Ride, Daryl, Ride

Ride, Daryl, Ride

A side view picture of Daryl Dixon riding his motorbike in The walking Dead TV Series.As we pick apart all things The Walking Dead, let us not forget important questions such as what kind of bike does Daryl ride and is that the best choice?

All we know is that Daryl is riding his brother Merle’s motorbike. It has a lightning-bolt SS insignia on the tank. The saddlebags contain, among other things, all sorts of legal and illegal drugs including prescription antibiotics and painkillers. (I, for one, find these completely believable given Merle’s alluded-to background.)

But let’s back up a bit; I’d like to point out that someone riding a motorcycle would be a valuable asset to a group of apocalypse survivors, be it the zombies, the Russians, or even the Republicans. Motorcycles are good for scouting ahead, checking on stragglers, seeing if the group is being followed, and delivering messages between vehicles in a convoy. They also use less fuel – always a good thing when resources are limited – and can get to places four-wheeled vehicles cannot.

To be fair, motorcycles have limitations. They do not carry a spare tire. They must be balanced like a bicycle. They offer the rider no protection from the elements, zombies, or Republicans. They generally require all four extremities to operate.

Now, back to Merle’s/Daryl’s bike …

I could tell right off this bike isn’t a Harley as it lacked the distinctive V-twin motor and both exhaust pipes exit the front of the engine, not a Harley design. Many non-riding viewers might expect Merle to ride American iron given his personality, but he’s riding a British bike. In my nearly six minutes of research, I found that consensus on the Internet seems to be this bike is most likely a Triumph Bonneville 650 originally built anywhere from the mid-60s to 1971. The Bonneville was cherished and heavily modified by hardcore riders nearly as often as the more ubiquitous Harley product; many are still being ridden today.

Although a cool and truly badass ride, a vintage Bonneville isn’t the best choice for post-apocalyptic transportation. Oh, it can do all the things I mentioned above fairly well including go off-road (but only in extreme circumstances); however, the bike has three large strikes against it: age, noise level, and range of travel.

Old-school choppers may be easier for a shade-tree mechanic to work on, but finding parts is more difficult than for newer or more commercially popular bikes. Replacement parts for a newer-model bike would be easier to, ah, “acquire”.

In a world where noise attracts walkers, the far-reaching powerful throb of an un-muffled motorcycle engine is sure to announce one’s presence to every walker for miles around. Daryl prefers a crossbow to a rifle because of noise concerns, so why would he ride this bike?

Another of the bike’s limitations is the small gas tank – referred to as a “peanut” tank – that generally only carries 2-3.5 gallons of fuel. When removing all the non-essential parts of a bike – “chopping” – a small gas tank is used to reduce overall weight to increase its speed. However, in any post-apocalyptic scenario, a larger tank that allows more miles between fuel stops would be preferred, at least by me.

A much better motorcycle for Daryl would be one classified as a dual-sport, meaning it can be ridden on-or off-road. Like any hybrid, a dual-sport isn’t the best in either category, but rather has characteristics of both. It isn’t as comfortable and won’t carry as many supplies as a big road hog like the Harley-Davidson Electra-Glide or Honda Gold Wing. Also, it won’t be as rugged as bikes designed for off-road use only, such as Suzuki‘s RMX450Z or Kawasaki’s KX450F. Dual-sport bikes are heavier and will not have as much suspension travel for overcoming obstacles.

Daryl Dixon riding his bike in The Walking Dead with Carol on the back as passenger.

While not as quiet as street-only bikes, they are designed to not shatter the quiet of wooded riding areas. Additionally, their fuel tanks can hold up to twice as much fuel as a peanut tank. As most major motorcycle manufacturers still have dual-sports in their offerings, parts for these would be easier to scavenge.

So, with all these marks against it, why does Daryl stick with Merle’s bike and not find something more appropriate? Simply put, it was Merle’s. Daryl rides this bike in honor of and in tribute to his big brother; it’s the one tangible thing Daryl has to remind him of Merle. To remind him of all that they were to each other, good or bad.

I can easily imagine this bike was Merle’s one true love, all his time, energy, and spare cash put into making it his perfect “sled” – customized motorcycle. Bikers express their personalities through their rides and these creations are seen as personal declarations, much like heraldry for knights of old. Bikers don’t want “cookie-cutter” sleds that look like all the others on the road. Bikers want their bike to be immediately recognized as theirs. There’s no doubt this particular bike belonged to Merle Dixon.

