Behind The Motorcycles In 'Easy Rider,' A Long-Obscured Story
On Oct. 18, the Calabasas, Calif.-based auction house Profiles In History will auction off what it says is the last authentic motorcycle used in the filming of 1969's Easy Rider, and what some consider the most famous motorcycle in the world.This bike:
Peter Fonda, who played Wyatt in the Dennis Hopper-directed film, rode the so-called "Captain America" bike, named for its distinctive American flag color scheme and known for its sharply-angled long front end.
It's hard to imagine a more American motorcycle, isn't it? The motorcycle-as-American-icon took root in the post-WWII era, as American GIs returned home and celebrated surviving the war by hitting the open road. Motorcycle clubs turned into motorcycle gangs (mostly as a popular culture thing, as the average American was in more danger from meteors than biker gangs) in the 1950s, and then the tune-in, turn-on, drop-out counter culture of the '60s really brought it into full swing.
And little more exemplifies that spirit than Easy Rider, a buddy film about two societal outcasts finding America on a cross-country motorcycle ride. Our heroes - anti-heroes, really, in the best tradition of James Dean, Marlon Brando, and Clint Eastwood - defy convention and authority, and what better way to do that than on a customized Harley Davidson.
From a motorcyclist standpoint, the Captain America chopper touches on many things that bikers find themselves in trouble with the law over: handlebar height, lack of front fender, noise. It's a moving violation standing still, which is an impressive feat unto itself. Everything about this bike screams "bad boy" - which is why three of the four motorcycles built for the movie disappeared before the movie debuted...
I understand the appeal, but a cool million - or more - is a bit steep for my taste...
That is all.