NJMP Vintage Motorcycle Festival – Ya Shoulda Been There!

A couple of weeks ago we talked about just a few of the highlights on our list of “Don’t Dare Miss” regional Vintage Bike Events. Last weekend we got to attend one of the the bigger ones on the list.  New Jersey Motorsports Park, in Millville, NJ,  was the site of NJMP’s Annual Vintage Motorcycle Festival. Held in conjunction with a full card of American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association (AHRMA) races,


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this event, in just its second year is still finding its legs, but nonetheless represents a great opportunity to celebrate the sights, sounds, and smells of vintage bikes.

The NJMP Vintage Bike Festival offers a complete menu of bike centric activities including a swap meet and a bike show presented by our friends at Motorcycle Classics magazine. Despite a substantial rainfall that dampened Friday’s activities, when we visited on Saturday bright sunny skies prevailed. In talking with attendees it was clear that this second event far surpassed the initial edition just one year ago and easy proximity to Philadelphia, New York, and Baltimore should only allow the event to grow substantially in the future. Here’s hoping that’s exactly what happens and that we retain an important event on the vintage bike calendar right here in the Northeast corridor.  We thought we’d share just a few photos from the weekend.


AHRMA offers a wide variety of competition classes for just about any vintage race bike you can think of. Learn more at http://dev.ahrma.org/



Sidecars, while a little “off the beaten path,” offer plenty of excitement.


Start of a sidecar competition.


Track rides, held during the lunch break, offer a measure of on-track excitement for "civilians."

Track rides, held during the lunch break, offer a certain measure of excitement for “civilians.”


The Vintage Bike Show, hosted by Motorcycle Classics Magazine was a treat. Here a Honda Sport 50 backed up by a Montgomery Wards (Benelli) that may likely have been purchased from a mail order catalog “back in the day.”



BSA 250 Starfire, circa perhaps 1968,  paired with a modern Triumph.


The parking area at big vintage bike events like NJMP are always full of interesting bikes.

The parking area at big vintage bike events like NJMP are always full of interesting bikes.


Swap meets sometimes offer the opportunity to uncover hidden treasures. Or not.

Swap meets sometimes offer the opportunity to uncover hidden treasures. Or not.

If you missed the NJMP Vintage Motorcycle Festival then you missed a good one. Hopefully we’ll see a “Third Annual” when 2015 calendars are issued in the fall!


Coming up next on our personal calendar:  Vintage Motorcycle Daze in Blue  Bell, Pa on August 9nd The Martin Moto Modern Classics Ride-In on August 30 in Boyertown. Keep ridng ’em, don’t hide ’em.

Vintage Bike Events We Don’t Want To Miss This Summer!

As I write this, the weather-guessers are predicting 90+ degree temperatures for the next several days. Without a shadow of a doubt, summer has definitely arrived. While you may have (as we do) a long list of warm weather household/family projects on your to-do list here’s hoping that in between power washing the deck, trimming the hedge, and carting the kids to their T-Ball tournament you can peel away for a weekend or two and attend some of the great vintage and classic motorcycle events in our region. Spread out over the entire summer, here are a few events that we dare not miss in 2014.


Triumph National Rally   Oley, Pa   June 27-29


This long-running event (formerly known as the Triumph Come Home Rally) celebrates its 21st year in 2014. A huge event that takes place over three days, The Triumph National Rally is friendly to all British Marques. This year the featured category is competition bikes. If you are a Brit Bike fan then you should plan on spending an entire weekend being entertained by the Swap Meet, Bike Shows, Poker Run and more. Need more info? Go to www.triumphnationalrally.com





New Jersey Motorsports Park Vintage Motorcycle Festival   July 11-13   Millville, NJ.

