19 January 2016

The 10 most iconic motorcycles in the history of cinema

Driving
Author
Carl

Tailor-made, futuristic, and old-timer motorcycles. In the last twenty years we have seen two-wheeled vehicles of all types roaring across the big screen: here are the 10 most iconic according to us. If you only expect to find bikers full of testosterone in this ranking you’ll be amazed: apparently the combination of tough women and roaring motorcycles exerts a magnetic appeal on many filmmakers (and also on us spectators). But is it the pilot that makes the bike or is it the bike that makes the pilot? The judgment is up to you!

10. Ultraviolet (2006)

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[Photo credits: complex.com]

Put a supermodel like Milla Jovovich on a motorbike, add a lot of special effects and very successful action scenes and you will have a memorable film. Without wishing to belittle the leading actress’s talent, it is however her BMW R1150 R to steal the scene.

The 1150 is the natural evolution of the R 1100 R, a successful naked bike that had already clarified the BMW philosophy when it came to naked bikes: comfort and driving pleasure. Only a few years ago, BMW was a tourism brand par excellence, a symbol of indestructible motorbikes. Today, while still being travellers, they are also more powerful and supertechnological, like this one.

9. Top Gun (1986)

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[Photo credits: insella.it]

For all the boys who grew up in the Eighties, Maverick (Tom Cruise) represented the American coolness par excellence. He had talent, style, an aeroplane, a beautiful girlfriend, but especially a Kawasaki GPZ 900 R with which he undertook speed challenges even against jet fighters. The GPZ 900 R, black and very aggressive, was the first to bear the name Ninja. It covered the quarter mile in 10.55 and reached 260 per hour: the fastest production motorcycle of those years.

8. Star Trek (2009)

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[Photo credits: reddit.com]

James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) drives a fabulous motorcycle created especially for this film. But there is another vehicle that deserves the attention of all the nerd spectators: the police motorcycle. I think there is nothing else to add to justify the presence of this little gem in the ranks.

7. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

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[Photo credits: blog.screenweek.it]

Bikes populate all films of Mad Max and also the last chapter in the saga is no exception, beginning from the iconic image of the film where Mad Max (Tom Hardy) is riding a Yamaha R1. R1, an official MotoGP motorcycle, was born for the track. Its nervous system is the 6-axis inertial platform with sensors that analyse the position and movements of the bike in real time, with total control over traction, skids, wheelies and starts. That of Mad Max is entirely covered with mats and bags, but still recognizable.

6. First Blood (1982)

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[Photo credits: imcdb.org]

You know those expensive aggressive-looking SUVs that fail to confront obstacles off-road? Rambo would surely look at them with contempt. For this reason Sylvester Stallone was put in the saddle of a Yamaha XT 250 capable of going through thick woods and impassable rivers without too many problems. The XT 250 is a classic enduro of the eighties: a very simple and basic motorcycle, both in the mechanics and in the style.

5. Akira (1988)

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[Photo credits: kotaku.com]

In this cult of Japanese animation, and of science fiction in general, motorcycles are real protagonists from the outset. Shotaro Kaneda designed that of the protagonist Mitsuo Iwata keeping in mind the noise of the Hondas. This futuristic vehicle has become a true icon and has inspired many designers of “real” motorbikes: take a look at the recent Honda NM4 Vultus.

4. The Matrix Reloaded (2003)

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[Photo credits: ducati.ms]

In the second chapter of the Matrix saga, Trinity Carrie-Anne (MOSS) is still a rebel who attempts to free the human species from the yoke of slavery by machines. And she also does so aboard her Ducati 996. The 996 was the evolution of 916, a motorcycle of which it reflects the aesthetics, confirming Ducati’s racing tradition and several times winner of the World Superbike title. Listed for sale in 1999, what changes is the engine, that grows in displacement passing from 916 to 996 cm³, and the set-up, which is more refined. Trinity has earned the fourth position for elegance and skill.

3. Kill Bill Vol.1 (2003)

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[Photo credits: civicforums.com]

The bronze medal goes to another woman equally strong and with an equally skin-tight suit. The image of Uma Thurman dressed in yellow and black in the saddle of her Kawasaki ZZR 250 with a combined bodywork is close to perfection. Even motorcycles three times more powerful fail to outdistance the 250 on winding roads. Aggressive appearance, fast, poisonous and biting: Quentin Tarantino chose an excellent two wheels for enabling his heroin to confront the worst mafia gang in Tokyo!

2. TRON: Legacy (2010)

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[Photo credits: inhabitat.com]

TRON‘s lightcycle motorcycles, driven by Garrett Hedlund and Olivia Wilde are pure aerodynamics: rounded body, lights that recall neon, tear-drop shape that falls horizontally on the virtual asphalt. Last May Sotheby’s put on sale a faithful and fully functional replica of this bike, a unique item intended for collectors.

1. The Dark Knight (2008)

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 [Photo credits: asphaltandrubber.com]

In the first place there is the legendary Bat-Pod, Batman’s motorcycle. We have chosen it for its breathtaking design, for the perfectly black colour, but mainly because it can change shape as needed, even on the run. The Batpod is driven by the shoulders and not by the hands, and the arms of the driver are protected by shields. One of the action scenes in the film shows the wheels running outside their axis, probably to help the stability of the vehicle in extreme manoeuvres or in some sharp curves: this also allows for instant changes of direction. Who drives it on the podium is of course the dark knight, but we reserve a place of honour for the other rider who has been able to do it justice in The Dark Knight rises (2012): Catwoman!