Easy Rider Bike Yet Lives

September 19, 2014

All Posts, News

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 Motorcycle

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.

The Movie

“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.

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34 Responses to “Easy Rider Bike Yet Lives”

  1. trieu Says:


  2. Mo Co Rider Says:

    Ride by the spot on old Hy 66 where he was patching the tire on his bike and the ole cowboys were shoeing the horse. Still love that symbology! Vision it ea time I ride by. But who can forget…The man is at the window…The man is at the window! A great day “Rebel” keep up the good work…

  3. Grumbler Says:

    According to producer Peter Fonda, the idea for Easy Rider came to him during a publicity tour in Toronto where he was promoting Roger Corman’s The Trip (1967). While autographing photographs, a still from The Wild Angels (1966) triggered an epiphany. “I understood immediately just what kind of motorcycle, sex, and drug movie I should make next,” Fonda wrote in his autobiography. “It would not be about one hundred Hell’s angels on their way to a funeral. It would be about the Duke and Jeffrey Hunter looking for Natalie Wood. I would be the Duke and [Dennis] Hopper would be my Ward Bond; America would be our Natalie Wood. And after a long journey to the East across John Ford’s America, what would become of us? We would be blasted to bits by narrow-minded, redneck poachers at dawn, just outside of Heaven, Florida, and the bed of their pickup would be full of ducks. I mean really full of ducks.”

    The Wild Angels (1966) had budget of $360K, grossed $14M (USA) with $7M in rentals.

    Easy Rider (1969) budget was ~$400K, grossed $41.7M (USA) and $60M worldwide plus $19.1M in rentals.

    Snapshot … cinema aficionados were far more transfixed by two drug dealers riding across the country as counterculture free spirits on chopped panheads than the outlaw biker film.

  4. WheresMyBoots Says:

    @ ‘Ol Goat… (hand)
    @ Phuquehed -apologies for forgetting:
    @SIZ – hang in there man. Respects.

  5. erkman69 Says:

    I like billys bike better.
    The movie was ok imo.but I would take the captain America chopper for the cool factor.my back would be history after 50 miles on that thing.not to practical.

  6. WheresMyBoots Says:

    @Phuquehed – ‘look how skinny he was’ etc. LMAO!!
    For me it was ‘The Devil’s Angels’ & ‘Then Came Bronson’. Had an ‘Easy Rider’ poster, and an Ed Big Daddy Roth poster of Oakland Tiny. My parents were worried (about 10 yrs old). Per Jesse James those bikes were built by two Compton guys????? True?

  7. Grumpy Says:

    I’m with you Goat.The OL should’ve known,I didn’t work when we met an 25 years later,23 married shes still happy,most of the time,LOL.Still don’t really work.

  8. StrategyIsZen Says:


    Yes. Two other things I like about 69 and Forever is that they show (1) bikers actually know how to *ride motorcycles* and (2) bikes have evolved to “look certain ways” for certain *functional* reasons.

    I always go back to this stupid story where I once met a woman in another part of some state.

    She kind of fancied herself as a “real biker.” I told her I ride a little two cylinder foreign bike because I am broke right now and I keep breaking my FXR in brutal and creative ways.

    She said “people around there still let you ride with them?”

    I said “It’s got two wheels and a motor, don’t it? People don’t care, as long as I can keep up and handle the bike. It’s about RIDING MOTORCYCLES SISTER.”

    She had missed the entire concept of riding. That *one* question she asked me told me that she was not even close to the community, and I had to mention it to my anonymous friend, since I had a strange feeling about some assertions she was making.

    Much respect. Just personal opinion. I am not in a club. House arrest is a bitch.


  9. panamaa Says:

    I knew a biker from VA back in the 70s that had a bike like that. He had a van that was painted the same… It was pretty wild at the time…

  10. Sieg Says:

    ER…decent movie, outstanding tunage, but really, it ain’t about scooter-trash, it’s a coupla fuckin hippies. Fuck ALL Fondas, living and dead, and the rest of their punk-ass friends.

    There were so many clones of that bike made, they could hand me a phonebook of affidavits saying one of em was real and I still wouldn’t believe em.


  11. Ol'Goat Says:

    …still think im right.

    …raise yer hand if yer an easyrider. You know who you are.

  12. Ol'Goat Says:

    ” “Easy rider” used to be slang for a man who consorts with prostitutes…”

    & for all these years i thought an easyrider was one who didnt work and lived off his OL’s money.

  13. Mike 184 Says:

    I think the re-pops are Panzer’s. There is one running around NC. It’s a pretty nice bike.

    I saw this when I was a little kid and loved it. That was when Dad built his knuckle on the living room floor. Saw it again a time or two as a teenager and liked it all over again for the wild shit, and not as much as being star struck by the bikes…. I still dig it and for the most part love the sound track.

    I really liked Hopper in Hell Ride…. That movie kicked ass…

  14. Phuquehed Says:

    @WheresMyBoots – Well look how skinny he was then, he probably had trouble raising his arms after just walking a block, heh heh.

