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When cycling hits the big screen — classic and cringeworthy cycling scenes from the movies

With both terrific and tragic films on repeat throughout the festive season in equal measure, here we round up a dozen memorable cycling scenes from otherwise non-cycling films

Most of us are familiar with the great (and not so great) cycling movies, which we have already attempted to round up in our guide to the best cycling films. In this article, we're taking a detour and picking cycling scenes from films that aren't otherwise bike-related. 

We hope you enjoy the ride down memory lane. Do feel free to tell us about your own favourite or least favourite cycling film clips in the comments below... 

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) 

I dare say that a whole generation of us occasionally walked around with a pillowcase over our heads and with a finger stuck out chanting “phone home” in a strange voice, and some of us still do after a few too many shandies.

Yes, Spielberg’s E.T. was a game changing and era-defining film, which could perhaps even be considered as a cycling classic, as there were so many great scenes of Elliot, E.T and the cast pedalling away.

road.cc cycling scenes rating: 90%

The Sound of Music (1965)

It is Christmas, so it’s hard not to include a clip of Julie Andrews and the hauntingly clad Von Trapp riding along singing Do-Re-Mi. Loved by grandmothers the world over, and a curse of Christmas for many.

Be warned, if you watch this it will haunt your next turbo session...

road.cc cycling scenes rating: 25%

The Plank (1967)

Many of us of a certain age grew up watching Eric Sykes riding bikes and playing instruments on our ancient TV screens, and his film The Plank is a true comedic classic of the era (although some may find it a tad slapstick, it was of its time). It did have some great cycling scenes and is almost guaranteed to make you grin, even if you won't admit it.

road.cc cycling scenes rating: 70%

The Car (1977)

The 1970s American sci-fi thriller The Car can be a little of unnerving for cyclists to watch, although this demonic black Lincoln Continental’s murderous and driverless antics do get more and more ridiculous as the film goes on. Either way it is worthy of a mention, we think. Or at least the opening cycling scene is...

road.cc cycling scenes rating: 70%

Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid (1969)

Loosely based on romanticised reality, and an absolute classic movie in every possible sense, this 1969 film starring Robert Redford and Paul Newman as Butch and Sundance is a true seasonal treat for cyclists and non-cyclists alike.

The cycling scene, where Newman romances Kathrine Ross to the backdrop of Raindrops Keep Falling on my head, is a true aww moment.

Another cycling related fact: the epic cliff jump scene was filmed at Bakers Bridge, a regular turnaround point on a local ride for Durango cyclists such as Sepp Kuss and Ned Overend.

road.cc cycling scenes rating 85%

Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985)

Love it or hate it, there’s no getting away from the fact that this 1985 comedy starring Paul Reubens as Pee-wee has some fun cycling scenes, especially the highly relatable 'trying to wheelie' clip.

After having his beloved Schwinn DX cruiser bike stolen, Pee-wee sets off to recover it. I guess this could even be considered a cycling film.

road.cc cycling scenes rating: 75%

Premium Rush (2012)

The fictional 2012 tale of a Manhattan bike messenger who finds himself pursued by a corrupt cop may stretch the envelope for many film buffs, and yet there’s some great and bold fixie footage in this one. It’s something that all cyclists should watch, at least once.

road.cc cycling scenes rating: 85%

RV (2006)

The greatly-missed Robin Williams was a comedic genius, and a man known for his deep love of cycling. He also had one of the finest bike collections around.

The scene from the 2006 movie RV, where he chases down a rented RV on a bike, is an all-time classic. Stuntman John Davies actually performed the action scenes.

The movie may not be a great by the standards of many other films starring Williams, but this scene is.

road.cc cycling scenes rating: 88%

Transporter 3 (2008)

When you’re a rugged-faced hitman in a fancy suit, and without a mobile phone when your car gets lifted, what do you do? Well iif you happen to be Jason Statham then the answer is a no-brainer... just grab a random kid’s BMX and set off in chase of it (and he got it back, of course). 

The full chase scene may well be less than three minutes long, but it was pulled off and filmed to near perfection. Although I guess BMX experts out there would find many holes in it.

Bike stunts were performed by former World Champion trials riders Vincent Hermance and Thomas Caillard.

road.cc cycling scenes rating: 92% 

The 40-year-old Virgin (2005)

While this film is a hoot and was Steve Carrell's first major Hollywood starring role, the association between Andy Stitzer - a shy and introverted middle-aged virgin portrayed as a loser - and his mode of transport is quite outdated, and indicative of a world that saw the car as king. Arguably it's still the case, especially in the US; but try telling your average Dutch person that cycling is only for losers.

We see Andy battling the traffic on the commute to his dead-end job in various scenes throughout the film, riding a fittingly uncool hybrid with his helmet on at all times. The main plot, of course, revolves around Andy's love interest Trish not knowing that he's a virgin, culminating in a (admittedly very funny) bike chase where he catapults through the side of a lorry, finally revealing the truth to Trish. 

