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 the most outrageous, awe-inspiring stunt-riding.
The sheer manoeuverability of bikes make them perfect fodder 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 being released in the last 12 months, it's a good time for motorcycle games, but which ones are the best of all time? These, in chronological order, are the all-time classics on console and PC.
Format: Mega Drive
EA's brilliantly 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 series that's long overdue an update.
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 ram footballs into your opponent's goal – an early inspiration for Rocket League?
Project Gotham Racing 4 (Xbox 360, 2007)
Format: Xbox 360
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 hoovering 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 – and it was a phenomenal simulation of motorcycle racing.
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 mates. But if you want a single-player story, plus brilliant biking action, you need the GTA IV: Lost And Damned DLC. Bikes have been a part of GTA since the first game, but Lost And Damned improved the handling, while the story, which stars Johnny Klebitz – the President of a motorcycle gang – is expertly told.
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, and the way you have to time your jumps makes it much like a 2D platformer. This joyful alternative to the more hardcore Trials Evolution is brilliant on mobile, too.
Off-road vehicles of every class cram into this disaster-strewn urban racer, but the vulnerability and pace of bikes make them a particularly rewarding pleasure as you race around 40 tracks, which can be altered by earthquakes and tornadoes as you ride.
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 games design with immense depth, breathtaking challenges, plus the fabulous addition of four-way multiplayer racing. An obsession to completely lose yourself in.
After the arcade thrills of Motorstorm, Evolution Studios created Driveclub, a road racer in which 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.
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, and now – thanks to Switch – you can play it on the move.
Formats: PS4, Xbox One, PC
The MotoGP series continues to improve year-on-year. While last year's official effort – Valentino Rossi: The Game – focused on the life of the seven-time world champion, this time you're the star of a new Team Manager mode, which enables you to both 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.