The Bojete chopper picture has generated much discussion among motorcycle enthusiasts of whether it is legitimately real and one of the first pictures of the first choppers, or just expertly Photoshopped. Whether it is real or a fake, the motorcycle appearing in this picture might be a stripped down 1905 Merkel motorcycle (as you can see there is a strong resemblance).
For those of you who know a lot about the motorcycles that Joe Merkel made, the “Flying Merkel” motorcycles were only made from 1911 to 1915, so how can we say 1905 if the company did not start until 1911? This is because in 1903 Merkel actually started making one-cylinder motorcycles called “The Merkel” for his own use and then in 1908 the “Merkel Light” models under the Light Manufacturing and Foundry Company before 1911when the two-cylinder “Flying Merkel” models were made.
The first part of why we believe this is a 1905 is both the 1904 and 1905 Merkel’s have the similar and distinct pitch of the engine to what you see in the above picture. Narrowing it down between the two years, it was the 1905 model Merkel that has the same shape gas tank (if you removed the front the front cone on the tank).
All of the above said, there are a number of reasons why this chopper could be Photoshopped. First, the front forks might have been strong enough to be functional with most of the rider’s weight on the back of the bike, but there seems to be more contrast on them than in most of the picture. Additionally, the bar used for the foot pegs does not show up in the shadow. You’ll also see the area around the right hand is blurry compared to the rest of the man and the motorcycle.
Next, there are the possible issues with the writing in the bottom right corner. White ink typically wasn’t used. The words, moreover, appear to be written during the supposed era of this bike, but the word “chopper” wasn’t used until decades later.
So the bottom-line is this: the “Bojete Chopper” is still a mystery.