1913 Flying Merkel 500cc Single Board Track Racer
Engine no. 010656
Flying Merkel. This name in motorcycle history possesses a mystique that endures today. The Merkel Motor Company originated in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with a very modern motorcycle design at the turn of the 20th Century. It has been conjectured that a Merkel frame may have been the test bed for the fledgling Harley-Davidson endeavors in 1903. Late in 1908, it was announced in the motorcycle journals that Merkel and the Light Manufacturing and Foundry Company of Pottstown, PA were purchased by the new Merkel-Light Motor Company. The consolidation of companies simply allowed Joe Merkel to continue marketing his belt drive motorcycles alongside Light's Thor based chain drive motorcycles.
Joe Merkel's motorcycle which carried his name was a very substantial machine for its day and its success dwarfed the lesser Light motorcycle. In 1910, Halley's Comet became the rage and Joe Merkel was quick to join in marketing the comet craze. The Merkel-Light became the "Flying Merkel" with the name emblazoned across a comet's tail on bright orange paint. The image of a comet coupled with speed became synonymous in the minds of riders back then. Once the company was settled in Pottstown, young racer Maldwyn Jones resurrected a prototype Merkel racer from 1908 and promptly cleaned house. He was perhaps the most successful racer for the Merkel company and responsible for its iconic place among motorcycle legends.
This Flying Merkel board track racer represents the very motorcycle that the legendary Maldwyn Jones would have piloted on American dirt tracks and board tracks. Reconstructed using many original parts and a 1913 single cylinder 500cc engine from the time the Merkel was produced in Middletown, Ohio, this restoration was completed only this year. The arched racing gas tank with Flying Merkel across the sides in bold black letters is one the most recognizable features in motorcycling. The headstock of the motorcycle preserves original paint as well as the decal. Up front are Merkel's famous sprung forks which were so advanced in their day that competition machines still used them ten years following the end of Merkel production. Inverted Merkel handlebars allow the racer to tuck in tight while the motorcycle is at speed. The 500cc single cylinder engine features mechanically actuated intake and exhaust valves, and breathes through a Breeze carburetor. A slash cut exhaust pipe completes the racer image.
This Flying Merkel board track racer is a fresh presentation of superb quality. This is your opportunity to appreciate a fabled early American motorcycle racing machine. Sold on a Bill of Sale.