Megola Motorcycles

Today in Motorcycle History

Megola Motorcycles

Manufactured 1921-1925

Deutsche Megola Werke GmbH, München, Grünewaldstrasse 154
Megola Motoren AG, München 9, Grünewaldstrasse 154
See also Cockerell

The famous Megola was created by Meixner, Gockerell and Landgraf (Me Go La). Built in Munich from 1921 to 1925, it had a 640cc five cylinder radial sidevalve 14hp engine mounted within the front wheel. Bore and stroke was 52mm x 60mm and it had a planetary gear ratio of 6:1.

Gockerell was a successful motorcycle racer, Landgraf performed the technical wizardry, and Johann Meixner was a financier who put the funding together with the aid of a Swiss bank.

The prototype was a PAX by Gockerell built in 1918 with a three-cylinder radial in the rear wheel, and there is a possibility that he applied for a patent for this as early as 1914 or 1916. The name was changed to Mego-Motorrad (Meixner und Gockerell) late in 1918. Around this time Otto Landgraf became involved in the project, and a legal contract was undertaken with Mars of Nuremburg. This was annulled in 1919 at considerable expense - a descendant of Landgraf wrote that he lost 100,000 Marks.

The next model, now named Megola, had a five-cylinder radial, again in the rear wheel. This one was built in 1920.

Production of the the front-wheel-drive five cylinder Megola began in 1921. It had no clutch, no transmission and no neutral gear, and the high torque of the engine allowed acceleration from (almost) zero mph to full speed with only one gear. When halted, the engine had to be stopped. To start the machine one had to push it until it fired and then jump aboard, or alternatively mount it on the front wheel stand and hand start it - the preferred method when cold.

The frame was made of welded and riveted sheet metal. The tube of the front tyre was an open circle allowing it to be changed without removing the front wheel and engine. This type of tube was commercially available at the time, so it's unlikely that Megola made their own for the purpose.

The Megola was successful in competiton and was raced by Toni Bauhofer, Josef Stelzer and Albin Tommasi; Bauhofer clocked 142 km/h at the Avus circuit in Berlin on a Megola racing machine.

Some 2000 units were built, a substantial number for the day. The financial crisis of the mid-1920s in Germany brought an end to production of both the Megola and the Cockerel marques.

Today the Megola is one of the rarest and most interesting vintage motorcycles.

Didier Mahistre writes that although the Mégola company was formed in Munich in 1921, by 1923 it was based in Switzerland, and provided Swiss documentation to that effect. He states that Hans MEixner, Fritz COckerell (the C becoming a G) and Otto LAndgraf, had moved to Zürich while Eugen Ludwig Müller remained in Munich.
There may well have been something lost in translation from the French

There has been some discussion about whether the Megola was at some stage built in Switzerland. This does not appear to be the case. The reason for this misunderstanding is probably due to the following:

The cover of the service manual for the AIII (undated, but poss c.1922) gives the company addresses as both Munich and Zurich.

In May 1923 a Swiss patent was granted to MEGOLA SOCIÉTÉ ANONYME, Zürich (Schweiz) und Eugen Ludwig MÜLLER. München (Deutschland)

Klaus Breit writes,

  • "Die sind definitiv in München gebaut worden. Ich hatte einen sehr alten Freund, der bei Toni Bauhofer als Motorradschlosser in der Lehre war und im Anschluss noch dort gearbeitet hat. Er hat immer erzählt, dass bei Toni Bauhofer ( erfolgreicher Rennfahrer auf Megola ) noch eine Megola stand und dazu 4 Vorderräder ( also auch 4 Motoren ) - alle mit verschiedenen Radgrößen um verschiedene Übersetzungen zu haben - vom Bergrennen ( kleinster Raddurchmesser ) bis zur AVUS ( größter Raddurchmesser ). Fritz Cockerell sei auch immer mal wieder in freundschaftlicher Verbundenheit zu seinem erfolgreichsten Rennfahrer vorbeigekommen - auch noch nach dem 2. Weltkrieg und er sei immer noch einen großen Mercedes Baujahr kurz vor 1930 gefahren."

  • "Those were definitely built in Munich. I had a very old friend who was apprenticed to Toni Bauhofer as a motorcycle mechanic and worked there afterwards. He always said that Toni Bauhofer (successful racing driver on Megola) had a Megola and 4 front wheels (including 4 engines) - all with different wheel sizes to have different ratios - from hill climb (smallest wheel diameter) to AVUS ( largest wheel diameter). Fritz Cockerell has also come down time and again in friendly relationship to his most successful racer - even after the Second World War and he still drove a big Mercedes built shortly before 1930."

