?There is something inherently sexy about a motorcycle. They’re fast, sleek, dangerous, and a hell of a lot of fun. Generally in film, you can tell who the cool characters are by what they are driving — guys who ride bikes are the bad-asses, the rebels, the heroes. Daredevil stunts that seem like they break the laws of physics are performed with grace and ease on the motorcycles of film. Science fiction, anime and videogames have often embraced motorcycles simply because of their level of mystery, as most people will never ride on a motorcycle — the thrill of a bike is often overshadowed by their danger, making the motorcycles of the media even more fantastic, an enigma of metal, rubber and speed that most people won’t experience for themselves. In the list that follows, we look at some of the most fantastic motorcycles ever imagined. Some look almost real, others defy belief, but all of them are badass icons of speed and danger. One note: futuristic “bikes” without wheels have been purposely left off of this list. If it floats over the ground rather than rolls, it’s not a motorcycle, it’s a hovercraft, or hovercycle, or something like that. So sorry kids, there will be no Speederbikes, Flying Star Trek Police Officers, or other non-wheeled variants.
But wait, there’s more! With good comes evil, and with badass comes its antithesis lame-ass. While science fiction has created some of the coolest vehicles in history, there are also its failures. So in addition to the ten coolest bikes to be dreamed up, we’ve also included five of the lamest to ever grace the large and small screens. Enjoy and beware.
10) Wreck-Gar, Transformers: The Movie
While not the only robot-cum-motorcycle on the list, Wreck-Gar is certainly one of the strangest. The leader of the Junkions, he makes his first appearance in the Transformers movie while leading an attack against the Autobots. Unlike the other bikes on the list, it seems that Wreck-Gar is designed more for off-road riding, with what his spiked tires, but his cool factor doesn’t really come into play until he transforms into his robot form. One of the most distinguishing features of this sometimes Autobot, is his goatee and wire-thin brostache. That’s right; Wreck-gar is a motorcycle that turns into a ’70s porn star. He uses pop culture media to speak, which was mildly charming when he did it, and completely obnoxious when Michael Bay stole it for Bumblebee for his live-action Transformers flicks. Wreck-Gar has been played by two of the most badass voice actors possible, Eric Idle and Weird Al. Additionally, he is the only Transformer to feature Nipple Lasers.
9) Condor, M.A.S.K.
?M.A.S.K. was another attempt in the ’80s to cash in on the transforming vehicles craze. This one took a page from G.I. Joe as the benevolent M.A.S.K. (Mobile Armored Strike Kommand) team fought against the evil forces of V.E.N.O.M. (the Vicious Evil Network Of Mayhem), a ruthless terrorist organization determined to rule the world. Each force was armed with transforming vehicles, some of which were awesome (the Camaro that turned into a plane and the Jeep that could turn into a boat), some were lame (the helicopter that turned into a jet), and some weren’t vehicles at all (the Billboard that turned into a rocket launcher?). While some of these require a huge amount of suspension of disbelief, there was one vehicle that might possibly work, and that would be Condor. In its normal mode, it looked like a Kawasaki Ninja of the era; it had the typical Ninja lime green paint job and similar body styling. But it had something no Kawasaki in the real world ever had — helicopter rotors. When just a plain motorcycle wouldn’t do, Condor could extend a set of rotors above it, skids appeared from the undercarriage, and the real wheel converted to a tail rotor. Add to that its skid-mounted machine guns and the anti-matter cannon built into its front fairing, and you have one badass anti-terrorist motorcycle.
8) Ben’s Corley, Full Throttle
In the dystopian, motorcycle-centric future of the Full Throttle game by LucasArts, only one traditional motorcycle manufacturer remains, Corley Motors. Otherwise, motorcycles have become an endangered species, having been primarily replaced with bikes that look like they came straight out of J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek in that they float above the ground sans wheels. It’s up to Ben to clear himself and his gang, the Polecats, of murder, which he does by raising hell across the desert on his massive and awesome Corley bike. Not much information is available about this fictional bike, but what we do know is that it’s big. The motor must be huge, with what looks to be at least eight exhaust pipes protruding from it’s rear. It’s badass bike for a badass biker. And to think that the game’s villain, Adrian Ripburger, wanted to convert Corley Motors into a mini-van manufacturer. The scoundrel!
