Little Known Museum In Santa Barbara County Home To One Of The West's Biggest Motorcycle Collections

Jul 17, 2017

Motorcycles have been a symbol of the open road in the United States for decades. 

Who can forget the movie which put them on the radar of many people, Easy Rider? Still, many motorcycle fans don’t know that one of the top collections of vintage bikes in the Western U.S., if not the nation, is right here in our backyard.

The Vintage Motorcycle Museum is located in Solvang, a place best known for its Danish flavor.

Jill Ballard is with the museum, which is a collection of more than a hundred bikes some more than a century old. Ballard says the collection belongs to Santa Barbara philanthropist Virgil Elings. He loves motorcycles, and has amassed a collection of about 200. About half of the bikes are now available for viewing in the museum, which is in a converted store on Alisal Road in Solvang.

The museum is about the size of a basketball court, and is covered with rare motorcycles. Ballard says some of the bikes are more than 100 years old, and several, in their prime, held world speed records.

Despite the museum’s unorthodox location in the Santa Ynez Valley, people are disovering it. Henry Wang is visiting the Santa Ynez Valley from Minnesota, and as a motorcycle buff was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon the museum, saying the variety of cycles is impressive.

The museum is open 10-4 Saturday and Sundays, and by appointment on weekdays.

Link to Vintage Motorcycle Museum: