Movie Car Monday: Captain America and Harley-Davidson

The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s star-spangled Avenger had one motorcycle of choice: a Harley-Davidson. Throughout the screen tenure of the character, he rode everything from water-cooled Street 750 bikes to air-cooled Softail Breakouts. Here are some of the coolest Milwaukee motorcycles that Captain America rode in the films. 

What kind of motorcycle does Captain America ride in The First Avenger

Steve Rogers, or as he’s better known, Captain America, rides a 1942 Harley-Davidson WLA “Liberator” in The First Avenger. In addition to fitting the film aesthetic, the bike is a derivation of the WWII workhorse. WLA represents a high-compression Harley-Davidson motorcycle and the suffix “A” signifies an Army-purpose motorcycle. So it was appropriate that Rogers and his commandos got their hands on a WLA for their military operations. 

Captain America and Harley-Davidson are a team
A WLA | Getty Images

However, this was no ordinary courier motorcycle. Captain America’s bike featured gadgets and accessories like a shotgun scabbard and a mounting surface for his shield. 

The Avengers: Harley-Davidson Softail Slim

The 2012 box-office smash hit The Avengers saw Captain America ride away on an understated Harley-Davidson Softail Slim. Frankly, the Softail Slim may have been the perfect bike for the character at the time. The film involved Roger’s first mission after unfreezing and attempting to adapt to modern times. It makes sense that his bike would be a retro-inspired callback to the bikes he would have ridden in the 1940s. 

What Harley-Davidson did Captain America ride in The Winter Soldier

Steve Rogers rode a custom Harley-Davidson Softail Breakout in the 2014 film The Winter Soldier. The film continued Rogers’ character arc in modern times and called for a Harley-Davidson with updated styling. Specifically, it was a low-slung, modern, and mean Softail Breakout packing a lot of attitude and a 103 cubic inch twin-cam engine. Although it is only on-screen for a brief period, it looks right at home with Rogers and the inexplicably empty Washington D.C. streets. 

Age of Ultron: Harley-Davidson Street 750

Captain America rode a Harley-Davidson Street 750 in both Age of Ultron (2015) and The Winter Soldier. Unlike The Winter Soldier, Rogers started Age of Ultron off by charging into battle alongside his friends on the liquid-cooled bike. At one point, Captain America actually launches the motorcycle into a Humvee to defeat his adversaries. 

However, the Street family is an underwhelming bike in the Harley-Davidson lineup. Small and underpowered, it seems like a poor choice for an Avenger charging into battle. Motorcycle News reports that the little Harley-Davidson only managed 44 lb-ft of torque. 

What motorcycle does Black Widow ride in Avengers 2? 

Captain America rides Harley-Davidson motorcycles like these LiveWires.
A row of LiveWire bikes | Andrew Burton, Getty Images

While Captain America didn’t ride it, his teammate the Black Widow showcased the then-new Harley-Davidson LiveWire in the second Avengers film, Age of Ultron. The bike is a much sportier companion for a superhero than the aforementioned Street 750, with a claimed 0-60 mph time of just 3.0 seconds. Also, given the fully electric nature of the motorcycle, it is much quieter than the beloved sounds of twin-cam Harley-Davidson V-twin engines. 

Why does Captain America ride a motorcycle?

Given the comic book tenure of Rogers and his cruiser motorcycles, it only seems appropriate that he would ride in the movies. Also, Harley-Davidson seems like a fitting mount for the veteran, given the WWII connection between the company and the U.S. Army. Web Bike World says that Harley-Davidson contributed nearly 90,000 WLA motorcycles to the war effort around the time that the fictitious fighter would have been in Germany. 

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