Over 20 years since the release of the first film, we are finally going back into the Matrix with the release of Resurrections. It’s the fourth film in a series that both revolutionised cinema with pioneering special effects like bullet time and spurred countless conversations about the nature of reality. Plus, there were motorcycles in it, which is the perfect excuse for Bikesure to take a look at the series and figure out the best bikes to help you escape from the computer-simulated illusion that we’re all trapped inside.
The bikes featured in The Matrix (1999)
As you’d expect from a textbook simulation of life in the late 1990s, the Matrix contains recreations of every motorcycle ever made. However, the only one that gets any screen time in the first film is the mighty Triumph Speed Triple, and this is only for a few seconds as Trinity (played by Carrie-Anne Moss) sees Neo (played by Keanu Reeves) kidnapped by agents early in the film.
First released in 1994, the Triple pays homage to Triumph’s ground-breaking Speed Twin from the 1930s. The exact model seen in the film is most likely to be the T509, released in 1997. It was Triumph’s first sports bike with a fuel-injection engine and is instantly recognisable thanks to its twin headlights. Apparently, it’s also the perfect vehicle to discreetly spy on the super powerful and sentient security agents that help prevent anyone or anything from revealing the truth about the Matrix to its inhabitants – and all while wearing a shiny leather catsuit and full-length leather jacket too. Good to know.
The bikes featured in The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
After the success of the first film, a sequel was pretty much inevitable. What wasn’t inevitable was the scale the follow-up would take. The Wachowski sisters planned out a trilogy, with two sequel films shot simultaneously and released just six months apart. But along with this, there were animated prequels that fleshed out the backstory, and a videogame that paralleled the plot of the second film and included over 40 minutes of filmed cutscenes featuring the cast. This kind of full spectrum, cross-platform-cinematic-universe approach is common to us here in the 2020s, and it was arguably The Matrix that started it.
Bikes are featured from the very first scene of Reloaded
Reloaded, the second film, is undoubtedly the peak motorcycle moment of the franchise to date. The very first scene of the film features Trinity driving what looks like a Ducati 996 off a multi-storey car park and jumping off the bike in mid air before landing gracefully – just as the bike crashed into a guard booth at a power station and explodes like it was made of bombs. Trinity then beats up a load of security guards using her helmet, which is not recommended by any manufacturers as it will void the warranty and compromise the protection it provides. This scene turns out to be a dream Neo is having – a premonition of things to come.
The iconic Reloaded chase scene
Before we reach the point in time where that happens, we have the trilogy’s big motorcycle moment. Neo and the gang have rescued a rogue programme called the Keymaker from another rogue programme called the Merovingian, and are being pursued by both agents and twin white balding dreadlocked assassins down a highway. About halfway through the sequence, Trinity and the Keymaker jump onto a truck transporting yet more Ducati 996s’s, as well as a Ducati Monster.
The 996 was a sports bike that was made between 1999 and 2002, and is generally considered one of the greatest motorcycles of all time. If you were looking to buy one today, you would need at least £10,000 – as befits something that notched up a string of world championship wins over its lifetime. Its use in one of the most impressive driving stunt scenes in the history of cinema doesn’t hurt its reputation either.
How did they do it?
In order to create this scene, a mile and a half of freeway was constructed, allowing for huge amounts of vehicles to be used in a sequence that sees countless cars and trucks getting absolutely wrecked. Doubling for Trinity was legendary stuntwoman Debbie Evans, who has appeared in more than 300 films and TV shows since 1977 including Terminator 2 and most of the Fast and the Furious series.
The stunts in Reloaded are still impressive nearly 20 years on, and while the CGI looks a little dated, it does at least help to give some idea of how much we see on screen was filmed live. If you look closely (or watch the behind the scenes clip), you’ll notice that a lot of cars are getting flipped over for real, and that the motorcycle is definitely being driven into oncoming traffic.
If you’re interested in learning more about Debbie’s story, as well as many other female stunt artists who’ve performed countless amazing stunts down the years, you could check out the documentary Stuntwomen, which was released in late 2020 and can be bought or rented from iTunes or Google Play.
The bikes featured in The Matrix Revolutions (2003)
Aside from a brief appearance by a couple of Harley Davidson-looking bikes left outside the Merovingian’s nightclub in Revolutions, the third in the original trilogy didn’t feature any other motorcycle scenes.
The release of Ducati’s 998 Matrix bike
A year after the release of The Matrix Revolutions, Ducati released a special version of the 998 (the 996’s successor) to capitalise on the 996’s appearance in Reloaded. But besides that, all that was left was for fans to bicker about whether the two sequels were as good as the original.
Time after The Matrix trilogy
And that, for The Matrix, was that. The Wachowski sisters went on to make films like Speed Racer, Cloud Atlas and Jupiter Ascending, while The Matrix went on to provide metaphors for some of the dumbest conspiracy theories on the planet. Keanu Reeves went on to become a world-famous movie star and, among other things, a huge fan of motorcycles and co-owner of Arch Motorcycles, a company that makes high-end customs and luxury bespoke motorcycles for discerning millionaires.
The bikes featured in the new Matrix movie (2021)
Or rather, that was that for the Matrix – until late 2019, when it was announced that Lana Wachowski was returning to make the fourth film in the, um, trilogy. All your favourite characters are back, including Neo who died at the end of the third film, but not Morpheus who was killed as part of the story for The Matrix Online MMO.
Filming began in early February 2020 in San Francisco. Some of the first scenes shot were a motorcycle chase using a Ducati Scrambler 1100 Sport Pro, cementing the marque as the official motorcycle to escape from an all-encompassing computer simulation. This was a new version of Ducati’s scrambler for 2020 and, along with general design improvements, it’s also Euro 5 compliant. Building on what we’ve already seen, it seems like Trinity’s love of motorcycles is a key part of her character now, and it will undoubtedly play a role in the mystery of how the characters got wherever they are now.
The motorcycle stunts of Matrix 4 were in the capable hands of Justin Kell, owner of Glory Motorworks. He was also responsible for the motorcycle stunts in the action comedy Free Guy, in which Ryan Reynolds’s character becomes aware that he is a non-player character in a giant online world. The bike they used? Why, a Ducati Panigale Streetfighter. Who knows, perhaps they’re trying to tell us something.
Regardless of whatever dark truth Ducati are trying to reveal, it’s pretty exciting to see what nearly twenty years of progress in the arts of special effects and stunt driving have achieved in Matrix Resurrections. Even if Neo does look exactly like John Wick now.
Motorcycle insurance for your Matrix bike
Whether this world is real or a simulation, we know what is real: our love of bikes. If you’ve decided to splurge on a Ducati 996 or buy the 1100 Sport PRO shown in The Matrix 4, make sure you speak to us about motorbike insurance. Our tailored approach to bike insurance helps you get the cover you need, whether that’s cover for track days, European travel, helmets and leathers insurance, and more. Call us on 0330 123 1028 for more information.Culture