The bikes were the stars, writes Mark Hinchliffe
1 Easy Rider (1969) Peter Fonda checks his watch, throws it aside then he and Dennis Hopper roar off on their Harleys in search of freedom to a soundtrack of Steppenwolf’s Born To Be Wild. The bikes, gleaming in the US sun, were filmed against a stunning postcard backdrop accompanied by rock classics. Conveys the sense of freedom of bike riding like no other film. 2 Stone (1974) Australian film with a ridiculous plot about an undercover cop who infiltrates the Grave Diggers Motorcycle Club to find out why they are being killed one by one. But it features some memorable bike scenes such as a race along Sydney clifftop roads and a bikie funeral cortege up the F3 over the Hawkesbury River. Featured bike is the famed Kawasaki Z900 with four exhaust pipes. 3 The Great Escape
(1963) Not strictly a bike film but it includes cinema’s most memorable bike chase. Escapee Steve McQueen steals aBMW bike from the Germans who chase him to the Swiss border. McQueen, who had represented America in bike trials, did most of the stunt work— Bud Ekins did the famous jump over the barbed wire fence. They rode a Triumph TT Special 650. 4 The Wild One (1953) Marlon Brando as Johnny Strabler, leader of the Black Rebels Motorcycle Club, is the ultimate in biker cool on his 650cc Triumph Thunderbird and his jacket became known as ‘‘ the Brando’’. 5 The World’s Fastest Indian (2005) Hollywood’s version of the incredible but true story of Kiwi Burt Munro’s obsession with making his 1920 Indian Scout go faster. He stunned the world when he set a class land-speed record at Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats in 1967. His 329.9km/h still stands. Two of his bikes in the film are actually Ducatis. 6 Top Gun (1986) Tom Cruise has ridden motorcycles in several films, including his Mission: Impossible trilogy, but the lasting image is of him racing his Kawasaki Ninja 900 down the runway beside a Tomcat jet. The lack of US helmet laws means his smile and lustrous hair are ever-present. 7 On Any Sunday
(1971) Documentary film maker Bruce Brown had scored a huge hit with his surfing film, Endless Summer. When he focused his skills on motorcycles he turned on a whole generation to bike riding. Scores of motorcycles are featured but what captures the essence of biking fun is the closing scene where Steve McQueen and off-road riders David Evans and Mert Lawwill skylark on their small-bore Japanese bikes on the beach at Marine Corps Base Camp, Pendleton, California. McQueen used his charm to get permission to film there. 8 Quadrophenia
(1979) Many British bikes are included but Italian Lambretta and Vespa scooters feature in this film version of The Who’s 1973 rock opera. Scooters and bikes represent the culture of freedom, rebellion and belonging to a gang. The film depicts the rivalry between scooter-riding Mods and bikeriding Rockers, which remains but in a much friendlier way. 9 Mad Max (1979) The menacing Toecutter Gang rides into town on mainly Japanese superbikes, the epitome of lawless bikies. Members of Melbourne bikie clubs such as the Vigilantes performed many of the stunts. Some of the wild chase scenes were captured by a cameraman riding pillion. 10 Wild Hogs (2007) A parody of the 1953 Brando film, but this time on HarleyDavidsons, it good-naturedly sends up the tough posturing of today’s middle-class wannabe bikies. In a version of Fonda’s watch-tossing scene in Easy Rider, the actors fling their mobile phones away before heading out on the open road, looking for adventure and whatever comes their way.
Easy Riders (left): Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper in the quintessential bike flick
Also rode: Anthony Hopkins (top), Steve McQueen and Marlon Brando