1912 Flying Merkel Belt Drive V-Twin
The ex-John Viljoen
Wonderfully restored example
One of the earliest and brightest innovators in the fledgling market of motorcycles in the United States was Joseph Merkel, who worked out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He fabricated lots of 25 Merkel motorcycles at a time in 1902. A robust 316cc single cylinder machine, the keynote feature was his loop frame that placed the weight of the engine on level with the axles, enhancing the handling of the primitive bike. And undoubtedly the Harley and Davidson boys either copied his frame or actually purchased one for their prototype motorcycle. They were very good at gleaning the best of what they saw around them in Milwaukee.
A move to Pottstown, Pennsylvania in 1909 when Merkel joined with the Light Manufacturing Company who were already marketing an Indian look-a-like from Thor parts. The new joint venture sold leftover Thor engines in a fresh chassis but also introduced a new Merkel-Light in the familiar look of Merkel motorcycles using Joe Merkel's engine in a brand new concept; a spring truss fork up front and a spring frame for the chassis. Maldwyn Jones made Merkel famous on American dirt tracks starting with a competition machine he built from spare parts on his own time. In 1910, Jones became the national motorcycle champion on his Merkel. That year, the company introduced its first V-twin model. Adopting the name "Flying Merkel", the motorcycle was brilliantly conceived and marketed well. Available in a Royal Blue or Merkel Orange, it was an outstanding motorcycle in its day. Another move for the small company occurred in 1911 when Miami Cycle Mfg. Co. of Middletown, Ohio purchased the rights to the Flying Merkel to enhance their own market value by producing a premier motorcycle.
This 1912 Flying Merkel was once the personal motorcycle of Flying Merkel restoration expert John Villjon of Seattle, Washington. It is a flawless restoration, a perfect jewel in the antique motorcycle world. Finished in Flying Merkel's famous orange paint, the single speed, belt-drive bike is the 997cc atmospheric intake V-twin derived from the Pottstown acquisition the prior year. The engine turns with expensive ball bearings on each crankshaft pinion. The chassis has Flying Merkel's famous spring frame with the springs enclosed in tubing under the saddle, and the company's equally famous spring truss fork. There must have been a lot of Merkels junked in the late teens just for the front ends as the forks were prized by competition riders. Even the experimental Aces of 1923 wore Merkel forks. Reading Standard went as far as copying the forks for their factory competition machines.
This Flying Merkel of 1912 is an absolutely stunning motorcycle, restored to perfection by the most knowledgeable man of this marquee. If you wish for perfection in a restoration, look no further than this outstanding Flying Merkel. The sale includes a bottle of special Flying Merkel orange paint used in the restoration and a collection of photographs featuring this motorcycle prior to its restoration upon request.
- Offered on a Bill of Sale.