Jul 06, 2023

Top 10 bikes ridden by Tom Cruise in movies

He's the world's biggest movie star, loves doing his own stunts, and loves riding motorcycles too - here are the top ten bikes ridden on screen by Tom Cruise

IT's another year, another year of summer blockbuster movies, another Mission: Impossible flick and, with it, as has become almost inevitable, another starring role for Tom Cruise and a bike – in this case Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One and motorcycle nut Tom tearing around Rome on a stolen police BMW.

But haven’t we seen all this before? Bikes have pretty much starred in all of Tom’s recent movies, haven’t they? But which movies and which bikes exactly? To answer the question once and for all here’s our list of the Ten Best Motorcycle Moments in Tom Cruise Movies, in reverse chronological order…

Where the whole Cruise/bike thing began. Cruise’s character, Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell is a US Navy pilot at the ‘Top Gun’ fighter pilot school whose transportation of choice is Kawasaki’s then class-leading GPz900R which steals the movie for bike nuts when he briefly rides alongside an F14 jet then later takes love-interest Kelly McGillis out for a ‘backie’. Tom does all his own riding for the first time and the bike itself proved a little controversial, with two being bought from a Californian dealer, but subsequently disappearing and some thinking it was the lesser GPz750R die to its US-market red/black paintjob. A replica, stickers and all, makes a brief cameo in last year’s reprised Top Gun: Maverick.

The next Tom Cruise big bike outing comes in the second of his Mission: Impossible series (we’ll gloss over his brief appearance on a Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail in 1990’s NASCAR flick ‘Days of Thunder’, here) and set the staple for bikes starring in the franchise. Resurgent Brit brand Triumph got the gig this time and its then brand-new Speed Triple T509 and Daytona 595 star in a quite frankly ridiculous bike chase with Cruise’s character Ethan Hunt aboard the Speedie chasing baddie Sean Ambrose (Dougray Scott) on the Daytona. Implausible pirouettes, shooting stoppies, jumps and more take place, sometimes with the bikes wearing full knobbly tyres, sometimes not. One of the bikes used is now at Triumph’s Visitor Experience Museum in Hinckley…

Another Mission: Impossible outing, although, with no significant bike chases of stunts in this third outing of the franchise, if you blink you’ll probably miss it. Again, it’s a Triumph but this time the first version of the Bonneville Scrambler, again slightly modified with full-on knobblies on which Cruise’s character Ethan Hunt arrives at an airstrip for a rendezvous with his team. No great shakes, admittedly, but enough, apparently, for one of the bikes used in the scene to be later auctioned off for a whopping $30,000!

Four years later Tom is back to bike stunting form with a prolonged bike stunt scene and chase. This time it’s not a Mission: Impossible flick but the one-off comedy thriller Knight and Day in which co-stars as mysterious spy character Roy Miller alongside screen siren Cameron Diaz as June Havens. The scene concerned features Tom this time on a Ducati Hypermotard with Cameron as his pillion (although some of the scenes were doubled by stunt men and women and one actually had a dummy in place of Ms Diaz). Interesting trivia: rumour has it that some of the stunts and jumps were so demanding that the bike was actually swapped for a specially prepared Aprilia Dorsoduro disguised to look like the Ducati.

Time for another slightly oddball one. After Knight and Day, Tom Cruise did both Mission: Impossible, Ghost Protocol, then the first Jack Reacher, neither of which featured bikes. Instead, two-wheels next appear in 2013’s futuristic space thriller Oblivion, co-starring Olga Kurylenko. You’d think there would be no room for bikes, but no, Cruise’s character, Jack, does take part in a brief-ish scene aboard a high tech ‘space bike’ which, according to rumours, was actually fashioned out of a Honda CRF450 motocrosser.

Another biking ‘cameo’ in a slightly oddball futuristic Tom Cruise sci-fi flick. 2014’s ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ saw Cruise star as soldier Cage alongside Britain’s Emily Blunt as Rita in a battle against aliens that he re-lives the same day over and over again. Before all that, however, Cage is seen scratching around London on a bike and, yes, it’s another Triumph, this time the old 865cc, air-cooled Thruxton café racer.

Right, enough of all that silliness, time for some proper, full-on, Tom Cruise and motorcycles biking action. The fifth episode of Cruise’s Mission: Impossible series, Rogue Nation, sees bikes back in the big time as Cruise’s Ethan Hunt chases after mysterious British agent Rebecca Ferguson in Morocco, with both (and more than a few baddies) this time mounted on BMW S1000RRs and fun and fast stuff it really is. Three interesting facts: One, ex-BSB racer Jenny Tinmouth did the riding instead of Rebecca; Two, Essex leathers specialists Hideout made their suits, one for standing, one for riding; and three (and nothing to do with bikes), the opening scene which sees Hunt clinging to the side of a transport plane, was shot at RAF Wittering, near Peterborough…

The Mission: Impossible connection with BMW continued in the next outing of the franchise, Fallout, where bikes again played a starring role. This time we see Hunt this time in Paris aboard a BMW RnineT Pure, riding the wrong way around the Arc de Triomphe and more before being side-swiped by a car. (Much of the tracking footage, incidentally, was shot by ex-champion motocrosser Rob Herring.) It’s not all BMWs, though. We also briefly see co-star Henry Cavill aboard a Triumph Speed Triple and Rebecca Ferguson (again doubled by Jenny Tinmouth) on a Triumph Tiger.

If you’re starting to think by now that all Tom Cruise motorcycle movies appearances are in Mission: Impossible movies, think again. 2022 saw the long overdue sequel to 1986’s Top Gun and the return, not just of Cruise’s Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell character, ‘Ice Man’, F14 jets and so on but also of bikes – in an early scene ‘Mav’ not only memorably goes for a spin on Kawasaki’s spiritual successor to the original’s GPz, the supercharged H2, but we also briefly see that, in his aircraft hanger/man cave, he also still has the original Ninja, too!

But for the latest and arguably greatest Tom Cruise biking movie scene, there’s none better than the new Mission: Impossible flick, Dead Reckoning Part One which features not just one but TWO great biking stunt scenes – although it doesn’t initially appear that way. First, our man Hunt nicks an Italian police spec BMW G310GS (yeah, we were a bit underwhelmed by that bike choice, too) on which to evade the baddies in Rome. But then later, on a custom, blacked out, Honda CRF250 motocrosser, after chasing a train he jumps off a cliff before opening a parachute in what’s being hailed as the greatest movie bike stunt of all time. Cruise, who did the stunt himself and called it the most dangerous he’s ever attempted, apparently trained for months for the scene; performing over 500 skydives and 13,000 jumps. A massive ramp was built in Hellvlt, Norway and the scene was shot six times.

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IT's another year, another year of summer blockbuster movies, another Mission: Impossible flick and, with it, as has become almost inevitable, another starring role for Tom Cruise and a bike – in this case Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One and motorcycle nut Tom tearing around Rome on a stolen police BMW.