To put the electronic revolution into perspective, in 1989, 15% of American households had a computer. By 2000, this figure increased to 51% with 41.5% of those households online.
One would think this new medium would help motorcycles roar back onto the small screen but bikers struggled to even start their engines in the early nineties.
There were less well known series that didn’t make it past the initial season, taking the motorcycle loving character down with it such as the small town motorcycle cop in NBC’s Grand, 1990.
Executives even tried to put women on bikes hoping to attract a wider viewing demographic with shows featuring a female obituary writer who rode a motorcycle in ‘Over My Dead Body’ and a female motorcycle cop who rode a Harley in ‘Broken Badges’, both on CBS. ‘Northern Exposure’ wanted quirkiness in the small town and added the local deejay riding his motorcycle around in the colder climate.
Looking to the future, ABC hoped that by making the rider more superhero than man, SuperForce would last longer than StreetHawk. Set in the year 2020 an astronaut becomes a motorcycle riding vigilante when he returns from a mission and learns his cop brother's been murdered. Although definitely of B-movie quality the show managed to make it to the end of season two, even if the second run was a short one.
Dark Justice, a show about a vigilante Judge taking the law into his own hands with cool-looking riding gear and a fast sportsbike gave CBS a series that ran for 66-episodes, being included as part of the channels late-night "Crime Time in Prime Time". It certainly helped that the producers cast a team of beauties as the Judge’s ‘Night Watchmen’ who all had special skills which were used to entrap the guilty criminals that would otherwise escape the not-so-long arm of the law.
In answer to CBS’ Dark Justice, Street Justice was produced for syndication featuring policeman taking the law into his own hands with a close group of friends and of course, a motorcycle.
Street Justice caught their last bad guy on 1993 and Dark Justice wrapped up their crusade the year after.
A new kind of biker
While the other channels stuck with the tried and tested methods of super motorcycles and incredible stunts, an actor more famous for a refined look in the soap opera soaked ‘Falcon Crest’, appeared unshaven and in the saddle of a 1990 Softail Harley Davidson.
Lorenzo Lamas played Reno Raines, an ex-cop framed for his wife’s murder in the series Renegade which appeared on television sets in 1992. The show followed Raines as he searched for the one witness who could clear his name and bring down the real killer, all while working as a bounty hunter under an assumed name.
Lorenzo Lamas played Reno Raines in Renegade
The producers were going after a type of biker that hadn’t been seen on television before; the motorcycle, Lamas’ look and even the introduction to the show;
"He was a cop, and good at his job. But then he committed the ultimate sin, and testified against other cops gone bad. Cops who tried to kill him, but got the woman he loved instead. Framed for murder, now he prowls the badlands. An outlaw hunting outlaws, a bounty hunter, a RENEGADE!"
Raines was a tough guy with a sensitive heart, fighting a world that didn’t understand him.
Filled with colorful characters and a co-star Lamas would marry, the show stayed on the air for five seasons, going from syndication to the USA Network.
It had been 10 years since a TV show prominently featuring a motorcycle had the kind of success Renegade enjoyed. But it wasn’t just the older viewers that had a fascination with motorcycles as the cartoon ‘Biker Mice from Mars’ proved with its debut in 1993.
Three humanoid mice named Throttle, Modo and Vinnie escape from Mars after it's taken over by an evil alien race, crash landing on Earth to become the Biker Mice from Mars.
Riding a chopper, sportsbike and cruiser, not only did they fight with the alien race which had since invaded Earth as well, but equally represented the riding community.
Biker Mice from Mars - Baddest dudes on celluloid
The success of a cartoon about biker mice was obviously all the encouragement needed for a resourceful producer to look to Japan for the next motorcycle-based TV show.
The Japanese television series of Kamen Rider which had been around since the 1970's made it onto American television sets under the name of Masked Rider in 1995.
It was produced by Saban and aired on FOX part of the Fox Kids program block as of September 1995 and eventually moving into syndication and into the popular children's show 'Power Rangers'.
Not really a biker’s show but popular enough to command a line of DVD's.
An interesting thing was about to happen on the ride to television notoriety, not only were motorcycles riding into a new decade as the calendars flipped from 1999 to 2000 but a new century and they were about to explode on the small screen.