7) Kaneda’s Powerbike, Akira
The classic anime film Akira also showed a somewhat grim dystopian version of the future, where governments had totalitarian control and little responsibility, particularly when it came to performing crazy psycho-medical experiments on juvenile delinquents. Besides being known for a head trippy story, amazing visuals, and a mutant, girlfriend-crushing blob monster, it had some badass bikes. The coolest of these, Kaneda’s Powerbike, is an icon of not just the movie, but of anime in general. Capable of speeds of up to 150 mph (according to the specs), the bike was unusual as the rider sat back, almost like one rides a chopper, with the handlebars and controls able to raise up and down to allow him to mount and dismount. Being the leader of the Capsules gang, Kaneda obviously needed the bike to be impressive, so it was tricked out with an electric Cold Superconducting Generator for propulsion, an auto-navigation system, radar, a cd player, and the finest Corinthian Leather. Every gang member in the film, including best friend-turned-mutant Tetsuo, wanted this bike, and so did you.
6) Street Hawk, Street Hawk
In the early ’80s, badass vehicles were all the rage. Glen L. Larson creations such as Knight Rider and Airwolf featured some of the most iconic vehicles of the era, and it wasn’t long before others tried to get in on the action. Enter Street Hawk, a top-secret, government-funded, motorcycle of doom. Ridden by Jessie Mach (gotta love those ’80s hero names), a former motorcycle cop whose injury took him off the streets, Street Hawk fought crime that non-motorcycle of doom-riding police couldn’t handle. Armed with machine guns, rocket launchers, and the obligatory 1980s laser weapon, Street Hawk was a deadly and fast mother, capable of speeds of 200 mph, with the computer controlled “Hyperthrust” ability pushing it to over 300 mph. Now, if you’re asking how a bike can ride down L.A. streets at 300 mph without disintegrating and turning its rider into a tomato-colored stain on the asphalt, that’s where Mach’s sidekick comes in. Of course the inventor of the bike is Norman Tuttle, who is also Mach’s new partner and obligatory computer genius, who can hack into traffic signals to clear a path for Street Hawk to “hyperthrust.” Of course he can’t control that one douche who runs a light trying to get his kids to ballet, and had the show continued, it would only have been a matter of time before Mach and Street Hawk becoame one, chunks of them fused together in a ball of fire. Fortunately we never saw this tragic outcome, as the show was cancelled after one season with Street Hawk’s rider reduced to guest parts on Baywatch, JAG and Silk Stockings.
5) The Batpod, The Dark Knight
Batman’s signature vehicle in Christopher Nolan’s Bat-films is a quite a different take on the Batmobiles of previous incarnations. Big, tough and the antithesis of sleek, the Tumbler isn’t quite the speedy, more mobile device that Batman has typically used. However, when the Tumbler just isn’t enough, or rather when it has had enough, it adapts its front wheels and portions of the driver section into the Batpod. The rider sits in a position similar to the Tron: Legacy lightcycles, with the feet pedals elevated, forcing the rider to lie down on the bike rather than sit upright. Like many of the other bikes on this list, it is armed very heavily, with grappling hooks and large caliber guns being among it’s armaments. It also appears to have a unique design for its wheels, as it has the ability to spin the 20-inch tires at rather unnatural angles for quick escapes. All this, plus being the official motorcycle of the Dark Knight, makes the Batpod one big bag of both badass and whoop-ass.
4) Cloud’s Fenrir, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children
Final Fantasy VII‘s Cloud Strife is certainly a motorcycle enthusiast; one of FF7‘s most memorable scenes from Final Fantasy VII was Cloud’s escape from the Shinra Corporation on his Hardy Daytona (with the Avalance gang in tow). But Cloud upgraded to the exponentially cooler Fenrir for the CG movie sequel Advent Children (the name being an Old Norse word for a monstrous wolf). The Fenrir is a very unique motorcycle which can reach speeds of over 250 mph; stability is provided by the dual front tires, and Cloud can even fight passersbys as it has a non-returning throttle, which is essentially a motorcycle cruise control. But the real feature of the Fenrir is its storage — cargo bays on each side each house three blades of the Fusion Swords, Cloud’s weapon of choice in Advent Children. Nothing like having six swords on your bike to facilitate any road rage you may be feeling.
3) Judge Dredd’s Lawmaster, 2000 A.D.
