For seven seasons until its dramatic finale in 2014, Sons of Anarchy was the go-to destination for motorcycle enthusiasts who tuned in to FX regularly to check out the exploits of the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club, Redwood Original (or SAMCRO for short). Although fictional, the show challenged producers to ensure as much of the drama, about a bike gang holding court in the town of Charming, California. while covertly running a weapons racket, was as realistic as possible right down to the choppers parading down main street.

Apparently, the showrunners had much of the Harley-Davidson hardware down pat, from the Road King to the Hellrazor, although some bikes didn't look like they measured up. But the real challenge involved recruiting actors being able to mount those machines with some semblance of authority. Fortunately, a few cast members had some biking experience, even owning a few fancy two-wheelers, while a handful had much hardier backgrounds in bona fide biker gangs.

These Guys Could Handle A Bike

Playing the lead role of Jax Teller meant actor Charlie Hunnam had to strap on his beanie helmet and kick his hog into high gear multiple times during Sons of Anarchy's seven-season run. Hunnam's older brother logged considerably more miles once he became a speed racer. The actor even admitted to putting over 8,000 miles on his chopper one year while his car only got around 300.

Kim Coates, who played Tig on the show, grew up on the Canadian prairies, where he said he learned how to ride when he was a kid, starting with a dirt bike. “I was in Grade 2 or Grade 3, and that’s how I really learned to ride, that’s how it all started for me,” Coates said to Canada MotoGuide.

Another non-American, Scottish actor Tommy Flanagan, who played Chibs, also had a considerable biking background when he was younger. Other actors on the show who were passionate about biking when they were younger include Mark Boone Jr, who played Bobby the club's accountant and actor Theo Rossi, who, like Coates, started out on dirt bikes.

A Few Stars Own Some Nifty Bikes

Like his Jax character, Hunnam also owns a Harley Dyna Super Glide. But if that wasn't enough, he admitted stealing the bike he used on the show after the season concluded and has since stored it in his garage. When asked about his choice of model, he responded, "You know, I wish I wasn’t the guy who rode the same bike he rode on the show, but the problem is there’s no better bike out there.”

For his part, Coates owns three Harley-Davidson bikes and in January, he posted online a shot of them together shortly after washing them down to show off their shiny chrome finery. "It was a calming day a few days ago to just throw some love n suds on my Harleys," Coates tweeted. "I don’t ride them enough." Boone Jr. and Rossi also own Harley bikes. Ditto for Flanagan who owns two as well as a BMW machine he used extensively on the show.

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Slightly veering from Harley territory but still noteworthy is one inspiring story about Kurt Yaeger, who played debilitated rider Greg "The Peg," and lost part of his left leg in a bike accident in 2006. He's since been riding a custom BMX.

Some Actors Came From Biker Clubs

Naturally, a drama chronicling the exploits of a bad-boy contingent wouldn't be complete without a few real-life outlaws in the hangout. That's where the casting department struck gold, bringing in five players who previously rode in real-life biker gangs. Sonny Barger, one outlaw vet who passed the screen test, played founding SAMCRO member Lenny Janowitz, but his life story smacked of a potential show all its own, having run a Hells Angels Oakland chapter and spending time in the slammer.

Another notorious player turned out to be bike builder Rusty Coones, who even brought his customized 2013 Hellrazor to the set. During the final three seasons of the show, Coones played gang member Rane Quinn, no small feat since he led two California chapters of the Hells Angels, even doing time on a couple of occasions during his tenure.

The gritty scenes inherent in Sons of Anarchy probably wouldn't have been so believable without former Hell's Angel rider David Labrava as the show's technical director. But producers saw other potential in Labrava, who not only wound up playing Happy Lowman, the club's sergeant-at-arms, but even wrote one of the show's episodes.

RELATED: Sons Of Anarchy: 16 Facts About The Motorcycles From The Show

One oddity in this category is Robert Patrick, best known for his roles in The Terminator 2 and The X-Files, who played Les Packer, president of SAMCRO's San Bernardino chapter. He's been riding ever since he moved from his native Georgia to Hollywood and for more than a decade, has taken his Harley 2006 Electra Glide Classic on the road with a motorcycle club called The Boozefighters.

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