Motorcyclepedia Museum, Over a Century of Motorcycling

Words and Photos by Mike Bumbeck

Understanding where motorcycling came from makes riding into the future on two or three wheels that much better. One great way to take in motorcycling history coming and going is to motor down to the Motorcyclepedia Museum in Newburgh, New York. Warmer and longer days combined with the clarion call of a swap meet were good enough reasons for us to head down to the Motorcyclepedia Museum and check out the collection of over 450 motorcycles representing more than a century of technology and cultural heritage.

The collection began when Gerald Doering purchased the first of what would become many Indian motorcycles just after World War Two. A father’s enthusiasm for motorcycles was passed onto his son Ted Doering and in 2011 the pair established the Motorcyclepedia Museum to share their passion with the world. Today the Motorcyclepedia Museum houses a vast array of motorcycles and related cultural memorabilia and hosts a series of special events throughout the year.

The Indian Timeline is a museum in itself, with restored and original Indian motorcycles from the beginning to end of the Springfield, Massachusetts motorcycle manufacturing titan. Descending into the cavernous lower levels revealed the Circa Gallery of early machines representative of the collective motorcycling experience from America and around the world including Thor, Reading-Standard, De Dion-Bouton, and Harley Davidson. The fearsome Inferno Der Motoren wall-of-death motordrome was sadly dormant, but the swap meet offered up parts and lunch.

Drifting from one motorcycle to the next presented different engineering and design approaches from inline 4-cylinders with overhead valves to valve-in-head v-twins churning conventional sprocket and chain setups or the shaft drive Pierce. Back upstairs Chopper City encompassed 1960s and 1970s custom motorcycling timeline with a collection of two-wheeled timepieces and three-wheeled creations from Ed “Big Daddy” Roth that shows how the motorcycle influenced and reflected what was going on in America.

Get to the Motorcyclepedia Museum on two, three, or four wheels by navigating to 250 Lake Street in Newburgh, New York. The Motorcyclepedia Museum is open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 10-5. Admission is $11 for adults, $5 for kids 3-12. Kids under 3 get in free. More information on the museum or upcoming events can be found at www.motorcyclepediamuseum.org or calling 845-569-9065

Currently based in New England, Mike Bumbeck is a journalist and 40-plus year driver and caretaker of everything from vintage econoboxes and turbocharged coupes to classic sports utility vehicles and motorcycles. He honed his skills writing about hot cars and punk rock in a pre-tech boom Bay Area before migrating back east as gigs with publishing empires and other pit stops fueled the past decade. An outside-the-box car guy, Bumbeck launched Clunkbucket in 2009 as a “place for the unsung heroes of the automotive universe.”

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