Since Easy Rider came out, almost 50 years ago there has always been the question on what happened to the Captain America bike. There were two; one was blown up and burned at the end of the move, and given to Dan Haggerty who supposedly rebuilt it. The other one (which appeared in most of the film) was stolen before the movie was even finished filming. There’s also been a handful of people who claimed to have put together the original bike, and I’ve found most to be problematic.
I think those bikes are long-ass gone.
The rumor that I tend to believe is that the remaining bikes were stolen by a certain 1% bike club, as a bit of payment and maybe even vendetta against Peter Fonda for events that happened during the making of “Hells Angels on wheels”.
Easy Rider took a year to edit and then premiere. Bikes are stolen and sold, fairly quickly for money. No one knew the bikes were going to be famous or that Easy Rider was going to be a hit, any more than all the other dozen B-movie motorcycle films that were showing up as the 3rd feature in drive ins all over the country. They certainly didn’t wait an entire year to find out. They were stolen, and they were sold, more than likely parted out.
Several people have popped up over the years (including Haggerty) claiming to have the original bike, and eager bike historians have bitten on the bait. Some were endorsed by Haggerty and even Fonda, who later back-pedaled on the endorsement. Haggerty has sold more than one “original bike”.
My take is that they’re long gone. Ray Charles could seen that, when you take in the circumstance and history of Easy Rider.
But a few weeks ago my friend Manchester Paul (whom I’ve ridden the Easy Rider route with) sent me some info on an Original Easy Rider bike that actually comes with some proof.
The original script had Billy and Wyatt as carnival stuntmen who were going for the big money by making a big drug haul. You see hints of this in the opening scene, where they show up on dirt bikes. They were headliners baby!
Bonhams Auctions in the UK got Fonda’s original 1968 Bultaco Pursang 250 MkII. It was sold, for an undisclosed amount, complete with an invoice from Bultaco Western to the Pando Company. Matching Numbers on the engine and frame…. I thought it was pretty cool.
Peter Fonda is a genuine motorcycle riding enthusiast and so when contemplating the task in his own movie, as his character Wyatt, of riding a chopper, he did not hesitate. But you can bet he jumped higher when engaged to also ride this Bultaco for a Pursang is an agile, go anywhere, lightweight that spells fun and turns on a sixpence…unlike Captain America!
To put into context, Bultaco’s premier model in the USA, the Pursang, was a powerful 250 cc comp model. It was a winner in virtually any type of high-speed-based off-road event. The Pursang range was later expanded to 360 cc and 370 cc, and reduced also to 125 cc.The boat-tail 250 MKII pushed out 34 horsepower from the crate and with the standard 5-speed was thought to be the fastest 250 in 1968. Warning: Do not let that high pipe burn your right leg!
This Pursang – now repainted and restored but still in ‘film used condition’ – is one of two bikes supplied by Bultaco to Peter Fonda’s Pando Company for ‘movie use’ in Easy Rider…see the invoice from Bultaco in the bike’s history file. Wyatt rides this Pursang to the La Contenta Bar to ‘do a deal’ in the very first scene. Billy, Dennis Hopper’s character, is riding a CZ motocrosser in the very same scene. From then on in the two are riding a pair of choppers.
Yeah…Pretty cool, methinks.