Kurt Sutter's hit FX show, Sons of Anarchy, followed the lives of an outlaw motorcycle club in the small, ironically named, fictional town of Charming, California.
While the storylines and characters were reason enough to watch the show, it was the awesome bikes that drew us in and made us fans. Charlie Hunnam who played the lead character, Jax, said that the love of motorcycles was the 'absolute foundation of Sons of Anarchy' - meaning a lot of love and attention went into personalizing the bikes.
The majority of the club members rode some version of Harley Davidson's Dyna models, but it was the custom aspects of each character's bike that really made them memorable. The blacked-out, “club-style” Dyna and FXR bikes like the ones featured in SOA have become a more common sight on the US roads these last few years - often featuring quarter fairings, tall T-bars or moto bars on 10-inch or 12-inch risers, 2-into-1 performance exhausts and raised rear suspension. They are usually called club-style, outlaw, or West Coast style bikes.
What Sons of Anarchy did right was showing an understanding of how bikes can be an extension of the owner's taste and personality, as the bikes selected for each character on the show helped to further our understanding and connection to them. This attention to detail might not be the main reason why the show lasted as long as it did, but it was most certainly a contributing factor in order to keep motorcycle enthusiasts tuning in every week.
19 Didn't Know - How SOA Saved Harley Davidson
The long-running popularity of Sons of Anarchy, which lasted through seven seasons, was a godsend for the motorcycle industry, which was hit hard by the financial crisis back in the 2000s.
U.S. sales, which topped 1 million units in 2007, clawed back to 465,783 units in 2013, which nevertheless reflected a 1.4 percent increase over 2012. Sons of Anarchy was especially beneficial for Harley, seeing as the show helped make the brand hip with younger riders to the point that Harley became a market leader. The motorcycle company provided the bikes to the show and even made a deal with Marvel that has gotten their bikes in several superhero movies.
18 Didn't Know - There Were 100 Limited Edition Licensed SOA Street Bobs Made
Bartels' Harley-Davidson, a dealership in Marina del Rey, CA, struck a deal with FX, where the show is aired, for exclusive rights to build and sell 100 limited edition Sons of Anarchy Harley motorcycles.
All the 100 bikes are pre-owned 2010 Harley-Davidson Street Bobs, customized with SOA logos and graphics on the tank, belt drive, and seat, and painted in matte black. The price tag was just shy of $25,000, and while it's definitely possible to build a replica of the bikes on the show for less, that wouldn't be a proper SOA-licensed bike, would it?! We don't have any information as to how long it took before all 100 bikes were sold, but we're sure there are enough fans out there to exceed the supply.
17 Didn't Know - SOA Nomads Leader Rae Quinn's Hellrazor Was Completely Customized For Him
The Hellrazor, a $90,000-valued bike that featured on FX series Sons of Anarchy, was built by Rusty Coones and Illusion cycles. Coones, was the leader of the San Fernando Valley and Orange County chapters, portrayed SOA Nomads charter leader Rae Quinn on the show.
The Hellrazor weighs over 800 pounds with a specially built S&S engine that’s a special 124 CI de-stroked to a 114 CI. The wheels are one of two sets in existence. It’s a work of art and it moves. Following its creation, the Custom Hellrazor caught the eye of SOA creator Kurt Sutter, who had already featured a number of bikes on the FX series and wanted to add the motorcycle to that list.
16 Didn't Know - John Teller's Knucklehead Was A Rental
The 1946 Harley Davidson E Knucklehead motorcycle used on the Sons of Anarchy show was rented by the studio for the filming. The bike is not a factory original 1946 Knucklehead. It was built specifically as a rider with a blend of the builder's favorite features from the '45-'51 model years. Although it was built for a private party, it represents just the way the original Sons of Anarchy leader John Teller would have liked it.
The engine is the original Knucklehead motor, with original stock HD Knucklehead cylinders. The Springer front end is also '46 Knucklehead. The wishbone frame is an original '48 Panhead frame. The gas tanks are from a '51 Panhead. Other Panhead items include the mouse-trap clutch and the 2-light dash.
15 Didn't Know - Jax's Final Episode Knucklehead Was A Restoration
With all the motorcycles that appeared on the seven seasons of Sons of Anarchy, the 1946 Harley Knucklehead stood out. The iconic bike was blown up - along with the crew's clubhouse - in Season 6. Jax salvaged it in order to maintain the link with his late father and painted the bike blue to match the club colors, and we got to see him riding it in the show's final episode.
