There's a simple truth that while bikes can go anywhere cars can, those lumbering, four-wheeled brutes are left choking on dust when it comes to outrageous, awe-inspiring stunt-riding.
The maneuverability of bikes makes them perfect for video games, offering an intoxicating mix of insane speeds and precision control. With the likes of MotoGP 17, Mario Kart 8: Deluxe and the GTA V Bikers DLC in the mix, it's always a good time to get on two wheels, but which ones are the best of all time? These are the all-time classics.
1. Road Rash
Format: Mega Drive
EA's brutal action-racer brought beat-'em-up sensibilities to bike racing. Why just overtake, when you can hit someone in the face with a chain on the way past? A fun series that's long overdue for an update.
2. GTA IV: The Lost And The Damned (Xbox 360, PS4, PC, 2009)
Format: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Released: 2009 (Xbox), 2010 (PS3 and PC)
The GTA Online Bikers Update offers plenty of motorcycle thrills – including a bit of racing – for people who play Grand Theft Auto with their friends. But if you want a single-player story, plus brilliant biking action, you need go back and check out the GTA IV: The Lost and the Damned DLC. Bikes have been a part of GTA since the first game, but Lost and the Damned improves their handling, and tells an excellent story starring motorcycle gang president, Johnny Klebitz.
3. Project Gotham Racing 4 (Xbox 360, 2007)
Before the Forza series, the biggest Xbox racer was Project Gotham Racing. Far more arcadey than Forza, it saw you speeding cars around city streets and racking up points for powerslides. After six years of fantastic urban motor racing action, British developer Bizarre Creations signed off from the series by adding bikes to the vehicle roster, resulting in a phenomenal simulation of motorcycle racing.
4. Joe Danger
Formats: PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Mobile, Vita
Released: 2010 (PS3), 2011 (Xbox 360), 2013 (Mobile and PC), 2014 (Vita)
Before he sent us on an interplanetary adventure in No Man's Sky, Hello Games' Sean Murray created the brilliant Joe Danger. You help the titular stuntman through a series of trials courses in a bid to beat Team Nasty.The way you have to time your jumps makes it much like a 2D platformer, providing a joyful alternative to the more hardcore Trials Evolution.
5. Dirt Bike Unchained
Format: iOs, Android
The Bike Unchained mobile games have built their reputation on challenging, addictive gameplay. The arrival of Finnish developers Kuuasema’s Dirt Bike Unchained to iOS and Android devices was a welcome one, which pushed the series forward. It’s a free-to-play moto-racing game delivering an authentic two-wheeled experience straight to the palms of your hands. Over 20 bikes, customization, co-op modes and more make this one a worthy download when you’ve got to take your game to go.
6. Trials Evolution
Formats: Xbox 360, PC
Released: 2012 (Xbox 360), 2013 (PC)
The original Trials HD was an Xbox Live Arcade classic, taking you and your bike on a series of maddeningly tricky, but ultimately satisfying, obstacle courses. The Xbox 360 follow-up is another masterpiece of game design with immense depth, breathtaking challenges, and the fabulous addition of four-way multiplayer racing. An obsession to completely lose yourself in.
7. Driveclub Bikes
After the arcade thrills of Motorstorm, Evolution Studios created Driveclub, a road racer where car fans could compete in online clubs. Sadly, at launch, it was dogged by errors, but by the time the studio released the standalone Bikes expansion, everything was working properly. Even better and faster than its four-wheeled big brother, it enabled players to race superbikes including Yamahas, Ducatis and Kawasakis around 78 courses, in what is still the best looking bike game around.
8. MotorStorm: Apocalypse
Off-road vehicles of every class cram into this disaster-strewn urban racer, but the vulnerability and pace of bikes make them particularly rewarding to race around 40 tracks, which can be altered by earthquakes and tornadoes as you ride.
9. Mario Kart 8: Deluxe
Format: Nintendo Switch
Driving superbikes and MotoGP machines is great, but sometimes, when you're at the back of the grid, don't you just want to take everyone out with a thunderbolt? Mario Kart is great fun, and while the Wii version was the first to give the Mushroom Kingdom all-stars two wheels to race on, Mario Kart 8 is the better game. Now – thanks to the Switch release – you can play it on the move.
10. MotoGP 17
Formats: PS4, Xbox One, PC
The MotoGP series continues to improve year-on-year. While the previous year's official effort – Valentino Rossi: The Game – focused on the life of the seven-time world champion, this time you're the star. The new team Manager mode enables you to take charge of a team and ride as one of the pilots you pick. For those who just want to race as the pros, all the riders and courses from the new season are present in a realistic, authentic-sounding recreation of the series.
11. Excitebike 64 (N64, 2000)
The classic Nintendo series that launched with the NES in 1985 (and re-released in 2011 on 3DS) got a swanky and extremely enjoyable 3D makeover on N64. The 17 ramp-packed tracks take you from supercross-style stadiums to a rainforest and a canyon, while special courses include a desert, a stunt course and a soccer field, where you compete to slam soccer balls into your opponent's goal – an early inspiration for Rocket League?