The website Prop Store has a wealth of fan-captured set photos from the desert set where the attack on Jabba's sail barge was filmed for Return of the Jedi. One of the photos depicts at least four speeder bikes parked on the set.

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What were they doing there? The speeder bikes were only seen in the moon of Endor action sequence, which was shot in California. What were they doing in Arizona for this shoot? Were speeder bikes originally part of the attack on Jabba's sail barge?

EDITED TO ADD: DVK answered the question I asked but, I have one more nagging sub-question. Since the speeder bikes were built in California, what are these things? Are they unused vehicles?

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    They were used for quick runs back to town for supplies. – Xantec Jun 7 '12 at 16:03
  • An Ewok stole one, then there was a chase, they weren't available for use after that. – NominSim Jun 7 '12 at 16:16
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    @NominSim - Actually, Ewok actors at one point all quit and drove to the airport in the bus. inreview.com/archive/topic/31801.html – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jun 7 '12 at 16:34

Yes, they are speeder Bikes.

No, they were never intended for use in any of the Tatooine scenes.

The photos above originate from this forum post.

Jump on down to comment #19 where the person who took the photos (it's a little confusing, but user "micdavis" also provided the photos) has dug up the reason:

It took me 25 years to find out, but the speeder bikes were there simply because they were on the same trucks with the skiffs, from the manufacturers. So they stored them under the platform until they moved on to Crescent City, CA for the Endor scenes.

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No. there were no external forces attacking Jabba on the barge (on Imperial speeder bikes or otherwise) - only the Luke/Leia/Han/Lando/Chewie group that Jabba brought with him on the skiffs.

The first time the speeder bike appears in trhe ROTJ script, as you noted, was on the Moon of Endor:

The second scout jumps on his speeder bike and takes off, but Chewie gets off a shot on his crossbow laser weapon, causing the scout to crash into a tree. Han and Scout #1 are in a rousing fistfight.

An extra confirmation is from an interview with Kit West, who was responsible for the mechanical effects in ROTJ:

Q: You were the mechanical supervisor for Return of the Jedi. What was your exact task and how did your days look?

After completing all the location reccees in Arizona and the Redwood Forest in California, I returned to my base at Elstree Studios in England and signed on most of my crew from Raiders of the Lost Ark. We prepared all the mechanical, atmospheric and pyrotechnic effects that were to be filmed on the sound stages in Elstree Studios, then concentrated on all the major mechanical rigs required in the States.

We built all the speeder bikes and their travelling and gimble mechanisms for shooting on location in the Redwoods, and the bluescreen shooting at ILM Studios in San Rafael. Also built in the UK was the hover skiff which floated over the Sarlacc Pit, next to Jabba's Sail Barge in the deserts of Yuma. This also included all the gimble support mechanism controlled by hydraulics.

Another confirmation is here (by Howard Kazanjian, ROTJ producer):

The amazing speeder bike sequence would be created at ILM; the bikes were built nearby. A new handheld VistaVision camera would be designed and built to shoot the plates in Crescent City, California, the redwood forest.

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  • You have to admit though; The speeder bikes have a very similar look to the crafts in that setting. Both the main barge and the smaller ones. And it's basically suicide to use them on Endor, while it makes a lot of sense on Tatooine. – bitmask Jun 7 '12 at 16:20
  • @bitmask - everyone involved says the bikes were built in California, NOT Arizona. Who are you gonna believe, Lucas or your own lying eyes? :) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jun 7 '12 at 16:25
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    @DVK that depends, who shot first? – NominSim Jun 7 '12 at 16:29
  • @NominSim - Leia :) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jun 7 '12 at 16:32
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    @BrettWhite - may have been prototypes that they wanted to use but didn't. I wasn't able to find any mention of them though. Remember, the same people designed/built on both sets, so they may have tinkered with some "smaller flyers" and then discarded them for this scene for technical/logistical reasons – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jun 7 '12 at 16:39

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