?There has been more than one incarnation of the Lawmaster, the iconic motorcycle of the Judges, but everyone agrees that the one that rules them all is the original from the 2000 A.D. comic. This big bitch of a bike is about as tricked out as they come: It comes fully loaded with front wheel mounted rocket pods, a “Cyclops” Phylon TX laser with deltron phasing (because a laser just isn’t a laser without deltron phasing), grenades, a built-in power generator, an artificial intelligence computer system, automatic turn signals (these should be mandatory in New Jersey), and an armor plated bucket seat. This V-twin is capable of speed of up to 350 miles per hour, hence its need for its special triple-disc brake system. Top it all off with bulletproof all-weather tires, and you have a rolling wrecking ball of death and destruction. The fact that it is more of a cruiser design rather than a street bike makes it unique on this list, and makes it the sexiest combat bike for those Harley lovers out there.
2) Lightcycle, Tron
In the world of the Grid, transportation comes in many forms: Recognizers, Tanks, Solar Sailors, but by far, the sexiest form of digital transportation is the Lightcycle. Fast and maneuverable, even capable of making 90-degree turns, the Lightcycle is as deadly as it is quick, with its trailer physical light walls making a powerful offensive and defensive weapon for the rider. Additionally cool is its portability; the cycle is contained in a small, baton-like object programs use to summon vehicles. So when you are done riding your luminescent crotch rocket, it folds up into a rod the size of a cardboard paper towel tube (sure as hell beats paying for DC parking). All of the different versions of the Lightcycle have been cool, but the design from Tron: Legacy was just completely badass, complete with an open top (unlike the previous versions that enclosed their riders), multiple air brakes, and the ability to lock onto the pavement, essentially allowing a bike to ride upside down suspended from the floor. If you’re wondering why the Lightcycle is allowed on this list and not Speederbikes, it’s because the Lightcycle has wheels. Crazy digital wheels, but wheels nonetheless.
1) Cyclone, Robotech/Genesis Climber Mospeada
Designed for the Robotech Expeditionary Force ground troops for the assault against Earth and the Invid/Inbit (depending on your version, Robotech or the original Japanese version Mospeada), the Cyclone was a fast, all-terrain motorcycle. But if the rider was wearing his or her compatible battle armor, the Cyclone could transform, encasing the rider in an extremely powerful power armor. Yes, you hear right, the Cyclone turns into a fucking battlesuit. Depending on the rider’s choice of Cyclone variant, it could be armed with missile pods, a rocket launcher, a beam rifle, or, if you happen to be a cross-dressing pop star, big-ass blades on the ends of your arms. One of the cool things about the Cyclone was it’s portability; the pilots of the REF carried Cyclones in the storage compartments of their Veritech Alpha fighters, allowing soldiers to be mobile on the ground if forced to land in enemy territory, coincidentally just like REF soldier Scott Bernard was in episode 1. Motorcycles are cool, but Cyclones are the coolest.
5) The Colonial Warrior Motorcycle, Galactica: 1980
There was not much to like about Galactica: 1980. Demand for a spin-off of Battlestar Galactica coupled with calls for a reduced budget created this horrible bastard child of a TV show. Thankfully it didn’t last long, and the networks pulled the plug on this braindead corpse pretty quickly. The premise was the Rag Tag Fugitive Fleet arrives at Earth, and needs to secretly speed up technological advancements in order to get the humans there ready to fight Cylons. To do this, they slipped agents into the population, making them blend in (kind of), and violate Star Trek‘s Prime Directive wherever they go. But they couldn’t go flying Vipers all over the planet, so the alternative was to develop motorcycles. But what do you do when you hit traffic on the I-7 while on your Colonial Crotch Rocket? Just open your tiny, tiny wings, hit your turbos, and fly, literally. To a 6-year-old kid, these looked awesome; looking back, they just look like shit. And to make matters worse, instead of trying to fit in by wearing standard 20th century motorcycle helmets, the Galactica crew decided to just reuse their big ass Viper flight helmets. We’d have sided with the Cylons on principle.
4) Cy-Kill, Challenge of the GoBots
?It’s generally thought that the GoBots were the, well, GoBots of Transformers; that is, they sucked when compared to their higher budgeted competitors. The Decepticons had Megatron, who was pretty cool, even though it can’t really be explained how he turned from giant robot into a tiny handgun and back again without defying several laws of physics. The GoBots’ “Renegades” seemed to get the short end of the evil robot stick with their leader, Cy-Kill — his robot form is essentially his motorcycle form stretched out, with the bottom of his front fairing acting as his face, complete with 5 o’clock shadow. Unlike the rest of the GoBots who seem to have somewhat human-shaped hands, Cy-kills are shaped like aluminum cans, which would make grasping objects difficult, and may be the source of his aggression.Of course, it also might be that he’s a terrible-looking robot and a terrible-looking motorcycle — you’d think the toymakers would manage to make one of his modes look decent. Of course, the toy failed in another significant way; you actually had to remove the wheels and clip them to his back to turn him into a robot, and of course they were the first pieces to be lost, meaning even he inevitably lost the ability to even transform into a crappy bike.