The biker in me understands this completely and will shout with a raised fist in support of Daryl as he thunders by.

*** There is now a Daryl Dixon Action Figure / Motorcycle Deluxe set. Check it out by clicking here

  • Jack Hammer

    Daryl's self-sufficiency indicates he's certainly not a Democrat. They got eaten first. Hahaha

  • Bonnie W.

    Great blog Jeff!

  • Anonymous

    Good read, glad to see more new posts on the site. Thanks!

  • Jayme

    My Merle like Brother rode a motorcycle every chance he got. I did not. I burned my leg on the exhaust pipe when I was on the back of his bike and said at a very young age this is not for me. But after a long separation to be reunited only for my brother to go missing, I just may ride it to keep it for him in hopes of getting it back to him, just like Daryl is doing. He was choosing not to ride it at first.Daryl's original plan was to carry it in the back of the truck. The truck caught fire in real life and is in the back story of why Daryl now rides the motorcycle.

    One of the similarities I have with Daryl is the Brother like that, and he loves motorcycles as much as i love guitars, so yes, i would also keep his bike in those circumstances as well.

  • Anonymous

    Republicans root cause… wow. I guess the intellectually vacant is your target audience?

  • Anonymous

    The Truimph in the show is actually actor Norman Reedus own bike, he has stated in many interviews one of the coolest things being on the show was seeing his bike that he built. Before he was a actor he was acmotorcycle mechanic.

  • Anonymous

    Then he must have 2 bikes because that's not the same bike he tweets pictures of.

  • Lockridge_Lisa

    An awesome blog and totally right – Reedus himself even said so!(I guess he's a Democrat.)

  • Tish

    does it have a bell?

  • Ride All Year

    Tish, the bike in the show does not have a ride bell that I could discover; on the other hand, Daryl's crossbow should be enough to ward off any road gremlins, don't you think?

  • Anonymous

    The crossbow is more than enough! That's for sure.

  • Anonymous

    They use a harley sound for the triumph. Why do tv shows always do that? Your remarks are spot-on. An ATV might be even better than a dual-sport bike.

    • JR jr.

      If you want to pick a good bike for the Zombie Apocolypse The best option is “The Kawasaki Versys 650, also known as the KLE650, is a middleweight motorcycle. It borrows design elements from dual-purpose bikes, standards, adventure-tourers and sportbikes.” It was named Versys as in versatility. I spent my life riding in every terrain imaginable from North America, the jungles of Indonesia, and to the desert wastelands of the Middle East. It’s actually a middleweight bike, very light and awesome throttle to tire response for brake horse power. It carries an off-road suspension, carbon aluminum belly plate, and best of all the muffler keeps impressively low around 84 Db, compared to the 105 Db (estimated) of Daryl’s Current Bike. Keep in mind, if you keep your to the lower end of your power band, it will be even quieter. Also with an enduro jug, you have a real long fuel range (270 Miles). With the right tires, agility is very cometitive agianst most Enduros of its class. Lighter, than most Duel sport, which also means it can carry an extra passenger in a pinch.

  • Anonymous

    I don"t know how many of u ride ? But if u ride without glasses once you get past 30 mph u cant keep ur eyes open , the wind will make u close ur eyes. so i guess Daryl never gets out of 2 gear.

    • Adam

      Not true at all. I have been riding over 25 years and I have forgot my clears a handful of times and rode home with no glasses. Your eyes burn a bit once you stop, but that’s about it.

      • JR jr.

        I usually don’t tear up until I hit about 55 mph. Then again, I squint a lot.

  • Ride All Year

    Actually, the sound of older modified Triumphs isn't that dissimilar from older H-Ds, at least in my experience.

    And yes, eye protection should always be worn. As an MSF-certified safety instructor, its one of the points I always emphasize to my students.

  • http://www.selectfactoring.co.uk/ Alistar Franklin

    I think that its Daryl riding on that great motorcycle. I really like to have my own motorcycle. I think that its a great experience to drive an amazing motorcycle.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/JadedMage Kelly Chiavarini

    Republicans root cause…call me intellectually vacant but i thought that was pretty funny…must be a republican, no humor..oh well! 

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=892695607 Michelle J Kenoyer

      As a proud liberal, I thought that was a pretty damned funny from the author as well. A liberal who knows all about motorcycles–w00t! We liberals defy stereotypes daily!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=892695607 Michelle J Kenoyer

    I dig everything about the motorcycle except for the damned Nazi stickers. Call me an oversensitive type, but I really wish it would lose the damned Nazi stickers. 

