Classic Biker Badasses

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Biker Bad-ass James Dean
James Dean by Eliza
Sons of Santa

Some of the most bad-ass men in history were bikers. Even a hundred years ago, motorcycles were classic symbols of manliness and general bad-assery. Here are a few of our favorite Classic Biker Bad-asses.

Bad-ass Glenn Curtiss Motorcycle
Glenn Curtiss’ V8 Motorcycle by Cliff

Glenn Curtiss

Arguably the most classic American biker, Glenn Curtiss was known as the “fastest man in the world.” Curtiss started his own bike shop in 1902. In 1907, he set the world’s motorcycle racing record at 136 miles per hour. His record was not broken until 1930.

Classic Biker Bad-ass Glenn Curtiss
Glen Curtiss by Smithsonian Institute

As one of the greatest motor experts of his time, Curtiss transitioned into building motors for early aircraft. His factory produced the airplanes the used by the United States military in World War I.

All-American bad-ass biker Glenn Curtiss was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1998. His record-setting bike sits in the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. and Hammondsport, New York houses a museum dedicated to his badassery.

Biker Bad-ass James Dean
James Dean by Insomnia Cured Here

James Dean

No list of kick-ass bikers would be complete without the original “Rebel Without a Cause.” Known for his “take no shit” attitude and iconic leather jacket, James Dean bought his first bike at age 15.

Young Dean had a reputation in his small town as a fast biker. They called him “One Speed Dean.” Dean continued his love of motorcycles and fast cars throughout his acting career. His final bike was the same model Marlon Brando owned: a Triumph TR5 Trophy.

Dean’s love of fast speeds and racing ultimately led to his untimely death. He was killed at age 24 in an accident while driving his Porsche.

Steve McQueen Biker Bad-ass
Steve McQueen by German Medeot

Steve McQueen

Motorcycle-racer-turned-actor, Steve McQueen was the King of Cool. Early on, McQueen won races regularly on his used Harley. He also owned a bike shop, where he serviced one of James Dean’s bikes.

Once McQueen struck it big in Hollywood, he garnered a collection of over 100 motorcycles. He had a soft spot for vintage Indians and Triumphs, as well as racing cars.

McQueen was also an accomplished off-road biker. He competed in off-road races all over the world with his Triumph TR6. That bike can also be seen in McQueen’s famous movie The Great Escape.

Who are your favorite Classic Biker Bad-asses? Sound off in the comments.