By Ashley Price
The world of motorcycling is forever growing and changing, and thanks to current advancements in technology, that evolution is accelerating.
The advancements come, not only on motorcycles themselves, but by motorcyclists whose accomplishments over the past few decades have been nothing short of impressive.
As a younger generation in a sport that has such a rich history, it’s important to acknowledge all aspects of where motorcycling began and the true heritage of the industry.
Walking among the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum displays and gazing at the machines of many all-time greats not only offers the experience to relive the most influential moments and riders of motorcycling history, it is also simply nostalgic.
It’s a privilege to be able to learn about the bikes they rode to countless championships and used to change the face of motorcycling forever.
Here are my three favorite motorcycles in the museum that I believe were the most significant to motorcycling, to the millennial generation.
- Jeremy McGrath’s 2000 Yamaha YZ250: Since I grew up in the 1990s it should come as no surprise that Jeremy McGrath is one of my all-time favorite motocross racers. In what many consider the golden years of AMA Supercross, McGrath took the sport to the next level, selling out stadiums and enlarging the world of motorcycle racing through his unmatched talent on a dirt bike. As a young girl who was already obsessed with motocross racing, watching McGrath race brought me the same excitement that going to Disney World brought other kids my age. Seeing his bike in the museum brings back the same feelings of joy, adrenaline and excitement that I would get years ago. It’s almost as if I can hear the echoing sounds of two-strokes ringing through a stadium once again.
- Ricky Carmichael’s 2005 Suzuki RM250: Carmichael’s famous dirt bikes in the museum provide a true testament of how incredible a racer he truly was. Watching the many epic Carmichael-Stewart-Reed battles in the early 2000s were among the highlights of my childhood and still some of the best racing I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. But of all Ricky’s bikes in the museum, his RM holds a special place in my heart, as the last two-stroke to win an AMA Supercross Championship. It’s crazy to think that there are generations that don’t know anything other than the pure power and deep growls of four-stroke Supercross racing. I was fortunate enough to not only witness this incredible advancement take place, but also live through this milestone in motorcycling history. At such a young age, I don’t think I was quite aware of how monumental the introduction of four-strokes to the racing world would be, but I can vividly remember watching this exact Suzuki RM250 flying over the finish line as Carmichael took home his fifth and final AMA Supercross Championship.
- Josh Hayes’ 2014 Yamaha YZF-R1: After selling all of my dirt bikes and heading off to college, I quickly realized that it was not possible for me to give up riding motorcycles. So to fill the void, I dove into the world of sport bikes. I hopped on a 2007 YZF-R6 and soon become obsessed with road racing, a result of my life-long passion for motorcycles and my background in competition. As a poor college student, I was too cheap to pay for the full cable TV package, so I was forced to watch AMA Superbike and MotoAmerica races on my laptop while I crammed for my finals. Riding a Yamaha, I obviously had a soft spot for Josh Hayes, but his determination and confidence in winning gave me all the more reason to root for him. His talent on a motorcycle was unmatched and debatably still is today, as he fights for more MotoAmerica race wins and championships. Seeing his race-tuned machine in person lights the same fire inside me that I got from watching him fight to the front of the pack on my 12-inch computer screen. Standing next to it, I want to just hop on and ride it out the doors of the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum and on down the road to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. As it sits quietly next to you, it’s incredible to think that this machine was flying around a track in upwards of 150 mph. Being next to this bike makes me realize that my passion for motorcycles goes much deeper than just the freedom of riding.
- BONUS! Ryan Sipes' 2015 Husqvarna FE250: As the first American to place as the top individual rider at the International Six Days Enduro, Ryan Sipes made history in 2015 aboard this Husqvarna - a truly inspiring moment in recent motorcycle racing history!
Although I’ve only been around motorcycles for 23 short years, there is no question that they have shaped my life and made me who I am.
Every motorcyclist has a story—our love for motorcycling started somewhere.
Being able to see the motorcycles that influenced our passion and changed the face of our industry forever, in person, is truly a nostalgic feeling that is indescribable.
For your chance to relive the greatest moments in motorcycling during your own generation, visit www.americanmotorcyclist.com/hof or check out the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum at the American Motorcyclist Association in Pickerington, Ohio.