Do you remember how boring and mundane going to a museum was as a kid? It was practically torture, but any excuse to get out of school was better than the alternative. It’s funny how things change as you get older. You start to appreciate and become more interested by the way things were, how previous generations lived compared to what we’ve grown accustomed to now. Shit, you could actually learn something.
A bunch of us moto-journo types were given a tour of the British National Motorcycle Museum, which houses more than 1,000 immaculately restored motorcycles. After the tour wrapped up, we were told we had 10 minutes to have a look around for ourselves before the bus left. Only 10 minutes and over 1,000 motorcycles, that’s like… less than two seconds to nerd out on each bike – that’s not fair! Well, such is life, but here are 10 motorcycles, in no particular order, that happened to catch my eye while I was there. Like me, maybe you can learn something too.
1. 1942 125cc Royal Enfield WD/RE “Flying Flea”
Royal Enfield’s best known military machine was the little two-stroke that was supplied for airborne forces’ use and fondly named the “Flying Flea” during WWII. The little bike was produced in military guise from 1942-1944 and was mainly used by paratroopers. It was enclosed in a tubular steel frame and dropped out of aircraft with a parachute attached. On the ground, a soldier could release it from the frame and be on the move within minutes. One of the light machine’s benefits was that it could be picked up and carried over obstacles. One neat feature of the “Flying Flea” was its girder front end that was actually ‘sprung’ by thick rubber bands.