Famous Bikers

Famous bikers and their machines - kings, princes and celebrity film stars - past and present - and their motorcycles

For some strange reason motorcycles have always attracted people of certain qualities. Diverse in many ways, these people share a common bond of freedom, adventure and a certain esprit de corps. Without wasting any further words, let’s move on to discover some of the more well known bikers and where possible, learn a little about them.

(Put your cursor on a photo to stop the carousel and see who the famous bikers are)
The Famous Bikers

  • King Albert II of Belgium: A lifelong motorcyclist and owner of a collection of bikes.
  • Dan Ackroyd: Movie star and comic. Dan rides a Harley Davidson.
  • Duane Allman: Well known guitarist who played on Clapton's 'Layla' rode and was killed on a BSA Rocket in the early 1970s.
  • Douglas Bader: He lost his legs in a flying accident in the 1930s and re-joined the RAF as an operational pilot at the outbreak of WWII. He developed the ‘Big Wing’ formation of air defence and was the subject of the book and movie ‘Reach for the Sky’ where his character was played by Kenneth More who is seen riding and crashing a Douglas Dragonfly.
  • Charley Boorman: Actor, writer and son of movie director John Boorman, rode a BMW around the world with his friend Ewan McGregor.
  • Marlon Brando: Oscar winning actor rode his own Triumph 650 Thunderbird in the movie 'The Wild One'.
  • Nicholas Cage: Actor, rides Moto Guzzis.
  • Sir Malcolm Cambell: General speed freak and holder of many speed records of his time on land, air and water. He won three gold medals in the London-Edinburgh motorcycle trials as a young man. Father of Donald Cambell who died in his famous Bluebird boat whilst trying to set a new speed record on Coniston Water in the UK.
  • Capt. Kurt Carlsen: Who in the 1950s stuck to his ship ‘The Flying Enterprise’ as it sank under him after nearly two weeks of struggling to keep her afloat. The ship was reported to have his Sunbeam S7 aboard when it sank.
  • Sir Francis Chichester: First solo round the world yachtsman and early aviator of note. "To a man of adventure, a map is a window to adventure. Life is an adventure or nothing at all". He rode a motorcycle around New Zealand
  • Charles 'Pete' Conrad Jr: Astronaut, died in 1999 in California as a result of a motorcycle accident.
  • Glenn H Curtiss: Founder of Curtiss Motorcycle Corporation. Glenn designed built and rode a V8 motorcycle on the Florida beaches in the early 1900s at a speed of 136 mph. Also an early aviator and aircraft designer.
  • Roald Dahl: Well known as a fighter pilot (flying Hurricanes) during WWII and later as an author of children’s books and the famous TV series ‘Tales of the Unexpected’.
  • Daniel Day Lewis: Bike mad Oscar winner Day-Lewis, who is a regular celebrity guest in the Moto GP paddock and regularly rides bikes such as Suzuki and Triumph. He is a big fan of Rossi and of the late IOM TT legend Joey Dunlop
  • James Dean: Rode a variety of bikes in public until he was signed up by the movie companies and they made it a part of the deal that he give up bikes. So he kept riding and hoped no-one would see him. He rode a Triumph in one of his early movies.
  • Peter Lang: Oscar winning veteran of the Welsh movie industry, renowned African explorer and self proclaimed mystic of the wizarding arts. He rode British bikes and broomsticks.
  • Jay Leno: Famous TV personality and owner of what is probably one of the largest and finest collections of motor vehicles anywhere in the world today. Jay regularly rides motorcycles around his home town of Malibu.
  • Charles A Lindbergh: Rode an Excelsior X of about 1919 vintage.
  • Mark Knopfler: Regularly rode a Honda in London traffic.
  • T.E. Lawrence: He was also known as Lawrence of Arabia and became famous for his military service during WW1. Many of his feats were made famous in the movie ‘Lawrence of Arabia’. T.E. Lawrence was also the author of the famous book, ‘Seven Pillars of Wisdom’ He owned no less than seven Brough Superiors (sometimes known as the Rolls Royce of motorcycles) in succession and was killed on the seventh before he was able to take delivery of his eighth.
