Suspend Your Disbelief: Place Beyond the Pines

Dailies -



“If you ride like lightning, you’re going to crash like thunder.” — The Place Beyond the Pines

Ryan Gosling plays Luke Glanton, a tattooed motorcycle stunt rider who turns to crime to support his newborn son. Bradley Cooper plays Avery Cross, a young ambitious cop who later becomes a politician. “Place Beyond the Pines” (Premiering in March) is a multi-generational crime flick that looks like it’s heavy on the bikes. But is the motorcycle action believable?

Suspend your Disbelief is a new series in which HFL will be examining the role motorcycles play in movies and on TV. Daniel is our newest editorial intern. — Ed.

The Movie: Written by Ben Coccio and Darius Marder and directed by Derek Cianfrance of “Blue Valentine,” “The Place Beyond the Pines” is a crime film portraying two men and how their decisions will affect their families forever. Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper portray Luke Glanton and Avery Cross, a professional motorcycle stunt rider and a police officer. Glanton begins to rob banks using his motorcycle skills while Cross has difficulties dealing with his largely corrupt police department. The decisions that Glanton and Cross make begin to show consequences that will affect their families that culminates with their sons.

The Bike: The Gos appears to ride a few different bikes, judging by this trailer and the pre-production photos (at the time of writing, the film has not yet premiered). His main bike appears to be a Honda XR650R fitted with generic white, aftermarket bodywork. The XR650R is renown for being one of the most capable dual-sport motorcycles ever made, it can literally take you anywhere, from highways to motocross tracks. This lightweight, liquid-cooled dual-sport machine weighs in at 280lbs (dry) with a unique 649cc, single-cylinder engine that boasts 61bhp and 47lb/ft of torque. “The 650 that beat Baja” this bike can literally handle anything that you throw at it, it’s one of the most broadly capable motorcycles ever made. That includes robbing banks and high speed police chases in addition to ADV riding, commuting, supermoto, single track and pretty much anything in between.

Gosling also appears to ride a Suzuki DR-Z400 (here) and air-cooled Honda XR650L in various images from the set.

The Rider: Ryan Gosling portrays a tattooed hooligan who travels from town to town with a carnival performing death-defying motorcycle stunts every night. After the discovery of his son, he begins start robbing banks using his riding skills.

In real life, Gosling is an actual rider, having recently commissioned a custom Harley cafe racer from Venice’s Deus Ex Machina.

The Action: From the trailer, we see motorcycles defying gravity in a steel sphere cage “Cage of Death“, barreling through a forest doing jumps and fly in-between through the trees, gentle riding in the streets, and fleeing from the police and escaping with ease.

The Reality: With the riding that’s shown in the trailer and the persona of Luke Glanton, an extremely capable dual sport motorcycle like a Honda XR650R is perfect for the job. An old dual sport has seen much wear and tear and is heavily modified to the specifications of its rider fits Glanton very well; he evens paints it black to hide his identity. The liquid-cooled XR650R can absolutely do what is shown in the trailer, ride in circles on the inside of a sphere, sprinting through the forests at high speeds, general street riding and even fleeing from the police.

You can’t deny that the XR650R is capable of riding through the forests or defying gravity on the inside of a sphere, as shown in the trailer, but fleeing from the police when its relatively low top speed is just 105mph seems a little far fetched…Any police chase in a straight line for too long would end up with behind bars.

“I’m a bird, you’re a bird” is a little less romantic when one of the birdies is named Bubba.

Believability: 9/10

  • southsixth

    It’s no “Ghost Rider”, but it looks great to me. Anyone know the piano piece from the second half of the trailer?

    • Wes Siler

      Try Shazam.

      • southsixth

        Tried it. Too much talking.

    • orthorim

      Wait, didn’t ghost rider suck? Unless you mean THE ghost rider, the swedish nutcase. Ghost Rider was a film with Nicolas Cage and like almost all Cage movies less than 10 years old it was very bad. This is hopefully a whole lot better. Wait, Cage isn’t in it, so it’s definitely better.

