For fans of vintage British bikes, the U.K.’s National Motorcycle Museum is most likely on a number of to-do and/or bucket list places to visit. Whether you live in the Kingdom, or you’re planning a visit sometime soon, it’s a place full of unique and historic machines to make your heart sing. Like other museums, it has a Friends of the Museum program for supporters—but unlike anyone else, the NMM has one extremely special available perk for members.
Are you ready for this? The National Motorcycle Museum will actually let members ride the vintage bikes that make up the museum collection. During the pandemic, of course, these events—and everything else—weren’t going on. However, now that it’s June, 2022, and a lot of events are back on again, the NMM is back to hosting its Try a Classic Bike days for its members.
The Museum typically holds six or so such events per year, usually between March and October, because riding unfamiliar (and priceless) bikes in bad weather is no one’s idea of a good time. In 2022, only one event has been announced so far. It took place back in April, but the Museum does plan on announcing more in the coming months. We’ll link the page in our Sources so you can find out more information.
The bikes the Museum allows its members to ride range from the 1920s up through the 1960s and ‘70s, and include everything from ultra-rare machines with hand-shifters to BSA Bantams. While some riders might show up to get a taste of their youth, it’s quite possible that riders might also get to experience bikes they’d otherwise never even get to sit on, let alone ride.
If you’re the type of person who goes to vintage bike shows, just think about all the amazing machines you’ve seen that you’d never dream of throwing a leg over because they belong to someone else. Here, the NMM is just letting people ride them around a parking lot course. Amazing.
Members can sign up for Try a Classic Bike Day events, show up on the day, and simply pay for the fuel and insurance costs. The most recent event only cost members a crisp £20 (about $25) to participate in an extremely special experience. It’s kind of mind-blowing, honestly.
What does it cost to become a Friend of the Museum? Prices range anywhere from £35 ($43) up to the £70 family membership (two adults and two children; about $86). Members will also get all the kinds of things that most museum memberships have, like a card, free admission for a limited time, a discount to the museum shop and restaurant, a quarterly newsletter subscription, and so on.
For any number of reasons, it isn’t possible for every motor vehicle museum to do something this cool—but wouldn’t it be excellent if more could, and did?