Sunday, December 06, 2009


Coming up at the MidAmerica Auction in Las Vegas January 7-9, 2010 (yes, I'll be there providing 'color' commentary during the auction itself), among the 499 other motorcycles, will be this very interesting 1913 Flying Merkel replica, built by restorer extraordinaire Chris Cutler.
The machine is a faithful reproduction of legendary Maldwyn Jones' hand-built racer, as assembled during the winter of 1912/13 and raced until 1915.

Maldwyn Jones was picked up by Merkel in 1909, and soon proved himself an ace tuner and rider, beating the immortal Cannonball Baker (and doesn't it help to have such a memorable monicker) in his first year on the track, and going professional in his second year racing. Merkel's front forks became the standard racing fork of the day, on dirt or board tracks, and the firm achieved great things with Jones in the saddle.

In 1911, the firm was sold to the Miami Cycle and Mf'g Co of Ohio, and the firm no longer supported racing, but allowed Jones free run of their parts and obsolete motorcyles, which he modified heavily, creating this machine. Keeping the Merkel chassis and 500cc engine, he added an overhead-valve Jefferson cylinder head, and built up his own high-performance camshaft. In the 1913/14/15 racing seasons, the bike ran 42 races total, winning 24 outright, placing second 10 times, 3rd thrice - the rest were DNFs or crashes. A truly phenomenal record during an extremely competitive period of American track racing.


daveinnola said...

what a bunch of codswhallop it looks a little like the welshmans bike , but the all important providence and patnia ?lol why didnt you photoshop the picture to show the difference? , its got my goat wanna sell my joe craig manx norton made by sears ? i,m taking you to task about this , this aint right its a con to put your name to this dave

vintagent said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
vintagent said...

Haha Dave, it's a REPLICA! Yes, I'd prefer the original, but it doesn't exist anymore. The same could be said of half the machines currently in the National Motorcycle Museum in England, post their disastrous fire. Many replicas now, even if they are based on some of the original (melted) metal.
Speaking of Manxes, you seem to like the new Norton Manx, which is pretty much a replica as well, eh? But, of course, it's from Norton, so it's a Norton...even if Norton sold the manufacturing rights and Manx name to John Tickle in 1963. I wonder if the new Norton Co. sorted that out...
We've accepted replicas in our universe, and as long as it's explicit that they ARE reproductions, I have no issue with them.
But of course, I prefer patina and originality any day.

Anonymous said...

Are there more reproduction board track racers now than there were authentic racers in 1920?