If you’re of the mind that four wheels for a vehicle is two wheels too many, then you’ll probably want to pay a visit to the National Motorcycle Museum. Ever since it opened its doors in 1984, it’s built a reputation as the biggest and best British motorcycle museum in the world. Back then, the museum housed 350 machines. Nowadays, there are more than 1,000 to see across the eight-acre site’s five display halls.
The National Motorcycle Museum began its life as the hobby collection of Roy Richards; a self-made millionaire from the construction industry. By the 1960s and 70s, he had already amassed one of the largest private collections of British bikes in the world. It grew and grew to the point where he wanted to share his collection with the wider world. People say that you shouldn’t have favourites, but ‘the Boss’ has a particular soft spot for Nortons. Mr Richards says, “when God made the mountains, he had Nortons in mind”.
Incredibly, the entire collection spans three centuries, with the oldest motorcycle having been built in 1898. You’ll find familiar makes like Triumph and BSA, but there are also some real rarities and gems in the collection too. For example, the Brough Superior Golden Dream is the only one of its kind in existence. It was built as a show model and put on display at Olympia in London before World War II halted the motorcycle’s development. Hand-built by George Brough himself, in collaboration with the famous motorcycle racer Freddie Dixon, it’s one of the most valuable bikes in the world.
If you are a motorcycle enthusiast, you’ll be in your element amongst the museum’s aisles of endless bikes. With more than 1,000 machines to see, they’ve been arranged so they’re easy to explore. Hall 1 showcases how motorcycles have developed between 1898 and 1960. Halls 2, 3 and 4 hold collections of road bikes in alphabetical order, with Hall 5 full of competition motorcycles, all of which are displayed in alphabetical order by maker.
Sadly, the museum is missing some of its rarest exhibits after a fire claimed a large part of the collection in 2003. Three of the museum’s five exhibition halls were completely destroyed, and while many of the fire-damaged motorcycles were fully restored when the museum reopened, some of the most precious exhibits couldn’t be salvaged.
Admission to the National Motorcycle Museum is very affordable and it’s convenient to get to; you’ll find it near the NEC, less than a 15-minute drive from our Solihull Town Centre hotel.
Our Solihull hotels are all ideally located for visits to the Genting Arena and The National Exhibition Centre. You can also combine your stay with a trip to Brueton Park and make the most of some of Solihull's popular pubs and restaurants.