Motorcycles give you a feeling of motion, fearlessness, and freedom when you’re on the open road. And on top of that, they’re just cool. Added to that, when you see one in a film, especially when it’s a memorable bike (and film, of course), that bike becomes immortalised. In the history of the movies, there’s no shortage of two-wheeled beasts to feast our eyes on. There’s only a small selection, however, that belong in the very highest echelon.
So here we look at the bikes that have stayed with us, in our memories, and in the movies, we want to watch time and again. There are some instances where the rider himself steals the scene. In this list, however, the motorcycle does a great job of making the actor look even cooler. Each of these bikes made a big impression in the film itself or, at the very least, had a memorable design. These two-wheelers are timeless and deserve a second moment in the sun with a backup spotlight shining on them. We consider both real and fictional motorcycles as the designs on some of the latter are just too good not to give some thought to. Here is the ultimate list of motorcycles in the movies that made us drool with envy.
Harley-Davidson Captain America Chopper in Easy Rider. Dennis Hopper, 1969
Easy Rider undoubtedly ranks among the very best motorcycle movies in film history. While there are plenty of top-notch moments in the movie, it’s the 1959 Harley Davidson Captain America Chopper that steals the show. Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda are the stars in the road trip about two bikers making their way from Los Angeles to New Orleans. There’s nothing about the bike that doesn’t embody what you wouldn’t want to see in a chopper, such as the chromed out parts, U.S. flag tank, and extremely high back bar seat. Fonda bought the bike, which was originally a 1952 Harley-Davidson Hydra-Glide, at a police auction, before Dan Haggerty and Tex Hall customised it.
Yamaha XT 250 in First Blood. Ted Kotcheff, 1982
First Blood’s sombre and dark feel easily make this the best of the Rambo movies. That doesn’t mean that it lacks in action, however. There’s plenty of it and the motorcycle chase scene is right up there. The movie is centred around a killer on the loose in the woods, not unlike Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th movies. This time, however, he’s an American hero and a one-time green beret.
Among the most iconic moments from the film is when our hero escapes from a police officer on a Yamaha YT 250, using the 22 horsepower to make his way through the woods. The dual-sport motorcycle made its debut just two years earlier and became popular in farms and backroads, which made it the perfect vehicle on which to escape from the police. On the bike, Rambo jumps over train tracks, tackles a downhill slope, and darts through muddy terrain.