Saturday, 31 July 2010

H-D Museum, James Bond, 5000 Miles and British Bike Night.

Day 37 was a great day. It was full of interesting people and things to see!

The night before I stayed at the Iron Horse hotel which is just a stones throw away from the Harley-Davidson Museum. What a great hotel this is, especially as it caters for motorcyclists like no other hotel I know. The decor is exciting, the rooms are excellent, the food is good and the whole ambiance of the place is brilliant. I cannot recommend it enough!

The front of the hotel....


















Covered bike parking!....


















There is more on the hotel later in this (long) post and pictures from the bike night held in their car park!

Some time ago, when I was doing the preparation for this tour, I joined a bikers forum on www.motorcycleusa.com It was helpful that I was able to ask questions and get some ideas about my trip. Now that I am on my tour, riding everyday and writing my blog almost every night, I have not been able to find the time to go back to the forum, but one guy, who goes by the handle of Well Enuff and whose real name is Rich, has become an avid reader of my blog and has kept in contact with me. Rich decided to come to Milwaukee to meet me and arranged for another forum member, Dan, to come along to. Rich had to ride a couple of hours to get to Milwaukee, but Dan had a shorter journey of just 4 miles! We met at the hotel and after a chat and looking at maps of the tour, we set off on our planned visit to the Harley-Davidson Museum together....


























I liked this sign! In the US, bikers call cars by the rather derogatory name of “cages”, so this is a very appropriate sign....



























Here are Rich on the left on his Kawasaki, me in the middle and Dan on the right on his Honda, outside the museum....





















I didn’t really know what to expect at the Harley-Davidson Museum, but it was one destination I really wanted to go and see on my tour. Overall, I thought it was excellent – a good blend of bikes of all ages, photos, posters, artwork, stories, films and memorabilia. It was all presented very well, although to create an modern environment, the designers had gone for low lighting levels which makes photography somewhat challenging! I did take a lot of pictures are I have included my favourites here. I deliberately haven’t accurately described every bike and every picture, as that would be boring, so with just a few words, here is some of what I saw....

The general layout of the bikes in the year they were made. You are very close to the bikes....




















This very early bike has a leather belt drive from the engine and a chain drive from the pedals....




















More very early bikes. This was in 1911, just 8 years into the companies life....


















Some of the styling in this bike from 1925 is still used in some of the bobbers of today....





















A World War 2 military bike....





















A very early side car....





















It doesn’t look like a racing bike....





















A beautiful board track racer and a close up of a similar engine. I imagine this bike was very loud with those short pipes....









































My favourite part of the museum, the display of tanks....









































His of course is about engines, but some may think otherwise....





















A stunning display of engine types....





















Rich and Dan in the museum. Like me, they both liked it a lot (even though they ride other makes of bike)....





















1957. What a great year this was!.....





















A prototype for a V-4. It looks like a big Honda!....





















Of course, what display would be complete without one of these....





















For the 100th anniversary, they asked all employees to sign this bike. They shipped parts all around the world, people signed them and shipped them back before the bike was re-assembled into a completed signature bike....





















Hmmmmn. Not sure about the colour, even with its matching side-car....





















Perhaps the most famous bikes in the world..... the original Captain America bikes from the movie Easy Rider....





















Bling, anyone?....





















A pair of V-Twins fixed together from 1942. Being in a line, one can only try to imagine what this rode like....





















This looks suspiciously like an MV Augusta to me....





















This was bike number 2,000,000 to be made....





















Dan on a racing Harley-Davidson....



























Rich on a V-Rod drag bike....





















Me on a side-car outfit with a foot clutch. It would take a long time to get used to that....





















There was a Evel Knievel display....


























Remember his failed rocket bike attempt....





















Ouch. Some of his X-rays....





















Me being very silly....



















I enjoyed the museum. Is it worth going to? Yes, although I had thought it might be bigger. After the museum, we went for lunch which Rich very kindly paid for. With his local knowledge, Dan chose a great place to eat.

When I was in the H-D dealership in Chicago having my bike serviced, I was told about a bar in Milwaukee called the Safe House. It sounded fun, so we went off to find it. The bar has a James Bond, spy theme and is great fun. This is the sign on the entrance door – there is nothing else to indicate what it is....





















To gain antry into the bar, you need to either know the password, or find your way in via a secret entrance in the lobby. It is not easy to find and the people already in the bar can watch you trying. Having found the secret entry, it is a hoot watching others try to find it! There are tv screens showing what people trying to find the entrance get up to and it is pretty funny. Apparently, some people don’t find the way in, give up and leave....





















I bought Rich and Dan fake moustaches....





















In keeping with my aim to take a photograph every time my tour trips over another 1000 miles, here is the 5000 mile photo, taken in central Milwaukee when riding back to the hotel. Rich and Dan were with me, so it is right they are in the picture....





















Every Thursday at the Iron Horde Hotel is bike night. I felt very at home as this was British Bike Night!!!!....






































A beautiful BSA side-car outfit. I can think of a couple of my Ural-owning readers that will like this....






































A lovely Norton....



















This is T.C. Christenson who raced a Norton powered drag bike in the seventies. I met him and a tv producer who was making a programme about the rider and his drag bikes....







































A BSA in remarkably good condition....












































A groovy looking tank on a Triumph....





















