I'm a cowboy
Using a Cool Bike
as the replacement for a Cool Horse
, in a modernized take on older tropes.
Cool or not, in a modern day setting, it would appear weird to ride a horse on the streets. For our standards, they are slow, time consuming, and impractical, but due to their similar physical structure, motorbikes can fill the same role in the plot, with the added benefit that they are loud
For example a Knight in Shining Armor
, a Cowboy
, or the Horsemen of the Apocalypse
, could always upgrade to a bike if they need to appear in a modern day setting.
It can happen either with Older Than Radio
characters getting new reimagined versions, or with original characters intentionally invoking the classical feel of these riders.
Occasionally, a Cool Car
can also fill the same "metaphorical horse" role, especially a sports car, or a truck, that still have that "lone rider" feel to them.
Contrast with Automaton Horses
, that is an inversion where real horses are treated like machines by the plot, and Compare to Mechanical Horse
, a machine that really does look like a horse. If characters use the motorbike to joust, then it's Motorcycle Jousting
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Anime & Manga
- Sengoku Basara, despite being the Trope Namer, is not an example as the "motorbike" is still a real horse, just one that's been outfitted with handlebars and tailpipes. Never mind that the tailpipes have no purpose, and the rider, Date Masamune, doesn't even use the handle bars, preferring to ride with his arms crossed. So... Why?
- Melody of Oblivion on the other hand, is an example, but it goes a bit further than that by styling the motorcyles to more closely resemble horses. They transform into Bishōnen for extra cool factor.
- In Durarara!!, one of the characters is a modern-day headless fairy called a dullahan. Her preferred method of getting around was a reanimated headless horse, which she disguised as a pitch-black motorcycle when she boarded the ship for Japan. As a bike it doesn't have any headlights, still has the shadow of a horse, makes hoof steps instead of engine sounds, and also whinnies on occasion.
- Inverted in the Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds manga, in which the Skeleton Knight uses a horse instead of the motorcycles that everyone else uses while dueling.
- Played straight with Sherry LeBlanc, a French woman with a flower-knight theme; her D-Wheel is modeled to appear horse-like, with the card zones running down the back of the neck.
- In Fate/Zero, one of Saber's special abilities is skill with all form of vehicle transportation. Unsurprisingly, she upgrades rather quickly from horse to motorcycle.
- This skill is also demonstrated by Berserker, who skips the motorcycle and goes straight for a fighter jet.
- Subverted by Archer: he may arguably do it, but he prefers using an ancient Indian spaceship.
- DC Comics superheroes Knight and Squire ride motorbikes. In some 50s stories◊ and the Paul Cornell miniseries◊, they even have stylised horses' heads. Knight's bike "Anastasia" can even follow a scent!
- When Jonah Hex was transported to the post-appocalyptic future in the series Hex, he swapped his horse for a cool motorcycle. He does the same thing when he travels to The Present Day in the New 52 All-Star Western.
- Tom Strong has the Weird Rider, an 1800's cowboy using a space-traveling bike. Calls it his horse, too.
- In Top 10: The Forty-Niners, the Black Rider is a Zorro-inspired hero who "cuts a dashing figure" atop his motorcycle Midnight. When he shows it off to Leni he claims he named it after a horse he once owned.
- In She-Hulk, the time-displaced Western hero Two-Gun Kid receives a sky-cycle as a gift from his descendant Hawkeye via Video Will. The Kid explicitly compares it to a horse.
- Marvel hero the Black Knight used to ride a flying motorcycle he called his "atomic steed". He got it from the Knights of Wundagore, who naturally used it in a similar fashion.
- Ghost Rider: the character's Retroactive Legacy establishes that Riders of previous eras often rode a Hellish Horse or other animal native to their region (camels, etc). Johnny Blaze and Danny Ketch ride motorcycles.
- Inverted in The Avengers vol 3 #2: When the Avengers are caught in a reality warp that transforms Britain into a medieval kingdom under the control of Morgana La Fey, Captain America and Hawkeye, two Avengers associated with motorbikes, are the only members of the Queen's Vengeance seen riding horses (with appropriately logoed barding).
- Mustang Suzy, a character from the '90s Hawkman books, combined this trope with the Centaur. She was a cyborg whose torso was grafted to the fuel tank of a motorcycle.
- In The DCU, the Golden Age cowboy-themed hero the Vigilante rode a motorbike instead of a horse.
