25 best motorcycle movies ever (25 Essential Motorcycle Films worth watching )

by harrismcteyd | created - 07 Oct 2015 | updated - 17 Oct 2016 | Public

Movies that inspire you to go for a motorcycle ride

The art of adventure and motorcycling go hand in hand. The level of freedom and excitement that can felt on a bike compares with very little out there in the world of travel and transport, so it’s no surprise that motorcycling has been the subject of many films over the years.

Travel films are no exception – they tap into the consciousness of riders who are curious for more – always asking questions and always wondering ‘where next? 5 must watch motorcycle adventure films, and discovers why watching them will get you in the mood for your next big trip….

Here’s my list of 25 motorcycle films that you may have never seen or even heard of. All of them we think are worth taking a look at.

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1. The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)

R | 126 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama

75 Metascore

The dramatization of a motorcycle road trip Che Guevara went on in his youth that showed him his life's calling.

Director: Walter Salles | Stars: Gael García Bernal, Rodrigo De la Serna, Mía Maestro, Mercedes Morán

Votes: 95,211 | Gross: $16.76M

2. On Any Sunday (1971)

G | 96 min | Documentary, Sport

75 Metascore

Documentary on motorcycle racing featuring stars of the sport, including film star Steve McQueen, a racer in his own right.

Director: Bruce Brown | Stars: Steve McQueen, Dave Aldana, Mark Brelsford, Bruce Brown

Votes: 1,231

Considered to be one of the best ever motorcycle sport documentaries ever made, this 1971 film was nominated for an Academy Award. Director Bruce Brown successfully reflected the lives of various types of motorcycle enthusiasts that were racing in motocross, desert racing and the Grand National in the early 1970’s. From a motorcycle point of view they are all here – BSA, Harley-Davidson, Triumph, Husqvarna, Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha, Hodaka and Bultaco. The film focuses on the people and what makes them want to ride a motorcycle in competition and features Steve McQueen, AMA legend Mert Lawwill and off-road racer Malcolm Smith. A fascinating glimpse of why people race bikes, any bikes, and still a relevant film today.

3. One Week (I) (2008)

Not Rated | 94 min | Adventure, Drama

Chronicles the motorcycle trip of Ben Tyler as he rides from Toronto to Tofino, British Columbia. Ben stops at landmarks that are both iconic and idiosyncratic on his quest to find meaning in his life.

Director: Michael McGowan | Stars: Joshua Jackson, Peter Spence, Marc Strange, Gage Munroe

Votes: 11,126

4. Easy Rider (1969)

R | 95 min | Adventure, Drama

85 Metascore

Two bikers head from L.A. to New Orleans through the open country and desert lands, and along the way they meet a man who bridges a counter-culture gap they are unaware of.

Director: Dennis Hopper | Stars: Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Jack Nicholson, Antonio Mendoza

Votes: 97,510 | Gross: $41.73M

This is one of the most iconic American counter-culture films ever made, it follows the entertaining and illegal adventures of Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper, with Jack Nicholson chiming in for good measure.

5. Riding Solo to the Top of the World (2006)

94 min | Documentary

Riding Solo To The Top Of The World' is the unique experience of a lonesome traveler, who rides his motorcycle all the way from Mumbai to one of the remotest places in the World, the ... See full summary »

Director: Gaurav Jani | Star: Gaurav Jani

Votes: 169

Filmmaker Gaurav Jani did exactly this – journeying from Mumbai to one of the most remote places on earth, the Changthang Plateau. Filming entirely as a one man unit, he captures some incredible moments with the landscape, the people who inhabit it as well as himself and his own experience of this stunning journey.

6. On Any Sunday: The Next Chapter (2014)

PG | 90 min | Documentary, Action, Adventure

53 Metascore

Inspired by Bruce Brown's 1971 documentary, "On Any Sunday," chronicles the international sport of motorcycle racing.

Director: Dana Brown | Stars: Bo Derek, Travis Pastrana, Jimmy N. Roberts, Ashley Fiolek

Votes: 356 | Gross: $0.54M

On Any Sunday is one of the best-loved motorcycle films of all time. Directed by Bruce Brown—famous for the surf classic Endless Summer—it captured the spirit of motorcyling in a way that even non-riders could understand. And deservedly won an Academy Award nomination.

