The Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum

Saturday afternoon I said my “see you down the road” to Genie and my other new friends in Auburn, then got back on the road. It was another short driving day, just two hours to Leeds. The reason for my big detour to Alabama between Florida and New Hampshire is to visit the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, which claims to have the “largest motorcycle collection.” Compared to what, I don’t know, but I had to find out.

I took it as a good sign when I found not one, but two bikes I’ve previously owned on display almost as soon as I walked in. The Kawasaki KLR650 is common, but not the Honda Pacific Coast 800, which I had before the KLR. This was going to be my kind of place.

Most of the pictures I took focus on off-road and adventure motorcycles, since that’s what I was asked to write about for ADVRider. This is just one section of one of the five floors of the museum. This place has got everything.

They also have quite a few motorcycles that I’ve previously researched and written articles about. These range from a 1950s Cushman scooter to this one-off custom by famed motorcycle builder Allen Millyard. He took a Kawasaki Z1300 with an already ridiculous six-cylinder engine, and added a second bank of six cylinders, turning it into a V12 motorcycle. I’ve written about this exact motorcycle, and the video series Millyard posted on YouTube showing the entire modification process in great detail. It was amazing to admire his handiwork up close, especially since he did such an excellent job creating something that looks like it could’ve come out of the Kawasaki factory this way.

I was thrilled to see Paul Pelland’s “Cure Chaser” Yamaha Super Tenere 1200 not only on display, but with its own corner of the museum. I know Longhaulpaul from the New England Riders Facebook group (he’s from New Hampshire), and have met him at a few shows around the country. His goal is to ride one million miles to raise awareness and funds for multiple sclerosis research. He rode this particular bike 172,000 of those miles, and raised $100,000 for the National MS Society. His adventure continues on a Tenere 700 that Yamaha donated when it came time to retire the Cure Chaser to the museum.

Anyone who’s seen the movie Easy Rider will immediately recognize this bike. It’s not the actual bike from the movie, because neither of the original two still exist. One was destroyed during filming, and the other dismantled before the movie became the cult classic it is today. But this is an amazingly accurate recreation of it.

There’s an extensive display about Eric Buell, ranging from his time as an engine designer for Harley-Davidson, through the life and death of the Buell brand, and later efforts as Erik Buell Racing after his time with H-D. These are just a few of the Buell bikes on display. They probably have one of just about everything he had a hand in designing.

In the beginning, motorcycles were just engines tacked onto bicycles. This 1903 Indian is one of the first motorcycles they ever made, in Springfield, Massachusetts near where I grew up. This is one of the oldest surviving Indians, and production motorcycles in general, in the world.

While the museum is mostly motorcycles, there are a fair number of car displays as well. One wing is dedicated to Lotus, mainly race cars. It has everything from early designs through classic Formula 1 cars. I’ve seen these actual F1 cars race in videos, and probably even saw them on TV back in the day.

The museum is on the grounds of Barber Motorsport Park, a rather nice road course from what I’ve seen. There was a BMW club track day going on while I was there. This brought back a lot of memories from the BMW club track days I used to drive back in New England. That was several lives ago. I’m not about to take my van on the track, though I’d consider it with the bike. I already have once

Toward the end of the day my back started giving out from being on my feet all day. While unpleasant, it’s also a nice change from my formerly broken foot giving out first. I returned to the van, got cheap gas and dinner at the nearby Buc-ee’s, and returned to my previous overnight stop, Bass Pro Shop. This is by far the nicest Bass Pro Shop I’ve ever spent a night, and among the best parking lots I’ve stayed in. My original plan was to spend one night here and another at a nearby Walmart, but it was so quiet in the RV parking area up top that I decided to try another night. I had no problems. Of course, it might have helped that I made it a point to be gone during the day, and that I parked in a different place the second night, just to make it obvious that I wasn’t moving in permanently. I had a second wonderful quiet night, and Lister got to enjoy a bed of pine needles for a while, something he hasn’t been able to do since we left Colorado last year.

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