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Motorcycles and the Men Who Made Them Famous

December 02, 2014

The rumble of its engine breathes life into the meaning of “rugged.” A steel life house of raw, unrefined speed and power that thunders down the highway and makes its presence known to all like an ancient conqueror. Wild and unfettered, the motorcycle embodies the true essence of freedom, and those who ride one choose to take life by the handlebars and live loud, fast, and with purpose.

A motorcycle is so much more than two wheels, a frame, and an engine, but rather, an institution of American rebellion since 1903. Women are innately drawn to motorcycles, and guys know it. Unlike cars, motorcycles offer a dimension of danger for the thrill-seeker, demanding manual control, muscular force, and a passion for living life on the edge.

Without the restraints of windows and seatbelts, motorcycles bridge the relationship between the traveler and the traveled, as the natural splendor of the world rushes through riders at blazing speeds. In honor of the world’s baddest vehicle, we’ve highlighted a few of the guys who made motorcycle culture famous.

Motorcycle Men

With their leather jackets and signature scowls, the likes of James Dean and Marlon Brando made the motorcycle famous during America’s bad boy age of the 50s. When Brando needed some time to think, he jumped on his bike, hit the streets of New York, and always found a fine young woman to join him on his adventure to anywhere. In admiration of Brando, James Dean, America’s true “rebel without a cause” always rode his bike full throttle, to the point that locals in his hometown called him “One Speed Dean.”

After Dean passed away and Brando became tied up in his acting career, Bob Dylan continued the legacy of motorcycle culture in the 60s. In his typical rogue sort of way, Dylan crashed his 64 Triumph Tiger in upstate New York while trying to escape the pressures of stardom. He later said that the accident gave him a new outlook on life, but he still never abandoned his love of motorcycles.

As famous as those men were, none represent motorcycle culture like Steve McQueen, the undisputed King of Cool. His mind-blowing stunts in films like Bullitt and The Great Escape made his addiction to motorcycles known to the universe. But when he wasn’t in Hollywood, McQueen was burning rubber and kicking up dust at off-road races. In fact, the guy loved motorcycles so much that he owned over 100 of them. Seriously.

If you’re looking to take life by the handlebars and experience the glory and thrill of the road, get a motorcycle. No question, it will be the best decision you’ve ever made.

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