A sequel is now being readied for release, directed by Bruce’s son Dana Brown and shot using 4K Ultra HD equipment. On Any Sunday, The Next Chapter is backed by Red Bull, KTM and Skullcandy, and the PR machine is about to hit top gear.

Fortunately, the trailer suggests that the film will live up to the hype. It’ll hit theaters in the USA on November 7.

7. Long Way Round (2004– )

TV-PG | 315 min | Documentary, Adventure

This documentary series follows actors Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman on a motorcycle trip around the world. The two friends will travel through such places as Siberia, Kazakhstan, ... See full summary »

Stars: Ewan McGregor, Charley Boorman, David Alexanian, Russ Malkin

Votes: 11,446

Between April and July 2004, Charlie Boorman and Ewan McGregor travelled from London to New York ‘the long way round’ – taking two BMW R1150GS bikes with them and transversing some of the most difficult terrain the world had to throw at them. It was an epic documentary series, and still one of the best watches for a combination of travel, adventure and motorcycle fuelled action.

8. TT3D: Closer to the Edge (2011)

Not Rated | 104 min | Documentary, Sport

76 Metascore

By vividly recounting the TT's legendary rivalries and the Isle of Man's unique road racing history, this 3D feature documentary will discover why modern TT riders still risk their lives to... See full summary »

Director: Richard De Aragues | Stars: Guy Martin, Ian Hutchinson, John McGuinness, Michael Dunlop

Votes: 6,117

If you’ve never been to the Isle of Man in May to watch the annual Tourist Trophy, this film is almost the next best thing to being there. Filmed in 2010 you get some truly spectacular footage of the world’s greatest motorcycle race. This 104-minute documentary follows racers Guy Martin and Ian Hutchinson in their bid to claim the title of King of the Hill. You won’t believe how fast or how dangerous the 37.73 course is. There is no other motorcycle race – or for that any motor sport event – like this and we could watch this over and over again. Ultimately the only thing to do is go and see this astonishing race for yourself. You won’t regret it.

9. 12 O'Clock Boys (2013)

TV-MA | 76 min | Documentary, Biography, Crime

68 Metascore

Pug, a young boy growing up on a combative West Baltimore block, finds solace in a group of illegal dirt bike riders known as The 12 O'Clock Boys.

Director: Lotfy Nathan | Stars: Coco, Pug, Funmi Sodipo, Steven

Votes: 1,292 | Gross: $0.04M

10. The World's Fastest Indian (2005)

PG-13 | 127 min | Biography, Drama, Sport

68 Metascore

The story of New Zealander Burt Munro, who spent years rebuilding a 1920 Indian motorcycle, which helped him set the land speed world record at Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats in 1967.

Director: Roger Donaldson | Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Diane Ladd, Iain Rea, Tessa Mitchell

Votes: 51,135 | Gross: $5.13M

There are several other films that could be at the number one slot but The World’s Fastest Indian is just a great film. Based on the true story of a middle-aged but very determined Kiwi Burt Munro, who against the odds brought his modified Indian scout to Bonneville to set land speed records. It may not be historically accurate but there is a fantastic performance by Anthony Hopkins playing Munro and it takes little time before you start to empathize with this character and the huge challenge he has to overcome to achieve his dream. Lots of motorcycle content and one of those films that you will want to watch again and again.

We’re not saying this is the definitive list of all motorcycle films ever made. Just a cross-section of a wide variety of films that have motorcycle content that we think are worth watching. If you’ve got some better suggestions then let us know.

11. Why We Ride (2013)

PG | 89 min | Documentary, Family, History

The passion of the riders and the soul of their machines.

Director: Bryan H. Carroll | Stars: Jim Adams, Ernie Alexander, Kenny Alexander, Jay Allen

Votes: 815

WHY WE RIDE MOVIE TRIES TO ANSWER THE AGE-OLD QUESTION By all accounts, the new documentary Why We Ride is a beautifully filmed work that will make you want to hop on a motorcycle the moment you step out of the theater. It’s that kind of film. Through exquisite vintage and slow-motion footage from places such as Bonneville, Daytona, motocross tracks, and campsites in the California desert, the audience is taken on a stunning visual journey into our two-wheel world, with dozens of riders, some famous, some not, speaking poignantly about what motorcycling means to them. There’s no narrator, and there doesn’t need to be; the various folks who do the talking are all remarkably well-spoken. We only wish they were identified as they appeared on screen and not later in the movie as the credits were rolling.

12. The Wild Angels (1966)

R | 93 min | Action, Drama, Thriller

The "Angels", a San Pedro motorcycle gang, parties in the Coachella Valley's Palm Springs Indian Canyons, California, and wreaks havoc with the local police.

Director: Roger Corman | Stars: Peter Fonda, Nancy Sinatra, Bruce Dern, Diane Ladd

Votes: 2,578 | Gross: $6.50M

13. Dust to Glory (2005)

PG | 97 min | Documentary, Action, Adventure

61 Metascore

A documentary on the Baja 1000, an annual off-road race held in Baja, Mexico that attracts hundreds of racers, their souped-up machines, and thousands of fans.

Director: Dana Brown | Stars: Chad McQueen, Mario Andretti, Sal Fish, James Garner

Votes: 926 | Gross: $0.64M

When you’ve finished watching this you will go straight out and buy yourself an off-road motorcycle and head to Baja. This documentary, which was actually filmed in 2003, follows the Baja 1000 race and all of the competitors through 650 miles of the Mexican desert. There was a huge film crew, several helicopters involved in making this film and the result is pretty spectacular. Not only do the competitors have some fearsome terrain and weather conditions to ride through but they also have to watch out for the spectators that take some pleasure in laying traps for them. Despite being eight years old this is still a riveting watch.

14. Stone (1974)

126 min | Action, Drama, Adventure

After one of its members witnesses a political assassination, an outlaw motorbike gang becomes the target of a string of murders, prompting a cop to join their ranks to determine who is responsible.

Director: Sandy Harbutt | Stars: Deryck Barnes, Sandy Harbutt, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Lex Mitchell

Votes: 1,182

Don’t let the fact this is classed a low-budget film, it’s actually quite entertaining. Set in Australia it features an undercover cop (Ken Shorter) who joins an outlaw motorcycle club called The Gravediggers to find out why their members are being murdered one by one. There are quite a lot motorcycles involved included a Norton at the outset followed by a Kawasaki Z1 900cc. Not a seat of your pants film but an interesting snap shot of motorcycle culture outside the U.S.

15. Hells Angels on Wheels (1967)

Approved | 95 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

49 Metascore

At first, gas station attendant Poet is happy when the Hell's Angels gang finally accepts him. But he's shocked when he learns just how brutal they are.

Director: Richard Rush | Stars: Adam Roarke, Jack Nicholson, Sabrina Scharf, Jana Taylor

Votes: 2,105

One of Jack Nicholson’s first films which tells the story of a disillusioned gas station attendant who’s attracted to the life with the Hells Angels MC. Lots of late 1960’s bikes and an attempt at portraying what life in an outlaw motorcycle club was really like then. Several fist fights, an occasional stabbing and an interesting film to watch. Ralph ‘Sonny’ Barger, President of the Hells Angels, is credited in the titles as being a consultant to the filmmakers and he plays a non-speaking part early on in the film. So it must be true…

16. Choppertown: The Sinners (2005)

Not Rated | 93 min | Documentary, Action, Adventure

Custom chopper builder and punk rocker Kutty Noteboom builds his working man's chopper from the ground up with the help of good friend Rico and the rest of his biker brothers in this ... See full summary »

Directors: Zack Coffman, Scott Di Lalla | Stars: Rico Fodrey, Rob Fortier, Cole Foster, Gary Frye

Votes: 91

An interesting take on Southern California motorcycle culture and life. This award-winning documentary takes a refreshing look at what it takes to build a custom motorcycle with a group of friends. It’s not your OC Chopper story but an honest look at why Rico Fodfrey and his So Cal Sinners crew build their bikes. How they do it and why they do it. How they search for parts and re-use parts in clever and innovative ways. These are average guys keeping motorcycle culture alive and who are not interested in building bikes for big bucks but creating motorcycles for themselves.

17. Electra Glide in Blue (1973)

PG | 114 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

Bored with his highway traffic duties, Arizona motorcycle patrolman John Wintergreen is assigned to Homicide where his polite investigative style irks his macho boss.

