Last Update: January 2020.
What is it about men and motorcycles? There are only a few other things men are as excited about, but why is that? It’s something about the mechanics, freedom, noise, speed, and danger that men are obsessed with.
Nearly every man owns or wants to own a bike, and it’s not a new trend. Just like every other man, famous men enjoy bikes now as they did in the past. Many of them combined their talent for acting and singing with the love of biking.
Take a look at our list of famous men who rode motorcycles, and maybe you find someone you didn’t know used to ride.
If you ask, most people will tell you that motorcycles are cool. Most people who don’t ride will tell you that bikers ride because that makes them look cool.
Now, that’s not entirely false since most riders do think they instantly look cool when on a bike. However, that’s not the only reason why they ride – at least not why the majority rides.
Bikes are cool, and there’s no denying that. Think about this for a second, and you’ll have no problem understanding. What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of a motorcycle? For most people, it’s leather, cigarettes, road noise, and young Marlon Brando.
Also, most women love motorcycles, which is often why many men opt for riding one. Women are often attracted to these them because they represent rebellion, danger, fun, and excitement. (Find out why you should date a woman who rides.)
But, still, that’s all very superficial, and there’s some much more to biking than just that. Motorcycles are the opposite of cars. While cars are safe and made for your comfort and protection, bikes are exposed. It’s an entirely different feeling from the one you feel sitting in a metal box on four wheels.
Cars have seatbelts, ABS, cruise control, parking sensors, and airbags – but motorcycles don’t. So, just by riding a motorbike, you’re telling people that you don’t even need those things. And, riding without them certainly brings a sense of danger and an even odder sense of freedom.
It sets you apart from the rest of the people since there are far more car riders than those who opt for a two-wheeler.
Being out in the open and feeling the wind on your face will make you feel a certain type of way. Plus, bikes are far more practical when it comes to traffic jams, which is why many people love them.
Read all the top motorcycle statistics.
James Dean was the only kid in town to have his own bike. He got his first motorcycle, a 1947 CZ 125-cc when he was 15, and he rode it full throttle. Soon, he lost two teeth in a fall, and the locals called him “One Speed Dean.”
Dean grew up and dropped out of college to try his luck in acting when he traded his CZ for a Royal Enfield 500 vertical twin.
That one didn’t stick with him too long because he decided to ride it from Indiana to New York City. It broke down along the way, and the actor traded it for an Indian Warrior TT. Back in the Big Apple, Dean had the bike serviced at the shop where Steve McQueen worked.
He later bought a Triumph TR5 Trophy, which was the last bike he rode before he died.
Charles Lindbergh loved mechanical workings and internal combustion engines since he was a boy. He ordered a twin-cylinder 1920 model Excelsior “X” motorcycles when he was in high school.
He was shy and quiet but rode his bike hard and fast. He admitted that he loved the speed and power, riding his motorbike almost recklessly.
On his way to town, he’d go across a path that ran past a power plant. It was a mixture of bushes and steep banks of Mississippi River. To other people, it seemed as if he was trying to see how far he can push his luck without losing it.
Eventually, the owner of the power plant closed off the trail because he was concerned, but Lindbergh never had an accident, although he rode as hardcore.
Clark Gable was a famous military officer and film actor famously known for his role in Manhattan Melodrama, Red Dust, Gone with the Wind, and many more. He joined the US military in 1942 and was soon promoted to major.
During his time, Gable rode several motorcycles and was an avid lover of speed. His two favorite bikes that he rode for the longest time were 1934 Harley Davidson RL and 1934 Harley Davidson VLD.
Interestingly, you might still come across the original 1934 Harley Davidson VLD that he rode. It was up for auction for a long time during 2007.
Gable had very little patience with old motorcycles and used to trade them in for new models every year. He was very precise with maintenance and spent many hours polishing the chrome and adjusting even the smallest things.
He was friends with many people who were also passionate about motorcycles and the entire biker style.
Marlon Brando is one of the first people that made motorcycles look cool. His iconic role in The Wild One made a lot of people want to ride a motorcycle. In the film, he rode a 1950 Triumph 6T Thunderbird and looked as cool as ever.
Brando rode before he was famous and used to spend hours riding around in NYC. This never stopped and was like a ritual once he became famous. Whenever fame was oppressive, he’d ride through desserts for miles, enjoying the freedom and speed.
