Alpine Motorcycle Museum Rises from the Ashes
1st March 2022 | James Cove, Hochgurgl, Tirol.
Last modified on March 4th, 2022
In January 2021 the Top of the Mountain Motorcycle Museum in Hochgurgl burnt to the ground. Hundreds of irreplaceable vintage bikes were destroyed. It was feared the museum was gone forever, but that didn’t take account of the determination of co-founder Attila Schieber. He’s given a private tour of the refurbished museum to PlanetSKI.
“It was without doubt the worst moment of my life,” said Attila to me.
“I was away from Hochgurgl across Austria in the province of Styria, where my wife comes from, and I received a call early in the morning that the museum had burnt down and everything was destroyed.
“I started shaking uncontrollably and couldn’t stop.
“I drove back immediately and I can’t remember anything about the 4-hour drive.
“When I reached the museum the fire was out, but it was still smouldering.
“The restaurant and the lift station had survived but the collection of motorbikes was destroyed.
There were 430 machines – only 55 survived.
They were all Indian motorcycles that were part of a special exhibition elsewhere in the building that the firefighters managed to save.
We reported on the tragedy at the time on PlanetSKI:
“I thought we would never be able to re-build it, but after a month we assessed the damage and wondered whether it would be possible.”
Attila had offers of motorbikes from other collections and the full support of the local community.
He and his twin brother, Alban, decided to re-build.
The twins are hoteliers, ski school operators, mountain lift operators and owners of the Timmelsjoch High Alpine Road.
And most of all, they are passionate about motorcycles.
“I wanted make it bigger and better with new features and more machines,” Attila said.
“I thought that if we don’t re-build immediately then we never will.
“The decision was actually a very easy one.”
“My brother and I were determined to rebuild our dream and follow our passion.”
The museum is now back – bigger and better, with 4,500 square metres of exhibition space.
With 520 bikes and a whole new interactive area.
More on the interactive area later, but lets just say I had the best time ever in a ski resort without skis on.
Attila showed me the most expensive motorcycle in the collection – a Model 7, Cyclone St Paul.
It is 998cc and was built in the USA in 1914.
It may not look much, but this fellow is worth €1m.
“In its day it was the fastest motorcycle in the world and could not be beaten on the track,” said Attila.
Then Attila’s personal pride and joy.
“It actually doesn’t ride very well, but it is beautiful piece of engineering. It is also legally able to go on the roads as it is,” said Attila as he gazed at his beauty.
“I like to ride it in the summer months.”
Note the art work on the teardrop tank.
Recognise the building?
There is an area dedicated to motorised ski machines.
PlanetSKI was in resort for the original launch of the museum back in 2015:
It was a pleasure to be back again, on a private tour from Attila.
This is the machine we are looking at in the British section of the museum.
A 1973 Triumph X75 Hurricane.
I am a motorcycle enthusiast and have been riding bikes continually since I was a teenager.
It is hard to decide which of the 520 bikes to post images of.
Here’s a few:
Visitors are even allowed on a couple.
The complex, at the far end of the Hochgurgl ski area, is a mecca for motorcyclists in the summer, with a private road over the Italian border – the Timmelsjoch High Alpine Road.
The museum stands at 2,175m and acts as a magnet for bikers from across Europe.
In the winter it brings people over too, opening up what was a quiet corner of the ski area.
The gondola has replaced an old T-bar and the restaurant pulls in the crowds.
So, what about the new interactive experience mentioned earlier?
There are four static bikes lined up in front of a video screen.
All you have to do is sit on them.
They go through the gears, accelerate & break and tilt according to a preset computer programme.
I simply cannot recommend it highly enough – whether you are a biker or not.
It is the most fun you will have in a resort with your skis off.
In a way the fire was the best thing that could have happened to the Top of the Mountain Motorcycle Museum.
“It is so sad that so many bikes were destroyed but our story has gripped the attention of people and we now have a bigger and better offering with more visitors that ever before,” said Attila.
“People who have no interest in motorcycle come and that is what gives me the most pleasure.”
“You must come back in the summer James.”
A few years back I visited the nearby ski resort of Ischgl to go for a ride as it has a motorcycle test centre.
I will be back, but I will be approaching the alpine roads in a more sedate manner than the interactive experience.
See here for full details on the Top of the Mountain Motorcycle Museum.