While Andy gets the girl and shakes off his dud status by the end of the film, there's no doubting that it uses cycling as a way of establishing Andy as an underachiever, which many of us cyclists may disagree with. 

road.cc cycling scenes rating: 55%

Mr Bean’s Holiday (2007)

Rowan Atkinson’s Mr. Bean and his antics have been entertaining the whole world for many years, perhaps even more so outside of the UK than here at home, where his slapstick style humour is much appreciated.

In 2007 he embarked on a holiday to France, and the scenes of him riding his roadster, catching and passing a bike race (supposedly the Tour de France) as well as hitching a pull here and there are just the tipple for an evening of light Boxing Day evening fun.

road.cc cycling scenes rating: 75%

Donnie Darko (2001)

Touted as one of the best independent movies of all time, but sadly somewhat stifled at the time by a coincidental plane crash scene that turned many viewers off in the aftermath of 9/11, Donnie Darko is a sci-fi thriller where the young Donnie is haunted by a prophetic giant rabbit, amongst other things.

What initially appeals in cycling terms is the opening clip, or perhaps even the opening few seconds of the film. Here, the pajama-clad and sleep-walking/riding teenager lifts himself and his bike up from a deserted mountain road before sunrise to witness the mountains and cloud inversions below him – something many of us can relate to in some way. He then rides home to the sound of The Killing Moon by Echo & the Bunnymen. Had it been any other tune, it would probably not be so poignant to some of us.

road.cc cycling scene rating: 70%

Other notable mentions

Now and Then (1985)
Quicksilver (1986)
Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
Stranger Things (2016)
Max (2015)
The Goonies (1985)
SpongeBob, Sponge Out of Water (2015)
The Wizard of Oz (1939)

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28 comments

Avatar
stonojnr | 7 months ago
1 like

cant believe the Goldeneye bike scene didnt get a mention

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1UTX7tBYy4

or BMX bandits for that matter.

Avatar
Mr.C | 7 months ago
1 like

The Triplets of Belleville (Belleville Rendezvous in some markets). 94% on the Tomatometer.  Wonderful period references.

 

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craggie | 7 months ago
0 likes

Jour de Fete. Somewhat implausible but very funny.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ESjtU5yEcM

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TheBillder | 7 months ago
1 like

Il Postino (1994) - a very good film with amazing Italian scenery. Well worth finding - 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. If you liked Cinema Paradiso, this should hit the spot.

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IanMSpencer | 7 months ago
2 likes

Breaking Away is a great cycling film (if you like coming of age films based in Small Town America).

Here is the scene though that will have cycling nerds in pieces. Our Hero goes for a training ride and gets paced by an HGV. Things to look for:

1) The speed in MPH
2) What gear Our Hero is in  (compare 40 with 50).
3) 60mph on the flat.

and...

4) An American lorry driver that likes cyclists!

5) A lorry driver passing in another lane.

This clip seems to have been stolen by recording the film in the toilet of a cinema or something.

https://youtu.be/GTzzHRywLBE?si=gGz-kbdUbXbjnxnY&t=1255

Avatar
Miller | 7 months ago
1 like

I propose a sub-category which is bike appearances in pop'n'rock videos.

I can think of a couple straight away although I know there are plenty others: Goldfrapp 'A&E' and Zed Bias 'Neighbourhood'. Selectah!

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to Miller | 7 months ago
4 likes

The Style Council, My Ever-Changing Moods - style indeed!

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sheridan replied to Miller | 7 months ago
0 likes

Miller wrote:

I propose a sub-category which is bike appearances in pop'n'rock videos.

I can think of a couple straight away although I know there are plenty others: Goldfrapp 'A&E' and Zed Bias 'Neighbourhood'. Selectah!

Queen - Bicycle Race - I won't post a link though  3

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to sheridan | 7 months ago
1 like

sheridan wrote:

Queen - Bicycle Race - I won't post a link though  3

I heard that Queen had to purchase all the saddles used in that video

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mark1a replied to Miller | 7 months ago
2 likes

Supergrass - Alright. 3 Choppers - and they're riding bikes made by Raleigh that were popular in the 70s. 

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Rendel Harris replied to mark1a | 7 months ago
2 likes

mark1a wrote:

Supergrass - Alright. 3 Choppers - and they're riding bikes made by Raleigh that were popular in the 70s. 

Gaz from Supergrass was responsible for one of my favourite quotes about the EPO scandal: "I say hats off to all these blokes riding on drugs, takes some doing. I tried to do that and rode straight into a hedge."

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leisurist replied to Miller | 7 months ago
0 likes

I like the video for British Sea Power's "Machineries of Joy" where a woman in a chunky sweater rides around the countryside getting slightly sweaty.

 

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Tortoise10 | 7 months ago
1 like

Breaking away (1979).  Golden Globes winner.  Dir Peter Yates (Bullitt).  Cast includes Dennis Quaid. 

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brooksby | 7 months ago
2 likes

How's about Tom Baker riding around Cambridge wearing his long overcoat, a scarf, and a hat in the surviving footage from the Shada episode.