While it was finally getting some action, it wasn't really the same bike. The show's creative staff didn't want to ruin a classic bike, so they ended up stripping off all the modern parts of a 2013 Harley Softail, making it as close a match to the vintage vehicle as they could.
14 Didn't Know - Clay Was Afraid Of His Harley-Davidson
Each member of SAMCRO has a different means of showing his love for the club through airbrushed bike tanks. When we were first introduced to Clay, he was the club's leader, and as such, he had the full Reaper graphic displayed loud and proud for all the world to see.
It might be hard to fathom, but Ron Perlman, who played the tough guy Clay Morrow on the show, was afraid of his Harley-Davidson. In fact, before the series started production, Perlman had never been on a motorcycle. Perlman got a lot of riding lessons and suffered several mishaps as he attempted to grow accustomed to his two-wheels - causing Kurt Sutter to have a laugh at his expense and labeled his falls as "near-death experiences."
13 Didn't Know - Half-Sack's Dyna Purposely Made Differently
Edward “Half-Sack” Epps, played by Johnny Lewis, was a troubled SAMCRO prospect, and just like his on-screen character, Lewis was a troubled man in real life, which ended in disaster.
As a SAMCRO prospect, Half-Sack didn't quite fit in with "the big boys." Nowhere was this more evident than his white bike, which made him stand out from the group even more readily than his giant "PROSPECT" patch. The bike was clearly a not-so-subtle hint towards his outsider status. At least he was easy to spot when they were riding together, and we kind of appreciated having a different bike to look at.
12 Didn't Know - Happy Always Used The Same Bike
Actor David Labrava was hired as the technical advisor on Sons of Anarchy. Labrava builds bikes and hot rods himself, and he has written columns for a number of custom culture magazines. He owns a tattoo shop in Oakland called “Evil Ink,” is working on a book, a show, and a documentary. And he’s a practicing Buddhist.
Happy rides the same bike throughout the series. The year of the bike has changed a few times, but it has always been a Harley-Davidson Dyna Street Bob. Happy’s bike features a custom fairing and bars, airbrushed graphics across the rear fender, with an airbrushed reaper and scythes on the tank.
11 Didn't Know - Bobby's Bike Wasn't A Harley
Bobby is a true biker - over the course of the show, he is shown owning four different motorcycles. Though Bobby does take his other bikes, a Harley-Davidson Softail Fat Boy and a Harley Davidson Street Glide, out on long road trips, however, the custom chopper seems to be his favorite bike.
While his custom bike might not look super comfortable to ride, it sure does look great. At first glance, it may look like a Harley but apart from the Evo engine, it isn’t. It’s a true custom build, made from the ground up using a hardtail frame, mini ape hangers, and a springer seat. The front springer forks have been raked to give the bike a classic chopper look, nicely complemented by the lace wheels.
10 Didn't Know - Marcus Alvarez Road His Real Bike
Marcus Alvarez was the leader of the Mayans, he made his debut on the show in the first episode, and was last seen on the series finale. During the first two seasons, he was the main antagonist but came to an uneasy truce with the Sons. He also appears in the spinoff series Mayans MC.
The leader of the Mayans rides on bike royalty, the gorgeous Road King with custom Mayan Green paint. It's a beautiful color, and we can only conclude that it looks even better in person. Believe it or not, the custom bike ridden by the Mayans leader is actually actor Emilio Rivera’s own bike. He also owns a Softail Deluxe and a 1940s style Heritage Softail.
9 Didn't Know - Mayans Used Entirely Different Bike Brands
The Mayans and the Sons of Anarchy were enemies who came to an uneasy truce as the series progressed. Both factions shared the love of motorcycles, but as to be expected, the Mayans MC bikes are a different breed entirely.
Gone are the club-style Dynas in place of lowered H-D Road Kings, Heritage Softails, and Softail Deluxe models with long pipes, fishtail tips, ape hangers, whitewall tires, full-skirt fenders, and tons of chrome. These are bikes obviously influenced by lowrider culture, with more flash and color than the bikes from the Sons offered, it will be interesting to see if the bikes from the new show will have the same influence on the modifying scene as the SOA bikes.
8 Didn't Know - Opie's Panhead Was A Restoration
Opie was a club legacy as Piney's son and can be said to have had a tumultuous run throughout the show, with a couple of personal tragedies before the character was off the show. Being born into the MC culture, motorcycles were in his blood, which explains why he had a modern, reliable Harley for everyday riding, and that he also liked spending time restoring this classic Panhead.
