Welcome to Motos on Film, a look at movies about motorcycles and motorcycle life. Got a movie you’d suggest? Send a note to [email protected], and maybe we’ll watch it next month! Disagree with the assessment of a movie? Leave a note in the comments below.
I’ve seen a lot of bad motorcycle movies over the years, ranging from ’60s bikesploitation to the Fast & Furious knockoffs of the ’00s to the self-indulgent travelogue shorts that pollute the modern festival circuit. What made these movies bad? It wasn’t poor sound design, or bad filmography. On the contrary, I’ve seen movies with crappy production values by today’s standards, or even the standards of their era, but the movies themselves didn’t suck because they had good stories that rang true. They were movies about people who loved motorcycles and moto culture, and that showed through.
At first, you might look at Klocked: Women with Horsepower and think this is another film about some sort of “sisterhood of motorcycles” angle that could appeal to women, but alienate male viewers. Not so—this film about Brian and Laura Klock and their daughters Erika and Karlee Cobb is a solid watch because the people in this movie have a passion for motorcycles, and for riding fast, and that passion shines through every frame.
Klocked: Women with Horsepower is a 43-minute feature that came out in 2016, directed by Michelle Carpenter. It tells the story of the Klock family and their long history of land speed racing at the Bonneville Salt Flats. You might recognize their name from articles about their adventures there, or you might recognize their name due to their long association with the V-twin custom scene.
That’s where the story starts, in the mid-2000s. Custom motorcycles television programs were big business then, and TV execs were pestering Brian Klock to enter Discovery’s Biker Build-Off. Working out of a small shop, Klock initially turned down their offers, but they persisted, and eventually he built something completely different from the impractical hardtails that dominated that scene in those days: He built a bagger.
That was a bold move in that chopper-worshiping era, but the Klocks took things a lot further, when they decided to take this bike to Bonneville and race the salt flats. Laura Klock piloted the bike, and set a new world record, earning the custom machine its title of World’s Fastest Bagger. Then, Brian took the lessons learned at Bonneville and launched his aftermarket Flare windshield. Time to sit back and take it easy, rake in truckloads of cash in that booming pre-’08 V-twin scene, right?
Wrong. The 2006 Bonneville visit was the start of the Klocks’ land speed racing dynasty, with Laura and her daughters becoming legends of the salt flats, holding more than 20 different land speed records over the years between them.
It’s not your standard testosterone-fueled racing film, though. The women involved all seem to respect the risk involved, but there’s no skull tattoos, no faux low-pitched tones when speaking about the dangers of speed, no flippant dismissal of the potential for injury or death. Instead, you have, dare I say it, charming Midwest accents on-screen, almost an “Aw shucks” approach to their racing. And yet, in every scene, you can see a passion for motorcycling and a passion for racing.
Except, maybe, the scenes where Laura talks about how Bonneville has allowed her and her family to give back to the community. Often, when you see motorcyclists talk about their charity work, it comes across as self-serving. In this film, it’s obvious Laura loves people just as much as she loves the challenge of land speed racing. She doesn’t need to build it up—you can read it on her face.
Same goes for the scenes with daughters Erika and Karlee, talking about their attempts to out-do each others’ speed records over the years. There’s no fake banter; these girls want to be the fastest, to beat each others’ records … but they seem to love each other even more than they love racing.
It’s a unique take on a female-focused motorcycle film. Instead of manufacturing a fake sisterhood around partying and group rides, this is a real family with real passion, one that viewers can appreciate whether they’re male or female.
As this is a modern film, and professionally produced, there’s no quality issues. The music sounds like something you’d hear on an hour-long made-for-TV special, and there’s no artful camera angles. It’s all pretty straightforward.
However, I think that works in this film’s favor. Too much dramatic lighting, or too much of an emphasis on a clever soundtrack would take away from the honesty. The Klock family is genuine, and has a genuine love for motorcycles, speed and other people. That’s what shines through. The few dramatic camera angles are all on-the-bike GoPro shots, with no exaggeration needed. The face-melting speed speaks for itself.
With all that in mind, I’d highly recommend Klocked: Women with Horsepower as a good, short evening’s watch.
You can find digital copies of this film in various corners of the Internet, but currently, it’s running as part of the South Jersey Moto Film Festival. That’s where I watched it, and you can too, by visiting revsisters.com/sjmff2021/. It’s free to enjoy the festival for the next few days, and cast your vote for favorite film!