The follow up to Top Gun, one of the most iconic movies of the 1980s, is set to be released in 2019 with rumours that lead actor Tom Cruise will be riding a supercharged Kawasaki Ninja H2R.
And this has got us thinking? What are the greatest moments where motorcycles have played a leading role in Hollywood blockbusters? We’re not talking about motorbike movies, like Faster or On Any Sunday, but scenes in mainstream productions where the bikes are, well, just cool.
It’s been tough whittling a list down to just five, so let us know what you think on our social media channels. For now, here (in no particular order) are our top five motorcycles from the movies…
The Matrix Reloaded – Ducati 996
It’s hard to underplay just how big The Matrix was when it was released back it 1999 and this 2003 sequel was hugely anticipated.
As with the original, the productions visual effects were out of this world and nothing was more impressive than the good, old-fashioned motorcycle chase scene that sees Carrie-Anne Moss’ character Trinity (played largely by stunt rider Debbie Evans) escaping the bad guys on a dark green Ducati 996.
Legend has it that the scene was filmed on a disused airfield and took three months to film, with a budget of $2.5million. Ducati even produced a limited run of 998s, known as the Matrix Reloaded edition, in the same colourscheme. Only 500 of these were produced and they are highly desirable on the secondhand market these days.
The Great Escape – Triumph TR6 Trophy
Iconic actor Steve McQueen’s most iconic movie features the most iconic motorcycle stunt in cinema history.
Escaping from his Nazi guards, McQueen’s character ‘The Cooler King’ steals the bike to aid his bid for freedom. Reaching a dead end, the protagonist has two choices – surrender or jump the four metre high barbed wire fence. Heroes never surrender, of course, and the rest is history. The bike itself is not a German BMW, but a debadged Triumph TR6, and the stunt was performed by Steve’s good buddy Bud Ekins.
After filming, the bike was sold to a farmer and was stored in a barn for decades. It was recently restored and can now be seen at Triumph’s new visitor centre cum museum in Hinckley, Leicestershire.
Terminator 2 – Harley-Davidson Fat Boy
Another chase and spectacular jump, the scene begins with Arnie’s naked cyborg assassin delivering the classic line ‘I need your clothes, boots and your motorcycle!’.
Unlike the Great Escape jump, T2’s giant fence leap involves the bike being supported by cables (which were digitally removed during post production) but it’s still a memorable scene.
The bike is another that lives on in a museum, in this case at Harley’s in-house display in Milwaukee.
Mission Impossible 2 – Triumph Speed Triple
A classic Cruise action movie, MI2 saw Cruise character Ethan Hunt riding through fire and evading the bad guys on a Triumph Speed Triple.
Cruise and the bug-eyed triple contributed to the highest grossing movie of 2000 and motorcycles continue to play a starring role in the Mission Impossible franchise. Hunt’s diverse garage has seen everything from a clunky Triumph Scrambler in MI3 to a BMW S1000RR in the 2015 epic, Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation. Trailers for this year’s upcoming Mission Impossible movie shows Hunt riding a BMW RnineT.
Top Gun – Kawasaki GPz900R Ninja
There’s quite a theme of bike nut Tom Cruise riding motorcycles in his movies but this, his first, remains the most iconic.
In his breakthrough movie, Cruise’s character Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell rides a GPz900R and looks damn cool doing so, especially with Kelly McGillis riding pillion. Riding down runways with jet fighters taking off in the background with Take My Breath Away playing in the background, it remains the most enduring scene in the whole movie. Cruise is currently working on Top Gun 2, with Maverick remaining brand loyal and riding a new H2R Ninja these days.
Barb Wire – 1996 movie where Pamela Anderson’s eponymous lead character rides a contemporary Triumph Thunderbird. Cool bikes but the movie… just a bit naff!
An Officer and a Gentleman – Hollywood heartthrob Richard Gere wears a Navy uniform and rides off on his Meriden Triumph Bonneville in this 1982 romance. Swoon!
Salt – Another Triumph and another A lister, this time its Angelina Jolie on a Street Triple R in the 2010 spy thriller Salt. Hot bike, hot actress, so so movie.
Tomorrow Never Dies – Chinese spy Wai Lin and 007 escape the bad guys on BMW’s quirky R1200C cruiser in this 1997 James Bond epic. A similar bike also appeared in the opening scene of the 2002 parody, Austin Powers in Goldmember.
The Wild One – Legendary Marlon Brando movie, starring Johnny and his 1953 Triumph Thunderbird T3. “What you rebelling against?” “What you got?”
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