Michael Schick has a page on all known addresses for Gockerell and his companies. There was apparently a short stint at Bollwerk 15, Bern Schweiz in 1932, long after the Megola ceased production.

Notes The site is very well researched and documented.
There is an interesting discussion on the patents and other aspects here:

Sources: Hartmut Schouwer, Didier Mahistre,, Klaus Breit, Michael Schick

Olympia Show, 1921

One of the novelties of the show is the Megola, with five-cylinder rotary engine built in the front wheel. This machine has already been described in The Motor Cycle. The cylinders, which, naturally, have all their rods connected up to one crank, have a bore of 52 mm. with a stroke of 60 mm., the general principle of construction being like that of the well-known Gnome aviation engine.

A pressed steel open frame is used, with semi-elliptic springs for the rear; this type of construction gives a rather long wheelbase. Instead of the usual saddle there is a comfortable-looking armchair, the back of which is combined with the mud-guard over the rear wheel.

The Motor Cycle, October 6th, 1921

Videos of the Megola:

Sun Jun 21 2009
bmwrider at
Megola pricing
Please, is there any average pricing figure for a Megola motorcycle that runs OK ?

Thank you !!

Tue Feb 13 2007
singh-karan at hotmail dot com
Information request for Megola
Please send me any information/links that detail how the Megola works. Its absolutely facinating!

Thu Dec 21 2006
lith-talon at yahoo dot com
megola racer
I've seen pictures of this bike, and I am looking to find more info. As a drafting student, this bike really interests me. I know how it was made and the wheel diameter, what I am looking for is the wheel base and heights.

February 4, 2002
I am an old "Rotary/Radial" fan and have had many years experience with reciprocating, internal combustion engines and being educated in the theory and practical application of BMEP (volumetric efficiency) and having operated and flown aircraft equipped with the Rhone Monosaupe (165 HP) engines, when I first saw a photo of a Megola, a question arose in my mind that I was unable to answer for a number of years. It bothered me, knowing that an internal combustion, reciprocating engine, in order to run smoothly and produce sufficient Horse Power, had to attain a certain minimum RPM.

The Megola machine had performed in competition very well, meaning that it had to have been capable of producing substantial horse power.

And Knowing that a 640 cc engine, (just 10½ cubic inches) in order to produce the necessary horse power to perform as it certainly did, the engine would have to attain a RPM of a minimum of 3,000 rpm. to produce enough horsepower to attain a speed in excess of 80 mph (130 kph).

What I am driving at is the diameter of the front wheel of this machine is approximately 27 inches and has a circumference of pi x 27" or 84" or 7 feet. This translates to 754 wheel revolutions per minute at 60 MPH. At this low RPM a 640cc engine could not possibly produce sufficient BMEP, or HP for this to be so.

For years I was puzzled by this apparent incongruity, and each time it would pop up in my head, I would dismiss it from my thoughts. It really bothered me. It violated almost all the engineering laws I believed in.

There was a solution to this dilemma. And I found it on the internet.

Inside the crankcase, there is a planetary gear train with a ratio of 5:1 that reverses the internal engine rotational direction and allows for a RPM that is commensurate with BMEP and HP output that would make this kind of performance possible.

It calculates this way. 754 wheel rpm X 5 = 3,770 minus the crankcase rotation 754 = 3,016 engine RPM

No engineering laws are being violated and I sleep better also.

I am not certain, but it is very concievable that a clutch and or multi speed gear was possible. This is speculation. The rest I have described is real and factual.

Ralph Lindsay -- Ralph-1 at

March 20, 2001
Please send me any information about the megola motorcycles. Can you tell me more about this.
Thank you very much
Josef Beil -- My e-mail adress: hotel-rex at hotmail dot com

July 10, 2000
Congratulations for your site. I am collecting motorcycles in Greece, and I sell the most regular models to Germany, like BMW, NSU, Horex, etc; till today I sold about 200 bikes and many tones of original spares. But the Megola is my secret dream, as I know that I will probably never find one that is for sale. I've contacted people all over the world to find any bike or even spares ; till now I've found only one front stay of the engine-wheel (!). The Megola is the most unorthodox motorcycle ever built, showing a personal vision of the design future that has never ever being followed again from anyone. The development of the Megola, was an attempt that remained as a prototype in about 1938 from 2 students in Germany, Killinger & Freund. The bike had a magnificent 2-stroke 3-cylinder Radial engine and a 3 speed transmission, as a marvelous streamline shape. Also just before the end of Megola production, Cokerell had ready a clutch-equipped version. If you know anything about Megola that is for sale, please send E-mail to : maratosp at

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