National Motorcycle Museum

The PROVIDE brand takes aesthetic cues from all manner of sources; the shape of our main logo is based on the old cast iron street signs you can still see around Digbeth, some of our shirt graphics are inspired by the historic American railways, and lately we've been researching the industrial heritage of the West Midlands - in particular the relatively recent motorcycle manufacturing industry that used to employ so many people in Birmingham and surrounding areas.

A short drive from the shop is the National Motorcycle Museum, opened in 1984 and home to over 800 British-made bikes. The museum itself is housed in a very '80s building, with corporate logo carpets and a restaurant that is halfway between a hotel buffet and a motorway service station. The staff walk around complaining about each other, but all this oddness (for me, anyway) simply adds to the appeal of the place.

In 2003 a major fire gutted three out of five of the display halls. Incredibly, almost all of the damaged and destroyed bikes have either been repaired or replaced. 

The museum is packed full of bikes and not a lot else, but I also enjoyed the adverts and event posters adorning some of the walls:

Streetwear alert:

As a designer, branding enthusiast and general lover of nice-looking things, this is the ideal place to come for design research and inspiration. Everywhere you look, there are brilliant details.

These military bikes are cooler than anything you'll ever own:

As well as famous motorbike manufacturers like Triumph, BSA and Norton, there are a number of bikes on display from lesser known manufacturers and unexpected sources. I've only ever known Raleigh as a manufacturer of pedal bikes, so this one intrigued me:

And there were even a couple of Singer bikes (yes, the sewing machine people). It was a great afternoon out, and definitely recommended - even if you don't know the first thing about motorbikes, you'll be amazed at the design and craftsmanship on display. I have a hell of a lot more photos, but you'd be better off going to visit for yourself.

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