Tuesday, March 24, 2009


While Veloce Ltd. made a few iterations of motorcycle before creating their own engine around 1910 (as explored in an earlier post), very few of these earliest 'Veloce' models have survived. A few engines are laying in warehouses waiting for frames, but to my knowledge there are less than half a dozen of the earliest machines left intact.

It was a surprise to see this 1911 3 1/2hp 'Standard' Veloce, which recently sold on ebay for A$50,000, and it is entirely possible that this is the oldest intact Velo in the world. The engine number (#X129 - frame is A13744) is lower than the previous claimant to the title (#154), although there is some question whether the engine alone was supplied by Veloce to a dealer in Australia, to install in their own chassis, as was common in the day.

The first owner of the bike is documented as a resident of Benalla, Victoria, in 1911, who purchased the machine for 40 Guineas. It's truly a 'standard' product from the day, with direct belt drive and little braking power, the front having nothing at all to retard progress; the rear has a typical 'spoon' pressing on the dummy rim for the drive belt. Starting is push-and-bonk, and as basic as these machines were, they would have been very reliable in the day, with a decent Bosch magneto, and little else to go wrong!

These early Veloce sidevalvers were based on a Belgian Kelecom engine, installed in a chassis which is either Triumph made or on their pattern, as they are identical. Ironically, Triumph themselves made a machine which is the spitting image of this Velo, but with their logo cast into the crankcases. One could order engines thus from Kelecom's concern, or make them to pattern yourself while paying a licensing fee for the privelege.

There are a few suspect details on the machine, which could be rectified with a little research and effort - most glaring is the transfer, which is a shortened version of a later 'Velocette' logo, introduced with their later two-strokes; the Veloce should be in blocky, Wild-West lettering - examples of the original paint still exist (see pic below)!

If you have a hankering for the 'Oldest' of a major motorcycle manufacturer, here's your chance - it will be tremendously cheaper than the Oldest Harley, Indian, or Norton!


aka Riko said...

Beautiful bike. Thanks for the write-up.

southsiders M.C. said...

Vintage enough for the Brighton Run...