Our Harley® Blog

Celebrating Moto Culture & Inspiring Ridership with "The Bikeriders" Premiere

Lisa AE

The Bikeriders captures a rebellious time in America when the culture and people were changing. After a chance encounter at a local bar, strong-willed Kathy (Jodie Comer) is inextricably drawn to Benny (Austin Butler), the newest member of Midwestern motorcycle club, the Vandals led by the enigmatic Johnny (Tom Hardy). Much like the country around it, the club begins to evolve, transforming from a gathering place for local outsiders into a dangerous underworld of violence, forcing Benny to choose between Kathy and his loyalty to the club. “The Bikeriders” book by Danny Lyon, offers an immersive look into the Chicago Outlaws Motorcycle club, and was the inspiration for The Bikeriders film.

Find out more about The Bikeriders Film


                             The Bikeriders: Police Chase               The Bikeriders: Shootin The Breeze                                                                                                                

How The Bikeriders film came to be and inspired the 2024 Harley-Davidson 
Hydra-Glide Revival.

Words by Steven Richards

Photography by Kyle Kaplan and courtesy of Focus Features

On June 21, 2024, the highly anticipated film The Bikeriders debuts in theaters across America. Written and directed by Jeff Nichols, and inspired by Danny Lyon’s venerable black-and-white photography book, “The Bikeriders,” which was originally published in 1968, the movie follows a Midwest motorcycle club that struggles with its morality. The club founder and leader, Johnny (Tom Hardy), rides a bobbed 1956 Harley-Davidson FLH that inspired the limited-edition 2024 Harley-Davidson Hydra-Glide Revival.

When Harley-Davidson Motor Company CEO, Jochen Zeitz, and Vice President of Design and Creative Director of Motorcycles, Brad Richards, visited The Bikeriders film set in Cincinnati, Ohio, they peeked behind the scenes and thumbed through the script, and as Richards read Nichols’ adaption of the book, he felt a poignant admiration for Johnny, who he calls “the good guy in the club.”

The character represents the ex-World War II men who founded motorcycle clubs to foster community, ride bikes, and have a good time. While Johnny is not without his faults and does not hesitate to violently set fire to a local bar after a bone-breaking altercation, Richards says, “He has scruples, he's got class, and if there’s a club member who you want to celebrate, it’s him.”

Upon returning to Milwaukee, Richards continued to be intrigued by the depth of Johnny’s character and decided to sketch a Heritage Softail-based motorcycle with the red-and-white “slash” paint scheme from Johnny’s bike, which became the 2024 Harley-Davidson Hydra-Glide Revival.

To commemorate the release of the all-new Hydra-Glide Revival, we sat down with The Bikeriders writer and director, Jeff Nichols, to discuss the movie and its characters, his relationship with Lyon’s book, and the struggles of thoughtfully translating an iconic motorcycle photography book into a timelessly engaging feature film.