Beautiful bikes standing in polite lines greet you when you walk into Knysna’s new motorcycle museum - but if you look deeper, you’ll agree: the bikes aren’t the real attraction.
The Motorcycle Room houses Colin Stunden’s private collection of 70+ motor bikes. With a heavy list towards KTMs and the brave little 50s of the ‘60s and ‘70s, the collection includes rare machines like the Yamaha RZ 500, and possibly South Africa’s only Yamaha RD 500 (more of which below).
The displays also include four restoration bays, Colin’s personal trophy cabinet (“But I only raced competitively for three years before an elbow injury sidelined me: now I ride purely for the joy of it”), and a pair of huge, comfy couches in front of a pair of huge screens. (“It was great the other day - a dad came in with his two sons, and they sat and watched a whole race. We have all the races on disk, and you can choose which ones you want to see.”)
Colin said that The Motorcycle Room is first and foremost his happy place. A sign at the entrance tells us that:
“Although I have modern and new bikes here, the main aim of this room is to take old and forgotten bikes that would have been headed for the dump, and save them. Some are restored and some are left just the way they are. Remember that 50 you rode to school on in the wind and the rain? It may be here too. There are many people who collect rare priceless bikes that you and I have never ridden and never will. This is not that place. This place is about memories and old friends that we wish we had never sold. I hope those memories come back to you while you are here. This is a living collection. These bikes get ridden. So if one or two are dirty, it's because I haven't had time to wash them yet. If it's in very bad condition, it's waiting to be restored. This collection grows by the day. I am forever hunting for the next barn find! So if your old friend is not here, keep coming back, who knows I may just find it. Until then... please enjoy my collection.”
It's this authenticity that sets The Motorcycle Room apart.
It’s the nostalgia that’s the real attraction.
“Everyone who comes in here has a memory of one of these bikes from their youth,” said Colin.
Classic car economy
Greg Vogt, CEO of Knysna & Partners - the town’s destination management and destination marketing organisation - said that The Motorcycle Room is expected to make a significant contribution to the local economy.
“Over the past few years, Knysna has emerged as one of South Africa’s most important centres for classic and vintage vehicles, and we’ve found that there’s now an entire classic car economy here in Knysna that revolves around the major collections that have been established here.
“In a survey we commissioned in April 2006, we identified something like 35 businesses and individuals who restore, store, maintain, trade, export, import, or create parts for old cars.
“But while we have a number of private collections in Knysna, The Motorcycle Room has become the first local museum to open to the public,” he said.
This is significant from a destination management point of view, too, said Greg, because it feeds into the town’s Festival365 strategy, which seeks to ensure that local events (such as the annual Knysna Car Show or the Knysna Speed Festival, with its Jaguar Simola Hill Climb) have an effect throughout the year.
“But it’s also about much more than just another attraction - it’s about an attraction that makes an authentic contribution both to the visitor and to the destination,” he said. (See: Road-tripping: Knysna’s classic and vintage car economy here.)
Regarding that RZ 500
The interesting thing about this collection is that every exhibit has a story that Colin’ll happily tell you.
Here’s the text from his RZ 500/ RD 500 display:
“Inspired by the YZR 500 raced by Kenny Roberts in 1983. The RZ was sold in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, the RD500LC in Europe, and the RZ500VR in Japan.
“Less than 3,000 were built worldwide. Although exact figures are not known, it is believed that less than 500 are left worldwide, and less than 20 in South Africa - of which 3 are in Knysna!
“This is a very rare and collectable motorcycle, the pride and joy of our collection.
“This is a 4-cylinder, two-stroke.”
Oh - and the Yamaha RZs were built from 1984 to 1987. Only.
• The Motorcycle Room is situated on the top floor of the parking garage at Thesen Harbour Town.
• Entry fees apply but STO rates are not offered since this museum is suited to small groups only.
• Open daily except Sundays - because that’s when Colin rides.
• All images: Duran de Villiers - Steadidrone
• More information on Facebook: The Motorcycle Room
This article was originally published on thistourismweek.co.za