  • Lee Marvin: Actor and star of many movies including 'Paint Your Wagon' and 'The Wild One' rode a Harley in the latter movie.
  • Steve McQueen: Famous actor and Oscar winner. He collected vintage and classic motorcycles, particularly Indians and was famous for doing his own motorcycle stunts in such movies as ‘The Great Escape', 'Bullitt', 'Le Mans' and ‘On Any Sunday’. He used to compete in desert races on a 650 Triumph.
  • Ewan McGregor: Actor and star of the 'Star Wars' movies, rode around the world and made a TV documentary series about it.
  • Prince Michael of Kent: A lifelong biker and BMW fan. In 2005, Prince Michael took part in a section of the White Knights Motorcycle Rally in Russia, starting from Vladivostok and finishing in St Petersburg.
  • Liam Neeson: Actor, famous for the movie ‘Schindlers List’ rides mostly Harley Davidsons. In 2000 he fractured his pelvis after hitting a deer while riding his 1989 Harley-Davidson motorcycle in Connecticut. He was thrown off the motorcycle just before it smashed into a nearby tree.
  • George Orwell: Author of ‘Animal Farm’, ‘1984’ and other books. Orwell rode a 499cc Rudge Whitworth and 350 Royal Enfield for many years.
  • Jennifer Patterson: Co-star of the well known cookery series ‘Two Fat Ladies’. Jennifer was a lifelong biker and in the TV series, rode a Triumph Thunderbird and Watsonian Jubilee sidecar.
  • Elvis Presley: Rode both Harleys and Japanese bikes.
  • Keanu Reeves: Actor and star of too many movies to name. Currently rides Harley Davidsons and bent a Norton some years ago.
  • Sir Ralph Richardson: Famous actor. Rode a Norton Dominator in his early days and later changed to a variety of BMWs.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger: Rode a Harley Fatboy in the Terminator movies and also rides Harleys in real life.
  • Gene Vincent: Bought a Triumph motorcycle with the money from a re-enlistment bonus from the US navy and gained his famous limp when he crashed it a few months later. He wrote 'Race with the Devil' and 'Be Bop A Lula' in his hospital bed whilst recovering from the accident.
  • Prince William: Elder son of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. He learned to ride on a Kawasaki and has ridden a Yamaha XT600, Triumph Daytona 600, Blackbird and Yamaha R1
  • King Edward VIII: rode a bike across Belgium.
  • Dwight D Eisenhower: used to test ride motorcycles coast to coast for the US army.
  • Dick Emery: Comic actor rode a variety of bikes, including a very early Honda CB750 K1.
  • George Formby: Actor, comic, singer and musician of the early 1900s when the world was in black and white. George’s trademark was his ukelele and one of his most well known songs was ‘When I’m Cleanin’ Windows’. He rode an AJS in the movie ‘No Limits’ and in real life, rode a 500cc Norton International.
  • Peter Fonda: Rode a Harley chopper in the movie 'Easy Rider'.
  • Clarke Gable: Actor, Oscar winner and star of 'Gone with the Wind', rode Harleys and Indians in the 1940s.
  • King George VI: Rode a Douglas Dragonfly at university and also sponsored early Brooklands racers.
  • Che Guevara: Rode a 1939 500cc Norton motorcycle across South America. The 1952 journey is recounted in the book and film 'The Motorcycle Diaries'.
  • Larry Hagman: Actor and star of TV show ‘Dallas’ rides a Harley.
  • Dennis Hopper: Actor and star of many movies including ‘Easy Rider’.
  • Robert Hughes: Art Critic and historian. In the early seventies, he used to ride a gold Honda CB750 - 4 K1.
  • Howard Hughes: Famous eccentric multi-millionaire, aircraft designer, airline owner and industrialist. Hughes designed the famous ‘Spruce Goose’ aircraft at the behest of the US Government, produced the movie ‘Hells Angels’ in the 1930s and was a keen desert rider.
  • Jeremy Irons: Actor and lifelong biker. Now rides mostly touring motorcycles, particularly BMWs.
  • Buddy Holly: Rode Harleys and Ariels.
  • King Hussein of Jordan: Owner, collector and keen rider of classic motorcycles and superbikes.

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