Top 10s

Top 10 James Bond bikes

50 years of biking the Bond way

THE James Bond franchise of films is surely one of the most iconic and popular long-running film series ever. The combination of hi-tech gadgetry,  action-packed stunts and some of the coolest two and four-wheeled vehicles make it a favourite with viewer young and old.

For most people, Bond's love affair with his Aston Martin is the most iconic mechanical partnership from the series of films, but there have been just as many Bond-bikes as there have been cars!

Although not always ridden by Bond himself, bikes have always played a prominent role in the stunts and chase sequences that make the films so famous.

We’re listing them in date order, but given the ever-improving level of stunts over the years, the scenes tend to get better with the newer movies anyway.

10: BSA A65 Lightning, Thunderball, 1965

NOT Bond’s machine but the bike chasing him and the ubiquitous Aston Martin. The BSA in the movie is ridden by villainess Fiona Volpe, and you might be surprised to discover the scene was filmed on Silverstone’s Hangar Straight, with fake scenery to make it look like a public road.

9: Honda ATC90, Diamonds Are Forever, 1971

THE little three-wheeled Hondas were key to the laughable chase between them and Bond in an electric ‘moon buggy’ with Bond himself (still Sean Connery, of course) also commandeering one later in the scene. Given the ATC90s’ C90-derived engines and the milk float performance of Bond’s buggy, it’s probably the slowest chase in the franchise’s history.

8: Kawasaki Z900, The Spy Who Loved Me, 1977

ANOTHER six-year hiatus between bike appearances, and this time there was a new Bond too – Roger Moore. Instead of riding the bike, he’s driving the film’s real star, the submersible Lotus Esprit, while chased by a henchman on the Kawasaki as part of the longest bond chase scene to date. In keeping with the increasingly gadget-laden movies, the Kawasaki gained a rocket-propelled explosive sidecar. Of course.

7: Yamaha XT500, For Your Eyes Only, 1981

THE baddies-on-bikes theme continued into the 1980s, with Bond (on skis) being hunted down by a pair of bad guys, one being the movie’s villain, Erich Kriegler. Gadgets on this occasion were limited to studded tyres and machine guns in the bikes’ indicators. The bike Kreigler throws at Bond towards the end of the scene is a dummy, though – the real thing would be way too heavy.

6: Yamaha XJ650 Turbo (or is it?), Never Say Never Again, 1983

THE odd-man-out in the Bond series, Never Say Never Again is a remake of Thunderball and saw the return of Connery and a toupee so conspicuous it should have had its own credit. This time, the bike was a Q-built Bond special, complete with rocket launchers and a ‘futuristic’ fairing. The bike is generally said to be an XJ650 Turbo, but its motocross-style wire wheels (it looks like a 21-inch on the front) and the ability to go down stairs in the comically speeded-up chase scene give rise to suspicions that it might be something more off-road-oriented under all that plastic.

5: BMW R80, Octopussy, 1983

THE official movie ‘Octopussy’ was effectively a rival to Never Say Never Again, released the same year and featuring the era’s proper Bond, Roger Moore. The bike involvement was less significant, though, with a German cop on the BMW R80 chasing Bond’s Alfa Romeo GTV6.

4: Cagiva W16, Goldeneye, 1995

IT took a dozen years for a bike to get a role in a Bond film again. In the opening scene of the movie, Bond (Pierce Brosnan) pinches one of the military Cagivas from a Russian soldier, and rides it over a cliff. Probably worth noting that the Russian military probably never used Cagivas, and that since the opening scene was set nine years earlier than the bulk of the movie – putting it in 1986 at the latest – the bikes wouldn’t actually be launched for another four years. Still, details eh? More important is the fact that Eddie Kidd doubled for Brosnan in the bike scenes.

3: BMW R1200C, Tomorrow Never Dies, 1997

ANOTHER starring role for a bike, and in Tomorrow Never Dies, which had incredibly heavy-handed product placement from BMW, it couldn’t really be anything other than the firm’s then-new boxer-powered cruiser. John-Pierre Goy did the stunt riding and legendarily managed to wheelie the R1200C despite BMW claiming it would be impossible. Oh, and he jumped it over the top of a helicopter, two-up, which is still pretty impressive.

2: Montesa Cota, Quantum of Solace, 2008

YOU might be hard-pushed to recognise Bond’s ride in Quantum of Solace, since it’s been heavily dressed up to look like a tatty old scrambler, but underneath there’s a modern, aluminium-framed, four-stroke Montesa Cota 4RT. Weirdly the same approach (and maybe it’s even the very same bike) was used a year earlier in The Bourne Ultimatum, where a near-identical, Montesa-based fake scrambler stars in a very similar scene.

1: Honda CRF250R, Skyfall, 2012

ONCE again it’s the dramatic opening scene that provides the chance to use a bike, and in Skyfall both Bond and the villain ride Honda CRF250Rs across the rooftops of Istanbul. Again the modern bikes are disguised as ratty old things, but there’s no disguising their heritage – particularly since Honda put out a ‘making of’ video about it. World record-holding bike jumper Robbie Maddison did much of the riding.

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