There are custom motorcycles, and then there’s this.
With the wildly sophisticated level of today’s ability to computer generate just about anything for big-budget Hollywood flicks, it’s increasingly rare to see studios opt for building real-life versions of the out-of-this-world vehicles featured in various films. A few contemporary examples of incredible movie project vehicles cooked up for productions include the Bat-Pod from 2008’s The Dark Knight, the Weyland Yutani Corp RT transports from 2012’s Prometheus, and the entire post-apocalyptic fleet of bonkers cars, trucks, and bikes from 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road. One movie bike that you probably wouldn’t have guessed was actually produced in the flesh was the Moto-Terminator from 2009’s Terminator: Salvation.
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Though it’s nearly impossible to identify under all the faux hardware, robotic skeletal body and structural work, and the bevy of weaponry, the custom is reportedly built around the Ducati Hypermotard 1100s. Originally, the production was using a Monster and a Hypermotard, but in the end, dropped the popular naked.
The motards retain their stock frame, suspension, and engine, so thoroughly decked out in Skynet gear that they are unrecognizable.The foot and hand-controls have been seamlessly integrated into the design too, further lending the impression of these things being more killer robots on wheels than motorcycles. The overall quality and extent of the bikes’ transformation is astounding, with the designer, Victor Martinez, doing a remarkable job of changing up the entire profile of the motorcycles. The inverted forks hiding beneath all that technowhizbangery is maybe my favorite touch.
The autonomous two-wheelers seen in the film are comprised of a combination of CG renders, footage of the actual bikes being ridden IRL, as well as clips of stunt riders on Hypermotards in which visual of the Moto-Terminators were then superimposed. Obviously piloting the real-life, fully done-up Moto-Terminator presented a major problem in the form of components touching down as soon as the bike is being handled and maneuvered. For this reason, there was minimal actual use of the customs.
As wild as this machine looks in photos, it’s almost certainly even crazier to view in person. And instead of languishing away in some warehouse in Burbank, a Moto-Terminator just arrived at the Petersen Auto Museum as part of its new Dream Machines exhibit, so drop by and check it out if you find yourself in Los Angeles.
Photo: Petersen Automotive Museum