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Sponsored by New Jersey Motorsports Park, AHRMA, Will Stoner Swapmeets, and Motorcycle Classics magazine, the second edition of the New Jersey Motorsports Park Vintage Motorcycle Festival goes down Friday July 11 through Sunday July 13.
The event takes place at New Jersey Motorsports Park, 8000 Dividing Creek Road in Millville. Gates open at 8:00 am each day.  The event includes racing, an all-brands swapmeet, and a bike show. AHRMA Vintage motorcycle racing serves as the anchore for the entire event, featuring competition in over 20 categories. There will also be a bike show for classics vintage motorcycles produced by Motorcycle Classics Magazine



Vintage Motorcycle Daze   August 9   Blue Bell, Pa.

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Now in its fourth year, Vintage Motorcycle Daze is a one-day ride-in, show, and swap meet originally created by the two-stroke enthusiasts from the oily pipes motorcycle club.  Open to bikes from 1988 and earlier, the show has grown in both attendance and quality each of the first three years. We expect more of the same in 2014. The event runs one day only from 10am until 4 pm.  Need more info or have questions? Email the organizers at oilypipes@gmail.com  vmd 2012 153

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Modern Classics Ride-In   August 30   Boyertown, Pa.



Our Modern Classics show here at Martin Moto has proven extremely popular and has developed a very positive reputation throughout the region. One year ago we decided to supplement our “cold weather” show with a warm weather vintage bike ride-in event just about six months out of phase with the March show. This year the Modern Classics ride-in will be held on Saturday, August 30th. We welcome vintage bikes of any brand, and any genre to this fun day long event. Stay tuned to our website www.modernclassicsbikeshow.com for more details as the event gets nearer.




Radnor Hunt Concours d’Elegance   September 14   Malvern, Pa.


For 2014 the very high profile Radnor Concours will again honor motorcycles along with a stunning collection of historically significant automobiles.

On the car side the show will feature the “Classic Chryslers,” a class including 1920s and 1930s era cars, especially custom bodied examples of that era. The “Formula One Grid” class will include samples of the highest level of motorsport from the past century and recent past. “Powered by Ford” will include any classic vehicle that has a Ford engine, so this class will include Sunbeam Tiger, DeTomaso Mangusta, Shelby Cobra and TVR Griffith.

This year the motorcycle division features HRD Vincent, a British manufacturer associated with models such as the Black Shadow which was the fastest production model available at that time. Also featured will be Brough Superior, often referred to as the “Rolls Royce of Motorcycles”, which was the favored ride of T.E. Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia. The third featured class this year will be “Under 250CC Bikes Prior to 1974″ opening up this class to a wide variety of bikes with smaller displacement engines.

Lots more info about the Sunday Concours as well as other associated events throughout the weekend at http://radnorconcours.org/



Radnor Brough

If these five events over the next 90 days aren’t sufficient to satisfy your need for a vintage bike  “fix” then you may have to venture further afield.  In the meantime how about finishing up with cleaning the windows so that you can escape for one or more of these great shows!

Enjoy the summer. And ride safe!

Some Pics from the Cannon Ball Baker Centennial Ride Across America.


Back at the end of April we told the story of the then upcoming transcontinental ride to commemorate the record 11 1/2 day crossing of the U.S. on a 7 hp Indian motorcycle by Erwin “Cannon Ball” Baker. In the interest of following up and closing the loop here are just a few pictures from that event which began on May 3 in San Diego.  Event organizer, and 1972 Daytona 200 winner, Don Emde was joined by 27 ocean-to-ocean riders.


Cannon Ball Centennial Ride organizer Don Emde and his Yamaha Super Tenere.


The first day on the road brought the group to California’s Imperial Dunes.


105 degree heat and soft sand challenged the Cannon Ball Centennial Riders but probably not as much as they challenged Cannon Ball Baker a hundred years earlier. This shot near Glamis, Ca.


More off road sections challenged on the 2nd and 3rd days of the trip, now in Arizona.


The Apache Trail through the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix is probably the least changed part of Baker’s original route.


US Route 60 between Globe and Show Low, Az near the Salt River Canyon.



Through the middle part of the 1800s The Santa Fe Trail was a key route for Westward expansion. In 1914 it provided Baker with a clearly marked trail for over a thousand miles.




