Mike Wolfe’s Moto Assortment Is not for Wise Folks, However Who Cares?


THESE ARE NOT BIKES for smart individuals. Wise individuals don’t desire a classic, rusting, non-running bike of their storage. Alas, we’re not smart individuals. Mike Wolfe is one in all us, a man that merely falls in love with a motorbike as a result of it’s previous, or historic, or attention-grabbing, or cool. Definitely not smart, however who cares?

A few years in the past on the “American Pickers” TV present, I watched co-host Mike Wolfe yank a 1967 Triumph Bonneville out of an previous barn, and I knew he was one in all us, one of many guys who in all probability has a bumper sticker on the again of his van that reads, “My Different Automotive is a Traditional Motorbike That Doesn’t Run.”

Anybody who’s been across the passion for any size of time is aware of guys like this. The massive distinction is that Wolfe has a TV present, “American Pickers,” a warehouse, and he’s paid to journey across the nation and discover previous bikes, previous scooters, and even the previous tour van that after belonged to Aerosmith.

Over time, we’ve seen him actually dig up traditional bikes from the bottom, haul them out of fields, or (normally) rigorously roll them out of a barn. His private assortment has grown to over 150 classic bikes, and it was a shock when the discover for the 2023 Mecum Las Vegas public sale mentioned he was going to promote about 70 of his rarest cycles this month. Hoarders, ahem, collectors like him don’t promote their bikes, so it is a uncommon likelihood to see what he’s personally amassed earlier than they go to public sale in Las Vegas and certain disappear ceaselessly into a brand new non-public assortment. A few of our favorites, if we had a barn sufficiently big to carry them and money to purchase, embody:

Mike Wolfe 1914 Harley Davidson Factory Racing Twin
Many will let you know that Harley-Davidson’s dysfunction began when the corporate constructed its first race bikes. Harleys had been positive, scoot-around city, bikes that had been enjoyable within the early 1900s. Even the corporate founder didn’t need to race his commuter cruisers on the time. However they did anyway, and the V-twin race bike was born with racers like Wolfe’s 1914 Harley Manufacturing facility Racing Twin setting the tempo. These single-speed bikes dominated flat observe, board observe, and early grand prix races.

Mike Wolfe 1962 Harley Davidson KR Racer

By the Nineteen Sixties, Harley nailed it. Ever hear a KR Racer on the pipe thumping out of a nook at a flat observe race? Yeah, you’d need one, too. These first-generation KR bikes received 13 nationwide AMA Class C championships and 12 Daytona 200 races. We wouldn’t have Evil Knievel and his XR750, and even the trendy Sportster if it wasn’t for these dust observe bombers that threw mud on the grandstands. Wolfe’s is a 1962 45-ci model with a racing historical past. Undoubtedly some vibes of this KR in Paul Hartman’s flat tracker construct.

Mike Wolfe 1951 BME R67

BMW purists are in all probability spitting on their laptop screens proper now. Who would take a 1951 BMW R67 and rip off the hinged fenders? Does it matter? This primary-year 600cc R67 that Wolfe discovered already bobbed seems proper. The chromed tank is about the one different main customized half to this largely authentic first-year bike that, whereas not authentic, reveals that 70 years in the past customized builders noticed the potential in airheads.

Mike Wolfe 1950 BMW Bobber

One thing about Wolfe’s 1950 R51/3 struck me: It’s an early café racer constructed out of a motorbike that’s, most undoubtedly, not a racer. This cool customized has a classic, hand-painted, fiberglass tank and flat seat that appears extra Nineteen Seventies than Fifties, and that’s in all probability when this bike was torn down. Most Fifties airheads get handled to a full restoration, however it will be against the law to take the disco-era items off this traditional.

Mike Wolfe 1931 Indian Four Motorcyle

In contrast to the BMWs, Harley racers, and even the Henderson in Wolfe’s assortment, his collection of Indian bikes is lip-smacking good. They’re not smart, they usually don’t all run. Whereas different producers had been nonetheless attempting to determine learn how to make two cylinders work, Indian was making beautiful in-line fours that appear like 4 stovepipes welded collectively and sound like WWII artillery. This Indian 4, a 1931 with a minimize leaf-spring entrance suspension and wonderful patina ought to promote for giant cash as this is likely one of the first-gen four-cylinder bikes that made Indian well-known earlier than they stopped producing the 4 in 1942.

Photographs courtesy Mecum Auctions, Inc.



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