Skip to content
Success Stories

10 Great Biking Moments in Movies

By: Amy Kapp
November 25, 2014

Image courtesy RTC
Image courtesy RTC

Movie watching is a Thanksgiving tradition in America, and bike riding is a daily tradition at RTC and in many households across the country. Therefore, we’re pleased to bring you these—10 great biking moments in movies (in order of release).

Many of these films remind us of just how much we have to be thankful for: friendships, family, love and our ability to overcome fierce obstacles and tragedies. And while we don’t endorse the fact that in many of these movies, you don’t see helmets, they still show us that when we help each other, great things can happen.

Happy reading…and happy turkey day! (Caution: some spoilers)

1. “Wizard of Oz” 1939 – I’ll get you my pretty.

When it comes to active transportation, Almira Gulch (aka the Wicked Witch of the west) was the real deal. True, she wanted to destroy Toto, and later Dorothy, but she sure did appreciate the virtues of biking to get around her rural Kansas community—and in full-length dress. And who can forget when bike becomes broom? 

Almira Gulch from “Wizard of Oz” – 1939

2. “Breaking Away” 1979 – Cutters!

Lead character Dave in this classic had a dream—several, really:  to win the race, to get the girl and to be Italian. And one could say he achieves all three (more or less). The movie culminates with Dave and his three best pals, Mike, Cyril and Moocher—lovable townies (or “cutters” as they’re called because of the local stone quarry)—determined to prove themselves against some snobs from the local college at the Little 500 university bike race. And darn it if a really-exhausted-by-the-end Dave and his besties don’t succeed.

3. “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” 1982 – Phone home.

This sci-fi masterpiece had a lot of emotionally charged moments, but the best just might be when Elliot, his brother and their friends are lifted into the sky and across a full moon as they pedal their hearts out in an effort to get E.T. home. Want some reel bike inspiration from your childhood? Check out the trailer.

4. “Karate Kid” 1984 – Miyagi Turbo

We were all incensed when teenaged underdog Daniel is harassed (unprovoked) by a bunch of bullies while riding his bike home from dinner in this, the first of possibly one of the greatest “you can do it” trilogies of all time—after which, in a fit of anger, he throws the damaged machine into the dumpster. But later, when Daniel finds his bike fixed up and good as new by handyman Mr. Miyagi, our faith in humanity is renewed.

5. “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” 1985 – The stars at night…

When protagonist Pee-wee’s amazing red bike is stolen by a spoiled neighbor—what’s set in motion is a cross-country adventure of a lifetime. This includes stops at the Alamo, an outlaw motorcycle club and Warner Bro.’s studios, as well as a bizarre meeting with a trucker named Marge. Luckily, things work out better for Pee-wee than they did for poor Marge! (Actor Reubens ran into some questionable circumstances, later, but never-the-less, the movie remains an iconic biking film.)

6. “Goonies” 1985 – Hey…you…guys!

We’ve got to shout out one of our favorite school-kid biker gangs of the big screen (Mikey, Chunk, Mouth and Data), who don’t let being from the wrong side of the tracks stop them from getting where they need to go (including a pirate ship) on two wheels. The fact that older brother Brandon steals a little girl’s training wheels is, ah hem, a different story.

7. “Now and Then” 1995 – Oh my darlin’

In this coming-of-age flick, we get to watch our favorite gang of preteen bike-around-town gal pals (Roberta, Teeny, Samantha and Chrissy) as they show they’re a force to be reckoned with, taking on the Wormer brothers, saving for a treehouse and trying to solve a mystery of paranormal proportions—all while dealing with the challenges of being young. And we just love the song-on-bike scene.

8. “Life Is Beautiful” 1998 – Buongiorno, Principessa!

A heartwarming and heartbreaking mixture of whimsy, wonder, sadness and tragedy, this Italian-language classic has it all. The Chaplin-esque charms of the main character, Guido Orefice, make comedy gold out of two-wheeled chaos. We particularly love the scene where he “borrows” a bike to escape from yet another pending disaster and ends up crashing into the love of his life and future wife, Dora. “Buongiorno, Principessa!”

9. “Rising from Ashes” 2012 – Cycling is suffering.

When cycling legend Jock Boyer moved to Africa to help a group of young men pursue their dream of a national biking team, he knew there would be major obstacles, but nothing came close to the traumatic psychological effects Team Rwanda faced as they dealt with the scars of growing up during one of the world’s most devastating genocides. But as we see in this documentary, the team perseveres, becoming a powerful international symbol of purpose and hope.

10. “The Giver” 2014 – Thank you for your childhood.

Despite the alarming nature of the world created in this dystopian, it is great to see the bicycle receive top billing as a transportation mode, even so much as becoming a ceremonial rite of passage for the young, similar to a driver’s license today. It’s a symbol of independence and an emblem of mobility in one’s community, and we have to agree.

We know there are a lot more great biking moments in movies and film! Let us know your favorites. 

Contributors:  Katie Harris, Jake Lynch, Brian Gerhardstein

Amy Kapp | Photo courtesy Amy Kapp
Amy Kapp

Amy Kapp serves as Editorial Director and Editor-in-Chief of Rails to Trails magazine. Kapp frequently writes about the impact of, and vast historical and cultural connections made by, America's rail-trails, parks and public lands.

Donate today!


Everyone deserves access to safe ways to walk, bike, and be active outdoors.