Added on December 25th 2018

Harry F. Nixon

Reader Joel Nagle from Pottstown sent us an article from a Potttown Mercury newspaper, dated December 22, 1964, about a Merkel racing motorcycle. Merkel motorcycles were produced in Potttown also, by the Merkel-Light company.
The famous motorcycles (branded "The Flying Merkel" by this time) were ridden to fame by several skilled and brave riders both in board tracks races and dirt track races.
Harry F. Nixon from Dayton, on Flying Merkel
The article from the Mecury shows Harry F. Nixon, a young and very sucessfull racer. He started his racing career early, already competing in the first motorcycle race at the indianapolis motor speedway in 1909, as reported by the Dayton Daily News:
 Dayton Daily News
As we can read in The Dayton Herald of May 29th 1911,
Harry Nixon was born in Dayton, on December 13th, 1889. After common school education and a one-year course at Steele high school, he worked as a repairman in local motorcycle stores untill he became a tester for the Dayton Motor Car company, in the winter of 1910 to 1911. He lived with his parents at Riverdale-Street, together with two brothers.
After being sucessful in regional races in 1910, he entered several big races in 1911. He competed against top riders of that time, with famous names as L.S.Taylor, Billy Teubner, Don Klark, E.G. Baker and Freddy Huyk.

Below are a few news snippets that make up a little compilation of the career of Harry F. Nixon.

Dayton, Ohio Friday, September 23rd 1910:
Two miles, trade riders, won by Harry Nixon, Merkel.
Ten miles, trade riders, won by Harry Nixon, Merkel.
Ten miles, handicap, won by Harry Nixon, Merkel. Second Howitz, Indian thrid Taylor on Emblem.

Shelbyville Ind, September 25th, 1910:
Five miles, trade riders, won by Merz on Merkel, Second Harry Nixon, Merkel.
Ten miles, handicap. E.G.Baker, second Harry Nixon.

October 9th, 1910 Toledo club race:
Five miles, factory riders, 30 1/2 Cubic inches, won by Harry Nixon on Merkel
(Bicycling world 1910)

Inauguration races at Terre Haute meet held on the 16th of October  1910:
Both Merkel riders, Nixon and Merz made a good performance against the local riders.
Five miles open, 30 1/2 cubic inches - Won by Harry Nixon, Merkel. Second John Merz also on Merkel.
Ten miles open, 45 cubic inches - Won by Herry Nixon. John Merz second again.

His career came to a tragic end as he got caught up in a deadly accident during races at the Hawthorn track on May 28th 1911.

The tragedy was described in the Motorcycle Illustrated of 1911:

Harry Nixon was hurried to hospital, where he died later that same day from internal injuries.
The accident again rose to discussion whether the thrills of the races, drawing thousands of spectators, were taking a too havy toll on the riders.

The Pottstown Mercury
The Dayton Herald
Dayton Daily News
Motorcycle Illustrated
The Bicycling and Motorcycle Review


Dayton boy meets death_1911_may_29th_The_Dayton_Herald

Added on September 20th 2015

Solving the mistery of the man in the photo

 Benjamin Finkbone, who raced his ca 1911 Flying Merkel in the Middletown, Ohio area.

Most of the photographs published at www.theflyingmerkel.com come from our visitors.
The beauty of these photographs speaks for them selves, but when we can add the Who, Where and When, they become a piece of history. A few weeks ago, we received a photography from our dear friend Wayne Doyle. At that time, he had no more information than that he had it from his friend Rick Hughes. Since it came from a friend of Rick's, we hoped that they could find out more, and so they did!

Their discovery comes with a most interesting story from the grandson of the man in the picture, Benjamin Finkbone Hall:, who writes:
"The picture of the Flying Merkel that Rick Hughes sent to you is a photo of my grandfather, Benjamin Finkbone, who raced his Merkel on tracks in the Middletown, Ohio area.  He was born in the area and lived in Middletown his whole life.  As a kid growing up in the late 40s and 50s I have no recollection of any family member ever mentioning that Grandpa Finkbone raced motorcycles, and he was gone by the time I bought my first bike, a Honda 350 Scrambler, in 1974.  The picture didn't come to my attention until we came across it buried in a stack of photos while cleaning out the house of an aunt."

