Top 10 rock stars that actually ride

Phil West
By Phil West
PhilWestNew Former Editor of Bike, ex-Road Test Editor of MCN, ridden more bikes than he can remember. Likes: GTS, Paso, Mantra. Dislikes: own rust bucket LC and 900 T-Bird daily driver.

We’re not interested in the so-called pseudo-celeb bikers such as Arnie or Cher, here, who are sometimes seen wobbling around Beverley Hills aboard a ridiculous Harley. No, we’re talking proper rockers who are properly into bikes – and there’s more than you might think…

Keith Flint

1. Keith Flint

The Prodigy front man is well-known as a sports bike nut being a big fan of Suzuki GSX-Rs, taking part in many track days and even having a go at racing. Most recently, though, he’s come to prominence as a credible and successful race team owner under the Team Traction Control banner. After starting out at club level, the outfit grew to British Supersport level before coming to Ian Hutchinson’s rescue at the 2015 TT (after the ‘Bingley Bullet’s MV ride disappeared) helping him to a double Supersport TT victory aboard their Yamaha R6. They're doing British Superbikes this year, with James Ellison and Michael Laverty on Yamaha YZF-R1s.

Neil Peart

2. Neil Peart

Best known as drummer extraordinaire of Canadian three-piece rock band Rush, Peart, over the last 20 years, has also become a celebrated long distance motorcyclist and author mostly aboard BMW GSs. Following the tragic road traffic death of his 19-year-old daughter in 1997, followed just 10 months later by his wife succumbing to cancer, Peart took an extended sabbatical and covered over 55,000miles across North and Central America. The book of his journey, ‘Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road’, was widely acclaimed and has been followed by others since.

Johnny Borrell

3. Johnny Borrell

Borrell may be best known as the front man of indie rock band Razorlight but he’s also a huge Guzzi fan owning a well-travelled California Vintage and even being known to ride all the way to the factory at Mandello Del Lario on the banks of Lake Como to get the bike’s service done. In truth, he owns two Vintages, buying another mid European tour once when Bologna police confiscated his original when he was caught riding without a helmet. Keen not to waste any of his holiday he simply bought another bike.

Bikes and rock and roll go hand in hand, but which famous rockers are real riders?

4. Mike Dirnt

The three members of American Bay Area punk band Green Day are all into bikes with front man Billie Joe recently getting a Street Triple R and drummer Tre also seen playing on two-wheelers. But the most hardcore is surely bassist Dirnt who, as well as a Triumph Thunderbird 1600, also until recently had a special SOHC Honda CB750-based café racer built by celebrated ex-pat Brit café racer customizer Steve ‘Carpy’ Carpenter.

JJ Burnel

5. JJ Burnel

Stalwart bassist/vocalist of legendary British New Wave rockers, The Stranglers, Burnel is also a lifelong motorcyclist with a passion for Triumph that predates its Hinckley resurrection. Famously buying a Meriden Trident T160 with his first royalty cheque in the mid-Seventies and having a track called ‘Triumph (of the good city) on his first solo album, he today often rides between gigs, with band mate Baz Warne aboard his current Triumph Tiger Explorer (although he also has a Sprint RS and a Bonneville Scrambler).

Steven Tyler

6. Steven Tyler

Aerosmith vocalist and front man Steve Tyler is not just into bikes, most recently seen out and about with his new girlfriend in Florida aboard his ‘n’ hers V-twins – he’s involved in making them, too! Back in 2007, along with his cousin, Stephen Talarico, and cycle designer Mark Dirico. Tyler launched a custom motorcycle company called Red Wing Motorcycles. Since then the company’s been renamed Dirico Custom Motorcycles but is still, er, flying high with each bike pre-signed by Tyler himself.

Billy Duffy

7. Billy Duffy

If you don’t know the name, you’ll certainly know his style. The Mancunian blond, be-quiffed guitarist with The Cult who was behind such massive hits as She Sells Sanctuary is also a massive bike fan. Being LA-based now he fairly naturally started out on a Harley Sportster in 1988 before quickly upgrading to an ElectraGlide then a custom Heritage. While in 2010, as a member of LA’s Hellfire Canyon Club, a group of LA celebs including ex-Sex Pistol Steve Jones and Billy Morrison (also ex-Cult) who all ride together, he’s been seen on a Ducati Multistrada (right in pic) taking part in the televised ‘Ducati All Stars Tour’ from LA to Seattle.

Billy Idol

8. Billy Idol

The former wild man of rock has been into bikes since the Eighties and, in fact, almost lost everything due to them. By then, like Duffy, LA-based, the former front man of Generation X crashed his Harley in February 1990 and nearly lost his leg. Less well known is that the injury also reportedly cost him the T-1000 role in the movie Terminator 2, the part instead being taken by actor Robert Patrick. Idol resumed riding and has most recently been seen on board Triumph Bonneville.

Bruce Springsteen

9. Bruce Springsteen

The legendary US rocker has long been associated with bikes most recently hitting the headlines last November when, joining the US Army Veteran’s Day ride he embarrassingly broke down on a custom machine especially built for him by Billy Joel (see below) and needed a lift from a fellow biker! Although mostly known for riding Harleys, The Boss is also a fan of British bikes and bought one of the first new Donington Park-built Nortons.

Billy Joel

10. Billy Joel

American singer/songwriter Joel, most famous, probably, for the global hit ‘Uptown Girl’, is another Billy who’s a huge bike fan – so much so he’s even opened his own custom shop including a museum of his collection, called ‘20th Century Cycles’ in Oyster Bay, Long Island. Over 60-machines strong it includes names like Ducati, Yamaha, Honda, Guzzi and more while he’s also built custom bikes for the likes of Bruce Springsteen (above) including the one on which ‘The Boss’ recently, famously broke down!

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