VeloSolex is back!
VeloSolex have re-launched their nifty, thrifty 5Occ
runabout And the powered bicycle, that's sold more
than 8 million since its launch in 1946, is coming to the
UK. Are you ready for it, MCD wonders?
The VeloSolex is back is production
and officially available in the UK
for the first time, 52 year's after it
was launched as a low-cost form of
But the famous French powered-bicycle -
which is virtually identical to the original
model apart from updates to meet new
legislation - is now manufactured under
license in Hungary.
Huge potential for
a cheap, reliable form of transport, even
more versatile than the current range of
mopeds and scooters.
It's extremely light at 28 kilos,
manoeuvrable, costs under £700 and is
only £62 to insure a year for two named
riders of any age. It will also turn in 214
mpg... and if it does run dry, you can pedal.
Mr Petersen, a successful entrepreneur
and businessman, who sold his timber
company in Denmark 10 years ago to move
to Britain with wife Lisbet and two
daughters, has already tested the reaction
of the non-biking public and says he has
been inundated with requests. "It's a
unique machine in the fact that it appeals
to a very broad section of people. We've had
interest from old ladies who remember
them from their youth and also young
people who see it as a retro-styled, trendy
means of transport," he says.
J.U. hit on the idea to import the bike
after reading an article in a Danish paper
12 months ago. "Denmark used to
manufacture up to 250,000 machines a year
until the factory wound-up in the early
80's. When I saw that they were now
available again, I contacted the factory and
we agreed terms."
Hamlet, who own the distribution rights
to the UK( Ireland, expect the first
shipment on 500 machines on August 5.
The company is also currently setting a
distribution network using motorcycle
dealerships and some bicycle outlets. J.U.
says: "We are looking at 500 town centre
outlets including motorcycle
shops. We see it as a new
market for the motorcycle
shops and a product line
that will not affect their
current interests, but expand
"The factory are capable of
producing 350,000 machines a
year - although production is
comparatively small at the
moment - but we do envisage
10,000 UK sales within the
next two years."
The estimate is conservative
as the market, as yet, is untapped.
Dealers can expect a
quick build-up time from 'box-to-
showroom' in a matter of a few minutes,
plus the added sales incentive of offering a
three-year warranty. "There are still
original '40's machines running today.
They are basically bullet-proof and the
factory feel confident that they can offer
their customers this form of guarantee,"
The 'Velo is powered by a simple 49cc
single-cylinder two-stroke engine which
Utilises an automatic centrifugal clutch.
Traction to the tyre is via a small friction
wheel. To engage the engine, you simply
pull the lever and it pivots into position.
Noise levels are kept to an
environmentally-friendly 72 decibels with
a small cylindrical muffler which sits down
next to the front mud flap.
Although the machine has lost not of it's
authenticity and appeal, the frame was
changed to a square-section unit in the
early 60's and for the UK market, the rear
'bicycle4ype' grab brake has had to be
replaced by a tiny drum. Also UK
legislation demanded different levers and
a new lighting system which is powered by
a tiny magneto.
But, apart from that, it's very much how
it appeared off the production line in 1946.
VeloSolex went out of production when
the founder owner died, leaving it to his
three sons. One son inherited the bike side,
one went into carburettors and the other
into instruments. The Solex carburettor
business was sold to Fiat and VeloSolex
was bought by MBK, who closed it down
because they felt the market was too small
and production costs too high.
After several years dormant, the rights
and original tooling equipment were
bought by Impex, a Hungarian company,
who now manufacture the machine under
license at their new 10,000 square metre
factory in the east of the country. Impex
manufacture every part of the machine,
apart from a few cast-alloy items, which
they buy in a very 'rough' stage of
production and finish themselves.
To date, more than eight million
VeloSolex machines have been sold
world-wide! And, for anyone who has an
preconceptions on Hungarian build-
quality, it's worth remembering that most
of the new Audi and Volkswagen's are now
made there, says Mr Petersen.
MCD couldn't resist the chance to try this
little machine out. It's simple, quiet and a
lot of fun. It even pulled our 16.5 stone
editor up the road at a decent 23 mph. And
when it started flagging on the upward
journey, a simple assistance of pedals got it
to the top. It's difficult to place where this
fits in; it's not a motorcycle nor a moped or
scooter. What is certain, it makes you smile.
A must have!