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My Horse Is a Motorbike

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I'm a cowboy
On a steel horse I ride
Bon Jovi, "Wanted Dead or Alive"

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 and shiny.

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, especially since car engines are measured in horsepower and many are either named after horses (Mustang) or have horses in their logo (Ferrari).

The Trope Namer is a meme derived from Sengoku Basara, though the work is actually an inversion, where Date Masamune's real horse is outfitted with handlebars and tailpipes to make it resemble a motorcycle.

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. No relation to All Girls Like Ponies, even if the character who drive cars/ride bikes is a female.

Examples with motorbikes:

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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • The DCU:
  • A Wild West-themed story of Joe Bar Team involved both cow boys and natives using motorcycles as horses.
  • Inverted in one Elseworld in the Judge Dredd: Alternity one-shot set in a fantasy kingdom — Dredd is a knight who rides a horse named Magister, as an analogue to the Lawmaster bike.
  • Marvel Universe:
    • Black Knight (Marvel Comics): Dane Whitman has often ridden a flying motorcycle which he calls his "atomic steed". He got it from the Knights of Wundagore, who naturally use it in a similar fashion.
    • Ghost Rider: The first character to use the name was a western vigilante who rode a white horse. Much like the Human Torch, The Angel and several others, the concept was revisited after the Golden Age, with Ghost Riders Johnny Blaze and Danny Ketch riding motorcycles. The Ghost Rider's Retroactive Legacy establishes that Riders of previous eras, including the aforementioned western hero, often rode a Hellish Horse or other animal native to their region (camels, etc.).
    • Inverted in Heroes Return. When the Avengers are caught in a reality warp which 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).
    • 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.
    • The miniseries Six Guns has several Legacy Character versions of old Marvel Comics western characters, including the Black Rider (who, as the name implies, rode on a horse in his original incarnation), now the leader of a biker gang.
  • Mortadelo y Filemón: Played for Laughs in "Mortadelo de la Mancha". Mortadelo and Filemón believe themselves to be Don Quixote and Sancho, and Mortadelo steals a motorbike for Filemón to ride, mistaking it for a donkey.
  • Tom Strong has the Weird Rider, an 1800s 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 that he named it after a horse he once owned.

    Fan Works 

    Film — Animated 
  • Cars: Although we do not see any motorcycles in any of the films, motorcycles are implied to be their equivalent of horses, as tractors are for cows.
  • Similar to Sengoku Basara, when Geronimo first appears in America: The Motion Picture, he's riding a horse with handlebars coming out of its head.
  • The 1970 animated adaptation of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court ends with the protagonist waking up in hospital and wondering if it was All Just a Dream, until he looks up King Arthur in an encyclopedia and sees a medieval painting of the King astride a motorbike.
    • The scene where Hank and the King Incognito are about to be hanged has King Arthur saying that his knights couldn't turn up in time to save them even if they got fresh horses on the way. Fortunately they turn up on motorbikes instead.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In the Ghost Rider Duology, Ghost Rider has a demonic motorbike that includes a horse's skull. Considering that his direct predecessor is shown using a horse for the same role, this makes sense.
  • 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.
  • Headless Horseman: Liam and Lizzie lock the Headless Horseman inside the garage and set fire to it. After the garage explodes in a fireball, Headless comes crashing out through the doors on a motorbike.
  • The film Knight Riders is all about a modern biker gang who act like Arthur's knights of the round table.
  • In Scooby-Doo: Monsters Unleashed, there's a spear-wielding ghost knight who has a ghost horse. Fred tries to fight him using a motorcycle and a long iron pipe.
  • Invoked and played with in RRR, where one of the various parallels/contrasts between our two heroes Ram and Bheem is that Ram tends to ride a horse while Bheem tends to ride a motorcycle. (It's set in the 1920s, so both are available.)