    • JoeBlow

       yes you are oversensitive! ha jk, , i’m glad there’s actually a TV show that isn’t scared to break the PC rule and show some Nazi propaganda haha i think it adds character, especially since it belongs to Merle, what offended me more was when they showed the upside down US flag in Dale’s camper, that pissed me off

      • Guest

        You do realize that according to law the upside down US flag means a signal of distress, so it would make sense that it be used in the zombie apocalypse.

    • doubleddizzle

      lol i doubt thats a sticker… prolly the paint job

    • Bart

      In the U.K. the SS logo means support slavery, as in Satans slaves MC. So not Nazi at all.

      • Bart

        Don’t know if it’s the same in America.

  • Adam

    This bike is a Triumph tr6c (trophy), not a bonneville. If you look closely you will see that the bike has only 1 carb not 2. The trophy is basically the same thing as the bonneville, but only has one carb. The bike’s year is between 1963 and 1967, you can tell this by looking at the primary cover. In 1968, triumph added an inspection cover for setting the timing. Also, we know that the engine is post 1962, because it is a unit engine, which started in 1963. This particular bike has had a hardtail welded on, and it appears to have about a 4 inch stretch and about a 2 inch drop. The front forks and brakes are not original. They are a disc brake setup which appear to be from the mid 70′s, a bike from the 60′s would originally have a hub not disc. Also, the front fork tubes are about 6 inches over stock. The rear wheel is also not original and I have no clue what it came off of, most likely something from the 70′s. I would be able to better assess the bike if I could find some better pictures. Oh, and for the record, there is no way that the audio that they provide for the bike is correct. To me, the sound they play sounds more like a Harley. Old Triumphs have a very distinct sound. Either way though, his bike is pretty damn cool. I might be a little biased, considering I have a 1965 triumph trophy hardtail. Mine is way way cooler though.

    • http://www.facebook.com/sl0thman93 Sean TheKid-Carr

      are you sure the bike is that old because wouldnt it be a right hand clutch because the triumphs switched the right hand clutch in 74 and in the episodes it looks like the clutch is on the left

      • Adam

        In 1976 the triumph switched from being a right-hand shift to a left-handed shift. They never had a right-hand clutch, the right lever has always been the brake. The bike in the walking dead, is most definitely a right-hand shift as well. I rebuild triumphs all the time and I have a 1965, 1971, and a 1976.

        • rich

          ding ding ding , you are correct sir.

    • JR jr.

      Thank you Adam for pointing that out. I’ve been riding since was born (literally). My father is one of the greatest bikers I have ever known and had ridden everything under the sun on 1, 2, 3, and 4+ wheels. We discussed this at length and I knew it was a triumph but could not pin it down til you mentioned some key facts. He also rebuild triumphs as well as having a Motorcycle Dealership with Victory and Triumph.

    • Steve

      Would it be possible to recreate this bike?

      • Adam

        Yeah, I have a ’65 triumph that is similar. Actually, I have just about all the parts I would need to make a bike that would look almost identical. The old old school chopper look isn’t really my thing, i’m more into the bobber look, but this bike is still pretty cool.

        • Steve

          What exactly would you need to do so? And around how much would it cost?

  • http://www.facebook.com/sl0thman93 Sean TheKid-Carr

    this bike can not be made before 73 because then the clutch would be on the right and the brake would be on the left on the 74 and newer they converted the bike over to left side clutch like most bikes are but you are right it is a triumph

  • Seekerdude

    Liberal or conservative it’s a very divisive and offensive; really takes away from your article to use it as a political platform even if you think it’s funny. (count me as a liberal but I don’t demonize or mock different political ideology for a laugh in a country that is divided enough by this type of shiz)

  • Vegasdad702

    Nice, Republican insult there. The irony is in the fact that a Democrat WOULD most likely ride a bike with the racist SS insignia, or at least historically anyway. Don’t believe me? Look it up. Republicans freed the slaves, and past Civil Rights! OPPS! Hate to point that out but the Republican comment was stupid, and probably offended half of your readers. Way to go people at the WALKING DEAD. Way to keep it classy! ;)

    • Daryl Dixon

      while I agree he shouldnt have brought politics into the article you couldnt be more wrong. The SS insignia is a symbol created by the extreme right winged party the NSDAP, Republicans are much closer to that ideology than democrats are.

