Motorcycles on the Small Screen – Introduction

Mention the word motorcycle and images leap to mind ranging from leather-clad gang members with nothing but criminal intent to the rebellious, but honest soul who is simply misunderstood and trying to find his way through life. Generally speaking, these stereotypes aren’t born from personal experiences, but more from what the public has seen on both the big and small screen.

The writers and producers in the entertainment industry grew up with the same images and stereotypes as the rest of us, so essentially what we see on TV comes from how they feel about motorcycles and the people who ride them. So how has the motorcycle faired at the hands of the entertainment industry?

The image of the biker has been shaped and reshaped by Hollywood over the decades, being born on the big screen with the sensationalized ‘The Wild Ones’ starring Marlon Brando. The movie established the bad-boy biker stereotype which stayed with mainstream America, thanks in no small part to continuous stream of motorcycle gang B-movies that followed. That is until Dennis Hopper's 'Easyrider' presented a more introspective, philosophical rider to the general public in the late sixties.

How the movies shaped the popular opinion of the motorcyclist is covered with more detail in Clutch and Chrome’s 'The Outlaw Biker'. The focus of this article is a closer look at the entertainment industry’s fickleness and sometimes success of courting the motorcycle for a leading role in the television series.

Marlon Brando set the world's mood towards bikers when the movie 'The Wild Ones' debuted

Just as the movies used the motorcycle as a prop for an easy way to establish who a character is, television has always been quick to do the same. Looking for a group of men who are obviously up to no good, terrorizing a town which needs to be saved by the leading man, put them on motorcycles. Television show writers who require an ‘instant-bad boy’ the popular teenage star  shouldn’t be dating, mention he’s a biker, add an unshaven appearance and put him in the appropriate leathers.

But what about television’s efforts to make the motorcycle part of the show itself? For every time our favorite two-wheeled past time brought success to a television show one has to wonder why everyone isn't in the saddle.

Make yourself comfortable in the cyber saddle as we prepare to ride through the decades of motorcycles on the small screen.

Motorcycles on the Small Screen – The 60’s

Motorcycles on the Small Screen – The 70’s

Motorcycles on the Small Screen – The 80’s

Motorcycles on the Small Screen – The 90’s

Motorcycles on the Small Screen – Today

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