Six Times Movies Got Motorcycles All Wrong

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We all know that movies are not true to life and we should not take all that we see at face value. But, there are some unusual ways that motorcycles are sometimes presented in films that often don’t really add up. Here’s six times movies got motorcycles all wrong.

For example, Terminator 2: Judgment Day shows John O’Conner trying to stay ahead of a suspiciously fast truck that’s trying to mow him down. Despite his dirt bike being hit several times from the rear, he still manages to hold on. In real life we’re pretty certain being hit that hard from behind by a tractor trailor would not see you staying upright.

James Bond may be the best secret agent in the Queen’s service, but we’re not sure how he gets to make the tires squeal on the BMW R1200C he rides in Tomorrow Never Dies. The only time motorcycle tires make that sort of noise is when you’re about to come to a sudden and very dramatic stop, as you’re locked up and very likely going to fall off.

Now, we all know that if you are going to jump a motorcycle, you really need a ramp. There is no other way to get airborne. Yet Vanilla Ice, in the film Cool As Ice, clearly has some special technique that gets him and his bike off the ground and over a four-foot fence with absolutely no trouble at all.

Sometimes, it’s not what filmmakers do with bikes, it’s how they make them sound in post film dubbing. If you’ve ever seen Michael Douglas in Black Rain you’ll know what we are talking about. He’s chasing a bad guy across a field and they’re both on what we think are two-stroke dirt bikes. Yet the sound you hear appears to definitely be four-stroke engines. Curious.

Tom Cruise (a repeat offender) plays a character in Mission: Impossible II that rides a motorcycle like no other person that we have seen before. Not only can he shoot the bad guys from the seat of his bike, he doesn’t even need to look around and instead uses his rear view mirrors. We’ll sort of accept that is unlikely but perhaps just about possible. What we can’t quite get our heads around is how his bike’s road tires change to off-road knobbies the moment Cruise hits the dirt. Is this some new innovation that we have missed?

Who doesn’t like the Matrix films? Great viewing and when in Matrix Reloaded Trinity gets to ride a Ducati that makes it even more entertaining. However, aside from having her pick of bikes on the back of a speeding transporter, Trinity gets a download sent to her that not only starts the motorcycle, but also removes all of the tie-down straps holding the bike upright. Crazy huh? Not to mention that the superbike then has trouble outrunning a Caddy land yacht…


We’re not bashing Hollywood here. In actual fact it’s good fun to watch any films with motorcycles in them and see if you can spot something that is not quite right. Have you got any films or clips to add to the list?
Related Links:
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  • Zanpa

    “Who doesn’t like the Matrix films?”
    What films? There’s only one. The Matrix.

    • Flying Couch

      I always wondered why they never made any sequels. So much potential!

      • http://statesofmotion.blogspot.com/ FastPatrick

        Context for the uninitiated: http://xkcd.com/566/

        • Zanpa

          The actual context is just seeing the movies.
          I mean, the one movie.

        • Jorn Bjorn Jorvi

          I got pretty excited when I clicked that. I expected a long comic explaining how certain details within the Matrix movies show that all three movies happen within the same time period as the matrix… or something cool like that. That was a disappointment

    • Loping Camshaft

      The sequels aren’t as good as the first, but I still liked them for the most part. People wanted the same sense of wonder and that was impossible. Like when a band releases a killer first album, it’s almost impossible for the followup to be as good. The sequels included a lot of explanation of the questions that were left from the first movie. Yes, there were problems, but as someone interested in philosophy it was cool to see a lot of classical themes explored in an action movie.

      • Zanpa

        “the same sense of wonder [...] was impossible.”
        That’s why they should have stopped. You don’t have to make a sequel to everything as soon as it makes a little bit of money.

        • Loping Camshaft

          That’s a valid point. I would say they made them because A) hey thought they could recreate the experience and hence the revenue of the first movie and B) Ego. I think it was OK they made the sequels because I did want to see more of that world and where the story could go. Remember, Star Wars wasn’t a guaranteed trilogy either, Ep IV can stand on it’s own.

          • runnermatt

            The Wachoski’s always intended for The Matrix to be 3 movies, but it was such a wild concept most studios wouldn’t sign off on them. Warner Bros only signed off on the first initially to see how it did before they signed off on the second two. The second and third were filmed at the same time which is why there were released to theaters so close together. “The Animatrix” and the video game “Enter the Matrix” expand the story line with background information and parallel story lines.

