Do you remember this ride from the Harry Potter movies?
Some movies franchises are absolutely oozing with cool vehicles, like the James Bond series or Fast and Furious, but Harry Potter doesn’t fit in the same category. Still, there’s one enchanted motorcycle ridden by the giant Hagrid which is actually interesting, plus they switched models and few people even noticed. We’re going to take a deep dive into Hagrid’s motorcycle from the movies.
Learn more about the Battlestar Galactica motorcycles here.
We first see the enchanted motorcycle in the first movie, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (or Philosopher’s Stone) when Hagrid picks flies out of the night sky and lands the motorcycle on Privet Drive so baby Harry can be delivered to his aunt and uncle. Enthusiasts of course were trying to tell in the low light conditions what kind of ride Hagrid was using.
Just like the actors and filming locations, Hagrid’s motorcycle hails from the United Kingdom. The bike is a 1959 Triumph T120 Bonneville. And like many of the movie props, it’s not a modern model but instead a classic. Some details on the motorcycle have been modified, which has caused debate online among enthusiasts, but it’s not uncommon for filmmakers to change the looks of a vehicle to fit their preferred on-screen aesthetics.
Not only is that choice a source of British pride, the 1959 Triumph T120 Bonneville was one hot ride in its day. Both on the street and in motorsports this was the motorcycle to beat since it could hit 120 mph, which was a big deal. That’s where the name “Bonneville” comes in, which is after the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, a popular proving ground for top-speed runs. In fact, the Bonneville made such a splash when it debuted that it’s still remembered by many as the quintessential motorcycle from the UK, likely cementing its casting in the first Harry Potter movie.
The second time the motorcycle appears is in the movie Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. He rides in the Watsonian sidecar in an attempt to escape an ambush as he leaves the house on Privet Drive. That sidecar comes from Watsonian Squire, a company which has been making them since 1912 and hasn’t lost the classic vibe, which is no doubt why it was selected for the movie.
If you pay attention to the details, the motorcycle itself isn’t the same one used in The Sorcerer’s Stone. It’s actually a 2009 Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Classic C5. The bike from the 7th film was supposed to be modeled after the one from the 1st film, even though they’re from different brands and time periods. That meant modifying it to look as if the bike and sidecar came straight from the 1960s.
Not only did Royal Enfield get all kinds of fantastic advertising from its screen time, it capitalized on that after the film released. The bike made the rounds, including being put on display at the Liverpool Museum and Motorcycle Live Exhibition.
While the Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Classic C5 might have the right look for the Harry Potter films, it definitely needed that CGI magic to make it move like on the screen, and we’re not just talking about when it flies. With just a 500cc engine, the British motorcycle wouldn’t move nearly as swiftly down the road with the undoubtedly heavy Hagrid onboard, not to mention a sidecar and Harry riding in that.
More movie magic called for 7 motorcycles in total, including one modified specifically for the part of the chase sequence where Hagrid rides on the top of the tunnel and Harry hangs from the sidecar. If you want to see how they did it, check out the short documentary.