He used to ride at night while everyone else was asleep. In his words, that’s when he did his best thinking and writing.
For him, riding around at two, three A.M. wearing jeans and a t-shirt was wonderful. Of course, more often than not, Brando had a girl on the seat behind him.
When Buddy Holly and the Crickets came off a tour in 1958, they decided to spend some of the money they made on motorcycles. The first thing they did was flying to Dallas to shop in the local motorbike stores.
Interestingly, most of the store owners didn’t know who the boys were. They treated them dismissively while the Harley dealer practically threw them out of the store. Luckily, that didn’t stop them, and they eventually found new rides at Ray Miller Triumph Motorcycles Sales.
Each of the guys picked one of the latest bikes. Buddy went for an Ariel Cyclone, Joe B. picked a Thunderbird, while J.I. decided on a Trophy. They rode their new motorcycles back to Lubbock but made sure to stop by the Harley store to show off for a bit.
The 1958 Ariel Cyclone is now at Buddy Holly Center in Lubbock.
Bob Dylan started on a Harley 45 when he was just a teenager. By 1996, his career was flying high as several of his albums had already gone gold and platinum. He toured the world and was set to publish a novel soon. The schedule and pressure were going full throttle.
The success and busy schedule were really taking the best of him until he had a crash, which had put things into perspective for him. In Woodstock, NY, Dylan crashed his 1964 Triumph Tiger 100 and injured his vertebrae.
He wasn’t admitted into a hospital but enjoyed the time off recovering from the crash. The crash caused him not to return to biking for almost a decade.
He woke up and realized that he was working too much for “leeches.” He didn’t want to do that anymore and just wanted to see his kids.
Steve McQueen is another man we associate with motorcycles the most. The first bike he owned way before he became famous was a used Harley. He competed and won many weekend motorcycles races on that Harley.
Even when he became prominent in Hollywood, McQueen didn’t forget his love and passion for bikes. He had a collection of over 100 motorcycles with his favorites being vintage Indians.
Much like many famous men, he used to ride onto the open road once the weight of celebrity became too stifling. He loved off-road racing and raced in the Baja 1000 and International Six Days Trial on his Triumph TR6.
The TR6 appeared in The Great Escape, where McQueen performed many of his stunts. Still, it wasn’t him who jumped over the barbed wire fence – it was Bud Ekins.
He often rode with Ann-Margaret, and Paramount Studios banned them from doing so when going to work.
Lawrence of Arabia, how people called him, was a passionate lover of bikes, especially the Brough Superior. Lawrence had his Brough Superior custom-made to accommodate his short stature of 5’5. His bike had a smaller back wheel for this reason.
During his time, he owned seven Brough Superiors. He called them his Boanerges, but what’s most interesting is that each of them was George (George I, George II, and the last George VII).
Tragically, Lawrence died from the injuries he suffered during a bike crash in 1935. He rode George VII as we waited for the delivery of George VIII when he swerved to avoid hitting two boys on bicycles. Lawrence was thrown over the handlebars and died a week later at age 46.
He loved speed and riding hard, and was likely going 100 mph at the time of the accident.
Writer Hunter Thompson was a rider until the end of his days. In 1965, Thompson was hired to write a story about the Hells Angels motorcycle club in California. He wrote the article, which appeared on May 17, 1965.
He then received several book offers and went riding with Hells Angels on his BSA A65 Lighting for a year. Things broke down as bikers felt that Thompson was exploiting them and demanded a share of his profits from the writings.
The argument accumulated at a party where Thompson suffered a savage stomping. He recovered from the beating and eventually published Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs. He remained friends with some members of the group.
Thompson loved riding hard, “stretching his luck,” as he said.
We’ve seen Clint Eastwood on a bike in more than just one movie. He’s well-known for his love of motorcycles and cars and is an avid collector.
The famous actor often rode in his moves where you can see him on a Commando S scrambler and a Triumph 650 TR6. Interestingly, he’s also a licensed pilot and used to fly his helicopter to avoid traffic.
He didn’t ride as much in his personal life, but you can find many movies in which he did. Also, pictures of him on a bike are among the first things people think of when you mention famous men who ride motorcycles.
He doesn’t ride anymore since his nearly 90 years old, but his iconic roles stand to show how grand he looked on a motorcycle. If you haven’t already, watch Coogan’s Bluff to see Eastwood chase an escaped criminal through Central Park on a Triumph Bonneville.