3) Captain America’s Motorcycle, Captain America 1979
In the late 1970s, Marvel was trying to cash in on the popularity of comic books on TV (sound familiar?). Shows like The Incredible Hulk and Wonder Woman were for the most part ratings gold for networks, while some other attempts at bringing comics to the small screen were utter failures. Captain America was one of the failures. In this version, Steve Rogers isn’t a weakling soldier, but a commercial artist almost murdered by spies. Saved by the Super Soldier Serum, he is recruited to fight crime dressed in red, white and blue spandex and a motorcycle helmet. In order to travel unseen, he drives around in a shitty 1970s conversion van, but when he needs to spring into action, the back door swings open and out he launches on his patented rocket cycle. Now, this is no ordinary bike; besides being launched from the back of a GMC van like a Colonial Viper, it also sports a silent mode, and a Captain America Shield-style windscreen. No, wait, that’s his shield, his actual shield. He gets off his bike, and if he is going to encounter danger, grabs the somewhat opaque windshield from the front of his bike, and runs of finto battle. Thankfully, Cap and his bike were terminated rather quickly, with the footage from his adventures being reduced to two made-for-TV movies.
2) Einstein, Warriors of the Lost World
What do you get when you combine Mad Max, Knight Rider, and a steaming bowl of shit? Warrior of the Lost World would be the correct answer, Italy’s take on the whole post-apocalyptic motorcycle movie (MST3K completely butchered it in the first episode of its fifth season). The Rider (given no other name) and his talking super-bike Einstein is recruited to rescue rebel leader McWayne and lead an assault against an evil fascist government. So essentially it’s Star Wars, but with a dude standing in for the princess, and a really shitty motorcycle standing in for the Millennium Falcon. Einstein comes complete a motorcycle complete with machine guns, rocket launchers, and an annoying as hell, shit-talking artificial intelligence. While KITT was cool, Einstein was an asshole. Its rudimentary English skills, combined with an extremely annoying high-pitched voice, kept the Rider informed of what was around (for example, when approached by evil bikers, Einstein cried out and displayed on his screen “Bad Mothers”) but made viewers want to watch the Rider ride him into an open volcano. Einstein wasn’t particularly unique in the film, either; police motorcycles seem to be equally equipped with weapons, and when attempting to escape using “Sub-Sonic” speed, Einstein is easily overtaken by the police bike using their “Ultimate Velocity!” You know it’s bad when Joel Hodgson and the ‘Bots cheer Einstein’s fiery death towards the end of the film.
1) Delta MK 4 Megafighter, Megaforce
Once again the ’80s strikes back with another “nameless hero rides a special motorcycle in a postapocalyptic future” movie. The second flying motorcycle on this list makes the Colonial look like a work of frakking art. This time, a team of road warriors lead by super warrior and porn star-wannabe Ace Hunter (played by Barry Bostwick) goes after an evil government, again on a tricked-out, armed bike. The difference this time is that the bike looks like it was designed by Mrs. Patteron’s kindergarten class. Boxy, with absolutely no aerodynamics, its true crappiness is revealed when it deploys its rear-mounted wings, pops a wheelie, and the bike and Ace soar through the air like an eagle… piloting a blimp. It’s lack of aerodynamic properties (and the lack of the budget to purchase a Steady-Cam) are obvious as Ace tries to land the Megafighter in the back of an airborne C-130 while making disturbingly orgasmic facial expressions. Ironically, someone actually thought this piece of shit movie would do well, so much that Megaforce toys and even an Atari 2600 game were released for it. It looks like it damaged Persis Khambatta’s career so badly that her next film was essentially the same movie, just made in Italy — namely, Warriors of the Lost World from entry #2. This is by far the worst motorcycle ever conceived.
A fan of video games and science fiction from the moment he discovered his father's Atari 2600 and Star Wars, Jason Helton has been contributing to The Robot's Voice since 2011. Prior, he wrote for the UK's Den of Geek and was the producer and host of Iron Otaku Radio on XM's UPOP 29 channel. A die-hard fan of Battlestar Galactica (both old and new), Doctor Who, and pinball, you can follow him on Twitter @Razgriz1138.