Movie Reviews
The Very Best Bike Movies

American Flyers Cover American Flyers

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Predictable plot, sappy storyline and cheesy characters. But American Flyers’ saving grace is that it includes lots of bike riding from the silly (biking to the fridge to fetch a drink) to the sublime (an appearance by Eddy Merckx, one of the greatest bicycle racers ever).

The most significant inclusion of bikes, however, is the fabulous, beautifully photographed race scenes through the Rocky Mountains. They bring to mind the stunning cycling photography of Graham Watson.

Called “Hell of the West,” the race in the film is based on the Coors International Bicycle Classic, one of the most prestigious bike races in the United States until it folded in 1988. The three-day race crossed the Rockies at an elevation of 12,000 feet on what was claimed to be the highest paved road in the country. Some of the scenes in American Flyers were actually filmed during the Classic.

Helicopter and ground-level photography capture the speed and splendor of this thrilling race through some of the most breathtaking scenery in the West.

The name “Hell of the West” is a reference to the punishing “Hell of the North” bike race from Paris to Roubaix, infamous for treacherous cobblestones and wet riding conditions. When Merckx won the “Hell of the North” in 1968, 1970 and 1973, he was known as “The Cannibal,” a name given to one of the racers in this film, but for different reasons.

American Flyers was written by Steve Tesich, who failed to match the success of his previous film, Breaking Away. Tesich’s love and knowledge of bicycle racing is embodied in his two main characters, brothers who wrestle with sibling rivalry and brotherly love throughout the movie, all the while trying to assert their bicycle prowess.

Title: American Flyers
Year Released: 1985
Duration: 113 minutes
Bike Content: 9/10 wheels

Posted by Greg Borzo on 09/03 at 10:00 PM