Now east of the mountains, the riders’ world begins to flatten out into the Plains.


It may be flat, but it’s also pretty windy most days.


Cannon Ball Centennial riders entering Kansas.


After St. Louis Baker, and his 2014 followers, followed the Historic National Road (now generally marked as US-40) all the way through, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and West Virginia, and into SW Pennsylvania.


In Ohio the group visited the AMA Hall of Fame Museum. Kind of a homecoming for a couple of riders (including trip leader Emde) who have been elected as Hall of Fame members.



Through much of Pennsylvania and on through New Jersey and into New York, Baker followed the famous Lincoln Highway.


Despite being a major trunk road, U.S. 30, or the Lincoln Highway, is a great riding road in the western half of Pa.

Group-end ride CW

Over 3000 miles later. Cannon Ball Centennial Riders gather at the foot of Manhattan after their cross continent trek. With the Statue of Liberty in the background, Emde and the others hold a picture of Baker upon his arrival a century earlier, to the day.

An exclusive conversation with Motus President Lee Conn.


Like many of you, we at Martin Moto have anxiously awaited the arrival of the stunning American V4 Sport Tourers from Motus. What’s not to be excited about? A comfy V4 powered sport tourer with a 100% American Pedigree manufactured in the great state of Alabama. We’ve seen, touched, and heard (but not ridden) both the MST and MST-R versions and we definitely like what we see.

Lee Conn. President and Co-Founder at Motus.

Lee Conn. President and Co-Founder at Motus.

As a Motus dealer we recently had the opportunity to corral Lee Conn, President and Co-Founder at Motus and ask him a few questions that have long been on our mind. Here’s some of what he had to say.


Q.   It’s reasonable to assume that your own personal riding experiences would impact the product decisions made during the course of Motus development. Can you tell us a bit about your own riding history?

A.   Sure. As far as bikes, I’ve had a bunch over the years: ’66 HD Sprint, Yamaha SECA 750, Guzzi Sport 1100 (carb), 1992 Sportster 883 (later bored to 1200), Fat Boy, Road King, V-Rod, Honda RC51, Aprilia RSV1000RR, Honda CBR600RR track bike, 1929 Douglas 600, 1928 HD Peashooter, 1926 Indian Prince 350, Yamaha YSR’s, 1986 GSXR 750, etc.

But, it isn’t all about the bikes, it’s about the ride. We live in Birmingham, at the very tail of the Appalachians, and love to ride up into the mountains for a few days (with or without our wives). At this point in our lives, we like to go fast, but we also like to go far. That’s why we built the MST’s that are comfortable sportbikes with accommodations for touring. They’re great on the unavoidable highway stretches, but really shine in the twisties.

072313-2014-motus-mst-04-583x389Q.   Early on, did you do substantial market research? If so, would it be possible to share what you know about the typical Motus purchase intender?

A.   Since the start, we’ve had a clear vision of what our motorcycles are, but yes, we’ve kept learning all along the way including a recent comprehensive poll of fans considering the purchase of a Motus. Early on, research helped confirm we were on track with the concept and helped dial in the optimal feature set- things like wheelbase, engine configuration, fuel tank size, wet weight, etc. Later research helped us understand our customers better in terms of their other hobbies, what they ride, drive, overall demographics, etc.

DSCN7633Q.   For a couple of years now, the motorcycle journalist community has held up bikes like the BMW K1600GT, Triumph Trophy, and Yamaha FJR as benchmarks in the sport-tourer community. What competitive products did you utilize as key benchmarks during the Motus Development process? Why?

A.   While we benchmarked certain performance characteristics and specs of many bikes, we mostly focused on building the best possible machine for the kind of riding we love to do. We studied bikes considered to be the most comfortable, most sporty, etc, but in the end, the Motus was designed to be crazy fun from 20-90mph and comfortable for long days of riding. Almost as important, we wanted our bikes to have a specific, unique character that is simultaneously bad-ass and refined. A real hot rod, but comfortable and practical.