  • 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.
  • The Death of the Discworld normally rides an ordinary, living horse (because the hellish ones proved too hard to maintain), but in Soul Music, the interference of the spirit of rock music onto the Disc inspires Death to essentially take on the essence of heavy metal, and he rides out on a cobbled-together motorcycle, while wearing a leather jacket and holding a rose in his teeth.
  • Celty from Durarara!! is a modern-day headless spirit called a dullahan. Her preferred method of getting around is a reanimated headless horse, which she disguises as a pitch-black motorcycle when she boards 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.
  • Fate/Zero:
    • One of Saber's special abilities is skill with all forms of vehicle transportation. Unsurprisingly, she upgrades rather quickly from horse to motorcycle. One episode of the anime is even titled "Knight on Two Wheels."
    • This skill is also demonstrated by Berserker, who skips the motorcycle and goes straight for a fighter jet.
    • Subverted by Archer: he may do it, as all the greatest horses in history belong to him (along with all its other treasures) but he prefers using an ancient Indian spaceship.
  • Good Omens: The Horsemen of the Apocalypse now ride motorcycles to better blend in with the modern-day setting.
  • Kane Series: In a short story "Deep in the Depths of the Acme Warehouse", set in modern New Orleans, fantasy Anti-Hero Kane and his sidekick ride Harleys. In typical fantasy setting, Kane used to ride a huge black stallion named Angel.
  • 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.
  • Calamity, a cowgirl-themed superhero in the Nemesis Series, prefers to get around using motorcycles in both her superhero and civilian identities.
  • 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Parodied in an episode of Designing Women. Charlene visited a psychic who warned her to beware a shoemaker on a red horse. Not too long after, a man named Schumacher came in the room to tell them he had just hit their car with his Mustang (which was yellow, but Charlene decided that was close enough.)
  • On Get Smart Smart went undercover to break up a medieval-themed biker gang which jousted on motorbikes.
  • Happy Days: Fonzie's motorcycle was his "horse" on occasion.
    Q: What does Fonzie feed his horse?
    A: 'Aaaaaaaaaay!note 
  • In Kamen Rider Kuuga, during the original Rinto Kuuga's era the Gouram could transform into horse armor. In the modern era, it adapted to work with a motorcycle instead.
  • One episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker featured a Hell's Angel riff on the classic Headless Horseman myth.
  • Parodied in the "Erizabeth L" sketch of Monty Python's Flying Circus, in which one character points out: "It's bleeding weird having half the Tudor nobility ligging around on motorized bicycles."
  • Nichols was a western set in 1914. James Garner played The Sheriff who showed he was embracing the new age by riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle instead of a horse.
  • An episode of Sliders involved a world where gasoline engines are outlawed, and oil is an even more precious commodity than in Real Life. Everybody uses alternative engines but only biker gangs stick to using gas-guzzling motorcycles and constantly raid oil convoys for fuel. While their lifestyle is definitely more in line with the "biker" stereotype, one of their practices involves a duel between two gang members. How? An old-fashioned joust but on bikes and no armor.

  • Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead or Alive", as quoted abovenote 
  • The song Renegade, by Hammerfall : "On through the night he rides/ on his raging horse made of steel...".
  • "Wolf Totem" from Mongolian folk metal band The Hu's features a group of Mongolian bikers following a warrior on a horse. The imagery is clearly inspired by the traditional Mongol nomadic hordes.
  • The music video for Iron Maiden's "The Writing On The Wall" features the Eddies of the Apocalypse riding into town on motorbikes.
  • This trope is used as lyrics for Manowar song "Return of the Warlord".
  • Megadeth's "The Disintegrators also has this in the lyrics:
    The slayer's arrived on a black horse of steel
    Trouble is coming, hell on two wheels
  • Not surprisingly, given the biker imagery in many of their songs, the iron horse from Motörhead's "Iron Horse/Born To Lose", refers to a motorbike.
  • Implied in Taiji Sawada's solo song "Empty Room," with the symbolism in the "Horse is my mate" line, which, due to being Gratuitous English literally could be read as a tribute to bestiality or heroin - except the reference is that the subject of the song is entirely alone except for his "horse." Since the rest of the song is set in a fairly modern setting and the writer was a Badass Biker, it's pretty obvious the reference is not to an actual horse but a motorcycle.
  • In "2-4-6-8 Motorway" by the Tom Robinson Band, the trucker sarcastically refers to a "whizzkid sitting pretty on your two-wheel stallion".

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 


    Western Animation 
  • The motorcycles in Biker Mice from Mars, which sometimes acted like sentient horses.
  • On Justice League Unlimited, cowboy-themed hero Vigilante rides a motorcycle.
  • Phantom 2040, whose predecessor had the Cool Horse Hero, has a flying motorbike instead.
  • One episode of The Real Ghostbusters had Peter falling for the pretty female descendant of Ichabod Crane just in time for a new Headless Horseman to show up riding a motorcycle and throwing flaming motorcycle helmets at people.
  • The beginning of Episode XCII of Samurai Jack has Jack wearing samurai plate armor and an oni mask, but seated on a low-rider. Though he loses the helmet, the mask, and some of the armor in a battle, he continues to use the motorcycle to travel around like the traditional wandering samurai that he is.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: In "Stand and Deliver", in the Villain of the Week is the Dandy Highwayman, a high-tech version of The Highwayman who rides a motorbike instead of a horse.
  • In Zorro: Generation Z, Tornado is a motorcycle.

