Most of us have some specific list of likes, preferences and passions that is pretty unique. Our interests coincide around select areas like a motorcycle or automotive marque, but we are particularly pleased when we find multiple overlapping interests. And so it was when we visited the Moto Museum. It is a motorcycle museum that advertises itself as “Displaying a collection of rare & vintage European motorcycles, with paid guided tours available”. Sounded good to us, and we visited one afternoon. The building is a typical looking industrial brick building. Nondescript. Walking in through the front door, we were surprised that there is no front desk and no staff. You just move right into the first display hall. As on many occasions, we were the only ones there. The hall and the entire museum has a spacious arrangement, with plenty of space for items and for growth. There is also a real mixture of restored and survivor machines, making for an interesting ensemble.
Although they advertise “European”, there is an emphasis on the “rare”part of the sentence. There are not many BMWs and Ducatis, at least not the common models. This leaves room for a very interesting glimpse into what the rest of Europe was doing up until the 1970s. In particular, some of the machines produced behind the iron curtain in Hungary and Czechoslovakia and Poland. CZ from the Czech Replublic was well represented with both military and trail bikes, but there was also a very well restored 1927 Bohmerland complete with one of the more elaborate front suspensions of the era. There were 2 Hungarian Pannonia models from the late 1950s made in Budapest, with beautiful aircraft-inspired Duna sidecars attached. Also from Hungary was the 125cc single cylinder Danuvia, Both MZ and Simson represented East Germany. The 1956 350cc MZ was nicely restored, and sported a very BMW-like engine and shaft drive. Continuing the tour, we encountered a 350cc machine from Poland, the Junak, and an Austrian Puch. And all the way behind the iron curtain was a Russian IZH. The museum also had to find a collection of British bikes on display, including a Sunbeam, a very early Matchless L3 from 1924, a New Imperial, a 1920 Levis complete with belt drive and gaslit headlight, and even a John Player Norton. Italian fare included several Moto Guzzis, a Maserati, a Gilera, and a Ducati Monza among others.
Of course, German machines were a highlight. Great examples from Horex and Victoria and Imme were housed in double decker display settings. Our only complaint of the whole visit was that these dispays did not allow you to get up close and often had color-changing “disco” lights that were distracting. That aside, the bikes were the stars, and the collection continued with a lovely 250cc Maico, and a 1928 Wanderer Kaffeemuhle. Also in the German section were examples from DKW, NSU, Adler, Zundapp, and Miele. The sole BMW was an unrestored R25. Great stuff. And to cover other areas of Europe, specimens from Belgium (Sarolea with the most interesting adjustable passenger seat), and Denmark (Nimbus), and Switzerland (Motosaccoche), and Spain (Bultaco and Ossa), accompanied several machines from France. The French Marques included Terrot, Alcyon, Peugeot, and Gnome and Rhome.
As is often the case, the museum is the collection of a single generous individual who is kind enough to share with the public. For Free ! Steve Smith is an architect whose passion outgrew his garage and hence the Moto Museum. We owe him our thanks. But wait, there’s more. The museum is attached to a motorcycle-themed restaurant, which in turn is connected to a Triumph-KTM-Ducati dealership. Together they form a great triple-play.