072313-2014-motus-mstr-14-583x389Q.   Tourers and Sport-Tourers are often quite heavily outfitted with accessories. Have you actively worked with any aftermarket firms to facilitate the fitment of popular after-sale “farkles” like windscreens, luggage, seats, exhaust systems, etal?

A.   Great question. I’ve spent plenty of cash over the years fixing annoyances with mass produced bikes, so this is near and dear to me. Why not just design, engineer and equip build bikes with components that are not intended to be replaced immediately? Seems really wasteful to throw out parts when the manufacturer could have just offered a better product from the factory. At Motus, we don’t cut corners to save every penny. We engineer and build the best possible components to make the riding and ownership experience the best it can be. So, yeah, we’ve worked closely on the front end of the design/ engineering cycles with great companies like Sargent, Akropovic, Helibars, National Cycle, BST, OZ Racing, etc. Using the finest components makes our bikes more expensive, but when we can really discuss the value and attention to detail we are adding with this approach, most riders “get it”.

DSCN7635Q.  Because we all know that it can take literally years to bring products to market, are you currently looking at future Motus variants which could possibly appear in the marketplace 3, 4, or five years from now? Perhaps a “naked” version or a pure sportbike?

A.   We cannot confirm, nor deny other ongoing projects, but for now, we are focused on building comfortable American sportbikes.

motus-mstr-salt-01Q.   As you move close to production, perhaps one thing that will be on the mind of buyers is insurance. Have you been in contact with the insurance industry or any of the leading motorcycle insurers like Progressive, Foremost, or Geico regarding rating classifications or rates?

A.   Yes, Dairyland Cycle Insurance has approved Motus and we’ll get approved by other insurers prior to motorcycles shipping to the public. It’s a relatively simple process.


Dennis Martin astride the Motus MST-R

Q.   Motorcycle warranties seem to be all over the map. The Japanese offerings are most often one year, Triumph and others are two, and BMW is three years or 36,000 miles. Can you share what you anticipate for Motus Warranty Coverage?

A.   At Motus we’ll offer a 24 month warranty with unlimited miles.

072313-2014-motus-mst-10-583x389Q.   You’ve recently spent literally thousands of miles in the saddle while riding the Motus production validation units from coast to coast. In that time I’m sure you’ve developed some very strong feelings about the bike. When potential customers finally get the opportunity to ride a Motus for the first time, what is the one thing that you anticipate will most “surprise and delight” them?

A.   People comment on how satisfying a Motus is to ride. On the street, many high performance bikes can be more frustrating than fun, with power that is not really accessible on typical roads. We’ve worked hard to make the Motus excel for its intended use and from 20-90mph, there isn’t much around like it.

072313-2014-motus-mst-r-fAs you can see from Lee’s thoughtful answers, the gang at Motus has a clear vision of the bike they intend to bring to market and is currently focused on that singular task. Lee’s  a real rider who has surrounded himself with a team of like minded individuals and we all look forward to the time, hopefully in the next few months, when we can see, ride, and purchase production versions of the MST and MST-R. Hats off to Motus for all their hard work in bringing this mega cool product to the streets of the USA! Stay tuned! When there are further developments we’ll be prepared to immediately share.




Cannon Ball Baker Centennial Ride Across America!

As motorcyclists, most of us realize that riding is a key that that opens the door to any number of life’s great adventures. Now I’ve managed to get myself invited to participate in yet another.

But first a little history. A century ago, in 1914, America’s first transcontinental route, The Lincoln Highway was just a year old. The US auto industry was already spitting out about  a half million cars per year and area east of the Mississippi was pretty well served by improved roadways. West of the big muddy it was a very different story. “Roads” often meant little more than trails. Fuel was only marginally available, if at all. And driving from coast to coast was an adventure of the first magnitude. Imagine the challenge of making that trip on a motorcycle.


