From Marlon Brando to Dennis Hopper to the iconic Undertaker in the golden days of the World Wrestling Federation.
Something we can all agree on is that no matter how cool you are, you are made instantly cooler when you throw a killer motorcycle in to the equation.
That is partly the reason I am often seen browsing through the selection at motorcyle dealers near me.
Whether you are a mom who spends most of her time trying to persuade her teenage son not to get one. Or you are, in fact, that teenage son who is saving up his pay checks to land that dream bike.
The simple truth is that, even if they scare you slightly, there is no denying that a big, shiny motorcycle is one of the coolest and most envious sights there is!
As far as we’re concerned, the more fun facts you know about motorcycles, the more impressive you are destined to be at parties.
With the ability to pull random trivia from your mind, you will the small talk master!
We have compiled 15 of the best facts about motorcycles to read up on, store them in your brain and you never know when the right time will be to offer them up!
What Came First (No Chickens or Eggs Involved!)?
There is some debate with regards to what the first motorcycle ever actually was.
There are some who say that it was the coal-powered SH Roper bike in 1869, but others would argue that the first ‘proper’ cycle was actually the Gottlieb Daimler. A wooden-framed version from 1885 that came complete with a gasoline engine.
Suzuki’s Really Do Fly!
The name Hayabusa, as used by motorcycle giants Suzuki, is actually the name of an impressive looking Peregrine falcon, as well as an old World War 2 Japanese Kamikaze fighter plane.
Next time you hear someone say that their Japanese motorcycle sure can fly, you will be able to tell them that that sentence has much more meaning that they originally thought!
Burning Rubber, Or Maybe Not!
Though burning rubber is often a phrase that is used for going on a long, hard motorcycle ride, the sad truth is that nowadays modern sports bikes don’t contain any actual rubber in their tires!
The tread of a tire these days in made up of a synthetic rubber material that is compounded to create a much more agreeable combination of durability and traction.
You Think You’ve Been a Long Road Trip? Think Again!
The longest ever recorded distance for riding a motorcycle in the space of 24 hours is a staggering 2,019 miles, set by an American by the name of L. Russell ‘Rusty’ Vaughn.
Rather than riding around and taking in 2000 miles worth of scenery, Rusty actually broke the record at the Continental Tire Test Track in Uvalde, Texas on August 10th 2011. It’s roughly the same distance as London to Cyprus in single day!
Steve McQueen Not So Great in The Great Escape
Who can forget that infamous scene in The Great Escape where Steve McQueen’s character takes on that huge 65 ft motorcycle jump?
Well, we might remember it, but Steve himself might not have, because it turns out he wasn’t actually the man who mastered the stunt!
The honor of bringing that scene to the big screen was actually down to Bud Ekins, a then American Triumph dealer who, believe it or not, completed the stunt in just one single take!
The CHiPS Were Down for Larry Wilcox
Remember the iconic TV cop series CHiPS from the 1970s starring Larry Wilcox and Erik Estrada?
The two actors looked like total pros riding around on Kawasaki Z1000s, but something that you may now have known was that prior to the show’s filming beginning, Estrada had to undergo an intensive eight-week crash course to learn how to ride a motorcycle!
In 2007, it was also revealed that the actor didn’t even have a license to begin with, only qualifying after his third attempt during production!
The Mystery of the Easy Rider Bikes</>
Easy Rider is probably the most iconic motorcycle movie of all time, and the fate of the famous bikes used in the movie has become something of a mystery, with many different stories told!
Some say that the bikes were destroyed during the filming of the movie. Some say that star of Grizzly Adams, Dan Hegarty, is the lucky owner of one of the originals.
Then there are plenty of auction sites that claim to be selling them every now and then. Seems like we’ll never fully know!
Brando’s Lost Thunderbird
Lost movie motorcycles seems to be a trend in Hollywood. As it is not exactly clear what happened to Marlon Brando’s classic Triumph 650 Thunderbird from the old movie The Wild One.
Some say that the bike was a personal possession of Brando’s that just made its way in to the movie.
Others have different opinions. Either way, the bike never showed up in prop auctions or showcases after filming. It’s a mystery!
The very first company to ever advertise that its cycle’s top speed was over 100mph was Brough Superior.
It made the claim for its SS100 model all the way back in 1924.
It was a real superior machine for its time: the first to have prop stands, crash bars, twin headlights, silencers, v-twin engines.
All of the things that we take for granted now when thinking about the practicality of motorcycles!
More Than Just Motorcycles
Along with the obvious motorcycle production. Lots of bike companies have their fingers in lots of different pies in the modern industry world.
For example, Kawasaki also manufactures ships, watercraft, trains, construction tractors, electronics, jet engines, helicopters, missiles and even space rockets!
With all that technology at hand, just think about what the future of motorcycles could be like!
It Works in Reverse Too
And the culture isn’t just about motorcycle companies branching out in to different areas of manufacturing. Sometimes it works the other way!
When you hear the word Yamaha, you most probably think about pianos and keyboards.
Though the company started this way in 1887, they have since moved on to producing an array of musical instruments.
As well as car engines, boats, robots, swimming pools, RVs, wheelchair, golf carts and, yep, you guessed it, motorcycles!
You Drive Me Crazy, And By Crazy, I Mean Backwards!
We’ve talked about the longest distance ridden in 24 hours, but what about the longest distance ever ridden backwards?
Not that it’s anybody’s recommended way of riding a motorcycle. That particular record belongs to a Chinese biker named Hou Xiaobin.
He set it in Binzhou City, China by riding an unbelievable 93 miles the wrong way!
The Founder of Hell’s Angels Prefers… Japanese Bikes!
The Hell’s Angels gang are notorious for riding their beloved Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
It’s one of the most iconic images of motorcycle culture across the world. Though are you ready for a shocking fact?
Sonny Barger, the famous founder of the Hell’s Angels biker gang, has gone on record in his autobiography.
He says that he actually prefers the build and ride quality of Japanese bikes over the Harleys that made him and his gang so famous!
Motorcycle Pyramid, Anyone?
When you think about a motorcycle, you think of heavy metal, cumbersome weight and potential danger. What you don’t think about is building a huge human pyramid with them, right? Wrong!
That is exactly what that Indian Army’s Daredevil team had in mind.
Certainly when they set out to build the largest motorcycle pyramid that the world had ever seen.
The went big, and went straight in to the record book when they succeeded in stacking an amazing 201 men on top of each other whilst riding 10 bikes!
A Sad End for Lawrence of Arabia
T.E. Lawrence, better known to the world as Lawrence Of Arabia thanks to the iconic Hollywood movie starring Peter O’Toole. He was well known the world over for his life and achievements.
However something that you might now know about the great man. Is that he was, unfortunately and tragically, killed in a motorcycle accident.
The incident took place in Dorset, England in 1935, when Lawrence was killed when he swerved off the road to avoid two small boys who were playing on their bicycles.
It’s a sad reminder that, although motorcycles are things of power and beauty. They can also be things of great danger in the blink of an eye, no matter how good of a rider you happen to be!
So there you have it, enough facts and trivia to entertain even the most learned of motorcycle enthusiasts.
From Lawrence of Arabia to Steve McQueen to Hell’s Angels and huge bicycle pyramid. There is a fact for everyone so make sure you remember everything!
You can pick up a lot of history, heritage and indeed knowledge by visiting various garages. I know I certainly did when I began to visit historic motorcycle dealers near me.