Bikes, bikes, bikes (and more bikes) is one way to sum up The Motorcycle Room situated on Thesen Island Knysna, but after a few minutes in the show room you start to see more than just engines on two wheels.
You see passion.
You see history.
You see memories.
You see stories.
The Motorcycle Room is like an elaborate display cabinet of Colin Stunden’s private collection of treasured motorbikes, a few restored ones and here and even some ‘borrowed’ bikes (more on that later).
The aim of the The Motorcycle Room – and the heart behind it – is clear upon arrival. There is a note by Stunden (who used to be a competitive racer): “This room is my happy place. Although I have modern and new bikes here, the main aim of this room is to take old and forgotten bikes that would have been headed for the dump, and save them. Some are restored and some are left just the way they are. Remember that 50 you rode to school on in the wind and the rain? It may be here too. There are many people who collect rare priceless bikes that you and I have never ridden and never will. This is not that place. This place is about memories and old friends that we wish we had never sold. I hope those memories come back to you while you are here. This is a living collection. These bikes get ridden. So if one or two are dirty, it’s because I haven’t had time to wash them yet. If it’s in very bad condition, it’s waiting to be restored. This collection grows by the day. I am forever hunting for the next barn find! So if your old friend is not here, keep coming back, who knows I may just find it. Until then… please enjoy my collection.”
Thanks to my father, my interest in ‘things with engines’ has grown significantly during the last few years, especially when it comes to classic cars; my head now makes a 180-degree turn whenever I see a vintage car. And while the oldies are real beauties, it is the stories that intrigue me the most. It is the stories I get to listen to of how my father built up his own cars, it is the stories of a Renault CV 4, a Karmann Ghia and the date nights to the drive-in theatre with my mother in the 1960-something light blue Opel Kadette Station Wagon and how my mother had to manoeuvre herself through that tiny side window when they locked the keys in the car.
It is the stories.
And while I’ve listened to more stories that happened on four wheels, I have some of my own stories on two wheels; it might not be as nostalgic but my first ever mode of transportation (after my rollerblades and bicycle) was a 100cc Kazuma Puppy. And if you’ve known me during my student years, you’ll know that if that thing could talk… well, let’s just say I am thankful that it can’t talk. While visiting Bali, I did a 10-day motorbike trip around Bali and Nusa Penida with a local friend and got schooled quickly that if the bike leans to the left around a curve, one should not lean to the right out of fear. Eventually I leaned a bit more towards the other side. And to this day I still want to get my motorcycle licence and I still daydream about touring by bike on dirt roads.
Cars, bakkies, bikes, bicycles and scooters; it is the stories.
And The Motorcycle Room is all about the stories. Whether you are a petrolhead, a motorhead, or just a head, it is impossible not to get mesmerised by the nostalgia as Colin tells you about the motorcycles. Some of the bikes are ‘borrowed’; the owner has parked his steed in The Motorcycle Room for a few months and then, when visiting South Africa again, they just wheel off on another adventure. But every bike has a story; be it of historical value, one that has been built-up, a racing memory or a story of road tripping all across Africa.
There are stories.
Like the story of Copper (who still gets ridden just like the majority of the motorcycles on display).
“Copper was built by Gavin Venter. The challenge was to build something really cool out of something really horrible. Enter the Suzuki GN 250 Delivery Bike. Purchase price: R1500. The bike is dedicated to the barnstormers: WW1 Pilots who did stunts after the war flying planes through barns at high speed. The ignition switch is from one of those planes. This is one of the most prized bikes in the collection and gets ridden often.”
Colin tells tales of fathers coming to The Motorcycle Room with their sons and saying, “when I was your age…”.
Then there is also the story of the older gentlemen who came in, who used to ride together to school back in the day, who got on the bikes and pretended that they’re racing each other.
And the other man who just wanted to see the lights go on again for one last time.
The Motorcycle Room in Knysna | Details
You can be a motorbike enthusiast or not, but just walking through and getting schooled on the significance and story of each item by Colin, will result in a ride down memory lane.
Take your sons, take your daughters and share your memories. Take your parents, your grandparents and listen to their memories. Tell your story and listen to someone else’s story.
You can find The Motorcycle Room on Thesen Island, Knysna (click here for Facebook Page and map). Entry is R100 for adults and R50 for scholars and pensioners.