The Merkel motorcycles first appeared in Milwaukee, Wisconsin during the early 1900's when Joseph Merkel, the founder, set up his shop where he began producing single cylinder motorcycles.
Merkel was considered to be among the most innovative of the pioneering motorcycle companies and by 1905 Merkel had decided to engage its motorcycles in competition where they eventually produced several racing machines.
During the emerging American motorcycle racing scene, Merkel's motorcycles would set many of the performance standards as their machines as well as their riders helped Merkel to develop spring front fork which was patented and was to become a forerunner of the modern telescopic front fork. This fork that Merkel engineered became the forks of choice on racing motorcycles that were owned by other builders.
Merkel also developed the mono-shock rear suspension which is highly utilised today on most modern motorcycles. Thanks to their front forks and their new mono-shock swing arm designed motorcycles, Merkel started a slogan stating that, "All roads are smooth to The Flying Merkel."
Merkel motorcycles had also used ball bearings instead of bronze bushings in the engine and also Merkel designed a cam-actuated mechanism that would be a revolutionary idea and became known as the camshaft.
In 1909 the Company was purchased by Light Manufacturing Company and was moved to Pottstown Pennsylvania where it produced motorcycles under the names of the Merkel Light and the Flying Merkel.
Then again two years later, in 1911, the Miami Cycle Manufacturing Company purchased the Merkel name where production was again moved, this time to Middletown Ohio. The Miami Company, which was founded in 1895, was building bicycles and motorcycles under the names of Raycycle and Miami.
The Merkel acquisition gave the Miami Cycle Manufacturing Company the high-end product that it needed to finally be regarded as a premiere motorcycle manufacturer. Thanks to this recent purchase, the Merkel factory racing team expanded to include such riders as LS Taylor, FE French, CF Pinneau, and W Wikel.
Their high quality, engineering innovation, and racing successes were not enough for Merkel to sustain their progressiveness and thanks to the oncoming of war and increased competition in the American motorcycle industry; Merkel was forced to cease production of The Flying Merkel in 1917.
Original Authors: Nicholas
Edit Update Authors: M.A.Harris
Updated On: 09/06/2008