With Britain’s own Triumph due to open the doors to its own visitor centre and museum next year it got us wondering – which are the best manufacturer and independent motorcycle museums out there? Here’s our round up of our 10 of the world’s greatest...
Moto Guzzi Museum, Italy
Located within the historic Moto Guzzi factory at Mandello del Lario, on the picturesque banks of Lake Como in northern Italy, the slightly rustic but charming Museo Moto Guzzi is housed within three floors of the factory building and contains a rich if slightly dog-eared collection of over 150 exhibits including virtually all the bikes since 1921, prototypes, race bikes, drawings, memorabilia and more. Don’t expect glossy displays and expensive guest shops and cafes. Do expect dusty authenticity, charm and a fabulous location.
Open most days 3-4pm with free entry, but it’s wise to check in advance. www.motoguzzi.com/en_EN/passion/Museum
Ducati Museum, Italy
The Ducati museum, fully renovated last year to celebrate the marque’s 90th anniversary, is located within the historic Borgo Panigale factory in Bologna, and reknowned as one of motorcycling’s jewels. There's not just the whole history of its production machines, but also its race bikes, world superbike and MotoGP history, personalities, and more - all in striking new displays. In addition there’s a gift shop. Access is via booked, guided tour only, which needs to be booked in advance and takes place from 9.15-11 and 13.45 – 15.30pm Monday to Friday (Saturdays are restricted to Ducati Owners Club members) with prices €8-10per person. For more go to: www.ducati.com/museum_ducati
Petersen Automotive Museum, USA
As its name suggest, the Petersen museum, set up by publishing magnate Robert E Petersen in 1994, is primarily a car museum. However, there is a significant two-wheeled element and, located in a fabulously converted former department store in fashionable Wilshire Boulevard in LA, and jam-packed also with gorgeous four-wheelers by Packard, Bugatti and more, it’s definitely worth checking out, if only for some of its quirkier exhibits such as Batgirl’s ‘Batbike’ and Steve McQueen’s own Indian Chief. Entry costs $7-15 and the Petersen is open from 10-6pm daily. More at: http://petersen.org
Harley-Davidson Museum, USA
Located near downtown Milwaukee, the Harley-Davidson Museum opened its doors to the public in July 2008. Covering 130,000-square-feet, the exhibition contains not just over 450 historic Harley motorcycles but also thousands of artifacts from its 114-year old H-D archive, including photos, documents, videos and more. The 20-acre riverfront site also allows you to enjoy the waterfront setting with the Milwaukee skyline and includes a café and gift shop. Admission is from $10-20 and it’s open daily from 9am-6pm (excluding Thursday which is 9am-8pm) in May to September or 10am-6pm (Thursday 10am-8pm) from October to April. For more info go to: www.harley-davidson.com
BMW Museum, Germany
Located in an architectural wonder adjacent to BMW’s famous 21-story landmark HQ in Munich, the BMW Museum, again, is primarily dedicated to the German giant’s car business, but, also again, there is still a significant and fascinating motorcycle element – not least it’s hugely impressive ‘Wall of Motorcycles’ (pictured). Founded in 1973 it was one of the first manufacturer museums and was expanded and redesigned in 2008. It’s open 10.15-16.30pm Tuesday to Sunday, admission costs €10-13 and is only available via a pre-booked 60 minute tour. Go to www.bmw-welt.com for more information.
National Motorcycle Museum, United Kingdom
Located near to the NEC, Britain's National Motorcycle Museum is arguably so significant it’s almost embarrassing to learn that it was largely a private enterprise founded by one man – Roy Richards. It opened in purpose-built-premises in 1984 and, with over 350 classic machines on display, is recognised as the finest and largest British motorcycle museum in the world. Sadly, Roy passed away in 2008 but the museum continues to thrive, attracting around 250,000 visitors a year. It’s open 08.30-17.30 daily, with admission costing £6.95-£8.95. Go to www.nationalmotorcyclemuseum.co.uk for more information.
Honda Collection Hall, Japan
OK, so it’s not the most accessible of places for us Brits, but no list of the world’s greatest motorcycle museums would be complete with a mention of the astonishing Honda Collection Hall. Set up by Honda itself in a purpose built three-storey building at their Twin-Ring Motegi circuit, it houses around 300 Honda motorcycles, cars, racing machines and power products in distinct zones. It’s open most days with adult entry (15+) costing 1000 Yen. Kids go free. http://world.honda.com/collection-hall/
Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, USA
Located at the Barber Motorsports facility at Leeds, Alabama, the collection opened in 1995 and, with over 1500 vintage and modern motorcycles, it is claimed to be the world’s largest motorcycle museum. The Barber, truly, is one of the wonders of the motorcycling world. It was founded by local billionaire George H Barber who set out to deliberately create the world’s biggest and best motorcycle museum. And, all located in a radically designed facility, it’s probably just that. It’s open Monday to Saturday 10-6pm and Sundays from 12-6pm, with adult admission costing $15. For more information, visit thier website: www.barbermuseum.org
David Silver Honda Collection, United Kingdom
By complete contrast, at least to the massive Barber and Honda collections, the recently opened David Silver collection is one of the UK’s least known motorcycling gems. Opened in 2016 and located in Leiston, East Suffolk, the museum is the work of reknowned classic Honda parts specialist David Silver and is thus, naturally enough, devoted to classic Hondas of which about 150 different models, ranging from a Super Cub to CBR900RR FireBlade, are on display. It’s open Monday-Friday 9am to 5pm and 9am to 4pm Saturday. Entrance is £10 adults and £5 seniors. Under 16s go free. More here: www.davidsilverhondacollection.co.uk
Sammy Miller Museum, United Kingdom
Another British gem, the Sammy Miller Museum, as founded and developed by ex-racer Sammy himself, is one of the great British motorcycling museums. Founded in 1964 and located on the edge of the New Forest in New Milton, Hampshire, it is dedicated to British and European classics and houses some of the most exotic racing motorcycles of all time, including the legendary Moto Guzzi V8, along with a host of great road going machines as well. In the winter it’s only open at weekends (10am to 4pm) but will be open daily after February 15th. Entrance is £7.50 adults and £3 for kids.