Enter a young fellow by the name of Erwin Baker. In the spring of 1914 Baker, a motorcycle racer and enthusiast from Indianapolis, Indiana, had already developed a certain reputation for cross country speed records. On the morning of May 3rd of that year he set out from San Diego, California on a 7 hp, twin cylinder Indian bound for the east coast. Just 11 1/2 days later he arrived in New York City. At the time this was the fastest that anyone, in or on anything, had made their way across the continental USA. A New York journalist obviously impressed by his adventure tagged Baker with a nickname of “Cannon Ball,” which stuck with him the rest of his life. Yup, this was THE Cannon Ball Baker!


1457574_761878573824141_2118851008_nA California friend, Don Emde, who has a pretty substantial racing history himself (suggest you google it) , has spent the past couple of years researching the exact route that Baker followed on his epic ride. To the degree possible, he’s identified every road, trail, and cow path along Baker’s 1914 route. This Saturday, May 3rd, on exactly the 100th anniversary of the Baker trip, Emde and a group of invited riders will roll out of San Diego and head eastward in commemoration of Baker’s 1914 ride. Aboard a variety of modern bikes, the group will duplicate each day of Baker’s ride, with overnight stops at the locations where Baker took his rest following each riding day.


Lots of roads like this over the first several days through the desert southwest!

So I managed to get invited to participate in this little jaunt and I’ll be heading to San Diego tomorrow. Here’s a few details of the route we’ll be following. Of special interest is that the route takes us through Pennsylvania on Monday and Tuesday, May 12th and 13th with the Tuesday evening overnight stop nearby in Malvern, Pa. Come on out and meet the group! And stay tuned for more details and trip reports as the event plays out!


Friday, May 2, 2014 • 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. – Sign-in / Show & Tell / CBCR bike and vendor displays / Rider’s Meeting • Cycle Visions, 4263 Taylor St., San Diego 92110 (Old Town area of San Diego)

Saturday, May 3, 2014 • 8:00 a.m. Opening ceremonies / group photo at Sunroad Resort Marina, 955 Harbor Island Dr., San Diego 92101. Ride begins at 9:00 a.m. sharp. Destination: Hilton Garden Inn, Yuma , AZ • 6:00 p.m. Yuma Welcome Reception and Ranch BBQ, Yuma Prison Museum, Yuma, AZ – Tickets still available $50 per person.


Sunday, May 4, 2014 • 9:00 a.m. Depart Hilton Garden Inn for Mesa, AZ.

Monday, May 5, 2014 • 9:00 a.m. Depart for Socorro, NM.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014 • 9:00 a.m. Depart for Santa Fe, NM.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014 • 7:30 a.m. Depart for Dodge City, KS.

Thursday, May 8, 2014 • 9:00 a.m. Depart for Kansas City, KS.

Friday, May 9, 2014 • 9:00 a.m. Depart for St. Louis via Lexington, MO • 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. – Lunch for CBCR riders at Donelson’s Cycle in St. Ann, MO. 3:00 p.m. Depart for Greenville, IL.

Saturday, May 10, 2014 • 9:00 a.m. Depart for Indianapolis, IN.

Sunday, May 11, 2014 • 9:00 a.m. Depart for Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We will then depart for a quick stop at the Baker family plot at the nearby Crown Hill Cemetery. Destination: Reynoldsburg, OH

Monday, May 12, 2014 • 8:30 a.m. – Ride to the AMA headquarters and Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum for tour of the museum • Depart 10:00 a.m. We have been invited by K&C Cycle, the Yamaha dealer in Hebron, OH to make a coffee stop on our way east out of Columbus on U.S. 40. Depart for Greensburg, PA.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014 • 9:00 a.m. Depart for Malvern, PA.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014 • 7:30 a.m. – Depart for Manhattan. 11:00-11:30 a.m. Arrive at Battery Park for a patio lunch at the Battery Gardens Restaurant.We will then proceed from Battery Park and ride from Manhattan north to the town of Newburgh. Destination:  Newburgh, NY

Thursday, May 15, 2014 • Motorcyclepedia Museum: 250 Lake St., Newburgh, NY 12550

Learn lots more about the ride at www.cannonballproject.com




Motorcycle Photography – Mr. Inside, Mr Outside.

