The Jekyll and Hyde farmer of the motorbike world

erferfreOn a farm, somewhere in the middle of Norfolk, lives a man called Dave. Other than working day and night on the fields and looking after his cows, you could say he is somewhat a collector, not of cows or other cattle, but of something else. Motorbikes.

And he’s not one of those fly-by-night collectors who swoop in and buy the odd thing here or there just because it happens to be flavour of the month. No. He’s a proper, bona fide head-over-heels enthusiast.

The proof? He’s been at it for more than 40 years. And in that time, he’s owned more than 500 motorbikes, but his current flock only consists of 28 beautiful machines. Rather than just buying and hiding them away, Dave enjoys tinkering and riding them. All of them. Well, except the one he’s still building, a replica Honda RC166. His all-time favourite though is a Honda CBX.

A tale of two personalities

Dave’s bikes are in various states of repair and packed into numerous cluttered sheds, surrounded by all manner of other machines, tools, motor parts and, frankly, junk. All of which leads to the question of whether Dave is in fact a collector or a hoarder?

Much like the fine line that separates the legendary, and thankfully fictional, Dr Jekyll from Mr Hyde, the line between being a hoarder and collector is similarly very narrow. Much like Jekyll (the calm, refined doctor) and Hyde (the sinister alter-ego), collectors and hoarders also come in extreme and tranquil versions.

Hoarder versus Collector

There are various ways to distinguish between a collector and a hoarder. One way is by analysing the objects being collected. In this case, motorbikes. According to psychologists, hoarders experience difficulty discarding or parting with personal possessions, regardless of their actual value. Usually, hoarding involves objects and items that have little, if any, value. In Dave’s case, this is far from true.

Dave “bargain buys” his bikes, usually from eBay, and after all the modifications and repairs, most of them are worth more than what he paid for them. For instance, he paid £1500 for the CBX, and after getting it into shape, it could be worth around £7000, nearly a five-fold increase in value. Having said that, Dave didn’t buy it to do up and sell on…

“My precious”

Compulsive hoarders keep almost everything they collect, and they are often isolated, sometimes embarrassed by their habits. But this doesn’t sound like Dave. He enjoys showing off his epic collection, but, importantly, he makes use of them. Because all 28 of his bikes are road-legal, insured, and in a good enough condition to be ridden, he spends any free-time from the farm cruising down the country lanes. So, maybe he isn’t a hoarder after all…

Collecting

Unlike hoarders, collectors seem more flexible in the way they establish and hold onto their valuables. While Dave doesn’t want to sell the CBX, he has tinkered with and sold plenty of other bikes, which would make him more of a collector than a hoarder. One thing’s not in doubt: if he was a “compulsive” hoarder, he’d still have 500 bikes and not much room for the cows!

Let it go!

Collectors are able to trade or sell all, or parts of, their collection without experiencing the mental anguish of a hoarder. Given Dave’s easy-going attitude and the fact he doesn’t still have 500 bikes, it’s fair to say that he probably doesn’t experience any kind of serious discomfort when it comes to selling a bike. Sure, he might miss one or two, but there’s no pain involved with letting one go.

Collectors seem more flexible in the way they establish and hold onto their valuables than hoarders. Even though Dave is quite specific when choosing which type of bike to buy, this doesn’t mean he’s not a collector. When it comes to objects such as bikes and cars, many people prefer some brands to others. Dave will happily confess that he has a few favourite brands including Honda, Benelli, Suzuki, Kawasaki, and Yamaha. But he’ll also confess, “As long as it has six cylinders, I’m a happy chap.”

Collectors tend to put their possessions on display rather than letting them accumulate all over homes or apartments, whereas hoarders tend to live amongst their clutter. That said, not all collectors keep their possessions nice and tidy. Some of Dave’s bikes are out of the shed on a regular basis, such as the replica Honda RC166 he’s rebuilding and the CBX he loves to ride, but most are locked away amongst clutter. Perhaps there is something of the hoarder in him after all…

Extreme hoarding

Although Dave doesn’t show many characteristics of extreme hoarding, he does exhibit some signs that can be associated with it. For instance, the extreme cluttering of the home or workplace that renders it unliveable or unusable.

All three of Dave’s sheds are packed full to the brim with bikes. There’s not much, if any space to work on the bikes and because of this, he has to tinker with them in the open, on the lawn. However, his disorganisation could be due to lack of time and lack of space, and because of this it is difficult to decide whether he is verging on the edge of hoarding.

Jekyll or Hyde?

So, where does Dave sit on the hoarding/collecting spectrum?

It would be easy to label Dave as hoarder due to the amount of bikes and clutter. However, because Dave views his motorbikes as an investment and does not suffer from any kind of mental discomfort at the thought of selling his bikes, this label may not apply.

Instead, there is a sub-category that lies just between collector and hoarder, known as “extreme collectors”, that could be taken into consideration. This sub-category consists of people who meet all the criteria of hoarding but have not been diagnosed. Extreme collectors tend to invest a considerable amount of money and effort in their collecting behaviour. Dave for instance, has spent thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of pounds on his collection. The original price of the bikes plus the cost to insure and maintain them all must stack up a hefty price, however, if Dave is able to sell the bikes for more than what they were originally worth, he must make some kind of profit.

The title “extreme collector” would be perfect for Dave if it wasn’t for the fact that most extreme collectors don’t take pleasure in collecting! The sole reason for the very existence of Dave’s collection is that he enjoys riding his bikes. He loves buying, tinkering, and modifying his bikes therefore it could be contested that Dave does not belong in any category. Or perhaps he belongs in every category to an extent?

Like the fine line that lies between Jekyll and Hyde, the line between collecting and hoarding seems to be even less distinguishable.

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