A motorcycle museum can make you dizzy with desire.
Everywhere you look, there’s a beautiful vintage motorcycle calling your name.
Most of them would fit just nicely in your garage, right?
A good motorcycle museum is an intense experience.
It’s a feast for the senses.
And completely overwhelming.
So it helps to have a game plan going in.
Here in New Zealand, we have a motorcycle museum that’s world class.
Tucked away at the bottom of the country in a tiny town, it’s easy to miss.
But if you can find it, you’ll walk through the front doors and gasp out loud.
There are three floors, with hundreds of dazzling vintage motorcycles proudly leaking oil.
There’s a fantastic coffee shop on the ground floor for when you need to refuel.
And the motorcycle-themed bathrooms are an experience in themselves.
I could totally just move into this museum, have breakfast in the coffee shop, and curl up to sleep on one of the comfortable couches.
When you visit a great motorcycle museum, you want to make sure you don’t miss anything.
So getting the most out of your visit takes some simple planning.
Because what if you never get to go back?
You need to know you’ve milked every drop of happiness out of the experience!
It’d be a crying shame to get around a motorcycle museum like this in an hour.
This is an inspiring motorcycle experience that takes all day to drink in.
You absolutely can’t rush it.
There’s so much to see, you want to savor every minute.
So let me walk you through my process for making the most of a motorcycle museum visit.
And then if you get the chance to explore a building full of motorcycle joy like this, you’ll know what to do…
Your Motorcycle Museum Game Plan
10 Easy Ways to Make Sure You Don’t Miss a Single Thing!
1. Allow enough time
Visiting a great motorcycle museum will take more time than you expect.
The worst thing you can do is hurry from motorcycle to motorcycle, trying to make sure you see everything in the 1 hour you have available.
That’ll completely ruin the experience.
It makes the visit stressful instead of inspirational.
What a shame!
So tailor the amount of time you need to the size of the motorcycle museum.
If it’s fairly small, you may need a few hours rather than all day.
But once you’re in a motorcycle museum with over 100 bikes, you’ll really need to clear your day.
At our local vintage motorcycle museum, we get there early, right after breakfast.
And we plan to be there until it closes.
You just can’t rush an experience like this.
You want the luxury of enough time to wander around, and relish the atmosphere.
You’ll need to revisit the motorcycles that grab you by the heartstrings and pull you back.
You just can’t have an immersive experience in 20 minutes, while trotting from bike to bike.
There’s a lot of fine detail to stop and admire.
2. Choose your company
Never go to a motorcycle museum with someone who’s not into bikes.
It’s a total and complete buzzkill.
Non-motorcycle people will be openly bored, and get impatient really quickly.
And that’s a problem.
Because you were planning to spend the next 7 hours there.
This situation always leads to one of two outcomes:
- A loud public argument, with the bored person stomping off in a tantrum, or
- You feeling guilty about being ‘selfish’ – and so you cut your visit short.
With either outcome, no-one’s happy.
So if you’re visiting a town with a motorcycle museum, have a chat with your non-motorcycle loving companions.
Suggest to your wife, friends, or mother-in-law that they make their own fun that day.
You’ll catch up for dinner.
Having a sarcastic and irritated person sighing loudly, and grudgingly following you around like a sulky child is infuriating.
If standing in a room full of vintage Brough Superiors and Nortons doesn’t make them cry with happiness, they don’t deserve to be there.
3. Just pay the entry fee
Setting up and maintaining a quality motorcycle museum must cost a fortune.
The value of hundreds of rare vintage motorcycles boggles the mind.
Not to mention renting the building, heating it, and insuring these gorgeous machines.
So yep, many motorcycle museums will charge you money to get in.
Sometimes it’s more than you expected.
But how often do you get to do this?
It’s a rare treat, not a regular expense.
So just buy the ticket, and get access to the joy.
Think of it as an investment in your happiness.
It’s not every day you get to hang out with a rare priceless Vincent motorcycle.
Let alone seven of them (I thought I might faint)!
And all the more reason not to waste an entry fee on someone who won’t appreciate the experience!
4. Wear something comfortable
Wandering around a motorcycle museum for the best part of a day is surprisingly tiring.
You’ll probably end up walking for miles by closing time.
You can’t do that in too-tight jeans.
Or worse, high heels.
You need to be wearing clothes that’ll let you kneel down next to a particularly stunning motorcycle to take a closer look.
And some flat, comfortable shoes you can walk and stand in all day.
Because you WILL be walking all day, without even noticing it.
You’ll go back and forth between different sections of the museum.
