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Vintage Motorcycles: Merkel Motorcycles

Vintage Merkel Motorcycles

Merkel Motorcycle History

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The Merkel Motor Company was founded in c.1901 by Joseph Merkel of Manistee, Michigan. Merkel began by manufacturing motor driven bicycles in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but by 1908 his company merged with the Light Manufacturing & Foundry Co. in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, becoming the Merkel-Light Motor Company.

The Flying Merkel & Merkel Light

Merkel's board track and dirt track racers were known for their reliability and handling earning them the nickname of the "Flying Merkel." The first Merkel racers used single-cylinder motors with a leather belt-drive and pedals, but by 1910 Merkel began using a large-bore V-Twin for his Flying Merkel.

1908 Merkel U Racer
Zoom: 1908 Merkel U Racer

Two of Joseph Merkel's innovative handling solutions were his creation of a mono-shock type rear suspension system (photo at bottom), and dual coil-spring front fork.

1913 Flying Merkel 500cc Single
Zoom: 1913 Flying Merkel 500cc Racer

In 1911 Merkel's company was purchased by a bicycle manufacturer named Paul Sorg of the Miami-Cycle & Mfg. Co. of Middletown, Ohio, and Joseph Merkel was retained until his depature in 1914.

1913 Flying Merkel 1000cc Twin
1913 Flying Merkel 1000cc Twin

The Merkel Light was discontinued by Miami-Cycle during the First World War. After Merkel left Miami Cycle he patented his design of the 'Merkel Motor Wheel' which was used by Indian several years later.

Merkel Links

Joseph Merkel

1912 Flying Merkel

1914 Flying Merkel Restoration

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