Rock and motorcycles: a story of adventure and the road

Home Road Motorcycles Rock and motorcycles: a story of adventure and the road

Music accompanies us in every moment of our lives, and is also an essential element of our world of motorbikes. The genre? Everyone follows their own tastes, but rock is the most representative: it is so deeply rooted in motorcycle culture that some songs are part of the very fabric; this article is dedicated to those tracks belonging to the 1960s and 1970s era.

The basic themes are well-defined: journeys, roads, places of lived experiences but also of adventures, expressing a spirit of liberty, of rebellion.

We can define three main strands: classic rock, the most famous way of understanding motorbikes; then there's harder music, filled with adrenaline, linked to sports racing, to speed, to big emotions; then we have the genre tied to the romanticism of the road, the bond with nature, and songs about atmosphere, possibly blues or country; then finally there is the city theme, more modern, lighter, the pop music that accompanies us on a daily basis.

Classic and custom rock

The most significant thread is associated with the world of custom motorcycles, which have always been tied to music. The most iconic songs belong to this arena – they are historic and often linked to the cinema.

There are countless tracks, but if we start from the beginning, the first song to mention is Born to be Wild, from Steppenwolf (1968), which consolidated its place in history after featuring in the soundtrack to Easy Rider and contains a specific reference to motorbikes, to customised choppers from the 1970s, associating them with rebellion and adventure: “Get your motor runnin'/Head out on the highway/Lookin' for adventure/And whatever comes our way."

Later, another compelling track is Born to Run, from Bruce Springsteen (1975): it's actually about cars, not motorcycles, but the dominant theme is still going fast, escaping and the desire for freedom; the key verse is: “We gotta get out while we're young/'cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run.”

Sport and adrenaline rock

Adrenaline is synonymous with sports bikes, and rock is present here, too, just in a more modern form. One song we have to mention is Highway to Hell, from AC/DC (1979). Given it's about high performance motorbikes, the message isn't exactly reassuring, especially since one of the verses goes like this: “No stop signs, speed limit/Nobody's gonna slow me down." Obviously, this shouldn't be taken literally: you should listen to the rhythm, the mix of the hammering drums, the guitar and the strength in the voice.

The romanticism of the road

This time, we relax. We are in the saddle of a touring bike, no noise, at low speed, enjoying the journey and the natural surroundings. The genre of music changes and we move to the blues and country, softer rhythms. But we are still on the road, which means we can't leave out On the Road Again from Willie Nelson (1980): “On the road again/I just can't wait to get on the road again." It is natural to associate this great classic with two other "soft" songs, its namesake On the Road Again, by Canned Heat (1968) and California Dreamin', by The Mamas & The Papas (1965), both iconic. Curiously, they don't mention motorbikes, but the main idea they convey is still travel, adventure.

We conclude the country and country rock theme with two other unmissable road songs: Hotel California, from the Eagles (1977) and Country Roads by John Denver (1971). The latter celebrates a love of nature and the simple life, and should be played on your return journey: "Country roads, take me home."

Scooters and electric bikes

Now, we are back in the city. We're no longer talking about motorbikes, but the two-wheeled commuter vehicles that are always present in urban centres and extremely useful modes of transport. In this case, we won't suggest epic music – the theme is lighter – but we will mention Little Honda from The Beach Boys (1964); take a look at the lyrics, "It's more fun than a barrel of monkeys that two-wheeled bike."

We conclude with a dedication to fans of more tech-orientated electric vehicles. We are talking about trending music, and there are no lack of ideas today. But we do so with an historical mention: check out The Robots from Kraftwerk. The song is from 1978 yet amazingly current: Kraftwerk were known throughout the world as pioneers of electronic music and in that era, with their avant-garde style, they had an enormous impact on electronic music through their use of electronic sounds and a vocal synthesiser.