For most of us, there comes a point when it’s time let the bikes hibernate for a couple months. With snow on the ground and salt on the roads, I inevitably turn inward to projects in the shop and ways to keep my motorcycle itch at bay. When shop time gives way to home time, one way I help water the plant of my motorcycle enthusiasm is through some of my favorite motorcycle films.
My go-to list is a mix of documentaries and features, many of which are probably already familiar to most of you, but hopefully I can introduce you to a few you haven’t seen yet. So let’s start with the obvious:
On Any Sunday
If you haven’t seen On Any Sunday, it’s a fun, fascinating look into mainstream motorcycle culture of the early ’70s. In this film you can see the roots of what motorcycling has become today. If you have seen it, watch it again. It’s a gem. Best of all, On Any Sunday is a great way to introduce non-motorcycle people to so much of what makes riding great. If that’s not enough to get you onboard, two words: Steve McQueen.
Long Way Round
The ultimate real-life buddy movie, LWR follows Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman as they ride a pair of BMW GS Adventure motorcycles from London to New York City via continental Europe, Mongolia, Russia and other unexpected places. This series is a great look at what adventure travel can be. It’s also probably the single greatest piece of motorcycle product placement in history. BMW have sold a LOT of R-series GS motorcycles thanks to Ewan and Charlie. Once you work through Long Way Round, check out Long Way Down, Ewan and Charlie’s follow-up adventure from the top of Scotland to the southern tip of Africa. Both are currently available on Netflix and Hulu for online streaming.
The pinnacle of motorcycle racing is MotoGP. Imagine the performance envelope and wheel-to-wheel action of Formula 1 with almost none of the safety structures. In Faster, director Mark Neale goes behind the scenes of the ultimate motorsport during perhaps its most fascinating recent period: the meteoric rise of Valentino Rossi. Follow up with Mark’s MotoGP sequel documentary, Fastest. Then for extra credit, watch Charge, Mark Neale’s look into electric motorcycle racing at the Isle of Man TT.
The World’s Fastest Indian
Enough documentaries. It’s time for a proper movie. Sir Anthony Hopkins portrays New Zealand’s own Burt Munro, the man who at what most would consider the end his life started breaking land speed records on a motorcycle of his own creation. The World’s Fastest Indian is one of those movies like Apollo 13 where even though you know the story going into it, you can’t help but get sucked into the story and pull for Burt as he goes streaking across the salt. You can also find this gem on Netflix for streaming right now.
On paper this is a movie that shouldn’t work. Dawson gets a cancer diagnosis and hits the road on an old Norton for what might be his last chance at adventure. Yet this has become one of my absolute favorite films period, let alone motorcycle films. If you only had one week to live, what would you do?
On Any Sunday: The Next Chapter
Just a few weeks ago a bunch of us got together to see a new generation of motorcycle documentary on the big screen. This time it was Bruce Brown’s son, Dana Brown who gave us a fresh look inside today’s world of weekend riding. While others have tried, no one has yet captured the magic of what On Any Sunday touched on back in 1971. Yet The Next Chapter did exactly that. It’s a worthy heir, and it’ll be out on Blu-Ray soon.