by Dave Nichols 3 min read
Did you know that there were more than 150 American motorcycle manufacturers by the 1920’s? How many of those long gone marquees can you name? But, if you happen to be in the eastern section of Iowa, it’s certainly is worth your time to check out the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, IA. Founded in 1989, the National Motorcycle Museum has grown from a small storefront in Sturgis, South Dakota, to its current location offering 36,000 sq. ft. to call home. It can be initially overwhelming when you enter into the display area, but, as you begin to explore you’ll soon be drawn to the flow of the Museum and off on your own adventure.
With over 400 motorcycles on display, about half of them are American made. From a 1908 original condition single-cylinder H-D, to one of Jesse James early customs, a 1990 XL1200, there’s a good range of Harley-Davidson’s to compare. Grouped by age and engine type, you’ll find the single and dual-cylinder models all parked together, then not far away are the early knuckles and pans. The shovelheads lead into the blockheads then there are even a few Twin Cams in the bunch. There’s a nice lineup of custom vintage Harley’s as well. These are just some of the treasures you’ll find when you venture inside. Just around the corner from the Harleys, Indians proliferate complete with dealer signage, posters and promotional items. From the early years through the 1990’s and early 2000’s, the 1940’s Indian line-up is well represented. Every year the Museum holds a contest to win a new bike and this year, you have the chance to win a 2019 race replica Indian FTR 1200S model!
As they still do today, the early motorcycle manufacturers often used the ever-present competitive American spirit of racing to develop a street version of their products. These are some of the most exceptional bikes in the Museum’s American collection. Look for the 1910 Sears, 1911 Flying Merkel, 1912 Henderson or the 1914 Yale/California. Many of these were raced, and then transformed in the end to a gentleman’s motorcycle, built for reliability and smoothness. There’s a whole compliment of Indians both Chiefs and Scouts to check out. You’ll find some of them, posed for a great race in an outstanding of a board track with many more great examples of these old gems just waiting to uncover during your visit.
The bikes and exhibits are ever-changing. A number of bikes in the collection are on loan. They are changed out as new examples of their type are available. This keeps the collection fresh and interesting. Permanent displays are updated and new ones developed. Steve McQueen’s personal Indian and the iconic “Captain America” bike from the movie Easy Rider, are both a permanent part of the Museum. Not just the bikes, but posters, photos, and video of their infamous movies run in both exhibits.
Over the course of the year the Museum hosts several events. One of the premier
weekends is the Vintage Rally with a swap meet, bike show, guest speakers, panel discussions, and Sunday morning a vintage road ride through the rolling Iowa hills.
Speaking of riding to this one-of-a-kind museum, you’ll want to include some of your favorite road tunes on the way there and there is no better way to do that than with a Steel Horse Audio motorcycle speaker system. From mild to wild, Steel Horse has you covered with great prices on American-made stereos for your scooter. Check the Steel Horse Audio website for details on the ST200 Classic System, ST400 Cruiser System and mighty 900 watt ST600 Platinum system. Get the best sound around for your ride right here! Order now to have your bike ready with killer sound when riding season begins!
For more info on the National Motorcycle Museum, call 319-462-3925 or visit
www.nationalmcmuseum.org for news and upcoming events.
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