Director: James William Guercio | Stars: Robert Blake, Billy Green Bush, Mitchell Ryan, Jeannine Riley

Votes: 4,657 | Gross: $0.30M

The open desert roads of Arizona, a pair of Harley-Davidson riding traffic cops called John Wintergreen (Robert Blake) and his partner Zipper (Billy ‘Green’ Bush) are on a mission to prove that a suspected suicide is in fact a murder. Not the best plot line in the world but some great motorcycle footage and worth watching on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

18. The Wild One (1953)

Not Rated | 79 min | Crime, Drama, Romance

Two rival motorcycle gangs terrorize a small town after one of their leaders is thrown in jail.

Director: Laslo Benedek | Stars: Marlon Brando, Mary Murphy, Robert Keith, Lee Marvin

Votes: 14,325

Apart from The Dude, a badass Daft Punk soundtrack and flying discs of doom, the best thing about Tron: Legacy has to be the Lightcycle bikes. These light-lined beasts produce a destructive field making their gaming arena lethally entertaining. The real-world version might not be so dangerous but its looks are still killer. To get an idea of the effort that went into creating spectacular CGI sequences like the lightcycle battle: this film was shot in 64 days, the special effects took 68 weeks.

19. Road to Paloma (2014)

R | 91 min | Drama, Thriller

44 Metascore

Wolf, a Native American on the run after avenging his mother's murder, flees across the desolate American West on his motorcycle, where he'll discover that justice has a cost.

Director: Jason Momoa | Stars: Jason Momoa, Robert Homer Mollohan, Lisa Bonet, Sarah Shahi

Votes: 4,580

20. Hell Ride (2008)

R | 84 min | Action, Drama, Thriller

25 Metascore

Two rival bikers gangs, the Victors and the Six-Six-Six's, refuel their decades-old rivalry.

Director: Larry Bishop | Stars: Larry Bishop, Dennis Hopper, Michael Madsen, Julia Jones

Votes: 15,314 | Gross: $0.19M

21. Akira (1988)

R | 124 min | Animation, Action, Drama

A secret military project endangers Neo-Tokyo when it turns a biker gang member into a rampaging psychic psychopath who can only be stopped by two teenagers and a group of psychics.

Director: Katsuhiro Ôtomo | Stars: Mitsuo Iwata, Nozomu Sasaki, Mami Koyama, Tesshô Genda

Votes: 158,781 | Gross: $0.55M

22. The Born Losers (1967)

PG | 113 min | Action, Drama, Thriller

Billy Jack battles outlaw motorcycle gang in a small California beach town.

Director: Tom Laughlin | Stars: Tom Laughlin, Elizabeth James, Jeremy Slate, William Wellman Jr.

Votes: 2,121 | Gross: $26.54M

23. Every Which Way but Loose (1978)

PG | 114 min | Action, Comedy

41 Metascore

The San Fernando Valley adventures of trucker turned prize-fighter Philo Beddoe and his pet orangutan Clyde.

Director: James Fargo | Stars: Clint Eastwood, Sondra Locke, Geoffrey Lewis, Beverly D'Angelo

Votes: 22,657 | Gross: $106.00M

24. Somewhere Else Tomorrow (2014)

Not Rated | 107 min | Documentary, Adventure, Drama

A naive dreamer attempts to circumnavigate the world on his motorcycle, surviving only on the money he makes along the way.

Director: Daniel Rintz | Stars: Issa Breibish, Kristian Bruun, Megan Gay, Grant Johnson

Votes: 298

25. Race to Dakar (2006– )

Documentary, Sport

This documentary follows the entry of motorcyclist and actor Charley Boorman into the 2006 Dakar Rally from Lisbon to Dakar.

Stars: Asia Mackay, Charley Boorman, Matt Hall, Russ Malkin

Votes: 738

26. An Island Legacy Edge Closer (2013)

Not Rated | 61 min | Documentary, History, Sport

A feature documentary with a charming look-behind-the-scenes at the Isle of Man TT road racers and all else about the Island. Enjoy the history, the entertainment, and the glitz of it all with this documentary feature.

Director: Paul Fielding

Votes: 19

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