        • runnermatt

          Actually the Wachoski’s always intended for The Matrix to be 3 movies, but it was such a wild concept most studios wouldn’t sign off on them. Warner Bros only signed off on the first initially to see how it did before they signed off on the second two. The second and third were filmed at the same time which is why there were released to theaters so close together. “The Animatrix” and the video game “Enter the Matrix” expand the story line with background information and parallel story lines.

  • KeithB

    nevermind

  • Dan

    A lot of this content looks suspiciously similar to the VisorDown article, “Top 10 things movies get wrong about motorcycles” –

    http://www.visordown.com/motorcycle-top-10s/top-10-things-movies-get-wrong-about-motorcycles/23559.html

    • Rameses the 2nd

      Top 6 v/s Top 10. Totally Different. Just like left Twix v/s right Twix.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RiFhTGZlxGo

    • Malandro

      I checked the date on the article as I was sure I’d read it before – now I know I had!

    • Jack Meoph

      boing!!!! hahahahaha

      • Mattin11225

        I have to say that this is actually a very bad thing and needs to be addressed by a member of the staff pretty quickly, most approriately with an edit or update to the article and not down here in the comments. Journalistic integrity is pretty much everything. Especially in light of RideApart and Motorcycle.com’s recent articles from the same week regarding decreasing radius turns.

  • Tee Jay

    Lol don’t forget the Ducati’s seemingly awesome automatic gearbox with UNLIMITED gears!

    • runnermatt

      I haven’t watched it in a while, but I’ll have listen for that next time I do. Your comment did make me laugh, but the bike does sound awesome.

    • Timothy Gammey

      you mean they don’t have 86 gears?

  • Boredinmin

    Wait a second…..Cool As Ice MOVIE?! That might be the worst movie ever made. Must find….

    • David Gasser

      Yo Dawg…my bike be trippin’!

    • Eric

      It seriously is the worst movie ever made, it’s damn near unwatchable. It’s on Netflix, dollar says you can’t make 30 minutes.

  • metric_G
    • Jorn Bjorn Jorvi

      You missed the point, buddy. That movie was an intentionally comically over the top piece of camp.

      • akaaccount

        Yeah, because Cool as Ice was a cautionary tale of the danger of stereotypes and the social stigma faced by a generation, giving a voice to a disenfranchised but growing minority.

        • Jorn Bjorn Jorvi

          I wasn’t talking bout Cool as Ice.

  • Timothy Gammey

    How about the fact that on the screen you see a single cylinder bike, but what you hear is a four cylinder?

  • Rameses the 2nd

    Trinity could outrun everyone, but she knew how important it was to properly break-in the engine.

    • Fava d’Aronne

      Also, that Ducati should be brought back to the dealer, because it is malfunctioning: the front lights are not working. Perhaps the key given by the key master caused a short circuit that blew a fuse?

  • Blixa

    Hey Vanilla Ice used to be a pretty decent motocross racer. That’s the only thing I remember from his biography I read back when I was eleven.

    • Fava d’Aronne

      Somebody should write an article about the pants he was wearing in this video.

  • http://garrett-nelson.tumblr.com/ Garrett Nelson

    I don’t get how movies can’t get the sounds right for the motorcycles. They just need to do a bit of a youtube search for the type of bike being used to get an idea of the right sound. I particularly loved Ryan Gosling’s magic DR-Z from ‘The Place Beyond the Pines’ that went from 2 stroke to 4 stroke. I was pretty surprised though when the Ducati Diavel in ‘The Wolverine’ actually sounded like a Ducati Diavel. Probably the first time I’ve ever heard the movie motorcycle match it’s real life counterpart

    • Michele Menichini

      It’s an Honda xr 650

      • http://garrett-nelson.tumblr.com/ Garrett Nelson

        In the beginning of the movie he has a DR-Z. Then I believe his friend destroys his DR-Z and gives him the XR650.

    • Michael Howard

      “They just need to do a bit of a youtube search for the type of bike being used to get an idea of the right sound.” Or maybe they could listen to (or even mic) the bike they’re filming.

      • http://garrett-nelson.tumblr.com/ Garrett Nelson

        True. I was going to give the sound people the benefit of the doubt that they might not be on set during principle filming. But maybe they should just show up and record the motorcycles filming.

        • jgroszko

          I’d wager they just picked whatever sounded good from an artistic perspective without any regard for accuracy, they probably never intended to be accurate, they just picked what they wanted it to sound like. To anyone who doesn’t geek out about these things one motorcycle just sounds like any other motorcycle, right?

