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The dead of winter is a good time to sit indoors and daydream about the glorious rides you’ll be taking in just a couple months. If your imagination needs a little help, here are some of our favorite motorcycle movies to get you excited for spring:
1. Loosely based on events surrounding the infamous 1947 Hollister, Calif., Gypsy Tour rally, The Wild One stars Marlon Brando as Johnny, a rebellious young punk with a Triumph, a black leather jacket and an attitude. A run in with a group of local vigilantes pits good against evil in a way that still lives on in Hollywood films today, even if Johnny and his gang seem pretty tame compared to many of the later biker movies of the Sixties. A classic that’s not to be missed, if you haven’t seen it, get it. You won’t be disappointed. Price: $8.98.
2. More than just a film about motorcycles, The World’s Fastest Indian is about heart and the extremes of man and machine. Anthony Hopkins plays the role of Burt Munro, the real-life Bonneville hero on whom the story is based. A great lesson of confidence, patience and perseverance, this is a film that even people who don’t ride can appreciate. It’s also probably the best one on this list to watch on a Saturday afternoon if the significant other is around, as they’ll probably enjoy it, too. Price: $29.95.
3.The Bruce Brown Moto Classics box set includes three separate DVDs covering the Baja 1000, the Hare & Hound, and the Ascot & Hopetown Classics. Unearthed from the Brown family vault, each DVD interweaves never-before-seen footage with new interviews and commentary. The Baja 1000 Classic features pro racers, movie stars and thrill seekers racing across the desert in a punishing test of man and motorcycle, while the Ascot & Hopetown Classic highlights cross-country racing in its infancy. Price: $44.99.
4. Evel Knievel was either an American hero, or he was just plain crazy — it depends on your point of view. Either way, Evel Knievel’s Spectacular Jumps highlights some of his most amazing feats (and tragedies). Though the DVD starts out with a bit too much talk (Evel explaining why he’s Evel), it’s an entertaining piece with footage of 11 of his most famous jumps, including the Caesar’s Palace crash and the mess that was the Snake River Canyon jump.
5. Quite possibly the most well-known motorcycle movie out there, Easy Rider, starring Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper, presents a great feel of a time and a place in American history (the movie’s tag line, after all, was “A man went looking for America and couldn’t find it anywhere…”). It also shares breathtaking views of the American West. Many of the motion scenes and the panoramic views were shot with the motorcycles traveling at around 25mph, which gives the scenery along the way an eerily good quality. Even if the story line isn’t your thing, the scenery makes it an entertaining piece. This is the movie editor Hall goes searching for when there’s snow on the ground and the next road trip is still a few months off. Price: $9.99.
6. On Any Sunday may be one of the most important motorcycle films out there, if only for the number of riders today who can point back to the movie as the inspiration for their interest in motorcycles. Released in 1971, this film introduced America to the many kinds of motorcycle racing by following stars like Mert Lawill and Malcolm Smith throughout the racing season. A classic in every respect, this film makes for a great afternoon of fun when you can’t be out riding. Price: $24.95.
7. The History of the TT: The Isle of Man Tourist Trophy Races 1907-2006 from Duke Video is a serious documentary. The DVD jacket states, “This is the definitive history of the world famous Isle of Man Tourist Trophy Races with coverage of all races from 1907 to 2006. Superb footage, interviews and narrative tell the story of the TT.” And when they say “definitive history,” they’re not kidding, as the film stretches to nearly four hours. It’s divided into eight chapters, and we’d recommend watching it in pieces. Otherwise, the sheer amount of history can get a little overwhelming. If you don’t like to read and truly want to be a student of the TT, we don’t know a better way. Price: $31.45.
8. While Long Way Down may not feature classic motorcycles, the idea of traveling and discovering by motorcycle is still enough to get our attention. Follow Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman as they travel from Scotland to South Africa via Europe and Africa aboard BMW R1200GS Adventure motorcycles. Price: $35.99.
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