Moto-armory: Vintage Bike Heaven


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Jan 26, 2014
Moto-Armory: Vintage Bike Heaven, by DR Staff

Story And Photos By Mark Kariya

The Quad Cities area on the Iowa-Illinois border is probably most notable to the general public as the home of John Deere.

But if you’re an aficionado of vintage dirt bikes, you owe it to yourself to book a trip here–to East Moline, Illinois, specifically.

That’s where you’ll find the Moto-Armory, which is probably the finest all-around collection of machines that make a dirt rider’s heart race. The bulk of the nearly 500 bikes on display–with many more awaiting restoration–originally belonged to Gregg Primm. When the Nevada businessman decided the time was right to divest himself of the fleet, Tom Reese snatched it up and moved it east, which augmented his own collection.

It doesn’t matter if your passion is motocrossers, enduros, trials bikes, minis, hill climbers, FMX, speedway, dirt track or whatever–chances are there’s one or more bikes there that will make you drool. (Okay, there aren’t many street bikes on display, a custom Rokon cafe racer, Mert Lawwill Harley street-tracker, and a bunch of dual-purpose bikes notwithstanding.) Reese enlisted Rick Doughty of Vintage Iron to handle much of the restoration duties–and he’s apparently there often enough that he has temporary living quarters at the facility!

While there’s not one of every model of every make–and no one has a facility with that much space!–there are a LOT of bikes to ogle, and a die-hard vintage enthusiast could probably spend a couple days perusing the displayed machines. Even if you’re not that into the really old hardware, you have to appreciate some of the more modern pieces of moto history like the section full of Jeff Ward’s works bikes, the Mugen ME 125 that Johnny O’Mara won the Mid-Ohio 125cc MX GP on or the Motocross des Nations-prepped RM250 for Kevin Windham. And that’s just a small sample!

The moment you walk in the Moto-Armory door, you’ll know you’re in a very special place, a place that’ll take you back in time when these machines were state of the art and life seemed simpler.

As this is written, Moto-Armory is only open on very special occasions, though the plan is to open it to the public on a very limited basis at first–maybe two days a month. Keep an eye on for those announcements, and then make your travel plans! more
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