Apparently, Captain America’s motorcycle didn’t really explode at the end of Easy Rider.
It just burned. And was restored by Dan “Grizzley Adams” Haggerty. And Peter Fonda, who designed the bike, told Haggerty, who was the on-set mechanic for the film, to keep it. So Haggerty did and he rode it for years – an experience he described as being like “going out with Marilyn Monroe.”
The bike, in case you are from Mars, is a panhead hardtail with a chromed frame, apes, a raked front end, one of those mile high, 60’s sissy bars, braided lines, fishtail shotguns and a gas tank painted to resemble the American flag. If you truly are from Mars and you don’t know what any of that means look at the photo above.
The bike was one of four identical rides built for the film. Three of them were stolen after production ended. Haggerty eventually loaned the remaining bike to the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, Iowa, which is where J&P Cycles is headquartered. Last year Haggerty sold the bike to a man named Michael Eisenberg who was once in the restaurant business with Fonda who starred-in, co-wrote and produced Easy Rider, and Dennis Hopper who directed and also acted in the film.
The Captain America bike, named for Fonda’s character’s nickname, became so iconic that there are dozens of copies loose on the land. The one Eisenberg is selling includes three letters of authenticity – from the Museum, Haggerty and Fonda – that attest that this is the one, true Captain America bike. You can probably pick up one of the many copies for twenty grand or so. An auction house called Profiles in History will auction off the one with the letters of authenticity in Calabasas, just north of Los Angeles, on October 18. Profiles in History expects the one, true Captain America bike to sell for between a million and $1.2 million.
“Easy rider” used to be slang for a man who consorts with prostitutes but it now refers to the most iconic biker movie ever and the biker magazine that appropriated the film’s name. The phrase refers to a scene near the end of the film where Fonda and Hopper split a tab of acid with a couple of whores in a New Orleans cemetery.
Originally, Fonda intended to make just another biker action film but American International Pictures had already committed to making Hells Angels ’69, starring Sonny Barger and the Oakland Hells Angels, so Fonda took the project to Columbia. Columbia agreed to fund the movie but on a limited budget which left Fonda and Hopper with a rushed shooting schedule and no money for a score.
The result of that was a number of long and cheap to shoot scenes of the main characters riding motorcycles through the badlands and deserts of John Wayne’s west while then cheap popular music played. Those scenes prompted many young men to dream of running away on a motorcycle. Probably some of the men reading this now were among them.