As I was scanning through pictures, I came across this interesting motorcycle. The first thing that caught my eye was the contoured lines. When I saw the step-through frame and didn’t see a space large enough for anything more than a very small engine, I thought this was basically a scooter with some large and fancy metalwork.
Then, I noticed the front wheel and saw that there was a rotary engine attached, so I did a little bit of research and found some information on this German brand, Megola. The MEGOLA is a combination of the last names of the three designers: Hans MEixner, Friedrich GOckerell and Otto LAndgraf. These motorcycles were produced in Munich from 1921-1925.
The rotary engine has five cylinders. The crankshaft rotates around the front axle six-times the speed of the wheel. The standard model had a top speed of 52 mph and the sportier Megola had a top speed of 88 mph.
Without a clutch or transmission, the bike can only be started with either a person spinning the front wheel while it is on a stand (see the video) or being push started. This also meant that each time a rider wanted to stop, the engine had to be turned off and then restarted as noted. As such, the bike was not very functional in the city.
There were about 2,000 Megola’s made and about ten that are rideable are still in existence. They are sometimes in exhibits or antique shows, so you might be lucky enough to see one in person.