This place is amazing! Five stories of vintage motorbikes await you as you walk in the front entrance. Our jaws dropped as we looked upwards two stories into open air architecture with bikes seemingly hanging in mid-air, then downward three stories at bikes being displayed in cases like little Matchbox cars.
This is the view as you walk through the main entrance
Matchbox bikes? Looking up………..
and looking down…..
Good god, where do we begin? After checking our backpacks at security, Roo suggested that we “shop right” and work our way to the top floor, then take the elevator down to the bottom and work our way up. Super. Off we went.
But first, the Lotus cars.
George Barber was a Lotus car racer in his prime and a collector of these exquisite automobiles before becoming enamored with motorcycles. You are immediately greeted at the front entrance by the Lotus display above. One section of the entrance floor is dedicated to Lotus as you “shop right.”
A partial view of the Lotus collection
The remainder of the entrance floor was dedicated to antique motorbikes, and specialty bicycles like these………..
The motor bicycles
No Schwinn I ever had looked like that! Note the plate glass windows in the photo above. The museum building sits adjacent to the grandstand and pit areas of the race track, with plate glass windows making up the rear walls of the building. Museum goers can give their feet a break and sit down inside the museum and watch the races as they unfold. Is that just cool or what?
There are over 800 motorbikes on display here at any given time. George Barber’s collection is said to encompass over 1400 motorbikes, which are rotated on display in the museum. Amazing! There are so many beautiful two wheeled pieces of art here, that I had to change the batteries in my camera from taking so many pictures!
Words cannot do justice to these motorbikes, so the remainder of this post will be pictorial, with a few descriptive comments thrown in now and then. I will let these beautiful machines speak for themselves.
The attention to detail on these bikes is amazing.
The French and the Germans
Ah, the Italians. No other country on earth produces cars and motorcycles that exude such speed, beauty and unbridled sex appeal as does Italy. Look at a Ferrari, or a Moto Guzzi, a Lamborghini, or a Ducati and you will inevitably hear someone say, “that is one sexy looking machine.” And if they don’t say it out loud, they’re thinking it. You will never hear those words spoken in reference to a BMW, a Honda, a Harley. Nothing against those marques, they just don’t have it. The Italians have it, and they are the only ones that do.
Roo and I are enamored with Italian motorbikes. We don’t have one….yet, but we will. I must. It is in my blood. Literally. Both my grandparents came over from Italy. What better way to honor the heritage than for this motorcyclist to have an Italian motorbike in the garage? However, we now face an Italian bike dilemma. But that is fodder for a future post.
The Italian display here is huge. As a matter of fact, one whole wall is lined with motorbikes encased in their “matchbox” cubicles. But these are not model toys. They are the real-size deal.
Roo checking out the Italians. She’s always checking out the Italians!
MV Augusta, Morbidelli, Parilla, Ducati, Aprilia, Gilera, Moto Guzzi. Iconic names in Italian motorcycling, and worshipped by Italian motorcyclists and “isti’s” around the world. Mandello del Lario, Italy on Lake Como is the home of Moto Guzzi, the oldest European motorcycle manufacturer in continuous production, while Ducati calls Bologna, Italy home. Millions of passionate “Guzzisti’s” and “Ducatisti’s” ride these beautiful machines all over the globe, and there is no mistaking an Italian bike when you here it’s beautiful exhaust note coming down the road.
Gilera e Parilla
Feast on these beautiful tank badges
It was fitting to end our stay at Barber Motorsports by paying tribute to the beauty of Italian motorcycling. It was now time to head back to our hotel, clean up and eat some dinner. For us, this trip is virtually over, this having been the last stopover on our ten day sojourn. We still have two more days on the bike, but now it is just a matter of getting home and re-uniting with the beagles.
Next post: C’est Fini