Brian Jacobson

Harley Museum spotlights myriad celeb cycles

By - Feb 24th, 2010 10:05 pm

indybikedetailYou didn’t have to wait until the planners at the Harley-Davidson Museum put up a special display of 10 celebrity- and movie-based cycles to get a closer look at the stars’ memorabilia.

In the permanent display area, there kick-stands the hog of Elvis Presley. On a nearby wall, there is a display of movie posters and the leather jackets featured in those movies. Two replica bikes from Easy Rider are also proudly displayed, and Evel Knievel’s stunt bike flies overhead in another section.

In the new Harleywood exhibit, which runs through March 14,  there are some fine examples of both cinema artifacts and the favorite wheels of some famous actors. Some look shiny and new, like the rides given to rapper Ludacris and Shawna. Others look like they’ve been through a dust storm, like the two stunt bikes used in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls.

startrekbuellMotorcycle conservator Bill Rodencal reveals that the bikes’ weathered appearance is not just dirt and wear from use, but special effects “makeup”. He also explains that the cycle James T. Kirk tools around on in the Star Trek re-boot is actually a real Buell model with added shell parts. Rodencal talks admirably about Steve McQueen and Clark Gable’s bikes — and yes, both of them accurately reflect the souls of the men who rode them.

In other parts of the museum, he confesses his love for women’s motorcycling pioneer Dot Robinson, chuckles with me at the 1970s fashion items and steers me to one very unique studded bike that has to be seen rather than explained.

The typical short tour was extended for ThirdCoast Digest as Rodencal showed off parts of the museum not regularly open to guests, like the library with its compressed stacks of just about every scrap of historical material a Harley lover could imagine.

cycleshelvesIn Rodencal’s own workshop where he just finished a set of motorcycle renovations for the car show, cycles are stacked three high and a warehouse deep on archival shelving.

On Friday night, two of the men credited with crafting Harleys and Buells into movie machines (like the 21st-century Softail masqueraded as a 1954 model in the last Indiana Jones flick) will speak at “Untold Stories: Motorcycles in the Movies.” Tim Woods and Justin Kell will offer insight into their work as vehicle coordinators. They’ll talk about teaching actors to ride, how stuntmen do it, and perhaps why the Wild Hogs cycles weren’t on display (hint: William H. Macy’s cycle came back in pieces). Click here for ticket details and more information.

Categories: Art, Photo Gallery

0 thoughts on “Vroom: Harley Museum spotlights myriad celeb cycles”

  1. Anonymous says:

    As always, Brian, your images delight.

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