Each year at Martin Moto, immediately following the widely acclaimed Modern Classics Motorcycle Show (www.modernclassicsbikeshow.com),  we publish a book that serves to document the hundred or so magnificent bikes as seen in our show. Creating that book is a not inconsiderable task and, of course, a key element is the photography performed by our resident photo artist, Joseph Luppino (http://pixelnation.us/) The staging, lighting and overall creation of  Joe’s museum quality shots of the show bikes is facilitated by the professional quality studio that has been created inside the Martin Moto showroom. And static photography of the visually fascinating and detail-rich motorcycles is one key way of capturing the beauty and excitement of the motorcycling sport.


Joe Luppino at work in the Martin Moto bike studio.

The studio yields shots like this.

Photo work in the studio yields beautiful shots like this.


However, static photos are but one way to capture motorcycle imagery. We’ve also had the opportunity to work with other professional photographers who choose to venture beyond the studio in an attempt to capture machines at speed, in their more natural riding environment. Like these shots courtesy of our New Zealand friend Bruce Jenkins  (www.brucejenkins.co.nz)

Bonneville Speed Week 2013.

At Speed at the Bonneville Salt Flats.


Road Racing Kiwi Style.

We’ve had the chance to talk to both of these talented guys and pick their brains about both the similarities and differences in the two approaches. Not surprisingly, its more complicated than simply, Mr. Inside/Mr. Outside. And yet there are similarities. Both artists talk about composition – how to most effectively frame the image. In the studio there are a multitude of angles available. High. Low. Left. Right. and so forth. At the track those same considerations apply but there is SO much more. Which corner? With what background? One bike alone? Several? Lighting, obviously, also comes into play. At the track the challenge is to deal with ever changing natural light. In the studio lighting is a variable that can be controlled and managed. Then there are the camera settings that must be managed – like shutter speed. At the track we may wish to shoot at a high shutter speed in order to “stop” the speeding bike or perhaps we wish to create the illusion of speed by panning and allowing the background to become slightly blurred. Like this example.

Moderate shutter speed with a blurred background yields the illusion of speed.

Moderate shutter speed can yield a blurred background and the illusion of speed.

On the other hand, studio work, by definition, involves stationary objects and camera settings like shutter speed and f-stop can be selected for other considerations like depth of field and level of detail. As seen here. BMW R69s 2013

Another major difference is lens size or magnification. In the studio the bike is never more than 6-8 feet away from the lens. At the track , or in the field, bikes can be quite distant and are, of course, a great deal smaller than cars. And yet, while studio work for magazine covers and such may sometimes require larger format gear, according to Jenkins, “the majority of that sort of work can be shot with same gear that I take to the race tracks.”

The fact is that, while these two guys tend to specialize in either studio work or field work, they each have experience with, and a passion for,  the other discipline. And they both love shooting motorcycles because they are motorcyclists at heart. Bruce’s connection to bikes goes way back.

Likewise for Joe who is a rider of many years’ experience. And both are fascinated by the richness and diversity of technical details to be found in motorcycles as well as the dynamic character of motorcycles at speed, with both riders and bikes offering a much wider range of movement and action than can ever be seen in cars.


Motorsports photographer (and motorcyclist) Bruce Jenkins “back in the day.”


Whether you love motorcycles for their inherent beauty or for their speed, performance, and dynamics there are great photographers ready to capture that feeling and offer you photos that will fuel your enthusiasm. We love bikes for all those reasons and greatly appreciate the variety work of our talented friends in capturing that imagery. And we are hugely supportive of these hard working souls who endeavor every day, each in their own unique way,  to capture the magic that is motorcycling.




Motorcycle Movies. Why We Ride is One of Our New Favorites, But There Are Others !