Thank you very much Benjamin for sharing this story.
Thank you very much Wayne and Rick for solving the mistery.

Jos Ritzen, Administrator of TheFlyingMerkel.com


Added on December 12th 2014

 Horsepower Run April 19th 2015 Veenhuizen (NL)Horsepower Run

The Horsepowerrun is an international event for motorcycles, sidecars, and three-wheelers with so-called "fore cars" made in the early days of motoring. Participating in the event is only possible if you own one of the machines as mentioned above which is built not later than 31 December 1920. 

    Added on February 22nd 2014

 More than 50,000 visitors at www.TheFlyingMerkel.com
    Certificate_50000_intl copy













      Added on December14th 2013 

 Win on Sunday - Sell on Monday

Extremely rare, that's the Flying Merkel motorcycle nowadays. Unlike today, where Flying Merkels are amongst the most sought after machines, it must be recognized that in the early days of the motorcycle, Merkel was just one of the many dozens of motorcycle manufacturers competing for the favor of the customer. Motorcycle manufacturers had to face huge challenges to achieve actual sales. Mastering the engineering and manufacturing skills was not enough to be successful. Companies had to establish distribution channels and gain confidence with the potential buyers. Around 1900 reliability was one of the main aspects of competition. Endurance contests were organized and the results were published in great detail in the magazines. Companies hired experienced riders to enter local events to achieve first places for their brand. This publicity was deemed so important that even executives of the companies would participate. At one time even Jo Merkel would enter the events (amongst illustrious individuals like Edward Buffun and Walter Davidson). Realizing that "private owners" would hardly have a chance against "trade riders" the organizations would soon have them compete in separate classes. Later the "professional" status was given to those who got paid for their appearance on the race track.
1907 BWMR July 6 Merkel enters Endurance Contest(1907 Bicycling World and Motorcycle Review)

Results Count
(1908 Motorcycle Illustrated)

To get the recognition by the public that the companies needed to attract customers as well as agents and dealers that would take care of the actual sales, companies made sure that successes in competitions were exploited in advertising.  When the spectacular speed events on the infamous board tracks and dirt tracks became huge public magnets, the manufacturers had found a perfect way of getting the attention they needed for their sales advertising.


The concept of  “Win on Sunday - Sell on Monday”,  would be employed  literally by The Flying Merkels with slogans like :

WON EVERY EVENT ON THE CARD, At the Wildwood, July 4th races, Teubner on his Flying Merkel came off the victor in every one of the 5 events - again proving the speed, endurance and reliability of The Flying Merkel. (Motorcycle Illustrated July 15, 1910). 

The complete results would be reported in the same magazine, carefully mentioning man, machine and time scores. This quite clearly demonstrates the interdependency in the industry, where the manufacturers, the motorcycle federations, and the media, supported each other in achieving as much exposure to the public as possible.

Teubnber wins on Merkel      Teubner wins on MerkelBilly Teunber on Merkel with G&J Trophy


    Added on June 14th 2012 

Wayne Doyle's Flying Merkel Parts book for 1912 1913 1914

On a windy evening, in the winter months of 2012, an e-mail message on the info@theflyingmerkel.com caused a small sensation. One of our readers, Wayne Doyle from Monroe, Ohio, wrote that he had an original Parts Book for Flying Merkel motorcycles.
Owning a 100 years old parts book is quite a feat on its own, but Wayne's book had some notes in it, as it seemed it had been used for a Merkel motorcycle with engine number WS5967.

