show CHiPs; now how cool is that?
- Robbie Brasher: We want to give props to Robbie Brasher who did a jump back in November 2005 in Grenada, Miss. to raise money for victims of Hurricane Katrina. Brasher, keeping things simple but exciting, has jumped trucks, planes parked wing to wing, and once a total of twelve cars. His son Ryan too has been known to ride and jump as well and he always wears his helmet!
- Maya Sato: Japanese born Maya Sato won her first Auto Race contest in 2011 at the age of 19. She is the first woman to join the sport in 44 years. In Auto Race, a sport that was initially hugely popular in Japan in its post-war years, riders speed around a circuit at speed up to 150 kilometers per hour on bikes without brakes. They wear heavily-padded protective gear with distinctive eye-catching colors, and during a race, service their own bikes. No pit crews are allowed. Sato named her bike “Serena” after a strong, tough female character in the TV drama Gossip Girl. Tragically, her friend and fellow Auto Race rider Hiromi Sakai died this past January in a crash during a practice run.
- Bob Pleso: As a child, Bob Pleso was, like many children of the ’70s, inspired by the stunts and persona of Evel Knievel. Pleso first tried jumping his bicycle over ditches, water barrels, and even trusting friends. His first professional jump was at the Sunset Drag strip for a flat fee of $500. Over the course of his career, he gradually increased the ramp-to-ramp length of his jumps, officially jumping as far as 160 feet. Unfortunately, Pleso was killed in 1974 attempting a 200-foot jump. While in mid-air, about halfway across the length of the jump, a strong headwind hit his bike, sending him and his bike through a car’s windshield.
- Super Joe Einhorn: Super Joe Einhorn’s father was a daredevil, and apparently discouraged his son from pursuing the same career. But by age 27, Einhorn had already jumped further than, you guessed it, Evel Knievel. Between 1971 and 1972, Einhorn made more than 100 jumps, and walked away from more than a few frightening crashes. He claimed he had trained his mind so that he would not feel pain. In 1975, Einhorn vowed to jump Niagara Falls on a motorcycle similar to the “sky-rocket” used by Knievel for his failed Snake River jump. But before he could follow through with the jump, a crash that didn’t kill Einhorn, but left him with brain damage, effectively ended his career.
- The Many Jumps of Evel Knievel
- The Last Great Leap Forward for Evel Knievel
- 15 Things You Never Knew About Evel Knievel