Actor Norman Reedus says that biking is his yoga. He started loving motorcycles sometime in his twenties before landing the role in Boondock Saints. His love and passion continue to grow to this day.
Much like Marlon Brando, Norman feels like biking brings him the peace and solitude he often craves. He was 20 when he bought his first motorbike that was a Buell X1 Lightning.
Today, he has a collection of a Harley, a Honda, two Triumphs, and Tiger 800. To this day, an Indian Larry bike is his dream piece he’d like to have and which he describes as a beautiful motorcycle. He also said he’s close to adding that one to his collection.
The actor explains how he does his best thinking while on a motorcycle, where he comes up with creative ideas. He admits he’d love to cruise Vietnam with a friend.
Jay Leno’s love for motorcycles and cars is truly iconic. He has such a massive collection that he needed an airport hangar in California to store all the 100 motorcycles he owns.
He explains that each bike he’s proud of and loves just the same. It’s the type of passion that has been years in making. For this reason, many people interviewed him over many years about the ever-growing collection of two-wheelers.
And, he’s not shy to show them. In his collection, you can see a 1931 Henderson Four, a 903-horsepower hybrid P1, a 1967 Munch Mammoth, and a 1976 Hercules Wankel. Of course, he has a variety of Brough Superiors and Vincents, which he’s especially attached to.
However, there’s one that stands out, and that’s the Y2K jet-powered bike. It’s a piece that really only the most enthusiastic motorcycle lovers own, so it’s no surprise that Jey Leno has one.
In almost every Tom Cruise movie, you’ll see the actor ride a bike at least once. However, his love and passion for two-wheelers stretch far more than riding for a film.
Biking is a big part of his personal life, and he was first interested when he was ten. He’s a fan of powerful and fast bikes, so it’s no surprise he owns what was named the World’s Most Powerful Road Motorcycle. It’s the Vyrus 987 C3 4V that can go 211, and Tom enjoys riding it.
He’s always loved the excitement of living on the edge, which is why we often see him hopping on his bike. Plus, his collection grows and includes a Ducati Desmosedici, a Confederate, Hinckley Triumphs, a T595 Daytona, and a Speed Triple. His T595 Daytona was featured in Mission Impossible II.
On top of that, Cruise never uses a stunt man for his motorbike scenes. He has enough skill and enjoys performing the stunts himself.
The actor Ewan McGregor has been riding since he was a kit. He said he was never into dirt bike riding as it wasn’t really his thing. The first bike he owned was a Motto Guzzi that he used to ride around town on.
It turned out that it was a T3 dressed up to look like a Le Mans, but he loved it anyway. Ewan didn’t use the motorcycle for racing but used to run tracks with his friends.
Eventually, he gave it up and developed love and passion for vintage bikes. Today, Ewan has a unique collection and continues to be a passionate motorbike lover who claims he’s a two-wheeled kind of guy.
The collection holds a Norge, a 1956 Sunbeam S7 Deluxe, a 1974 Eldorado Police bike with a siren, and a Rex Hackney built in 1929, among many more.
Much like all celebrities that love motorcycles, Bred Pitt enjoys the freedom he gets when riding. He says he enjoys wearing a helmet and blending in with the rest of the people on the road.
Biking gives him anonymity and the ability to keep a low profile. He has a growing collection of some of the most high-quality bikes. What’s most interesting is that he doesn’t have a preferred type or brand, but a rather diverse collection.
Some of his favorites are a Ducati Desmosedici RR, a Monster 696, and a number of Harley Davidson choppers. He also owns two Triumphs, a Royal Enfield Bullet 500 among several off-roading motorcycles such as the Yamaha R1, and BMW R11GS Adventure.
His collection also includes a rare Ducati that only some 500 people own.
It’s no secret that motorcycles have always been popular with men. Still, avid motorcycle lovers grace the streets of every city in every country of this planet. And, today, we see nearly as many women enjoying the thrill of riding.
It’s hard to tell when the craze began and whether it’s more present now that it was before. But it’s interesting to see how famous men used biking for several reasons.
Some loved the danger, while others were inspired by it. Some used and continue to use it to escape the paparazzi, while others are just plain impressed and in love with the mechanics and power.