It was the success on both the track and in business that formed the roots of the Mike Pero Motorcycle Gallery in Christchurch, but it would be an earthquake that would see this incredible collection really take shape and become a must see for any motorcycling enthusiasts visiting the area.
Many of our Kiwi readers will recognise the name Mike Pero in regards to things like mortgage brokers or real estate, but it’s out on the track in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s that Mike’s name first started getting traction. The New Zealand road-racing champion had claimed victories across several classes of racing, including 350cc, 500cc and a 410cc production class. Everything Japanese with two-wheels is what catches Mike’s eye, with Yamaha two-strokes being his weapon of choice. Mike Pero still holds the NZ Land Speed Record for a 350cc category.
Mike had jumped on his first motorcycle at the age of 14, and it wouldn’t take long for him to expand this into racing on the track while also beginning a motorcycle mechanic apprenticeship. With a passion for motorcycles firmly driving him, Pero would go on to win six national championship titles, while still riding today at competitive classic events.
Back when the 2011 earthquake struck Christchurch, Mike was forced to close up his booming business headquarters in the now damaged and dangerous city centre. A new building was to be constructed to act as a temporary location to run his business for the coming years. Fast-forward to 2016, and it was time to move the staff out for a new, more permanent business location. This meant that there was now a completely empty building that was just begging to be used – but for what? Spoiler: It’s a ton of a bikes. Surprise!
This would not just be any collection, but the largest of it’s kind in New Zealand – and quite possibly Australasia (though we won’t admit it due to trans-Tasman rivalry) with over 60 bikes in display, all Japanese and all with their own little piece of history behind them. A majority of these machines are on loan, with the two biggest donors being the Veitch family and John Shand. Some are stock machines in perfect condition, but the main spirit is ex-race bikes that have a proud racing heritage behind them.
The collection shows off a period of when Japanese bikes were rapidly taking over the market, both on public roads and the track. With a keen eye, you can track all the innovations that were implemented on many of these machines across the decades, from the ‘70’s, ‘80’s and ‘90’s. These are the bikes many of us have fond memories of, be it from owning them back in the day (not me though, I still have my youth) or watching them claim title after title with legends sat atop them.
If you find yourself in magnificent Christchurch, be sure to get your buns over to the Mike Pero Motorcycle Gallery where you can easily spend a couple of hours pouring over this excellent collection of machines.