Heralded by Cycle World, American Motorcyclist, and comedian Jay Leno, the Wheels Through Time Museum recently picked up even more exposure on an episode of History Channel's American Pickers. In "The Belly Dance," hosts Mike and Frank come to the museum in need—they've found a rare belly-tank racer, but unless they can get it to run, the find will have cost them more money than it's worth.
That's where museum founder and curator Dale Walksler, automotive enthusiast par excellence, comes in. In 1993, Walksler invited crowds and fellow bike buffs to join in the astonishing details of his obsession: more than 300 rare and historical classic motorcycles amid a collection of tens of thousands of related artifacts. Free from the ghosts of vengeful traffic cops, the double-decker garage resembles a fever-dream cycle showroom gleaming with vintage and contemporary models by Harley Davidson, Indian, and Excelsior, and one-of-a-kind machines that include the handsome Traub. The ahead-of-its-time machine was discovered bricked up inside a Chicago wall in 1967, built by a brilliant designer who apparently never built another bike before or after. Despite dating back to the 1910s, nearly all of the machines can still run—often zooming straight through the 40,000-square-foot museum floor¬—and lecture passersby on four-way intersection etiquette.