Why ride

Now through Dec 28th, at Martin Moto, we’re offering continuous showings of  Why We Ride. This widely acclaimed feature length film is now in simultaneous (limited) theater and DVD/BluRay release. It’s a contemporary 90 min celebration of the joy of motorcycling as told by the participants. Why We Ride offers great visuals and back-stories from all the the different motorcycling “clans” – from hillclimbs, to dragracing, to insane top speeds at Bonneville and all the nooks and crannies in between. Road riders too! It’s clearly a “don’t miss” for any, and every, motorcycling enthusiast. The gauntlet now being thrown down is this. Is Why We Ride the best motorcycle motorcycle ever? Some have labelled it so, others not so much. For that assessment I’ll let you be the judge. You can seen the theatrical trailer here

And, of course, you can come by Martin Moto and have a look. We even supply the popcorn!

Movies based around motorcycling or motorcycle themes are a hardy perennial in the film world. We offer no real explanation except to surmise that perhaps bikes combine action and danger in a way that holds some elemental appeal to Hollywood producers. And the film-going public.  Likewise for leading men. Did you know that Marlon Brando, Jack Nicholson, Robert Redford, Steve McQueen, and Anthony Hopkins have all, at one time or another, taken on starring roles as motorcyclists?

Why We Ride may, or may not, ultimately be acclaimed as the best motorcycling movie ever. However, we certainly rank it in our own personal “Top Ten.” We thought we’d share the other nine that are on our list. These are all movies we like. A lot! Here you have ’em, in no particular order.

On SundayWe might as well start with what we view as the the “Big Dog” of motorcycle enthusiast movies, On Any Sunday. This timeless 1971 classic from director Bruce Brown (“Endless Summer”) adopts a documentary format while, like Why We Ride, attempting to blanket the many facets of the motorcycle sport. On Any Sunday does a great job covering the exploits of AMA Grand National Champion Mert Lawill, as well as some recreational rider/amateur desert racer by the name of Steve McQueen (who also help to produce the film.) If you’ve never seen it, you’ve missed a lot.

Easy RiderReleased a couple of years earlier than On Any Sunday in 1969, Easy Rider  told the story of a couple of counterculture bikers’ (Director Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda) transcontinental ride, on custom choppers, in search of “America.” A quintessential product of the 60s, Easy Rider gave a great big nod to the “sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll” feel of the era. In the end, however, it all turns out badly for Captain America, Billy, and their riding buddy “George,” played by a then young Jack Nicholson. Nominated for a couple of Academy Awards, Easy Rider has also earned a place in the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry of those films deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

Wild oneIn 1947 some bikers kinda tore up Hollister, California and earned global notoriety for themselves, and bikers everywhere, by getting pictures of their “festivities” published in Life magazine. Then, sixty years ago this week, on Dec 30, 1973, Columbia Pictures released The Wild One. Starring Marlon Brando, The Wild One paid homage to the Hollister “riot.” In this imaginative version of the story a dark and brooding Johnny (Brando) and his motorcycle gang, the Black Rebels rough up the fictional town of Wrightsville. Brando’s portrayal of Johnny became an icon for the “black leather” clad biker for decades to come. And Triumph’s got lot’s of play in the film including Johnny’s Thunderbird. Campy but entertaining.

QuadroReleased in 1979, Quadrophenia is a Brit non musical film very loosely based on The Who’s album (and rock opera) of the same name. Set in the mid 60s, Quadrophenia tracks the (mis) adventures of disaffected London “Mod” Jimmy Cooper and his full dresser Lambretta scooter. Like Easy Rider, the film is true to the 60s ethos of “sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll.” Quadrophenia features the requisite seaside brawl between the Mods and the Rockers as well as a featured role for english musician Sting as The Ace Face, defacto leader of the Mods.  And, of course, scooters for our Mods and proper bikes for the Black Leather and Pompadour sporting Rockers. Entertaining but dark.

