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9 Famous Riders Who Inspired Us

Motorcycle leaning into a fast corner on race track

Stylish, daring, and very fast, famous riders have inspired bikers to take up riding for decades. Racing legends and classic movie stars have become icons by riding motorcycles with a clear passion. They’ve broken records at high speeds on the world’s greatest racetracks and have become celebrities on their classic bikes. As we celebrate the legacy of motorcycles and those who ride them, Cycle Trader has assembled nine famous riders that have inspired us to ride.


1. “Mike the Bike” Hailwood

Born Stanley Michael Bailey Hailwood, “Mike the Bike” was a Grand Prix racer on both bikes and in cars, making and breaking records, and racking up championship wins in the process. He’s the first ever to win three races in 125cc, 250cc, and 500cc categories all in one week at Isle of Man TT. In 1964, he set a one-hour speed record while preparing for the U.S. Grand Prix. A speed demon on a Honda, he won the Isle of Man TT 12 times and nine world championship titles.


2. T.E. Lawrence

Lawrence was the inspiration for “Lawrence of Arabia” and his love of motorcycles punctuated his adventurous life. The Brit was an RAF officer in World War I and made a career for himself through archaeology and diplomacy. He famously owned a collection of Brough Superiors and was riding one during a crash that claimed his life.


3. Giacomo Agostini

Touted as the world’s greatest motorcycle racer, the Italian legend won the Grand Prix 122 times and added 17 World Championships during his illustrious career lasting from 1964 to 1977. Known as “Ago,” he placed first in a number of the world’s most competitive races, mostly on an MV Agusta.


4. James Dean

Movie star James Dean’s life was cut short in a car collision, but by age 24 he had already established his reputation as a counterculture rebel. Part of his legend comes from his riding—he took to the street on a Royal Enfield 500, Indian 500, Norton 500, and Triumph Trophy 500, among other bikes.

5. Jenny Tinmouth

Shattering the glass ceiling in motorcycle racing, Jenny Tinmouth has broken a number of records and has set new milestones in the sport. She’s the first woman to compete in the British Superbike Championship; first to race a superbike for the Rizla Suzuki MotoGP team; won the first Electric Bike Racing Championship hosted in the United Kingdom; and broke two lap records at the Isle of Man TT. While she’s raced with Aprilia and Honda, she leads her own superbike team and has appeared as a stunt rider in the “Mission Impossible” movies.


6. Steve McQueen

Hollywood star Steve McQueen can be seen on screen with his bike in “The Great Escape,” but he was also known for riding outside of the movie set. His first bike was a 1946 Indian Chief and he was a committed off-road racer. He competed for the U.S. team during the International Six Days Trial in Germany in 1964, where motorcycle racers travel up to 200 miles per day.


7. Joey Dunlop

An icon of the track, Joey Dunlop lost his life doing what he loved—racing. A 26-time victor of the Isle of Man TT, he dominated the sport for two decades. His records with speed and lap times were achieved on several bikes, including Suzuki, Yamaha, and Honda.


8. Evel Knievel

Daredevil Evel Knievel was recognized for his showmanship and pushing boundaries for stunts on bikes. Riding a Triumph Bonneville T120 and Harley-Davidson XR-750, he famously performed more than 75 motorcycle ramp jumps, including over Caesar’s Palace Fountain in Las Vegas.


9. Valentino Rossi

An Italian superstar in motorcycle racing, Rossi is one of the greats, with accolades including nine Grand Prix World Championships. Rossi’s career has been consistent, dominating with wins for over two decades. He continues to add to his trophy closet riding professionally for Yamaha and Ducati.


Dominating races and starring in Hollywood movies, these iconic bikers have created amazing motorcycle legacies. Famous for their passion and talent with bikes, they’ve inspired generations to ride. Ready to make memories on your own bike? Check out all the new and used motorcycles on


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Ryan Miller
Ryan Miller

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