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Common Tread

Four TV and movie bikes you can buy to amaze and mystify your friends

Sep 29, 2015

Attention Boomers with lots of disposable cash and a nostalgic fondness for 1970s pop culture. Your chance to own some really goofy … I mean unique and famous motorcycles is coming up tomorrow.

Take your pick: rocker chopper, Evel eagle, futuristic flyer, or king cool.

Hollywood Auction 74 by Profiles in History starts today, but the motorcycles go on the block tomorrow. So what are we considering, bidders?

John Bonham's Sunset Tripper chopper
Jon Bonham's Sunset Tripper is the British version of the Captain America chopper. Suggested starting bid: $30,000. Photo from Profiles in History.
Let’s start with the Sunset Tripper, a Triumph chopper with a springer front end that was owned by Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham. With its Union Jack tank, this bike was Britain’s answer to the Captain America chopper in "Easy Rider." Burbank Choppers built customs for each of the Led Zeppelin band members and drummer John Bonham rode this one in a dream sequence in the 1976 film "The Song Remains the Same," giving the bike its cinematic cred.

The Sunset Tripper spent 26 years on display in a pizzeria in Denmark. It’s supposedly in “very good vintage condition,” though Profiles in History reports that the mechanicals are “untested” and the rubber grips have deteriorated. In the photos, I can see that the left highway peg’s rubber is deteriorated to the point of being missing. No word on whether there’s any residual pepperoni odor from its Danish banishment.

Evel Knievel Stratocycle
Even if you can't afford to buy the Stratocycle, maybe you can pick up some styling ideas for customizing your own ride. Or maybe the 1970s just aren't coming back. Photo from Profiles in History.

Evel Knievel Stratocycle
Every eagle needs wings. Photo from Profiles in History.
In keeping with the nationalistic theme, next up is the Stratocycle, a 1976 Harley-Davidson XLCH Sportster that was customized in glorious or hideous fashion, depending on your sensibilities, for its appearance in the 1977 film "Viva Knievel!" It has wings! It has eagles and stars and stripes on that fiberglass fairing! It has no front brake? Who cares? It’s a 1970s AMF Harley and the bidding starts at $200,000, so if you do buy it, you’re not even going to think about starting it.

I hope you weren't expecting that was a real turbine in the Turboflyer from Galactica 1980. Photo from Profiles in History auction catalog.

The Stratocycle isn’t the only bike with wings. Also on the auction block is a Flying Turbocycle from the TV show "Galactica 1980." Sadly, the bike only appears to have a turbine powerplant. Under the Hollywood fakery, this is a Yamaha MX175 (it still has the knobby tires), so don’t expect to do any real flying. At least the pneumatic system that raises and lowers the wings still works. Bidding starts at just $25,000.

Fonzie's Triumph
The Fonz rode a Triumph. Well, he didn't actually ride it. Photo from Profiles in History auction catalog.

Finally, we have another Triumph from TV fame: One of the motorcycles ridden by Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli in the popular 1970s sitcom "Happy Days." Are you cool enough to own the bike ridden by the Fonz? OK, Henry Winkler couldn’t actually ride a motorcycle, it seems, so it was just wheeled around, mostly.

Fonzie' Triumph
Back in the 1970s, most people thought this was the coolest motorcycle on TV. No, really, they did. Photo from Profiles in History.
Famed stunt rider and go-to Hollywood motorcycle guy Bud Ekins built three 500cc Triumph Trophy bikes for the show, modified with high handlebars, silver paint and an absent front fender, and this 1949 model is the only one that survived. Profiles in History informs us that “The ‘cool factor’ of this Triumph is impossible to quantify or duplicate.” Bidding starts at $100,000.

If you can’t swing the bike, you can get one of Fonzie’s brown leather jackets, instead. Bidding starts at just $30,000.

There’s also some other junk, like a 2006 Harley-Davidson V-Rod that Dennis Hopper bought and rode a few miles before putting on display in his loft. Those Hollywood types. It’s all about the image.

The 1970s did have high points. Maybe I'll wander from Profiles in History to the less rarefied air of eBay or Craigslist. Maybe find a smokin' deal on a Kawasaki KZ1000 police special with no pedigree or a Honda CB400F. Then go ride it. That'd be cool.