By Laurie Montoya
There are a lot of cool motorcycle museums in this great Nation, but here in Colorado, we have one that we can call our own.
The Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum was founded in 1992, and is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit Colorado entity. The museum is home to some beautifully restored and original antique machines spanning 1906 to 1976.
One thing that sets our motorcycle museum apart from most others in the world is the price of admission: FREE. Yes, I said free. While donations at the door are welcomed, there is no cost for anyone to enjoy the spectacular display of two wheeled history.
MOVIN’ ON UP
From 1992 through 2001, the museum made its home on Colorado Springs southside next door to High Country Custom Cycles. When the chopper shop was bought out by the local Harley-Davidson dealer, the Museum was relocated to a building adjacent to that dealership. After several years, the Museum relocated to the mezzanine level of the dealership, where it has remained ever since.
That long time home will soon be abandoned, as the museum relocates to a brand new, prestigious location in downtown Colorado Springs.
Joining the new “City Works Eatery” complex, the Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum’s new address will be 19 North Tejon St., in the heart of Colorado Springs’ entertainment district. “We are very excited about our new location, and extremely proud to join with Sam and Kathy Guadagnoli on their new restaurant project.” Said Jim Wear, the Museum’s Executive Director. “Sam and I have been friends and business partners for decades, and we have always dreamed of a motorcycle themed eatery. When I approached the Museum’s Board of Directors with the idea, it was well received and is finally now coming to fruition.” Kathy Guadagnoli said, “Sam and I are very excited that the heart of downtown will be home to the Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum! Sam’s prized possession is his 1906 Redding Standard, the first motorbike to go up Pikes Peak. It’s a real piece of local history and was show cased at the Broadmoor Carriage House Museum for many years. We will also have a retro ice cream and candy shop, with a tiny motorcycle that was formerly in “Sam’s” – the World’s smallest bar named in the Guinness World book of records. Visiting children can get their picture taken on the little motorcycle! This will be a great opportunity for families to eat, drink, and enjoy an amazing display of antique motorcycles, and we could not be more proud to be a part of it.”
Aside from a newly remodeled, high-end location, the Museum will have more square footage and will have the ability for retail sales and exposure to a much larger, more diverse audience. “After nearly 30 years of having the Museum adjacent to motorcycle shops, it was pretty much the biker crowd that largely comprised our visitors. With this change in venue, we are sure to see much more of the general public. I mean to say that the motorcycle enthusiast will seek the museum out no matter where it is, but having the ability to expose the general public to the history of motorcycling and all of our antique and classic machines on display will go a long way to fulfilling our mission as an educational nonprofit entity.” Wear explained.
Several of Guadagnoli’s machines will also join the museums display. “Sam has a number of really nice antique bikes, many of which have lived in his garage all these years. Now, thousands of visitors will get to enjoy many of his machines and we are excited about and proud of the joint venture.”
MAKING THE GRADE
Recently, the Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum was named one of “12 of AMERICA’S BEST MOTORCYCLE MUSEUMS” by eaglerider.com.
“This is a huge deal for us.” Said Wear. “There are some spectacular museums on the list including the Harley-Davidson Factory Museum, Wheels Through Time, the AMA Hall of Fame Museum and the Peterson Automotive Museum. To see our humble museum standing side-by-side with these giants is extremely humbling and very encouraging,” explained Wear, “We never set out to become famous. We just wanted a place to share our antique machines and our love of them and their history with the public.”
Another huge accomplishment for The Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum came recently when their all original, one owner 1956 Harley Davidson FLH Panhead was featured on the cover of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America’s magazine. The machine was also showcased in the “Exhibit A” section of the publication with an eight-page color layout. “The AMCA feature is an incredible honor for us,” said Wear. “Only six bikes a year get the cover and the Exhibit A feature. There are tens of thousands of beautiful, original machines amongst the membership of the AMCA, and to have one of our bikes chosen from a pool of such spectacular machinery is truly humbling.” Wear added, “It was a combined effort by our Board of Directors to secure this special bike for the museum, and we are proud to be its caretaker.”
The 1956 Panhead that Wear speaks of was sold brand new by Borgstetd’s Harley-Davidson dealership in Pueblo Colorado to US Army Veteran John Deatherage. John lovingly cared for the bike and kept it in pristine original condition until his passing in 2018. Despite some stiff competition for its purchase from many collectors, the Museum ended up with this unbelievably original machine, now known as “John D’s Cherry Pepper.”
“The bike has become world-famous, maybe more famous than our museum itself, in a very short time. No one disputes that this is likely the nicest example of an all original rigid frame panhead known to exist.” Wear added, “Due to the manner in which the owner stored the motorcycle, free of any sunlight and in a climate-controlled environment, the bike is literally like new.”
Colorado Rider News readers can look forward to seeing John D’s Cherry Pepper in its new home at The Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum, 19 North Tejon St. in Colorado Springs when the museum opens in collaboration with City Works Eatery this spring. Cole Deister, a member of the Museum’s Board of Directors told us, “I think I can speak for my fellow board members in saying how excited we are for this new venue. Our other board members are from all over the United States and although they needed a little excuse to visit our wonderful state, this new venue will quickly become a destination location for them and others from all over the world. It will also be a way to introduce non enthusiasts to the hobby we love so much. I can’t wait to invite friends and family to join us for a day at the museum and to enjoy a world class meal in downtown Colorado Springs!
For more information, check out the Museum’s new website at www.themotorcyclemuseum.com.
Top 12 USA Museums link: