There’s a recurring, villainous trademark of the Bond films that fans like to call ‘Baddies on Bikes’. It’s the idea that, when 007 is in a tight spot, nothing lights a fire under the superspy like sending a couple of lackies in leathers his way.
And it happens a lot. In Thunderball, SPECTRE assassin Fiona Volpe chases Bond astride a BSA Lightning 650. In For Your Eyes Only, minions on machine gun-equipped Yahama XT500s pursue the spy over the Southern Alps. And, in The Spy Who Loved Me, 007 evades a henchman riding a Kawasaki Z900 fitted with a rocket-powered sidecar.
But there have also been bikes on the side of good. In Spectre, for example, a Norton Dominator SS can be spotted being retrofitted with machine guns in Q-Branch — although, curiously, it is never used in the film. And Bond himself is also a dab hand behind the handlebars. Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig, particularly, rode their fair share of motorcycles over the last three decades.
So, from the only motorbike ride Ian Fleming ever wrote for his literary spy to the trio of machines commandeered by our Bond incumbent, here’s every motorcycle James Bond has ever revved up…
The Honda CRF250R proved its mettle in Skyfall
What is it? Light of frame and knobbly of tyre, Honda’s CRF250R is a hard-charging corner carver. Introduced to the two-wheeled world in 2004, this four-stroke, liquid-cooled motocross and trail bike from the Japanese brand packs just over 40 horsepower — and is renowned for its tough, rough and readiness.
When did 007 ride it? During the pre-title sequence of Skyfall. Modified by the Bond team to resemble a street merchant’s bike, Bond nabs one to pursue mercenary assassin Patrice (also riding a CRF500R — this one a commandeered Istanbul Police Department model) through the Turkish capital’s famous Grand Bazaar.
What happens to it? Bond certainly puts the trail bike through its petrol-powered paces. After taking it through the bazaar, 007 rides it onto the roof, ruins some tiles and then takes it back into the market through a window. Eventually, he crashes it off a bridge where it bounces against a moving train, and is left abandoned in a Turkish trainyard.
The Cagiva W16 600 met an icy fate in GoldenEye
What is it? The W16 600, similar to the Honda above, is a tried-and-tested trail bike. Built by Italian manufacturer Cagiva, this heavily over-square motor has a top speed of 90mph and features electronic ignition, disc brakes and an electric starter. It was a popular model with European police and armed forces.
When did 007 ride it? In 1986. Which is odd — considering the bike wasn’t built until 1994. During the Soviet-set pre-title sequence of 1995’s GoldenEye, Bond finds himself infiltrating a Russian chemical weapons facility (as you do) — and utilises one of the anachronistic motorcycles to facilitate a daring escape.
What happens to it? Amazingly, this is the first time an EON-approved 007 actually used a proper motorcycle. But the franchise didn’t disappoint. In pursuit of an out-of-control, unmanned plane, Bond motors the bike — itself stolen from a Soviet soldier — off the edge of a mountainous runway. He survives; the bike, presumably, did not.
The Montesa Cota 4RT had a brief cameo in Quantum of Solace
What is it? An overlooked motorbike in an overlooked film. From Montesa — a Barcelona-based subsidiary of Honda — the Montesa Cota 4RT roared to off-road life in 2006, when its four-stroke engine fired up a revolution of lightweight, durable and reasonably affordable motorcycling.
When did 007 ride it? In Quantum of Solace, after he first meets Olga Kurylenko’s Camille Montes in Haiti. After a frosty drive around Port-au-Prince in a Ford Ka, Montes notices she and Bond are being followed by a man on this battered blue Montesa Cota 4RT (a bike almost identical to Matt Damon’s in the previous year’s The Bourne Ultimatum).
What happens to it? Bond gets out of the Ka, knocks the man off the Montesa, kicks him in the face — and takes his bike. He follows Montes to the port of Port-au-Prince and, in an attempt to save her from the villainous General Medrano, he jumps it across a series of boats (spot the stuntman) before abandoning it in the bow of a trawler.
The BMW R1200C Cruiser set a record in Tomorrow Never Dies
What is it? The first non-trail bike on this list. Instead, Brosnan’s second crack of the two-wheeled whip is a big, luxurious cruiser. It was released in 1997, with advance promotional placement in Tomorrow Never Dies. With a two-cylinder boxer engine, 61 horsepower and weighing in at a quarter-tonne, it’s a serious scene-stealer.
When did 007 ride it? In the third act of Tomorrow Never Dies. Escaping the Vietnamese headquarters of Jonathan Pryce’s evil media mogul, Elliot Carver, Bond and Chinese MSS spy Colonel Wai Lin steal a R1200C from a bank of motorcycles and proceed to escape on it through the streets of Saigon — while handcuffed together.
What happens to it? What doesn’t happen to it? Between co-driving the bike, weaving between bicycles and crashing it through the roof of a brothel, the BMW helps to stage Bond’s lengthiest bike chase of the franchise. The most impressive stunt? A done-for-real 44-foot leap between two buildings — above the spinning rotors of a helicopter.
The Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE will make a bang in No Time To Die
What is it? It’s the real deal for both road riding and full-on, off-road adventures. Triumph is a grand choice for Bond — and the upcoming No Time To Die will be the first time that the official franchise has partnered with the great British brand. Specifically, this 1200cc twin-engined scrambler has six riding modes, Brembo brakes and Öhlins suspension.
When did 007 ride it? He will ride it in Matera, during the film’s pre-title sequence. After knocking Dali Benssalah’s assassin Primo out of the saddle, 007 will zoom it around on the Italian city’s cobbles. Later in the film, he will evade another batch of bad guys also riding the Scrambler (as well as Triumph’s equally impressive Tiger 900).
What happens to it? Nothing good, we imagine. Not only will Bond be chased down by henchmen in Range Rovers, Maseratis and even Lancias, but we’ve all seen that daring, soaring jump the Triumph undertakes (check it out above). Unfortunately, the bike will likely befall the same fate as Bond’s unlucky DB5; wrecked and riddled with bullets.
The Honda ATC90 served a purpose in Diamonds Are Forever
What is it? Okay, we’re starting to get sillier now. Pre-Brosnan Bond is pretty slim on the motorcycle front, but this three-wheeled recreational vehicle from Honda just makes the cut. Designed by the Japanese brand to sell in the motorcycle off-season, this is a second-generation US90 — with low-pressure hubless tires and a top speed barely grazing 30mph.
When did 007 ride it? In 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever; Sean Connery’s last EON-produced Bond film. After escaping a research laboratory owned by Willard Whyte (in a moon buggy, but we don’t talk about that), 007 is pursued by a trio of black-helmeted henchmen on Honda ATC90 bikes. Bond ambushes one of the riders and steals his three-wheeler to make a (slightly) quicker getaway.
What happens to it? Bond astride the ATC90 gets less than twenty seconds of screen time — which is just as well given how ludicrous it looks. He hoons the three-wheeler across the Nevada desert to meet Jill St. John’s Tiffany Case — where he jumps out of the saddle and into the considerably more Bond-appropriate Ford Mustang Mach 1.
The BSA M20 is the only motorcycle Bond rode in the novels
What is it? A thoroughly British motorcycle, that’s what. Built by the Birmingham Small Arms Company, the M20 first hit the streets in 1939. It became one of the most popular motorcycles produced for duty in World War II, with over 126,000 of the four-stroke, four-speed military motorcycles in active service at the time.
When did 007 ride it? In Ian Fleming’s 1960 short story ‘From a View to a Kill’. Unlike the film, the novella tells the tale of a murdered motorcycle dispatch-rider who worked for SHAPE, the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe. Bond, tasked with solving the murder, poses as a dispatch-rider — motorcycle and all.
What happens to it? Read for yourself: “Bond braked fiercely and skidded the B.S.A. through forty-five degrees, killing the engine. He was not quite quick enough on the draw. The killer’s gun flared twice and a bullet tore into the saddle-springs beside Bond’s thigh. But then the Colt spoke its single word, and the killer and his B.S.A., as if lassoed from within the forest, veered crazily off the road, leapt the ditch and crashed head-on into the trunk of a beech. For a moment the tangle of man and machinery clung to the broad trunk and then, with a metallic death-rattle, toppled backwards into the grass.”
The Yamaha XJ650 Seca Turbo appeared in Never Say Never Again
What is it? First released in 1982, this Japanese sport-touring motorcycle followed the contemporary trend for turbocharged bikes — and had a top speed of over 220kph. This specific bike was tricked-out with gadgets by Q-Branch; special features including tyre guards to protect the rider and a rocket-launched turbo power boost.
When did 007 ride it? In the non-EON, non-good Never Say Never Again. Sean Connery, back as Bond, chases assassin Fatima Blush around a quaint French Riviera town on his XJ650. Inexplicably, he is fully suited up in a black tie tux at the time — which he seems to be for the entire, awful film.
What happens to it? After using the rocket-boost to jump over a Peugeot 505, and then chase Blush’s Renault 5 Turbo into an abandoned boatyard, Bond is knocked out of his saddle by the assassin. Felix Leiter soon arrives, and Bond escapes in his underwear on a bicycle — leaving the motorbike. As we said; awful film.
The Spirit Marine Wetbike made a splash in The Spy Who Loved Me
What is it? It’s as tenuous as we’re going to get (we drew our line at Octopussy’s tuktuk). And, while Spirit Marine’s Wetbike Hydrofoil ‘Water Motorcycle’ may not be a motorbike by nature, it still is by name. Powered by a Suzuki engine, this early water scooter was introduced in 1978, and was produced until 1992.
When did 007 ride it? In 1977 — another instance of advance product placement. Bond is shipped a Wetbike and uses it to return to Stromberg’s marine lair for the climax of The Spy Who Loved Me. Incredibly, despite it being the first time many audience members even saw a Jet Ski, it still only ranks as the second best marine vehicle in the film — after the sensational submersible Lotus Esprit.
What happens to it? After riding it back to the villain’s lair (accompanied by a strong rendition of the James Bond theme), 007 ditches the Wetbike. What follows is classic Bond — Jaws fights a shark! Bond saves the girl! The lair explodes! — and the Wetbike presumably sinks along with Stromberg. Shame.
Want more 007? Here’s our definitive ranking of every James Bond villain…
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