Enthusiast finds motorcycle Moby Dick: 1912 Nelk Motor Coaster

Publish Date: 
Jun 23, 2010

SAN JOSE, Calif. - A vintage bike fan has discovered a piece of motorcycle history in a garage in San Jose: the Nelk Motor Coaster, built 1912. It is the only one of its kind.

The formerly mythical coaster, made by late Williams resident Carl Nelk (1870-1946), was thought to either not exist or to have been lost in history, according to the Daily Democrat.

Now David Hartwick is writing a book about the bike and its creator.

Inventor, fabricator and designer Carl Nelk was born in Williams to German parents in 1870. Before his death in 1946, he studied engineering at Stanford University and created the one and only Nelk Motor Coaster in Palo Alto. The stand-up scooter has no seat and the engine is in front of the rider above the front wheel.

"My main interest is in the rare, obscure bikes that people have forgotten about or have never heard of," Hartwick says. "Finding the Nelk Motor Coaster is like finding a missing link in the motorcycle industry. I couldn't believe what I was looking at when I found it.”

Posted by Holly Wagner