Bikes are fun; bikes are fast; bikes are timeless, simple and beautiful. Bikes also have a universal appeal that registers with both children and adults.
For these reasons and a multitude of others, filmmakers have long used bicycles for everything from basic props to eye-candy to plot vehicles for self-improvement and self-advancement.
With these thoughts in mind, I’ve compiled a list of the 5 Best Bike Movies/Scenes from the 80’s. Let the spirited, nay spoked, debate begin…
5. Goonies (1985)
Bikes don’t figure long in the plot here, but our unlikely heroes use their BMX’s to stage an early escape after they find the treasure map in the attic. Josh Broslin’s Brand Walsh character gives chase on a girl’s BMX — his mountain bike having been sabotaged by the other Goonies in an attempt to delay him — and is promptly run off the road at 45 mph by the resident high school d-bag and preppy jerkoff, Troy. Hilarity ensues…
4. E.T. (1982)
This classic family film sports a fantastic ending — arguably the most famous bike chase in the long history of cinema — that hits an emotional crest when E.T. and company ride off into the sky, mounted on their radtacular BMX’s, after eluding the stuffed-suit authorities in a daring game of cat-and-mouse.
3. American Flyers (1985)
Repeat after me: Kevin Costner never makes a bad sports film, and American Flyers, the story of a pair of loving-but-competitive cyclist siblings racing for the same team in the American Rockies is no exception. The scenery, plotting and racing, crashes included, are all top-notch, authentic and true to life. That dated soundtrack and score? Not so much…
2. Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (1985)
Before he was arrested for indecent exposure in 1991 at a Florida movie theater, Paul Reubens was best known for his alter ego, the wildly funny and disarming entertainer, Pee Wee Herman. PW-mania hit full-bloom in the mid-80’s after the release of this seminal film, the odyssey of an “eccentric man-child [who] embarks on the big adventure of his life across the US mainland, as he sets out to find his beloved bike, when it is stolen in broad daylight.” (Thanks IMDB!) The movie even opens with a homage to the Tour de France. Everyone that’s ever lost a bike to a bike thief can sympathize. Sigh.
1. Quicksilver (1986)
Where to start with this one? Would it be Kevin Bacon’s earnest performance as a disgraced Wall Streeter who finds redemption via the collision between his finely-sculpted calves and the fixed-gear, steel horse he rides? The neon-tinted, finely stereotyped bike fashion of the era? The farfetched plot (wait, someone got murdered?)? The attention to detail (if it’s a fixed gear, why can I hear the rear derailleur clicking?)? In the end, none of these demerits really detract from the overall vision and finished product, however hamfisted it may seem on the surface. Ultimately, Quicksilver is a film by the 80’s, for the 80’s and of the 80’s, the finest example of its genre and type.
Honorable Mention: Rad (1986)
I’m sure I’ll be hammered for not including this coming-of-age story about Cru Jones, a paperboy-cum-BMX-er determined to win the challenging Hell Race, in the Top 5 itself, so let me cut off any complaints with this preemptive addition to the HM roll. In my defense, I never watched this movie as a child so my nostalgic affinity for it is less than the other fine flicks on our index.