- In The Movie, Ghost Rider has a demonic motorbike that includes a horse's skull.
- The film Knight Riders is all about a modern biker gang who act like Arthur's knights of the round table.
- Although we do not see any motorcycles in either of the Cars films, motorcycles are implied to be their equivalent of horses, as tractors are for cows.
- The Japanese live action Gun Crazy films included "A Woman from Nowhere", which has the title character ride a motorcycle in a modern-day version of a Western.
- Marlboro in Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man is a cowboy (actually he just dresses and smokes like one and participates in Rodeos) who rides a motorcycle instead of a horse.
- Good Omens: The Horsemen of the Apocalypse now ride motorcycles.
- In The Devil's Rose, the protagonist is an undead Texas Ranger who tracks down fugitive souls from hell. His horse demon mount...thing gets mauled shortly into the story so he saws off its head and attaches it to a motorcycle. Later, he attaches it to a car.
- Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Ares the god of War used to ride a war chariot, that was red and gold and had pictures of people dying painful death adorning it, pulled by a pair of fire breathing horses. It changed into a modern version, a flame-painted Harley Davidson the "size of a baby elephant", with a caucasian skin seat.
- Taking this to its logical conclusion, Elves in Mercedes Lackey's urban fantasy setting ride shape-shifting steeds that get to be horses and motorcycles.
- In The Dresden Files, Murphy's motorcycle takes on the appearance of a horse when joining The Wild Hunt
Live Action TV
- There was a rumor about a The Legend of Zelda game called A Link to the Future (a literal Urban Legend of Zelda, if you will), in which Link would ride a motorcycle called "Epona".
- What clearly isn't just a rumor, however, is that Link does get his own Epona-inspired motorcycle in Mario Kart 8 named the Master Bike. And although Eiji Aonuma was not really involved in its creation, he was definitely impressed by its design so much that he wants to incorporate it into future Zelda titles.
- In the Star Wars Conquest Game Mod for Mount & Blade, the speeder bikes replace the horses. The Riding skill now serves to determine which speeder bike can be ridden and how fast.
- A common vehicle in 3rd-world Asia is the "autorickshaw", essentially a buggy pulled by a motorcycle.
- This◊ recruitment poster.
- The Italian regiment Reggimento Corazzieri (literally Cuirassiers' Regiment), the honor guard of the president of the republic, was, in most of its incarnations, a cavalry unit (either of mounted archers or cuisassiers), and currently alternates between horses big enough to not appear small with the tall soldiers of the regiments and equally enormous bikes◊.
Basically the same principle, but not with motorbikes:
Anime and manga
- In the Saiyuki series, the Sanzo party rides in a jeep rather than the horse used by Sanzo's mythical counterpart in Journey to the West. (And in both cases, it's actually a shapeshifting dragon.)
- Nellybelle, the loyal steed of Roy Rogers' sidekick Pat Brady, was a jeep. (Being a sidekick, Pat didn't rate a Cool Conveyance; when he went by hoof, he got a mule.) Roy himself always rode his Cool Horse Trigger, even in modern-day adventures.
- In one film adaptation of Richard III, the title character is a Nazi. Upon getting his car stuck in mud, he yells the famous "A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse!" line.
- In Pretty Woman, the protagonist wanted someone to pick her on a white horse. Her love interest used a white limousine instead.
- Lampshaded in We Were Soldiers, where Colonel Moore theatrically explains to his officers that helicopters are horses that you don't have to feed or catch. The film, and the book it was based on, both center around one of the first US Army Air Cavalry units. In Real Life, the helicopter pilots were notorious about breaking uniform violations by sporting old Cavalry scout hats instead of their uniform caps.
- In Supernatural, the Four Horsemen ride in classic cars (Red Mustang for War, Pale Cadillac for Death).
- The Mythbusters bought an old Jeep, fitted it with a foam horsehead, painted it black and used it to test a mounted archery myth.
- In Star Wars: Clone Wars, the good guys' speeder-bikes are stylized to resemble horses.
- Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!: In "Mystery Mask Mix Up," Shaggy uses Scooby as a motorbike. His ears are the handlebars and his legs spin like a motorbike's wheels.
- After World War I, when cavalry was shown to be ineffective against modern weapons, many cavalry units switched from riding horses to becoming Mechanised or Motorised Infantry.
- With the widespread adoption of helicopters, this has extended to include Air Cavalry.