Dear Readers, even if you are not a big fan of motorbikes there is something so impressive about the TOP Mountain Motorcycle Museum that you can’t help but find something interesting to look at. What a labour of love (and money) this place is! It burned down in January 2021, but reopened in November 2021, and you can catch the Timmelsjoch bus from Obergurgl and pop up here for a look. It’s also free if you have the Otzal card (otherwise it’s 15 euros for adults). There is also a very nice, but rather pricey restaurant, and you can catch the cable car up to the top of a nearby mountain.
Today, however, the weather was so abysmal that we decided to stick with the motorcycles. My Dad was a big fan, and I was trying to remember what make our motorbike and sidecar was – we would go everywhere with Mum riding pillion and me, my brother and my Nan in the sidecar. So seeing things like this made me realise how squashed we probably were.
I loved some of the old motorbikes, which looked literally like a bicycle with a rocket attached. Others appeared to have armchairs instead of saddles.
Some appeared to be bathchair/motorcycle hybrids. I imagine travelling in the ‘side car’ would have been quite stressful on a downhill incline.
Of course, sidecars could transport objects as well as people.
The Museum has a ‘Motorcycle of the Month’ – this month it’s this rather fine Honda.
And they have this very fine Indian (name of the company) custom motorbike in pride of place at the end of the museum. If you fancy it, you can also ‘ride’ down from the Timmelsjoch pass, with its multiple hairpin bends, on some stationary bikes in front of a gigantic screen. You can also press various buttons to hear what the bikes sound like, which is rather cool. Of course, there are now electric motorbikes, but I don’t remember seeing any in the Museum (I might just have missed them). I have a feeling that the smell of the petrol and the roar of the engine might be part of the appeal.
Downstairs in the Museum there’s an exhibition about Austrian travel writer and explorer Max Reisch, who travelled pretty much the whole world in the 1930s and 1940s on various motorbikes and cars. There was a film showing some of his exploits in Afghanistan, India and China, and they pretty much all involved lots of local people digging him out of the mud/helping him through swamps/pushing him uphill/pushing him downhill. I wonder how many of the customs that he documented still exist? In what used to be Indo China, for example, people had an interesting rowing style where they wrapped their leg around the oar and used the power of their lower body to row the boat – they had the equivalent of dragon boat races and seemed to get to a remarkable speed, so it was clearly quite a good way of doing things.
This museum is pretty much the work of Alban and Attila Scheiber (remember that name? The Scheiber family also own many of the hotels and lift complexes in the area), and if you had any doubt that they are motorcycle fans of the first order, you have only to visit the toilet.
And so, the weather dried up, and we headed home, completely motorcycled out but pleased to have seen the museum. Well worth a couple of hours if you’re in this area and it’s a rainy day (or more if you’re a petrol head :-)). I enjoyed it more than I expected to, and it was only the fact that there is no bus between 11.17 and 13.47 that stopped me having a lazy lunch and then heading up the attached cable car. Something to remember if you’re ever holidaying in these parts.