Lot Number
16
From The Allen Smith Collection of Significant Motorcycles
1913 Flying Merkel V-Twin


Offered Without Reserve

CHASSIS NO: 10936
• Expertly restored by vintage motorcycle authority Bradford Wilmarth
• Formerly on long-term display at Australia’s National Motor Museum
• History documented with extensive correspondence on file
• Engineering masterpiece including self-starter and rear monoshock

61 cid air-cooled V-Twin engine, 7 HP, Merkel-Schebler carburetor, chain drive, two-speed rear hub, loop-type tubular steel frame with Merkel truss-type spring front fork and rear friction-type monoshock suspension, rear flat-band brake; wheelbase: 55”


The brainchild of Joseph Merkel, who founded his motorcycle manufacturing business in 1902, the Flying Merkel exemplified advanced design with a patented spring fork that was the forerunner of the modern telescopic fork, a monoshock rear suspension, cam-actuated intake valve, and throttle controlled engine oiling system. Few bike builders of the era could account for so many innovations. The company changed hands more than once, first in 1909 when the Light Manufacturing Co. of Pottstown, Pennsylvania acquired it, and then in 1911 by the Ohio-based Miami Cycle and Manufacturing Co.

The “Flying” appellation was allegedly based on a comment by a racing spectator who watched a Merkel “fly” by the competition. The name was no exaggeration, with the Flying Merkel one of America’s early performance leaders and certainly one of the fastest two-wheeled machines on the road and track alike. Its prowess was confirmed in the hands of Maldwyn Jones, who first joined the company as a mechanic in 1910 and then as a young test rider. In addition to besting the previously undefeated Cannonball Baker at the 10-mile Ohio race, Jones scored many wins for the Merkel banner, bringing both the motorcycle and its brave rider to national prominence. Other manufacturers soon began using Merkel front forks on their racers, and Merkel would soon add a monoshock rear suspension to their later machines, inspiring the slogan “All roads are smooth to the Flying Merkel.” However, the onset of World War I and the declining American motorcycle market led to the demise of the Flying Merkel. Still, the Flying Merkel left an indelible impression on American motorcycling that remains legendary today.

Accompanied by extensive documentation, this 1913 Flying Merkel V-Twin came to the United States from Australia in 1999. While its early history remains undetermined, there was indeed a Flying Merkel dealer in Adelaide, Australia during the 1910s. The earliest known owner of this motorcycle was Harold Rosenhain, who purchased it in Port Adelaide, Australia, following his placement of an advertisement stating that he was seeking to purchase old motorcycles. Circa 1972, Mr. Rosenhain sold the Flying Merkel to Australian industrialist Eric Rainsford, whose automobile and motorcycle collection formed the core of the National Motor Museum of Australia. The Flying Merkel was loaned to the Museum by Mr. Rainsford on December 13, 1977 along with eight other bikes, and it remained there, essentially unchanged from its “as purchased” form for the next two decades.

In December 1999, the Flying Merkel was sold from the National Motor Museum to Doug McKenzie of Santa Barbara, California and exported to him in the United States, including the requisite Australian Cultural Heritage Export Permit, a copy of which is included in the motorcycle’s auction file. According to a 2008-dated letter on file from Mr. McKenzie, the motorcycle’s fuel tank was selectively repainted to allow the application of a correctly depicted “The Flying Merkel” logo. Additionally, various parts were plated, new pedals were installed, a new frame-pivot bushing was fabricated and installed, a new rear sprocket was fabricated, and the Musselman hub and rear brake were rebuilt. As related by Mr. McKenzie, he actually learned to ride a motorcycle for the first time on this Flying Merkel.

The Flying Merkel next passed through a vintage motorcycle specialist who in turn sold it in May 2009 to Allen Smith, who commissioned its expert restoration by Brad Wilmarth of Chesterfield, Virginia, which was completed in 2014. Since the motorcycle had led a rather sheltered life for decades, only the rear stand, pedal cranks, and pedal-crank shaft needed to be remade during the restoration. More correctly stated, these few items were in fact painstakingly hand-crafted to original specifications. The main sprocket, however, remains original. Riding on period style “No Skid” tires, this historic and rare 1913 Flying Merkel V-Twin motorcycle is a sight to behold, with its eye-catching livery, polished and plated mechanical components, and correct ancillary items. The accompanying dossier documents the interesting history of this iconic vintage motorcycle and includes correspondence, bills of sale, the Australian cultural release and shipping paperwork, plus copies of advertisements and reproductions of the factory instruction booklet and 1913 Flying Merkel product catalogue. Beautifully restored and presented, this 1913 Flying Merkel V-Twin is an outstanding machine in pristine condition with a remarkable character and appeal.

1913 Flying Merkel V-Twin
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