Hooniverse Asks: What's the Greatest Motorcycle Movie of All Time?

Wild Angels
Hollywood really seems to have gotten the zeitgeist of the automobile’s place in our modern day imagination. Whether it’s film about racing in which the contest is captured in wheel to wheel action, or a road picture where the car can play as important a role as the stars, the automobile has found its place.
The same can’t really be said for motorcycles, however. There have been a small number of motorcycle racing movies, but mostly two wheel transport has been relegated to the rebel role. That of course is only one aspect of the biking experience, but one that seems to have been perhaps overly documented. The others are less common, but often just as compelling. Considering the few films in which bikes have played a central role, which do you think is history’s greatest.
Image: YouTube

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32 responses to “Hooniverse Asks: What's the Greatest Motorcycle Movie of All Time?”

  1. GTXcellent Avatar

    The World’s Fastest Indian is the correct answer, but I’m going with a movie that’s actually been roundly panned on this very site – BUT I LOVED IT! Silver Dream Racer. Sure David Essex is somehow an even worse actor than he is a singer, and the plot will never, ever leave you guessing, but there’s just something about this movie. Maybe because I was just a lad when it came it out, and have a tendency to use my rose colored glasses more than I should. Don’t care, still my favorite motorcycle movie.

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

      I have the theme, “Silver Dream Machine,” in my iTunes library. And it’s not even the David Essex version; it’s the Top-Of-The-Pops knockoff cover. Because I inexplicably prefer it to the original.

  2. Lokki Avatar

    Gentlemen: There is only one possible answer: The Vincent Black Shadow

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

      That’s a clip from Peter Starr’s Take It To The Limit. Which is a pretty damn good nomination.

  3. crank_case Avatar

    Wildly stretching the definition of “movie”, though it does have an actual narrative and isn’t a racing game, Lucasarts 1995 point and click masterpiece:

  4. JayP Avatar

    Mike Nesmith’s Time Rider.
    PJ O’Rourke talked about it in Driving Like Crazy.

    1. Rover 1 Avatar
      Rover 1

      And it’s celebrated every year with a motorcycle race week on a beach, the street, race circuits and off-road.
      The Burt Monroe Challenge, the largest motorcycle event in the Southern Hemisphere.

  5. Lokki Avatar

    I am shocked, gentlemen, shocked, that this bike hasn’t been mentioned yet.
    Could it be that I am getting old, and the heros of my youth forgotten?

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

      I think you misread the question. It’s not “what’s the greatest movie motorcycle,” it’s what’s the greatest motorcycle MOVIE.

      1. 0A5599 Avatar

        A strong case could be made for Easy Rider as the greatest motorcycle movie ever. I immediately thought of it when I read the question, but I posted my other low hanging fruit answer instead, because when it comes to hooning, McQueen > Fonda+Hopper (until Hopper dynamited himself, anyway, but McQueen was already dead by then).
        Anyway, I had a couple of other films in mind, too, but none of them have made appearances here yet, either.

        1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

          Easy Rider might be the most famous or iconic, but it’s a horribly bad film.

          1. 0A5599 Avatar

            You’re entitled to your opinion, of course, though apparently it diverges from what people at Cannes, the Academy Awards, and the American Film Institute thought.

          2. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

            The all-time greatest Oscar winner is James Cameron’s Titanic. I have no problem diversion from what the Academy thinks.

          3. Lokki Avatar

            . .

          4. crank_case Avatar

            It’s probably an “important” movie, in that it opened the door for a lot of independent film makers and that whole wave of 70s counter culture/anti-hero films (and George Lucas), and was probably pretty “out there” for 1969 in terms of portrayal of drugs, but that’s not the same as being a good, solid, well paced, well edited watchable movie, which it just isn’t. It’s a mess..you’d swear everyone was on LSD making it or something 😀

  6. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

    The greatest motorcycle movie ever would have to be a dramatization of the epic battle between Spencer and Roberts in the 1983 500 Grand Prix Championship. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been filmed yet.

  7. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

    The greatest motorcycle movie ever would have to a dramatization of the epic, season-long battle between Roberts and Spencer in the 1983 500cc World Championship. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been filmed yet, which is a huge indictment of human civilization.

    1. Victor Avatar

      ” We blew it”

  8. spotarama Avatar

    i’m going to go with the 10″ (wheeled) answer and say Quadrophenia, loads of very cool scooters, loads of cool café racers and a great soundtrack (some laughable acting it might be said but also the springboard for a whole generation of british actors of that era)

  9. Michael Mitchell Avatar
    Michael Mitchell

    how is this not here – it got an Oscar nomination!

  10. Monkey10is Avatar

    Naked Under Leather

    Because naked.
    Because leather.

  11. Windbüchse Avatar

    Try – The Girl On A Motorcycle (1968)

  12. Manxman Avatar

    Lawrence of Arabia. The opening with credits is a high shot of Peter O’Toole going through the Druidic ritual of starting the Brough Superior. That scene got me hooked on motorcycles as surely as Toad on automobiles. While, as a teenager, I was watching the screen I keep saying to myself “I’ve got to have one of those things”.

  13. SlowJoeCrow Avatar

    While my immediate reaction was On Any Sunday, I’ll throw in an honorable mention for V-Four Victory, recounting Honda’s 1983 750 F1 season and culminating in an on bike camera lap of the Isle of Man TT circuit narrated by Joey Dunlop.

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