Later this year we’ll see the general release of the new James Bond movie, No Time To Die. The 25th movie in the famous line features numerous motorcycle scenes starring models from Ducati and Triumph, with the British company’s Scrambler 1200 even appearing in some of the pre-release publicity.
In early movies, the motorcycle was often the baddies’ vehicle of choice, but in recent years Bond and his allies have increasingly turned to two wheels to make good their escape.
No Time To Die is not the first Bond movie to feature bikes. Indeed, motorbikes have played a role in chase scenes since the 1960s and in recent years they’ve played major roles in increasingly elaborate stunt sequences, which is why we’ve decided to take a look back through the archives and pick out our five favourite Bond bikes from over the years…
Possibly the most famous Bond bike ever is the BMW R1200C featured in 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies.
The quirky German cruiser marked a new phenomenon, product placement, and its part in the film played a major part in the promotion of this bold new model for BMW.
In the movie, Chinese spy Wai Lin and Bond (played by Pierce Brosnan) escape the bad guys on the boxer-engined cruiser, but despite the glamour and publicity the bike was never a sales hit. The cruiser riding population couldn’t quite get their head around the idea of a bike that wasn’t powered by a V-twin, and certainly not one as unconventionally styled as the R1200 (complete with its shaft drive, single sided rear swingarm and telelever front end).
Forever known as ‘that James Bond bike’ the R1200C also featured in the 007 parody movie Austin Powers in Goldmember and remains an iconic machine, even if it failed to capture the buying public’s imagination.
Norton Dominator SS
Not so much a leading role as an intriguing cameo, that was the Norton Dominator SS in 2015’s Spectre.
Eagled eyed viewers can see a machine gun toting Dommie being prepped up in the background in Q’s workshop by Norton boss Stuart Garner, although the bike was never actually seen running.
Norton made a big deal of the bike’s appearance in the movie (despite it’s ‘blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo) but it didn’t really help the company, as its recent troubles attest to.
While many of today’s Bond bikes make it to the silver screen by virtue of manufacturers paying handsomely for the privilege, the Cagiva W16 that starred in the epic opening sequence of 1995’s GoldenEye was chosen because it was (kind of) the right bike for the job.
Bond, played by Pierce Brosnan for the first time, steals an olive green Cagiva from one of the Soviet bad guys chasing after him and sets off after a small plane in the process of taking off. The stunt ends with Bond riding the Cagiva off the end of the cliff and diving into the plane, which is also in the process of crashing – all pretty surreal, but it is Bond after all!
Although not native to the Soviet Union (where the scene was claimed to be taking place, as opposed to Switzerland where it was actually filmed) the Cagiva was a popular choice with armies in the 1980s. Much like the 500cc Armstrongs used by the British military, the W16 was a strong and simple single-cylinder enduro bike used by many continental forces.
The 600cc machines were only built between 1994 and 1997, in what were generally troubled days for the Italian company, and these days they’re a rare and often forgotten about machine, which is a shame when you consider how groundbreaking the GoldenEye stunt was in 1995.
Like the Cagiva, Honda’s CRF250L was a light and simple road going enduro bike. Also like the Cagiva, the CRF featured in an epic ‘Bond-escapes-bad-guys’ movie opener – this time through the streets of Istanbul in the 2012 flick Skyfall.
A total of 20 of the then new CRFs, lightly modified to give a more generic and patinaed appearance, were reported to have been used in the filming of the movie. Patrice, the henchman chasing Bond, also rides one and the sequence ends when they crash into a bridge and jump onto a moving train (as you do). The CRFs followed on from Honda’s previous tie in with the movie franchise, which saw its Montesa brand featured in 2008’s Quantum of Solace.
Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE
No Time To Die was originally due to be released in the UK on April 2, but has been put back until November due to the Coronavirus outbreak, and although we don’t yet know exactly what role motorcycles will play in it, we are expecting some pretty major stunts to feature.
At least part of the movie takes place in Italy, with Ducati providing some of its Scramblers for the filming there, but it’s British brand Triumph that is making the biggest noise about the role it is playing in the film.
Triumph supplied prototypes of its new Tiger 900 for filming last year, which were subjected to ‘extreme and dynamic action sequences’ while the Scrambler 1200 is also set to appear and even features on a movie for the poster, with star Daniel Craig on board.
According to stunt coordinator Lee Morrison, “Triumph gave us early Tiger 900 prototypes before launch so we could film in three key locations well before the bike’s official reveal. I have to say that we have literally thrown everything at them. Big craggy sharp rocks, deep boggy mud, high speeds, big jumps and huge climbs and descents across a variety of conditions. The Tigers really have stood up to the task incredibly well, with no mechanical issues, and to me this really proves their go-anywhere credentials.”
Triumph are pushing their brand partnerships to the max these days and is an ‘official partner’ of the movie, so what odds of an officially licenced ‘007’ Scrambler going on sale in 2020? Pretty high, we think…