“The Merkel” brand first appeared in Milwaukee Wisconsin in 1902 when Joseph Merkel set-up shop producing single cylinder motorcycles. Merkel was among the most innovative of the pioneer motorcycle companies. By 1905 Merkel had decided to engage in competition, and produced several racing machines. Merkel’s motorcycles were to set many performance standards during the emerging American racing scene.
Cover of the 1914 Flying Merkel CatalogThe company was purchased in 1909 by the Light Manufacturing Company, and was moved in its entirety to Pottstown Pennsylvania, producing machines with the "Merkel Light" and subsequently "The Flying Merkel" names. Joseph Merkel began immediately experimenting with frame and suspension improvements, and new engine designs. A young test rider by the name of Maldwyn Jones rode one of Merkel's creations. An inventive mechanic and racer, Jones set up the bike and defeated the reigning champion Erwin G (Cannonball) Baker in a ten mile race. The following season, Jones turned professional and won three of four races on a machine bearing "The Flying Merkel" logo on the tank."