Mind you, I suspect the Doctor actually stole someone's (unlocked) bike*

(Passes the Bikedel test as he's just using a bike to get from Point A to Point B)

 

*It was Cambridge in the seventies.

Avatar
hawkinspeter | 7 months ago
2 likes

Just remembered a lesser known TV movie featuring a young Cliff Stoll (known for his Klein bottle business and his enthusiastic Numberphile appearances), "The KGB, The Computer and Me". It's a dramatisation of his "The Cuckoo's Egg" book

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gHNVNRQTJg

If you want to check out his hill climbing ability, head to here: https://youtu.be/4gHNVNRQTJg?si=dNl0A8bLq-zhI1DY&t=145

(There's several other shots of him cycling around too).

This clearly passes the Bikedel test as he's just using a bike to get around.

Avatar
ktache | 7 months ago
2 likes

I lliked premium rush.

There is a cycling thing in the newer Tomb Raider.

Avatar
brooksby replied to ktache | 7 months ago
1 like

ktache wrote:

I lliked premium rush.

There is a cycling thing in the newer Tomb Raider.

First ten minutes of TR is a "fox hunt", IIRC.

I like Premium Rush, and there's a similar British film called Alleycats.

Avatar
Wolfcastle50 | 7 months ago
3 likes

OK so, too many hollywood films show cycling in a bad way. Hollywood see bikes as - the thing you fall off, so we can have a character die/have a meet cute/advance the plot. car are for getting around, bikes are for falling off.

So I have this idea for a test of bikes in films. It's called the Bikedel test after the feminist film test, the Bechtel test - That test is 'do two women have a conversation about something other than a man?' 

The Bikedel test is 'If a character gets on a bike do they hurt themselves?'

Avatar
Miller replied to Wolfcastle50 | 7 months ago
0 likes

It's a good test and most film and tv drama would fail. Good example is the film Yesterday where our cycling protagonist is hit by a bus when he's distracted by all the lights going out. 

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Wolfcastle50 replied to Miller | 7 months ago
0 likes

Another good example is Meg Ryan in City of Angels. Gets on a bike, rides with hands off steering wheel, eyes closed, supposedly enjoying the moment - then dead. Because we needed to kill her off and not blame anyone else.

Avatar
hawkinspeter replied to Wolfcastle50 | 7 months ago
2 likes

Wolfcastle50 wrote:

OK so, too many hollywood films show cycling in a bad way. Hollywood see bikes as - the thing you fall off, so we can have a character die/have a meet cute/advance the plot. car are for getting around, bikes are for falling off.

So I have this idea for a test of bikes in films. It's called the Bikedel test after the feminist film test, the Bechtel test - That test is 'do two women have a conversation about something other than a man?' 

The Bikedel test is 'If a character gets on a bike do they hurt themselves?'

Not exactly Hollywood, Jackie Chan has a famous bike scene in Project A

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ZFr4uiR5x0

However, everyone on a bike gets hurt at some point in that, so a major Bikedel failure.

Also Jackie Chan uses a bike in The Spy Next Door (which I think is Hollywood), but it's debatable whether he's actually riding it (he's shown doing some flatland skills, but I'd bet that it's not him doing that):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xP00DwsZuZI

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cyclisto replied to Wolfcastle50 | 7 months ago
0 likes

One day (2011) and Métisse (1993) follow the same theme. Also Last Action Hero (1993) portrayed cycling as the obvious weak character.

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the little onion | 7 months ago
1 like

There is a good joke in Burn After Reading (one of the Coen brothers' less good films) about Brad Pitt's charater's Bianchi being confused for a Schwinn. Film is decent, the scene is chuckle-raising.

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hawkinspeter | 7 months ago
0 likes

There's a remake of The Plank made in 1979. It's still Eric Sykes, though unfortunately not Tommy Cooper (Arthur Lowe plays his part), but has just about every comic actor from around that period.

Here's the 1979 version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUbcaE44cSw

Full 1967 version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0Kjm8Op60A

(If you like some silent Sykes slapstick, then there's also Rhubarb Rhubarb from 1980 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EOiwJkMvIYI)

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stefv | 7 months ago
0 likes
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Rendel Harris replied to stefv | 7 months ago
0 likes

It's on the other list (linked to in the opening paragraph) of the best cycling films, this list is the best cycling scenes in films which otherwise don't have anything to do with cycling.

Avatar
Miller | 7 months ago
2 likes

In butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid (great film) I always saw the bike as being a signifier of a new world that was sweeping away the Old West in which they could subsist by robbery, and by extension, sweeping away them.
The Mr Bean (car nut) cycle sequence is a straight copy of the classic french film M Hulot's Holiday. But you knew that.

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to Miller | 7 months ago
1 like

Miller wrote:

In butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid (great film) I always saw the bike as being a signifier of a new world that was sweeping away the Old West in which they could subsist by robbery, and by extension, sweeping away them.

Indeed, just before Butch takes Etta for the famous ride he shows her the bicycle and says "Meet the future" - then when they light out for Bolivia where they hope they can return to their old lifestyle he dumps the bike and says "The future's yours, you lousy bicycle."

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