      • Vegasdad702

        Im sorry Mr. Dixon but you fail on your argument. First of all do you know what the S means in your NSDAP? Its mean SOCIALIST. They were the National Socialist party-NAZI. You at best are trying to argue a European model of political party lines, NOT American. Look it up, it is well documented that the Democratic Party historically has ALWAYS been on the opposite side of racial issues. Republicans like president Lincoln freed the slaves, Dwight Eisenhower penned Civil Rights, and a Republican congress passed when 94% of Democrats opposed it. I am not attacking Democrats, I am simply stating that HISTORY does not support the silly comment above. The Democratic party started Unions in this country, and still run them today. The problem is the original Unions were called the “White mans workers party”- Their symbol….Drum Roll…The SS Insignia. Opps history hurts sometimes. The KKK- Democratic origins. Its all documented FACT. WHY? do people not understand and know this history??? Maybe its because ALL fasicts of social engineering are controlled by…Drum Roll… the Democrats! Well all but FOX news, but thats another topic of propaganda, and I don’t care much for FOX. Seems like a silly topic for us to be discussing on this thread, but lets keep it real, and not pretend history is something different than what it really is. :) Have a great day sir. :)

        • Vegasdad702

          One thing I would like to mention(not that it matters), is I am NOT a Republican. I am a Classic Liberal by definition. I just happen to be a huge history hound, and to be honest I don’t care much for either of todays modern two party system. I just love this show and like an above person wrote think its comments like the “Republican” remark that are dividing people and making us feel like we are on different sides rather than United. Daryl is a great character, and I LOVE this show!!! I just wish political jabs would be “equal” (keyword), or non existent. But its a free country and I support the authors RIGHT to say ANYTHING they desire, I just think its STUPID! I am sure there are many Republicans who watch the show, and would be offended or hurt by such a silly remark. Of corse people also need to get a sense of humor as well, and realize its not so serious, but at this time in our society, I think its obvious that the whole time and place aspect of this kind of humor applies. But again just my humble opinion.

        • WD-Fan

          The “SS” written exactly that way was the short form for “Schutz Staffel”, Adolf Hitlers Elite Guards. None of those “S” means “Social”. Seems that you’re further away from such facts over there in the states than we here in Europe. But no matter where you live, you could read about it on Wikipedia…

          • Vegasdad702

            @ WD-Fan, the Nazi party stood for “National SOCIALIST Party”! Not to mention the “SS” insignia predates the Nazi’s. If you had read what I had posted then you would have seen that Americans politics is VERY different then Europe’s! The comment was directed at Republicans! A simply, foolish, and silly statement. The Republican party was literally created to end slavery in America. Wiki that, however I suggest you rely on more original sources to do your research as Wiki is subject to accuracy depending on who waltz’s onto the page. LOL! Also I should point out that Mr. Dixon was trying to draw the connect to the, as he said-” Extreme right winged party the NSADP”( it should be noted that NSADP stands for- NATIONALSOZIALISTISCHE DEUTSCHE ARBEITERPARTEI! Did ya catch the SOCIALIST PART???) AGAIN Europe’s right and left are DIFFERENT! Yours is a model of Communism vs Fascism, ours is total government vs zero government, however I will concede that todays American left and right are not all that different, and we have turned back into more of a European model. Its a shame. :( Regardless, however the fact remains the same, that Republicans have a lot less to answer for here in America when it comes to race relations, then Democrats do. Now that we have continued yet again to talk politics and history on a page dedicated to Daryls bike, I hope I won’t have to explain this seven different ways again. Back to my original point, I love the show, and I think the comment about Republicans was in poor taste, even though it was meant as a joke. There is so much misinformation out there, that the last thing we need is more division over such things. I mean what if a zombie apocalypse happened?? LOL!

    • Rodrigo Juan Vargas

      What a WEENIE ! You tea baggers are a DESPERATE LOT !

      • Tim Arnold

        Tea baggers were the original party who threw off the taxation and tyranny of the great white slave-owners across the pond. If you want to derogate slave owners, start with the POTUS. I could say he’s buying slaves right and left, but the truth is, his slaves are all on the left.

  • Anonymous

    too bad you had to go there with Republicans…Totally shot your article for me…Moron

  • Scuba

    The bike in season 2 has a knobby front tire while season 1 had a street tire


    he’s right singel carb trophy i had a bonni 4 awhile better than harley the engines have balence i.e. inline not v twin one the same pin. there are better twins out there 180 crank pin. honda hurricane comes to mind v 4 4 carb 180 crank pin. however harley has a size advantage. i like darrells’s bike mine was stock and i did not want to ruin the value i allways wanted to chop it and customize it but a 1969 bonni in perfect condition you don’t ruin lol DARRELL MUST NOT DIE HE’S WAY TOO COOL!