Opie kept the “classic” bit in it alive, making the rest of the bike suitable for modern use. In a deleted scene from season 3, Opie sold the Panhead in order to get money for Jax and the club to get to Vancouver.
7 We Wanted - Piney's Electra Tri-Glide
Another great Sons of Anarchy motorcycle is Piney’s bike, a three-wheeled Harley Davidson Electra Tri-Glide with a twin cam engine and six-speed transmission.
We like that Piney kept riding, even though his health had started to fail him. The trike he rode even had a special holster on the back to hold his oxygen canister. One of the really cool things about his trike was that it featured an SOA Reaper graphic on the tank with an oxygen mask. See what we mean about the bikes being personalized for each character? Piney was living proof that just because old age slows you down, you never have to get stuck in a cage.
6 We Wanted - Opie's Dyna Super Glide Sport
Opie's 2003 H-D Dyna Super Glide Sport is styled in a similar fashion to the bike Jax rides. Perhaps as a subtle hint towards the friendship between the two? The bike has a black-on-black twin cam 88 engine, with disc brakes at both ends, and a premium adjustable sport suspension.
The seating position is aggressive and low-slung, it features a top-mounted speedometer and tachometer, and the handling is nimble thanks to the 28-degree steering head. On the rear, there is a 150 rear tire and there's a sticky rubber compound on the front and rear. Some of the extra personal touches on the bike include graphics of the SOA logo sitting on a pile of skulls on his tank.
5 We Wanted - Jax's Dyna Super Glide Sport
Charlie Hunnam played Jax, the lead role in the show, which meant he was always going to be the most important and the most popular character. He definitely needed a ride that would be able to match his personality.
The bike that was chosen for him was a 2003 Harley Davidson Dyna Super Glide Sport with a 1449 engine that was powder coated black. Just like Clay, Jax has a detailed graphic of the reaper loudly displayed on his gas tank as a sign of allegiance towards SAMCRO. Like many in the club, Jax’s bike has a front drag fairing. But it also stands out thanks to the custom handlebars.
4 We Wanted - Chibs' Dyna Street Bob
When Jax took over as the leader of the club, Chibs became the VP. He had a long history with the club and first became a member of the Belfast charter which had ties to the IRA.
Like most other members of SAMCRO, Chibs rode a Dyna. Unlike most of the other members, his bike didn't feature a front fairing. The matte black Z-bars and tiny little Saint Andrew's cross patch on the back of his saddle are custom touches that make it unique to his passionate personality. The Anarchy symbol on the tank completes the aggressive look while making a real statement.
3 We Wanted - Tig's Dyna Street Bob
While there's no questioning his loyalty to the Sons, Tig Trader did have some psychopathic tendencies and a "questionable" choice of hobbies during his run on the SOA show.
Tig rides a 2006 H-D Dyna Street Bob that has been covered in matte black paint and there are tons of skulls and spikes scattered around the bike. It goes without saying that a man this loyal to the club has the Sons of Anarchy logo on display on the tank. A perfectly dark bike for what is probably an even darker character.
2 We Wanted - T.O. Cross' Screamin' Eagle Road King
Taddarius Orwell, or T.O., was the leader of the Grim Motorcycle Club on Anarchy and later joined SAMCRO. Being the leader of the Grim club did, of course, mean that Cross had to ride the baddest bagger on the block.
His ride was as cool as him, a bright orange bike called the Screamin’ Eagle Road Glide from Harley-Davidson. It was by far one of the more unique bikes on the show. It features a Milwaukee-Eight 117 engine, boasts the first Harley-Davidson factory-installed 21” front wheel, a unique exhaust, and a luxurious, super-premium paint scheme, and dual bending valve front suspension. Most importantly, it looks awesome!
1 We Wanted - Mayans' Heritage Softail
The Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail actually doesn't belong to any of the SAMCRO members, rather it belongs to a member of the rival club, the Mayans. The Heritage Softail pays homage to the ‘50s chrome nostalgia, though new Heritage Softails by Harley has foregone to that nostalgia.
The new Softail frames are actually lighter and stiffer than the Dynas, taking the look of a hardtail from a long gone era. The engine is a powerful and smooth Milwaukee-Eight and is available in 107 and 114 displacements, and it produces 109 ft-lb of torque - which should be enough to do some cruising on the highways of California.
Sources: Complex, Motorbiketimes, Bikebound, Pop Culture & Leatherup