    On another note about this bike, for some reason I keep thinking I saw an article or something about who won the auction being Justin fucking Bieber. Anyone hear who actually did win the auction? (please oh please let it be someone else, fucking Putin would be better!)

  15. just tom Says:

    Thanks for the story Rebel,good times and good memories from those days.

  16. WheresMyBoots Says:

    Saw an interview with Fonda about the movie, and he said after riding on that bike all day during the shoot he went to a bar for a beer, and couldn’t drink it because he couldn’t raise his arms up off his legs.

  17. jj solari Says:

    that movie was not only an embarrassment to Americans but almost to all of humanity in general.

  18. VAGO 1%er Says:

    Nicholson at his best

  19. Drifter Says:

    Reminds me, I need to take a trip to a cemetery…

    Rekindled good memories, Thanks Reb.

  20. N P Says:

    Rupp Roadster Forever. FUCK Hanoi Jane.

  21. mouse Says:

    Seems like a good time to express how very much I enjoy your articles and observations. This page has become an important part of my day since retiring six months ago. The other part? Riding my Fatboy naturally.

  22. sherides Says:


    Its a small world… We just had one of our group rides down to Gun Lake on 9/7. We go past the car museum. Its a favorite ride as everyone loves the twisty rural roads. 24 bikes this last time.

    I have never been to the museum. It is on the list of things to do later this fall. From what I understand its a huge place.

    If you are going to be out this way again, ask Rebel for my email address. Maybe we could meet up for coffee?


  23. Austin Says:

    @Sherides; I am boarding my flight LAX to GRR Right Now. Will be at Gilmore Museum this weekend. I am semi-nomadic, out of Inland Empire, CA. Also live & work in Central Valley CA and East River South Dakota. Looking forward to Gull Lake!

  24. sherides Says:


    The leaves are just now starting to turn in West Michigan. Acorns are falling and the air has that crisp fall feel to it. Its cider time again!

    This is indeed my favorite time of year to ride. Except that it means only about 8 more weeks riding. I am hearing this winter could be worse than last year.

    I start Semi-Retirement on 9/29. I am very much looking forward to finding out what its like to truly ride my bike any damn time I please.

    I know that the leaves are really turning up by the Fremont area. We have been up to Sandy’s HD a couple of times in the past week. There will be another visit to bring back the OM’s new bike. He got an older Heritage Classic. This is the bike he will ride on our trip out west next fall.

    Are you from this area? Just curious.


  25. Cap'n Bill Says:

    Bronson was my hero back then, wandering alone…
    Don’t forget Cliff Vaughs and Ben Hardy, the builders.

    Keep up the great work, Rebel


  26. lurker Says:

    have i got a helmet? heh heh, lmao..

    nicholsons little talk with billy about what “he” represents to society is some classic shit.

    i liked billy’s bike best too.

    this movie sure planted some seeds in me.

    first seen it at a drive-in movie. also the first time ever smokin dope.

    thanks for the memories rebel. may you stay strong & keep on keepin on.

    ride free y’all – peace out

  27. Nihilist Says:

    I agree, Billy’s bike was cooler. I can recommend Hells Angels ’69 for a study in contrast if you want to see the way Las Vegas was all those years ago. I think Hells Angels Forever is better in that it’s non-fiction.

  28. Shovelhead Says:

    Cool but more of a Hippie movie than a Biker flic. When I saw hells Angels 69 at the Drive in and saw that the actors were real 1%ers not hollywood clean cut fakes. That made me want to grow my hair long, buy a Harley & join a club….all came true in time! FTW
    “Austin” I’m not in Kalamazoo but the leaves are starting to turn up here in Maine. Temp was 36 this morning on my ride to work.

  29. Austin Says:

    “Prompted many young men…”
    And a few girls too.
    Any day outside, ESPECIALLY on wheels is a good day.
    Hey you Northerners, any fall colors yet?
    Grand Rapids/Kalamazoo area?

  30. CN Says:

    1. Where can I buy a Captain America knock off for around 20K?

    2. What engine are they putting in them.

    Kind of a bucket list thing with me & I’d be riding it everyday so quality is important but it being a rigid isn’t, never minded my last rigid, enjoyed it actually.


  31. Va.Bob Says:

    Wotta scam.I was just a young ‘un on a Rupp mini-bike back then,but I don’t believe this is an authentic bike from movie production.Can’t hurt to try,though.I remember,also,a limited-production run of faux Panhead Captain America bikes endorsed by Fonda some 20 years ago ,and featured in the newly glossier pages of ER.Fuck Commie Hanoi Jane and her dipshit,suck-ass brother.

  32. RLG Says:

    Dear Rebel,

    This was another good read! But you made one error of fact in it: Dennis Hopper had plenty of money to score.

    With respect,


  33. N P Says:

    You’re right Big Jim, Billy’s sled was definitely better.

  34. Big Jim, Whittier Says:

    Cool old school bike, But I always Hopper’s better. Fear No One

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