0A Flying Merkel Motorcycle parts 1912 1913 1914 0B Flying Merkel Motorcyle Parts 1912 1913 1914

Wayne lives near Middletown, the domicile of the Miami Cycle and Manufacturing Co. In this factory, The Flying Merkel motorcycles were produced from 1912 on. Apart from these famous motorcycles, bicycles under de brand names Racycle and Miami were produced here, along with the well-known Musselman Coaster Brakes. To complete the program, they also produced bicycles under The Flying Merkel brand name, and motorcycles under the Miami brand name. Wayne Doyle wrote that he collects all things related to the Miami Cycle & MFG Co. like his two bicycles, a Racycle and a Miami. He even salvaged some bricks from the factory when the last part was demolished.

Wayne offered to send us a copy of his Part Book, to publish on TheFlyingMerkel.com, and help anyone who is working on a Flying Merkel Motorcycle. He wrote that he would really like to find out about what happened to the motorcycle whose number was written in his original book, about a century ago. Though it's against all odds, wouldn't it be spectacular if this motorcycle had survived and we could find out about its story today?

If you happen to know the whereabouts of a Merkel Motorcycle with engine number WS5967 please contact us (at the contact page ). Dear readers, you are welcome to enjoy the beautiful Parts Book in the Original Catalogs section. We, from TheFlyingMerkel.com are very grateful to Wayne Doyle for his contribution to our site and the preservation of the Merkel motorcycles in general.

Jos Ritzen, Administrator of TheFlyingMerkel.com

Added on April 8th 2012 


Dear readers of theflyingmerkel.com, this time we have an authentic story by Richard McCormick with some unique photos from his family album.
Fishing camp at at the Kankakee River, by courtesy of Richard  McCormick.
Fishing camp and Merkel Motorcycle at Kankakee River, 1907. By courtesy of Richard  McCormick :
The picture was taken at a fishing camp 4 miles south of La Crosse, Indiana on Horseshoe Bend of the Kankakee River. The Merkel belonged to a William Etter Jr., a good friend of August Grieger, my wife's grandfather. It is believed, by my wife's family that he purchased the Motorcycle on May 2, 1907. I am told that he possibly worked for the railroad and Western Union.
On June 6, 1907, Wm Etter Jr., August Grieger, Wm. J. Wilson and Willie Richman left for a week's outing at the Kankakee River. They usually talked the Monon Railroad crew into letting them put their boat and camping supplies on a empty flat car or box car and the train would stop briefly at the river and let them off. On the return trip, they would share their fish or game with the train crew, or give them a bottle of hootch for their troubles. These men camped at the river several times a year. They fished and also hunted there. At times, they would have the Erie Railroad set off a car full of wooden barrels at the town of Wilders. They would shoot ducks and geese all morning then load the game into the barrels and the train would take then into Chicago, where they were cleaned and served at the restaurants that evening. These were some of the last to fish and hunt the Kankakee river and marsh before the river was dredged and straightened.
William Etter Jr., with his 1907 Merkel motorcycle,  by courtesy of Richard  McCormick. by courtesy of Richard McCormick)
William Etter Jr., with his 1907 Merkel motorcycle,  by courtesy of Richard  McCormick.


Added on February 29th 2012 


Nowadays, our feelings of nostalgia about antique motorcycles, are greatly narrated by pictures from the days before the Great War. In those days when these little gems of technology were created, everyday life of the people utilizing them was often full of hardship. Like the fate of Frank Hulshizer, grandfather of Steve Swinney. Steve's grandfathers family owned a flour mill in Newark, Ohio.

Frank Hulshizer ca1911 Flying Merkel
Frank Hulshizer with his ca 1911 4Hp Flying Merkel model WS.
Courtesy of
Steve Swinney, Raytown, Missouri, Frank's grandson and owner of this picture.

In the picture Frank is sitting on his ca.1911 Flying Merkel 4Hp model, the perfect machine for fast and reliable deliveries. Notice the staple of goods behind him. Steve's mother (deceased) told him that Frank was a speed and machinery lover.

