Tom Cruise has performed an unnatural number of motorcycle stunts as an action star while riding the best ones available.
Tom Cruise has cemented his name in the history of blockbuster cinema as one of its most bankable and profitable actors — and its arguably last movie star. The legacy has been earned, in great part, on the back of his famous perfectionism and his penchant for performing extreme stunts. For years, he has been using his movies as a medium to play out his thrill-seeking tendencies, and he’s been quite open about the fact. As a testament to his real-life “need for speed,” the man owns a sizable collection of airplanes, sports cars, and motorcycles.
This interest visibly overlaps with his movie roles — most famously, he developed a training program for his Top Gun: Maverick co-stars so that they could convincingly portray the cockpit scenes. Similarly, his enduring love for motorcycles showcases itself as a signature element across his filmography. Cruise has helmed an uncommon number of motorcycle stunt sequences as an action movie star, and he is always found doing so on the best motorcycles on the market. Here are 10 motorcycles that Tom Cruise has ridden in movies.
10 Kawasaki GPZ900R — Top Gun
The Kawasaki GPZ900R accompanied Cruise in a Top Gun scene that has garnered iconic status in Hollywood history. This is the motorcycle that his character, Maverick is riding as the air force pilot attempts to race an F14 fighter jet. The GPZ900R holds an important place in the history of modern sports bikes. It was the very first model by Kawasaki to be pegged with the Ninja tag, which has become a commonly recognized brand name in automobiles today. Developed in secret by Kawasaki over many years, the GPZ900R was the fastest production motorcycle of its time and the first to cross the 150 mph barrier — a fitting companion for a character known for his “need for speed.”
9 Triumph Speed Triple – Mission: Impossible 2
The Mission Impossible franchise introduced audiences to a new brand of cinema entertainment with elaborate stunt set pieces led by Cruise. The film series has given us many iconic stunts over the years. Mission: Impossible 2 includes one such sequence: an extended motorcycle chase that has mostly faded from memory, but was fresh and exciting at the time. Cruise’s character, Ethan Hunt, gets up to all sorts of antics in this scene, shooting down pursuers left and right while riding a Triumph Street Triple. The model continues to be produced by Triumph Motorcycles, and the dual headlights remain an important part of its design language to this day. The Triumph Street Triple is particularly noted for its unusual three-cylinder engine configuration that lends this model a unique sound and character.
8 Triumph Bonneville — Mission: Impossible III
Mission: Impossible III missed out on a key feature of the film series as there were no motorcycle chases in that scene. But as with his love of running, Cruise managed to shoehorn a two-wheeler moment in this movie as well. The scene in question is a short but neat one where Ethan arrives at an airstrip riding a Triumph Bonneville, modified in the scrambler style. Produced by one of the oldest motorcycle companies in the world, the Bonneville was first introduced in 1959, and retains much of its heritage in its present-day design. One can definitely see the appeal that the model would have for the petrolhead in Cruise, and he is known to keep a Bonneville in his personal motorcycle collection as well. Meanwhile, one of the Bonnevilles that was used in the movie was auctioned for nearly $30,000.
7 Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic – Days of Thunder
It doesn’t matter if it’s a movie about NASCAR drivers — Cruise will find an excuse to insert a motorcycle somewhere. In Days of Thunder, he stars as a driver with a background in open-wheel racing, who wants to move over to NASCAR. Obviously, his choice of commute has to be a motorcycle. He shows up in a dramatic “speak of the devil” fashion at the beginning of the movie astride a Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic, just as the on-screen interlocutors are casting doubts about his abilities as a racer. The wide, low-slung handlebars combined with the triple headlights is a classic Harley look that immediately radiates coolness.
6 Ducati Hypermotard – Knight and Day
The motorcycle chase in Knight and Day falls squarely in the category of the Mission: Impossible-style blockbuster spy thrillers, taking place in an old European city across winding alleys and old town squares. So, it’s quite appropriate that the motorcycle that features in this chase is a Ducati, which is often described as the Ferrari of motorcycles. Over the years, Ducati has strategically developed an iconic series in every major category of motorcycles. The Ducati Hypermotard follows the company’s classic signatures in how it stylistically stands out from the competition as a unique offering. Most noticeably, it is equipped with a 939 cc engine in a motorcycle category that is mostly occupied by smaller engines in the 450-700 cc range. As a hypermotard, it is also a realistic motorcycle for the twisted chase scene across the streets of Seville.
5 BMW R NineT Scrambler – Mission: Impossible – Fallout
With technological advancements, Cruise was able to offer audiences even more motorcycle chases in later Mission Impossible movies. The one in Fallout is a worthy contender for one of the most exciting stunt sequences ever in the movie series, a three-minute extravaganza where Ethan Hunt is chased across Paris by police officers. BMW’s product strategy with regard to their two-wheeler products can be compared to Ducati, as they have built a number of iconic motorcycle series across limited categories. The BMW R NineT is a very versatile model with a similar reputation, and garners interest as a top-notch entry in the modern retro category.
4 Triumph Thruxton – Edge of Tomorrow
It may appear as a tenuous proposition at first glance — a classic motorcycle chase in a sci-fi movie about super-powered aliens. But Edge of Tomorrow makes it work, and we find Cruise’s character racing down the streets of London in a proper British motorcycle: the Triumph Thruxton. Much like the Bonneville, the Thruxton also derives its name and legacy from a classic motorcycle. However, the Thruxton was originally an endurance racing motorcycle, and reflects that heritage in its modern-day counterpart. This motorcycle can be categorized as a café racer, and it comes with a twin-cylinder engine, an elegant retro look, and clip-on handlebars.
3 Honda CRF 450X – Oblivion
Oblivion is an underrated sci-fi movie from Cruise’s filmography, although it has gained renewed interest with recent years and looks ready to stand the test of time. He plays the role of a lone worker in a barren, futuristic world, taking orders from an all-knowing AI to repair autonomous drones during the day. In order to get to the location of these drones, he has a trusty futuristic motorcycle that easily travails the arid dunes of this mysterious land. The futuristic motorcycle is in fact a modified Honda CRF450X, a popular enduro motorcycle with a stellar reputation for its reliability — a very realistic choice on part of the filmmakers.
2 BMW Motorrad S1000RR – Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
Rogue Nation features perhaps the best motorcycle scene from Cruise, ever. It is one of the top highlights of the recent Mission: Impossible movies, and Cruise was even reported to be riding as fast as 130 mph during the course of its shooting. The unique headlight configurations of the BMW S1000RR is an unforgettable fixture of this scene with its tasteful asymmetry leading the way for Cruise’s aggressive maneuvers. The S1000RR has a stellar reputation in the sports bike category, having originally been designed as a racing bike for the Superbike World Championship.
1 Kawasaki H2 – Top Gun: Maverick
Released over three decades after the original, Top Gun: Maverick was bound to have some callbacks to the first movie. The movie did come with a fair few nostalgic moments, but it managed to do so in a tasteful, wholesome way that was well-received by audiences. It also recreated the iconic scene where Maverick chases a fighter jet in his Kawasaki motorcycle. However, motorheads saw an added layer of relevance that was placed into the scene in the sequel. Top Gun: Maverick sees Cruise’s character riding a Kawasaki H2 down the airstrip — the modern-day successor of the GPZ900R, which was featured in the original movie. The Kawasaki H2 also happens to be the fastest production motorcycle at the present day, just as the GPZ900R was when Top Gun was released.