    Real Life 
  • A common vehicle in 3rd-world Asia is the "autorickshaw", essentially a buggy pulled by a motorcycle.
  • This recruitment poster juxtaposes a knight riding a horse with a soldier riding a motorcycle.
  • 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 cuirassiers), and currently alternates between horses big enough to not appear small with the tall soldiers of the regiments and equally enormous bikes.
  • Motorcycle chariot racing is a sport which uses chariots pulled by motorcycles instead of horses. Inspired by Ben-Hur (1925), it was first introduced in Australia and quickly spreaded to America and Europe, reaching its peak in popularity during the 1920s-1930s. And yes, it's as awesome as it sounds.

Examples with other forms of transportation:

    Anime & 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.)

    Film — Animated 
  • In Onward, The Alleged Van Guinevere stands in for the heroes' trusty steed when they embark on their epic quest. The metaphor is made explicit during her final charge: Barley smacks her on the bumper as one would a horse's flank, then she pops a tire and the flapping rubber sounds exactly like a horse's gallop.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Herbie Rides Again, the titular car decides to defiantly participate in a medieval-themed "jousting" tournament (they even referred to the track as a "list") which basically was duels of cars (given names from the Arthurian legends) playing Chicken.
  • In Pretty Woman, the protagonist wanted someone to pick her on a white horse. Her love interest used a white limousine instead.
  • In the 1995 Ian McKellan 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. Hardly unforgivable, when you consider that their unit was the 1st Battalion of the U.S. 7th Cavalry regiment (yes, that 7th Cavalry).


    Live-Action TV 
  • In American Gods (2017), Mr. Wednesday's car (which he even nicknames "Betty") is heavily implied to be this. In Season 2 we see Wednesday sacrificing it in order to stop a train, by parking it on the train tracks, while giving it an eulogy speech as if it was a Viking warrior before its demise. As the train crashes into the car and both vehicles explode, a vision of a horse can be seen leaping from the fires.
  • Knight Rider uses several modernized Western tropes, with Michael Knight as The Drifter (albeit one with a wealthy patron organization backing him up) roaming from small town to small town across the Midwestern United States fighting evildoers, and KITT as his faithful steed... who can talk, is at least as much of a main character as Michael and does at least half of the actual heroics himself.
    • It's probably not coincidental that in the 2008 remake, the new KITT was a Ford Mustang.
  • 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 Supernatural, the Horsemen of the Apocalypse have traded up to Cool Cars in their respective colors instead (or at least three of them have, Pestilence drives The Alleged Car instead, fitting with his theme). War even goes the extra mile in that he drives a Mustang, which is named after a kind of horse.

  • The country song "Suds In The Bucket" by Sara Evans gives the fairy tale character a country spin.
    When her prince pulled up - a white pickup truck
    Her folks shoulda seen it comin' - it was only just a matter of time
    Plenty old enough - and you can't stop love
    She stuck a note on the screen door - "sorry but I got to go"


    Video Games 
  • The Civilization franchise employs this in an interesting way, meant to emulate the Real Life example of mounted forces transitioning to motor vehicles. Military units can upgrade as a civ's Technology Levels increase, and the upgrade for Cavalry is traditionally an early tank. Furthermore, at least in Civ V, the Lancer (a mounted unit which gets a combat bonus against other mounted units) upgrades into the Anti-Tank Gun, and from there to the Helicopter Gunship (which are sometimes known IRL as Air Cavalry).
  • Pokémon X and Y introduce Skiddo and its evolution Gogoat, goat-like Pokémon with horns that resemble handlebars, upturned tails that resemble motorcycle seats, and are large enough and strong enough for adults to ride on. Humans riding on Skiddo and Gogoat are a common sight in urban Kalos.

    Western Animation 
  • 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.
  • In Star Wars: Clone Wars, the good guys' speeder-bikes are stylized to resemble horses.

    Real Life 
  • 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.
  • When tractors first came into use, they were hitched to horse-drawn equipment and controlled by reins just like horses. They quickly fell out of fashion, but a single company still made them as late as 1949. Behold, the Power Horse.

Alternative Title(s): My Horse Is A Car