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The Trev Deeley Museum

The Great Escape

Just outside of downtown Vancouver lies one of the most spectacular motorcycle collections in all of the Pacific Northwest. A rotating display of more than 240 classic and modern rides, the Deeley Exhibition is the perfect excuse to pack the panniers (or car trunk) and head to one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Known for its innovative and engaging expositions as much as for the legendary family that assembled it, the Deeley Exhibition got its start way back in 1914 when Fred Deeley Sr. started one of Vancouver's first motorcycle shops, initially selling legendary British brands like Triumph and Norton. Soon after, in 1917, the Senior Deeley added the Harley Davidson line to the showroom floor, paving the way for one of the most successful manufacturer-to-dealer relationships in the history of the industry. So successful, in fact, that nearly 100 years later, the relationship lives on in the museum connected to Deeley Harley Davidson.

Much of the credit for the powerhouse operation of course, goes to the original Deeley's grandson Trev, AKA Mr. Motorcycle, whose lifelong moto career included not only maintaining and growing the family business, but an award-winning, two-decade-long stint in professional racing, contributions to Harley Davidson's design and development, significant philanthropic work for motorcycle education and a 1997 introduction into the AMA Hall of Fame. A story that is briefly highlighted as you transition from showroom floor to the museum's entrance and a history that after touring the current exhibit, "Motorcycles and Cinema" makes one wonder if the progenitor of the collection doesn't deserve a movie of his own.

Until that day arrives, we can thank the curators of this beautiful museum for showcasing the legendary motorcycle collection and for having put together a display that is entertaining for more than just the gear head. While many of us enjoy gazing at past engineering achievements for hours on end, "Motorcycles and Cinema" will have your riding companions or family members just as happy that they made the trip.

Tying together some of Hollywood's greatest big screen moments, with the motorcycles that made them happen, the latest exhibit has a decidedly pop culture flair, with references to classic motorcycle films like "Easy Rider" and "Viva Knievel" alongside more popular flicks like "Terminator," "Indiana Jones," and even Prince's' "Purple Rain." Though the actual motorcycles from these movies are not on display, viewers are still treated to the same make and model, alongside movie factoids and trivia that make for a wholly unique museum experience.

Which is really what makes this exhibit so unique and enjoyable. Remembering some of the best (and worst) of Hollywood will surely have you talking with your fellow museum goers, reminiscing about your favorite movies and perhaps even what inspired you to take to two wheels in the first place.

Finishing up its second year, for now the Deeley Collection plans to keep the current exhibit running into the near future, keeping with their tradition of changing things up every 1 to 3 years. And while there is no word on what we can look forward to next, it's safe to say that "I'll be back."

Derek Roberts/October 2016


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