Terry Heydt wanted to build a motorcycle, not modify one or bolt on some chrome, he wanted to build something from scratch. He likes board trackers and when he discovered the Flying Merkel, something just clicked and that became the basis of his design. Of course, building an actual replica of the famous Merkel would be a bit expensive, the price of an engine alone would be enough to stop the project, so Terry came up with his own interpretation using a contemporary engine that was cheap and available, a Yamaha XT500 single, and from those simple beginnings, a bike was born.
Before starting actual fabrication, Terry worked out the whole design since he figured erasing and redrawing were easier than re-welding. He bought all the parts he thought he would need and then made full size drawings so he could lay out parts and check bends and dimensions directly.
It was never intended to be a replica of the Merkel but more of a tribute bike based on the look and style. Once I got the general shape and idea in my head I didn’t really look at the original after that. I wanted to take what I saw and make it my idea at my scale and my geometry. In the end it looks allot like it but I bet side by side they would be very different.
As far as the parts. The only actual motorcycle parts are the motor, sprockets (ATV actually), chains, wheels and tires and headset bearings. The rest was hand built by myself. The motor and rims are from a 1976 Yamaha XT500.
When Terry went to work, he made everything, bend up the tubes for the frame? Check. Build the fork piece by piece? Check. Brake levers? Made those, too. Leather seat? Let’s see, buy one for $400? Nope, cut the pieces from a $5 dollar leather jacket, make a seat pan, get some stuffing from a pillow, stitch it all together, add a little shoe polish, yep, … leather seat. Then, fabricate the tank, bend up the handlebars, lace up some wheels, come up with a way to make the engine fit, then mount it, plus figure out things like how to shift gears when the pedals move and you have to get your foot in the right place, plus an untold number of jobs like that.
Terry wrote up a very long build thread over at advrider and if you want to see the blow by blow description of the process (and you really should), you need to go over there and check it out, but Terry got hold of me because he thought most of us here at The Kneeslider would like to see how this project came together and I’m very glad he did.
The planning that went into this, the fabrication, fitting, modification and the persistence to carry it through to the end are an excellent reflection on Terry’s skills and abilities. Lots of people say they’re going to build something, actually doing it, not so many.
Excellent project, Terry. I like it!
Link: advrider build thread