You’ll be on your feet for several hours.
And a visit to a motorcycle museum is not a fashion show.
Everyone’s looking at the motorcycles, not your outfit, believe me.
You could probably show up in your robe and slippers and no-one would notice or care.
Particularly here in New Zealand, where things are so casual, it’s often total chaos (just try going out for dinner here…)
5. Read the information panels
A professionally set up motorcycle museum will have put together some back stories on many of the bikes on display.
These tidbits of information are often really interesting:
- There might be a heart-warming story of generations of bikers passing a rare model down from father to son (or daughter).
- There are hair-raising tales of speeds achieved on terrifying-looking old rattlers.
- And you might discover that the thing of beauty in front of you is one of only 20 left in the world.
It’s like coming face to face with a rare white tiger.
You can see it’s beautiful, but it’s probably got an interesting story too.
Take a moment to learn more about it.
That’s how I learned about a local woman here in New Zealand who had a travelling laundromat in the 1930s – a mobile washing machine she rode around with in her Indian side car.
6. Take regular breaks
Spending time with hundreds of beautiful vintage motorcycles leads directly to being wildly over-stimulated.
After a while, you’ll hear yourself say “wow” for the 400th time, and realise your brain might be leaking out of your ears.
Yep, you’ve officially hit Motorcycle Overload.
It’s time to take a break.
With any luck, the motorcycle museum will have a coffee shop of some sort.
And a bathroom!
But if not, force yourself to leave the building and go take a break.
Have some lunch and a coffee.
Sit down, re-charge, and wait for your energy to come back.
Then you’ll be ready to spend another couple of hours surrounded by motorcycle beauty – and you’ll have the energy to appreciate it.
7. Be friendly
Something strange happens between the people who are inside a motorcycle museum.
It’s almost as if you’ve suddenly, instantly, been accepted into a cult.
Everyone else there is as obsessed as you are.
Everyone’s grinning like they’ve lost their minds.
Everyone is having nostalgic flashbacks to bikes they’ve known, or their dad once owned, or they’ve always dreamed of owning.
The people around you are in a heightened emotional state.
Their hearts are open.
They’re in a state of wonder.
Some of them might even be wiping away a tear.
So smile at the stranger next to you.
Have a chat, and make an instant connection with a fellow human being who’s on the same fun fair ride as you.
Listen to their stories.
Tell one of your own.
Laugh together, and enjoy this rare opportunity to connect effortlessly with a complete stranger who understands your passion – because he feels it himself.
8. Make sure your phone is charged
There’s no way to spend a day in a motorcycle museum without taking photos.
Lots of photos.
I dare you to take just a few.
At last count, I had over 4,000 photos on my phone.
And OK, not ALL of them are from our local motorcycle museum.
There are quite a few of motorcycle rides, good friends, and our biker cats being hilarious, for sure.
But there are a LOT of pics of vintage motorcycles on there.
I just can’t help myself, walking around that motorcycle museum.
And, naturally, I’ve been there many times.
But I always need to take a few more snaps.
The urge to capture the beauty is uncontrollable.
So make sure you have plenty of space on your phone, and its battery is at 100%.
9. Go on, check out the gift shop
I know, I know, the motorcycle museum gift shop is there to cash in on your passion.
It’s too easy to make an impulse buy when your head is spinning from getting up close and personal with all those beautiful motorcycles.
But there’s nothing wrong with wanting to take away a memento of the day.
Try and stick to something small, and less than $1,000.
Then you won’t regret it, but every time you look at it, you’ll smile and remember the uplifting experience.
10. After your visit, do this
Eventually, you’ll stagger out of the motorcycle museum, happily dazed and totally exhausted.
Your face will hurt from all the smiling, and you’ll be clutching a motorcycle miniature, or a t-shirt from the gift shop.
Unfortunately, now you’re back in the real world.
But that’s OK.
You can make sure your memories linger.
You have 500 motorcycle photos on your phone now, remember?
Don’t just leave them there, and go back to work on Monday.
Share a few choice ones on Facebook.
Use your favorite photo as your screensaver on your computer or phone.
Get some photos actually printed out and set up a photo board at work, so you can remember why you’re there 9-5.
And then make a plan to go back, and do it all again!
Visiting a motorcycle museum can be the highlight of your year
A well set-up motorcycle museum is a magical place.
It’s such a privilege to be surrounded by vintage motorcycles, and to hear their fascinating stories.
And when you go in with a game plan and simple strategy like this, you won’t waste a second.
You’ll wring every ounce of pure joy out of the experience.
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