          • Mr. White

            Exactly. It’s all about dramatic effect. Same reason why guns usually sound super unrealistic in movies.

            • runnermatt

              Also, guns are never as loud in movies and TV as they actually are.

            • Michael Howard

              True. But to viewers who have even the slightest familiarity with the subject matter, unrealistic sounds (and every other aspect of the potrayal) will bitch-slap you right out of the moment and kill the immersion.

          • runnermatt

            Bingo, and apparently Ducati’s just sound right to begin with.

    • runnermatt

      Movie studios typically change the sound of cars and bikes to get the sound they want. I guess Ducati’s just sound right in the first place.

  • PJ

    Trinity is just demonstrating how to properly lane-split

  • Aaron

    I wish my Speed had tires that would change like that.

  • Bryan Woody Wood

    Okay, not to be some sort of geek here, but in “The Matrix” the whole thing takes place in a simulated world, so YES it is very possible the download electro-magically removed all the tie downs, and YES it is possible that the Cadillac chasing them was faster, hell you don’t even have to obey the laws of physics in that world!

    • Fava d’Aronne

      Very valid point – I hadn’t thought about it. But I wonder if the writers did too.

  • http://www.motopraxis.com/ Aakash

    That Vanilla Ice clip is epic!

  • charlie

    The Matrix should get a pass since, you know, the agents can take over the body of whoever they want.

  • Aaron L

    How about Ryan Gosling’s recent film- A Place Beyond the Pines- where an XR650 apparently sounds exactly like a screaming middleweight bike?

  • Nick Gye

    And what about riding off a bridge or the back of a truck with no more effects than going over a speed bump?

  • Sudeep Babu

    How could you guys miss out ‘Torque’?? The entire movie of course!

  • Jack Meoph

    I also find it interesting that there are always scenes of the guy on the bike wringing the throttle and his speed remains the same. You have to wonder if everyone in Hollyweird only ride Hardleys.

    • Jack Meoph

      BTW: my ex..brother in law, Brad Bovee (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0100590/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1) was a stunt man in the movies, and he was working on “Cobra” and the scene where the bikes are all falling/sliding over, I think it’s at the motel…the director is like “why is everyone falling over on the left side?” So in the next take, Brad slides the bike on the right side.

  • Reid

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5MfFK0vejU
    How about something that gets bikes RIGHT?

  • andr01dm

    The motorcycle flip from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIRxsCHViPk#t=2m02s

    Mythbuster also did an episode where they debunked it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7FHEDma_to

    Also I’m pretty sure trying to drive through a wooden road block would be a bit more catastrophic.

  • Sean Tempère

    Also on Matrix’s 996, front light is on off and rear light is on.

  • Chris Cope

    How dare you question the veracity of “Cool As Ice.” How dare you, sir! That film is a 100-percent accurate portrayal of actual events.

    • Mr. White

      Yeah, I thought it was a documentary!

  • Justin McClintock

    Ah yes, nothing like the sound of a sportbike dubbed over a dirtbike. Hollywood seems to get that sorta thing wrong at a pretty regular clip. I’ve seen multiple shows where they’ve take a 4 stroke bike and made it sound like a 2 stroke, and multiple where they’ve taken a 2 stroke and made it sound like a 4 stroke. Stupid on so many levels.

  • Scheffy

    What’s more unbelievable is Trinity riding on the shoulder for that long without picking up a nail.

    • runnermatt

      It’s the matrix. The machines forgot to program the nails to be there.

  • juliansr

    i can give matrix a break since they take down an Escalade with a Samurai sword.

  • devillock

    Speed Triple’s don’t sound like that.

  • Michael Roell

    I’m surprised I’m the first to mention this. It is John Connor, not O’Connor. You guys have been watching too much Fast & Furious I think.

  • Larry

    Vanilla Ice: The Original Squid. Somewhere a bro reads this in a tanning bed not getting what’s so funny.

  • Martinas
  • http://ericrshelton.com/ Eric R. Shelton

    All 84 minutes of Torque?
    (I don’t care, it’s still one of my favorite guilty pleasures. LOL)

  • Guest

    Try Jim Carrey’s Hypermotard run in Yes Man. Sound of bike goes back and forth from the real sound to 4 banger

  • Guest
  • FSAE

    Anyone notice in the Mission Impossible clip posted, that at the 1:54 mark he twists the left handgrip to rev the engine? Obviously flipped in post-production…

  • Phillip