Picture Intermission – Megola

In Intermissions by AbhiLeave a Comment

On the way back from the Quail, I stopped at the Solvang Motorcycle Museum. I hadn’t been there in about a decade and it was well worth the detour in our trip. I’m going to share some of my favorites over the next few days and I think I’ll start with the weirdest one: a 1922 Megola.

I’ve only seen one other one in person – over at Jay Leno’s collection. Jay’s got the “Sport” model (capable of 88 mph), while the one at the museum is the “Touring.”

Those were the only two models: the Touring had rear suspension, a top speed of ~50 mph, and one of the biggest seats I’ve ever seen on a bike.

The most eye-catching thing here is the drivetrain. The Megola features a 5-cylinder engine that’s housed inside the front wheel…and because of that, there was no transmission or clutch (gearing was 6:1). So to start it you either had to bump start it or have the front wheel off the ground.

In other words: if the engine was running, you couldn’t come to a complete stop! You’d have to kill the motor or just keep riding around in circles until you could continue ahead on your journey. It’s insane to me that someone thought this would be a good idea, but Megola ended up selling about 2,000 of these.

Fuel, oil, and power had to run through the axle of the wheel so there’s fuel and oil tanks alongside the front fender. There’s actually two fuel tanks – one above the front wheel and a much larger one hidden in the back (you had to transfer fuel from the main tank into the small one above the front wheel with a hand pump).

I love weird bikes but this is too much, even for me. Cool to see one in the flesh, though!