  • Chris

    I wonder if this ray with the SS symbol has some reference to Hitler nazitas. have?

  • John Birong

    I like the article but you must have some issues brining politics into it. What an asshole.

  • Daryl

    Next time, can you cut out the anit-Republican rhetoric. It’s just so old and overdone.

  • terrytriumph

    The fact is that during the 70s alot of these bikes were bobbed, or made into rat bikes. This means these bikes were made simple and pieced together with random parts being custom gives it the opertunity to upgrade the tank. Top speeds are iffy variables, mainly because it only has a 4 speed gear box. This one runs most likely on a single point harley set up witch can use a 67 chevy pick up point for spare parts. The fact is, isthat this is an ideal post apocalyptic bike for reasons like logic, available spare parts, available jerry rigging, easy operation, and awesome acceleration. The noise would give it the right aspects to head off heards for distraction. Your only huge worry would be rotten gas, and that’s in and small cylinder motorcycles…..

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  • thesco

    the simbol SS of hitler.

  • Mac

    The Republican insult just ruined the article for me.

  • Guest

    The SS were the elite soldiers of Germany and were the best in the world.

    • Rodrigo Juan Vargas

      They certainly got raped and slaughtered by a race of mongrels during WWII …… That would be us Americans. The “impure race” …… the SS actually stood for “Sissy Shitpackers” ….. they were almost ALL homosexual and stopped and dropped everytime they saw their furher ….. mostly waiting in line to blow him.

  • http://www.facebook.com/grant.curo Grant R Curo

    The SS insignia belonged to the Waffen SS, the elite Soldier of Germany. The super soldier of WW2.

  • MsDeadWalker

    would be good if merle ever actually gave a shit about the bike. im surprised they keep the nazi symbols on there. a BMW GS or similar tourer would be perfect. I read somewhere that this is a custom bobber based on a yamaha xs6650. think it looks more like the Yam than a Bonneville.

  • Guest

    he mentions “republicans” twice, what a fucking dooche, probably thinks he’s trendy and sophisticated.

    Seriously what fucking relevance does politics have to do on a forum of the walking dead?

  • http://www.facebook.com/wil.brewster Wil Brewster

    he mentions “republicans” twice, what a fucking douche, probably thinks he’s trendy and sophisticated.

    Seriously what fucking relevance does politics have to do on a forum of the walking dead?

  • Tiger

    If i am not mistaken that is not a Bonneville. it only runs a single carb that would make it a tiger the Bonneville ran 2 carbs.

  • Jonas

    Excellent article, I too would ride a motorcycle if it was a zombie apocalypse! Thanks for writing :)

  • Anonymous

    You dumb liberal bastard. It’s because of one of you that the country is going to shit.

  • annonymous

    a Triumph Bonneville T120 has two Amel carburators where Daryls bike only has one. If it is indeed a Triumph and not a BSA or a Norton engine it should be a Tiger T110 model. Without a better picture of the engines side cases it is hard to tell for sure

  • cowboy

    it would be cool if he rides a Shovelhead 1964 bobber,but that bonnevile is a pretty bike.DIXON BROS. RULES!!!!!

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  • Rodrigo Juan Vargas

    The bike DEFINETLEY a Trumph trophy …. mid 60′s …..
    (Single carb) as far as the “politics” go ….. who givez a F …….. repubs will be as extinct as civilization in the WD in just 2 voting cycles anyway. Oh and yes, its a hardtail frame with at least a couple of inch rake and a few inch stretch. Plenty of dichotomy with Daryl carrying a quiet crossbow and a loud and unstable motorcycle! But, next to Breaking Bad its the best show on TV !

  • Mark Reid

    Brilliant article, well done to you sir!

  • sporty

    I owned a 500 cc Triumph bobber back in the early 70′s and I loved that bike. As for Daryl counting on it for his survival, I would suggest that he ride anything that didn’t have Lucas electronics. That’s why the British never had a space program…wasn’t a Brit alive who would seriously go into space on anything powered by Lucas!

  • Merle Dixon’s left hand

    What would a Republican apocalypse look like anyway?

    (I bet that sounds really weird out of context)

  • Stevo

    Whats with the republican junk? I blew your article off immediately after reading that. You fail.