The Motorcyclepedia Museum in Newburgh, New York

Visit the Motorcyclepedia museum in Newburgh, N.Y.

Chopper City Exhibit

The Chopper City exhibit features 1960s-1970s customs.

Photo Courtesy Motorcyclepedia

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What: Motorcyclepedia, 250 Lake St., Newburgh, NY 12550. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday-Sunday.
How to Get There: Near the intersection of I-87 and I-84; State Route 32 south from I-84 or north from I-87 through New Windsor. SR32 becomes Lake Street.
Best Kept Secrets: Live performances in an antique Wall of Death; motorcycle auctions; more Indians than you have ever seen in one place.
Avoid: Allowing too little time for the museum and its environs. Motorcyclepedia can easily dazzle you for a full day, and nearby you can visit West Point, Orange County Choppers and some of the Hudson Valley’s best restaurants.
More info: Motorcyclepedia

America is rich with motorcycle museums, and the latest to join the big league is Motorcyclepedia, in the scenic Hudson Valley in Newburgh, N.Y. With 85,000 square feet of floor space, 450 motorcycles and countless artifacts on display, it easily ranks among the Big Four (along with the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, Iowa; the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in Leeds, Ala.; and the Wheels Through Time Museum in Maggie Valley, N.C.).

Opened in 2011, Motorcyclepedia is managed by a board of trustees under a provisional charter from the New York State Education Department. The collection is the work of Jerry Doering and his son, Ted, who both have accumulated so much over a lifetime of collecting that only a former big-box store was large enough to contain their motorcycles and artifacts. While both father and son love anything that rolls on two (or three) wheels, Jerry’s taste tends toward Indians. Ted’s is a bit more eclectic, and he holds a special love for customs and choppers from the 1960s.

One of the astonishing features of Motorcyclepedia is its collection of more than 110 Indians, containing an example of every Springfield-built model from 1902 to 1953, plus many of the oddities and wannabes bearing Indian nameplates that were built after the fall of the original company. 

Also qualifying as “astonishing” are two fully equipped Walls of Death, complete with antique tow vehicles. One is an attention-getter in the front parking lot, while the other is inside and is actually used for shows a couple of times a year.

There is a tribute exhibit to Indian Larry that contains many unusual artifacts, including his ashes, and a fine collection of customs that features vehicles by Ed Roth, Ron Finch and other icons of American Kustom Kulture. 

Additional true gems on display are America’s oldest running De Dion Buton (1897), Red Wolverton’s 1923 land speed record ACE XP3, a half-dozen ancient (but still used into the 1960s) French bicycle pacers and the sole prototype 1947 Indian Torque Four, owned by the Antique Motorcycle Foundation.

Currently, the museum also features the exhibit “Kaizen,” the world’s first major motorcycle exhibit about the history and influence of Japanese motorcycles, also designed and sponsored by the Antique Motorcycle Foundation. With its range of exhibits and vast display of cultural archives, Motorcyclepedia is one of America’s best depictions of the grand arc of motorcycle history.

The museum also provides classroom space and a range on its vast parking lot for SmartRider, New York’s endorsed Motorcycle Safety Foundation program.

Access is easy from the juncture of I-87 (the New York State Thruway) and I-84, but one must travel through the center of busy Newburgh to reach the museum. Don’t be dissuaded; it is worth every minute of the time you can devote to a tour. Sign up for the free e-newsletter list for news of special events, including motorcycle auctions. Just email coordinator@motorcyclepediamuseums.com to ask to be placed on the list.

Set in the gorgeous scenery of the Hudson River Valley, Motorcyclepedia is definitely a motorcyclist’s vacation destination. Start planning now! MC