Black History Month is a time to celebrate the contributions and accomplishments of African Americans throughout history. One of the lesser-known figures in this realm is Ben Hardy, a pioneering black motorcycle builder who played a significant role in the 1969 film “Easy Rider.”
Ben Hardy was the owner of B.H. Cycles, a custom motorcycle shop located in San Gabriel, California. He worked with the film’s star and co-producer, Peter Fonda, to design and build the motorcycles used in the iconic film. The bikes were based on a Harley-Davidson Hydra-Glide and a Triumph TR6 Trophy, both of which were heavily modified by Hardy to give them a distinct look and feel.
The Harley-Davidson was customized with a twisted springer fork, long chopper-style handlebars, and a distinctive paint job. The Triumph TR6 Trophy was also modified, with the addition of a high-rise handlebar and a custom paint job. These bikes became iconic symbols of the film and the counterculture movement of the late 1960s.
Hardy’s contributions to the film industry are particularly significant because of the lack of representation of Black people in the motorcycle industry, and even more in the film industry. His work as a motorcycle builder and his collaboration with Peter Fonda helped to open the door for more people of color in the industry and pave the way for future generations.
As we celebrate Black History Month, it is important to remember figures like Ben Hardy and the contributions they made to their respective fields. His talent and vision helped to create one of the most iconic films of the 20th century, and his legacy will continue to inspire future generations.