    • Jordan Jones

      The closest I could get was Mike Patton- The Snow Angel. Not sure if that is 100% accurate to the song in the trailer.

  • stephen mears

    So, Wes, how hard did you lobby to be Gos’ stunt double?

    • Wes Siler

      I tried, but the studio just couldn’t handle how believable the scenes ended up being.

      • Chris Davis

        Which? The meat-ass hospital scenes?

    • TreMoto_Armsdale

      I was waiting for the gosling/wes jokes

  • Greg Minnig

    Fleeing from the police and escaping with ease is certainly one thing that’s true to life!

    • Daniel Silverman

      It is! And I still have a hard time believing it.

  • Greg Minnig

    But I’m also used to NYC chases which aren’t quite the same ;)

  • Emmet

    really looking forward to this movie. It was filmed in my town, Schenectady. They even shot a scene at my buddy’s British motorcycle shop. Can’t wait!

  • Paul Steven

    Drive 2?

    • Kr Tong

      It’s the motorcycle version of Drive…. Ride Apart?

  • Jonathan Berndt

    cant wait till you get to ‘Fled’!

  • JB

    Any word on who the stunt rider is?

    • Daniel Silverman

      No word yet…

    • motoguru.

      IMDB page says it’s Rick Miller.

  • roma258

    So is this supposed to be taking place in the Pine Barrens and does that make Gosling a piney?

  • Sohl

    Bubba…? Also, yes, Wes already is RG’s double, which means I’ll be watching the movie like its Wes the whole time hahaha.

  • Frick

    Me to Wife: Want to go see a movie about a motorcycle stunt rider that turns to robbery to support his son?
    Wife: -rolleyeyes-
    Me: Starring Ryan Gosling….
    Wife: YES!!!!

  • Kr Tong

    As if Ryan Gosling wasn’t hipster bait enough… are those “deal with it” glasses painted on the motorcycle?

    • Daniel Silverman

      Yup, there’s another picture where it looks like it was done in sharpie.

  • Damien Gaudet

    I like Gosling, but thought DRIVE was a bit boring. Hopefully subtracting two wheels helps things.

    • roma258

      I can enjoy a good art-house flick, but Drive was pretty terrible.

    • Jonathan Noble

      I too didn’t get the hype for Drive, there wasn’t that much car chases either

  • Guest

    thats a drz400s

    • Wes Siler

      Correct, one of the bike’s Ryan is photographed on is a Dr-Z. Others include an XR650L, but the bike used for most of the action is an XR650R.

      • Dodsy D

        Wrong again, the bike used for most of the action is a crf230l two stroke, meaning it puts out double the power of the cc’s it has. It would be actually ridiculous to ride an xr650r on those tight trails he rides in the movies or the ball of death. Both of which are ridden with a modified crf230l made to look like a drz400s.

  • David Howland

    Women like Ryan Gosling.
    Ryan Gosling stars in motorcycle movie
    Women like motorcycles

    Lets do this. 5-stars.

  • RT Moto

    Saving this one for one of those “girl’s turn to pick the flick” nights. A little Ryan Gosling name droppage will for sure seal the deal.

  • Hoover Niebold

    Trailer is deceptive. It’s not really an action movie. It’s a Sundance
    style indie drama with a bit of action. If you like Sundance type stuff
    you’ll enjoy it. If you’re looking for an action movie this isn’t it. They pick a bunch of older buildings for half the movie, which makes sense when you see it. They visit a couple of cool retro looking like ice cream stands. Mom and pop type place.

    The Place Beyond the Pines is the literal translation of the Mohawk town name: Schenectady, NY.

  • Dodsy D

    Uhh nope, not an xr650r actually its a drz400s. No doubt about it, the plastics are clearly drz400s plastics. Also another way of knowing is the lack of a kickstart, xr650r’s were kickstart only. Do your research more nextime dude.

  • Dodsy D

    Another thing, no ryan gosling is not a real life rider. He had to be taught how to ride for the movie for the scenes where its a continuous shot, the other shots were done using a stuntman.

    • sean macdonald

      i love that you call people out for not doing their research and then blow this one so badly. He’s had a Honda Shadow for years.