Recently, I was cruising some back roads on my Bandit and realized it had been a while since I visited one of our Indiana motorcycling treasures, Kersting’s Cycle Center and Museum. This dealership/museum combo is a bit off the beaten path, but that’s part of the attraction. Four miles south of North Judson, it’s not hard to find; a big orange arrow on State Road 39 points the way. Situated on forty acres amongst cornfields and pastureland, riders have been flocking there since 1962.
The dealership has grown considerably since I drooled over new Harley-Davidson FX Shovelheads there at the twilight of the AMF era. The original shop was a 2,000-square-foot block building, a third of which owner Jim Kersting and his late wife Nella lived in. Now, over 40,000 square feet of floor space is dedicated to new and used Harleys and Yamahas, the latter squirrelled away in a far corner of the complex, per Motor Company rules.
A museum of sorts has always been part of the operation, with Jim’s ever-growing personal collection stuffed into every bit of free space. In 2003, the decision was made to do it right. A dedicated facility, carrying 501(c)(3) not-for-profit status, was constructed to house what now numbers 135 machines, representing manufacturers from eight countries.
Of course, a longtime H-D dealership-affiliated museum would be expected to have specimens from the golden days of the Milwaukee marque, and perhaps 25% of the bikes qualify. But Jim doesn’t restrict himself to any one brand—he loves them all. And it shows in his eclectic assembly.
H-D’s chief rival since the early days, Indian Motorcycle, is well-represented with numerous pre-1953 Springfield versions, along with later imports wearing the famous tank badge. In the late 1990s, a reconstituted Excelsior-Henderson company sought to cut into Harley’s share of the heavy cruiser market. Jim was one of the first Excelsior-Henderson dealers, and has current-production examples, along with original models, on display.
Rounding out the offerings are bikes from all over the world, some extremely rare and even one-of-a-kind, others common and of the type most of us cut our motorcycling teeth on. Being in the business was a boon to Jim as he built the collection, in that machines would literally come to him in the form of trade-ins, often needing lots of refurbishing. In fact, much of the restoration work was done in-house by his technicians. Jim was often able to keep them busy over the slow winter months working on his pet projects. He also prides himself on the fact that all but two or three of the machines are ready to roll—just add gas and oil.
The World of Motorcycles Museum represents Jim Kersting’s life work. He is there Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and would love to give you a guided tour. A $5 donation will buy your ticket for a trip back in two-wheeled time. I always enjoy the ride, in late summer in particular, as the mint crop is maturing and the smell is everywhere. Just keep an eye open for cows and combines; they’ll be out in force as well.
For more information, visit kerstingscycle.com.