Frank Hulshizer died from cancer in 1924, at the age of 38. Steve's sister said, she was told Frank died of a brain tumor in the front of the head in the same area of a prior injury from a motorcycle wreck. She did not know what type of cycle the previous wreck was.
We do not know what year the picture was taken or where it was taken, but presumed it was probably somewhere around Newark, Ohio.

When Frank died, Steve's mothers was just 15 years old.
In memory of Steve's mother and grandfather, we present this wonderful photo on Theflyingmerkel.com

Added on December 26th 2011

The section of ORIGINAL CATALOGS, now shows the 1909 Merkel sales brochure.
With courtesy of our friends at www.yesterdays.nl who were so kind to let us search their archives.
 The Merkel Light Company ca. 1909
1909 was the first year that The Merkel's were produced by The Merkel Light Motor Company from Pottstown PA. Mr. Merkel had used the merger with The Light Manufacturing and Foundry Company to develop a range of very modern motorcycles with single and twin cilinder models combined with very well designed spring frames with spring forks. These models would become the bases of the high appreciation that Joseph Merkels products were to recieve both in daily use and on the race tracks.



Added on August 23rd 2011

Robin A.F. Olson sent us some beautifully preserved photographs, from a very old family album.

Here's one with his great grandfather Florian Petschnig, having a good time with his motorcycle friends in front of the garage near a brewery. Florian owned a Stanley Steamer repair shop in the Red Hook district of Brooklyn, which may be where these pictures were taken.
The motorcycles are on the next photo where Robins grandmother Catherine Petschnig and great aunt Etts, pose on two beautiful Flying Merkels. The pictures date from the 1920s.

1920s Florian Petschnig with MotorCycle Friends. Courtesy of Robin A.F.Olson, from Sandy Hook CT, owner of both photos.

1920s  Catherine Petschnig and Aunt Etts.
Courtesy of Robin A.F.Olson, from Sandy Hook CT, owner of both photos.

Added on June 30th 2011
The Flying Merkels of the Minneapolis park police.

Minneapolis park police in 1912

Credits to "Lee Brothers, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board"
By courtesy of David C. Smith : "Minneapolis park police in the 1912 annual report of the Minneapolis Board of Park Commissioners. At least two "Flying Merkels" were used by the police. An independent park police force has often been cited as one reason for the great success of the Minneapolis park system." How did the park board use the Flying Merkels? See more in David Smith's Blog at http://minneapolisparkhistory.com/



Added on May 12th 2011
Margaret Gast
, long distance bicycle record holder and only lady board-track rider in the world.
How a most remarkable woman on a Flying Merkel motorcycle made unforgettable history.

Read the story of   "The Mile A Minute Girl" 

Margaret Gast with Flying Merkel - courtesy of www.nagengast.org
Margaret Gast with her Flying Merkel racer 1914, by courtesy of Jack Nagengast (www.nagengast.org)

Added April 17th 2011
For the enjoyment of all Merkel enthusiasts, Jeff Reppert sent us a picture of his great great grandfather with a Flying Merkel. Jeff guesses that this picture was taken in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania.
Thank you Jeff, for this great picture.

 With courtesy of Jeff Reppert  from Thurmont,  Maryland owner of this picture. This picture shows his  great great grandfather; probably the picture was taken in Lebanon  County Pennsylvania. Date unknown

With courtesy of Jeff Reppert from Thurmont, Maryland owner of this picture.
This picture shows his great great grandfather.
Probably the picture was taken in Lebanon County Pennsylvania.
Date unknown.


Added April 2nd 2011
How can there be news about a motorcycle brand, vanished nearly a century ago?

Well, we completely overhauled The Flying Merkel website, and made it all new and exciting.

Welcome to the renewed site. We hope you enjoy the added material in the photos and catalog sections. If you have historical information or other material about Merkel and his creations, we would very much appreciate it if we could add it to the site. We are preparing more material, so visit this site again soon!

                                                                                                                     Jos - Administrator