Just so my scooter riding readers don’t feel left out....





















This is Joe, an eccentric looking Triumph rider. He looks British, but is in fact American....





















































The tv producer I met said that when I get to Los Angeles, he would be able to get me access to something very special. I won’t say what it is in case in doesn’t happen, but I am very excited that it might!!!!! I will of course write about it on my blog if it does come to fruition!

Finally for today, I must thank Rich and Dan for firstly reading about my travels and taking the time to come to Milwaukee to meet me. It was greatly appreciated and you were both very good company!

16 comments:

securityfactory said...

Gary, That was the most fun I've had in an 8-hour period in a long time. If your daily experience is like that on the trip, you are going to be overdosed on pleasure in a short time.

R!ch
[Well Enuff on MC-USA]

If any of your blog readers are interested in your first appearance on MC-USA they can read it at
http://forum.motorcycle-usa.com/default.aspx?f=17&m=464548

Chris Luhman said...

Good pics of the bike bikes. I like the sidecar photos too. :)

Eve said...

Wow it was great meeting Dan and Rich! That Ninja looks like my first motorcycle! I had a lot of fun riding the Ninja. The hotel, the museum and British Bike Night!! how fun was that. I love the 5000th mile photo! Looks like your really having a great time Gary....It'll be a while but I'll be interested in the LA story!
Ride Safe!

SonjaM said...

An overdose of bling! I am blinded now. Thanks for your guidance through the H-D museum. And the British Bike Night must have been just the cherry on top. Love the Triumph with the Union Jack Flag.

motoroz said...

Looks like a great experience. You are seeing so many great things. Stay safe.

steve.collins said...

Gary it looks like you having a great trip, love the British Bike night & HD museum pics. A bit different to Harley night down at the ACE!
We've been following your Blog and are most envious of your trip.

Kathy & Steve UK

PS Did you get your saddlebag locks sorted out?

Axel said...

1957... fully agree :)

Milwaukee Dan said...

It takes a visitor from another country to show me sites in my own hometown. The HD Museum was such a treat, worthy of a visit for any rider. Plus the Safe House was such a fun experience. Meeting you and Jim reminds me what I love about riding, the people and places you experience while traveling the road. Ride safe and enjoy, I'll be watching from my computer for the rest of your journey.

It was my pleasure to make your acquaintance. You are always welcome if your journeys find you back here.

Take care,
Dan

Eve said...

Oh yeah!! I meant to say Gary...we've figured out that you were born in 1957!!! hahahaha...we get it already!!! hahahaha!

Gary France said...

Rich – I am glad that you enjoyed it. We did seem to do a lot in the time available! It was great to meet you!

Chris – I suspected you might like the sidecar pictures!

Eve – The LA story will have to wait as it isn’t confirmed yet, but if it does happen....

Sonja – Overdose indeed, but I wore my sunglasses, so I could cope.

Oz – Yes, so many wonderful things to see!

Steve and Kathy – Harley night at the Ace will never feel the same again! I am really pleased the two of you are looking at the blog. Yes to the saddlebag locks – I contacted the manufacturer and they couried replacements to a hotel I knew I would be at and I fitted them straight away. I haven’t lost or jammed a key in a lock for ages now!

Axel – You too?

Milwaukee Dan – You are so right - meeting fellow riders and seeing places you wouldn’t normally spend the time to see is what it is all about. It was great to meet you too!

Eve – You got it!

Charlie6 said...

I wonder if that HD sidecar rig you sat/posed on was similar to the rig in the book I recently reviewed?

Nice set of pics of your museum tour, thanks.

Gary France said...

Charlie6 / Dom - It does look similar, including the high mounted headlight. The sdiecar is mounted on the other side though! But, in one of the pictures in the book you reviewed it looks as if the changed the side that the rig was mounted - how odd!

Clare Westby said...

Ugh, yes, the Harley Davidson museum is absolutely spectacular! I was so amused by the “no cages” parking lot, haha! I love the HD museum because seeing the evolution of the HD bikes is pretty much seeing pieces of American history. I can’t wait to see the Harley Davidson roadster that was shown in “The Avengers” this year in this museum one day! But for now, my favorite is the one signed by all HD employees. Those names written there will forever live on!

Claudio Mccarty said...

Your trip to Milwaukee was amazing! And I think everybody who loves motorcycles would love to be at the museum. It is truly wonderful to be in such a place where you can see how Harley Davidson motorcycles came to be. And the British bike night at the hotel was a trademark event that should be experienced by all those who go by the area!


@Claudio Mccarty

Gary France said...

Clare – I am glad you liked the H-D Museum. It is a terrific place to see how the motorcycles have evolved, plus also it is a great way to some one-off special, or very unusual bikes - the signed bike is a great example of that.

Claudio – I have visited a few motorcycle museums and each plays its part in education us about the basics of engineering, as well as providing hours of entertainment. Looking back at the simplicity of early motorcycles reminds me how easy it was for their owners to work on their own bikes. Because modern motorcycles are so complex, todays owners are not so lucky.

Hannah Parkin said...

How about that Norton BSA with a green side car? Isn’t it awesome! Kudos to the owner for a job well done with the restoration! I can't help but fall for it!

Hannah Parkin