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My life in bikes: David Harewood

Published: 12 January 2016

‘I locked up the front and slid down the road’

onfirmed bike nut and former Homeland star on Gary the Vespa, crashing his Scrambler and Supergirl

 

Have you been riding long?
Yes, but it’s only recently that I’ve had the time to actually ride a proper motorcycle as the past few years have been so busy with work. I’ve spent a lot of the past six years working in America and then nipping home to see the family as often as I can.

When did the passion start?
I grew up with bikers, my brother Paul has always had bikes, and I’ve been watching MotoGP for many years, I think the racing is absolutely amazing. I stayed away from bikes for a long time, though, as my mother was terrified I would kill myself but I think I’m just about grown up enough now! A mate had a Ducati 916 in North London and I went out on the back of him for a couple of days to get a feel for it. I found that a real buzz. After that I started riding a little Vespa scooter.

First bike
Gary the Vespa
‘I loved it and hated it’

Did you ride the Vespa much?
Yes. I used it to get all over London for jobs for years. I loved and hated it. I called it Gary, and it continually let me down because it had been completely run into the ground. I need to put it out of its misery really because I haven’t used it at all over the past couple of years while I was in the States.

But Gary didn’t put you off?
No, I just loved the speed and the thrill even from the first moment of getting onto a proper motorcycle. I remember when I was going out to Stanstead to do my Direct Access bike test and there were a whole series of roundabouts on the A12, and the lead instructor was giving it some up front and I was loving it and just tried to sit with him as close as I could. I wasn’t at all scared. I just knew I had to do this. The thrill and excitement were amazing.

Quite a few actors ride, don’t they?
I know James McAvoy and Benedict Cumberbatch well, and we all did our tests around the same time. I spoke with James a little while ago and he was saying his bike had been nicked. He had a lovely Triumph Bonneville, an old one, but went off to do one of the X-Men films and then came back to find it had been stolen. He went to get another one and the insurance was going to be something like £15,000 so he got a little Honda runaround instead. Benedict is just like me... he never gets much time to ride at the moment because he’s always away filming.

Coolest bike
Triumph Scrambler
‘Out on the Pacific Coast Highway’

Are you banned from riding bikes during filming?
It depends on the bosses! Usually they are OK, and getting around LA is a nightmare in a car as the traffic is so bad, so I got a Triumph Bonneville Scrambler to ride out there, and had that for quite a while. It was lovely.

But you don’t have it now?
No, I let it go – but it’s definitely the sort of bike I’m interested in. It just made me feel so cool riding that around Malibu. Heading up the Pacific Coast Highway was amazing. I’ve spent six months of each year away from home for the past two years, I’ve done five movies, a couple of video games and Supergirl will restart and run until March. I ended up coming off the Scrambler after a bunch of school kids stepped out on a crossing and the car in front did an emergency stop. It was dark and the road was wet and I locked the front wheel and slid down the road. Thankfully I was OK and the bike was pretty-much OK too, but it did knock my confidence. But once Supergirl is finished I’ll be back on the lookout for something new to fill the gap left by the Scrambler.

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