Great escapeThe Great Escape isn’t actually a motorcycle movie. Rather, it’s a WWII movie with a motorcycle, or actually a motorcycle ride, as it’s signature scene. Steve McQueen (yeah, him again) plays an allied POW who spends the greater part of the movie scheming an escape from his German captors. Without divulging too much of the story, he manages to end up outside the Stalag walls aboard a German motorcycle (actually a Triumph, badly made-over as a BMW) that he has filched. A chase ensues and between McQueen and his stand in/buddy Bud Ekins, they create both an epic chase but a truly famous jump over some fencing. The movie was one of the the highest grossing film of 1963 and the motorcycle chase scenes are never to be forgotten.

Little_Fauss_and_Big_HalsyReleased in the fall of 1970, Little Fauss and Big Halsey ,was in theaters only a few months out of phase with On Any Sunday. What a time to be a Motorcycle movie-goer! LF&BH is a little movie, with a big cast that didn’t really make much impact in it’s day but has a semi-cult kind of following today. Redford starred as a womanizing cad who was always on the verge of getting the next “big deal” or “factory ride.” Pollard, just a couple of years after snagging Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations for his portrayal of C.W. Moss in Bonnie and Clyde, was the plodding sidekick who ultimately makes good and kick’s Redford’s butt. The great desert and road race scenes went a long way toward making up for the failed character development and semi lame dialog. The film also came off as almost a paid advertisement for Yamaha with lots of on-screen time for its DT-1 Enduro and period road racers. Little Fauss & Big Halsey was also one on the first credited on-screen roles for then super-model Lauren Hutton. A genuine motorcycle enthusiast, Hutton made news in 2000 when she crashed he own motorcycle outside of Las Vegas and suffered sever injuries. Despite it’s liabilities, this film is solidly in our top ten.

Diaries2004’s The Motorcycle Diaries documents, in an extremely entertaining fashion, an epic 5000 mile South American motorcycle trek taken in 1952 by a youthful Ernesto “Che” Guevara. Yes, THAT Che Guevara! We learn much of his journey of discovery aboard a sad and abused 500cc Norton, the unsung star of the film. In the saddle of the Norton we watch as “Che” studies the plight of his people and the pain inflicted by social injustice. Was he converted into a marxist revolutionary during the course of that ride? Perhaps, but in any case it’s a compelling, well written, well acted piece that features an old motorcycle as one of its stars.. What could be better?

Fastest indianAcademy Award winner Anthony Hopkins has said that playing Burt Munro in The World’s Fastest Indian was his favorite role. That’s quite a claim from one of the world’s finest actors. But then, Burt was quite a character! In the 1960s, New Zealand motorcyclist Munro showed up at the Bonneville Salt Flats with a heavily modified and “home grown” 1920 Indian Scout Motorcycle with which he proposed to set speed records. And set them he did, several actually. Munro competed on the salt a total of nine times and one of the records that he set still stands. The movie depicts his struggles to compete with a 40+ year old motorcycle and a minimum of funds but with heart and determination seldom seen before or since. Great story, great acting. Just great all around!

tt3dThey’ve been racing motorcycles on the Isle of Man for over a century. Not on a dedicated racetrack but, rather, across 38 miles of the tiny island’s highways, closed to public use specifically for the occasion. Modern superbikes achieve 200 mph top speeds and lap the circuit at average speeds of over 130. This on a course lined, not by guardrail or hay bales but rather, by lampposts, hedges, curbs and stone fences. Suffice to say, its a very special circuit under attack by a cadre of very special riders. TT3D Closer to the Edge  was filmed at the 2010 edition of the famous Isle of Man TT. The “on bike” shots will give you a sense of the course and the participant interviews will leave you with a strong sense of the people who risk all to do such daring things. The DVD cover says it all. “Spectacular… Must See.” There are two things difficult about this movie. One is finding a version that will play on a US Spec DVD Player. The other is trying to understand Lincolnshire rider, and fan favorite, Guy Martin when he speaks with his heavy accent. Both difficulties are well worth putting up with! Must See. For sure.

“Top Ten” lists are a very personal thing. Maybe we missed some on your list. Maybe we just forgot some. In any case we’d like to hear the pics that you like the best. What do you think with our list. Were we even close??

There you have it. Our ten favorites