Wednesday, February 03, 2010


It's quite rare to find a photograph of a woman rider from the 1920s, let alone one of such clarity and charm as this one. Our heroine kneels in supplication to her sulking mount, with tool roll out, and a look of sheer misery which every motorcyclist understands! Oh, the joys and pains of life on two wheels.

The bike looks to be a ca.1923 Velocette 'GS3', in sparkling new condition, with an optional Cowie speedometer driven by the front wheel. The GS3 was a 249cc two-stroke of impeccable quality, typical of Veloce Ltd, a luxury lightweight with a dash of TT thrown in the mix, for the engine was upgraded to the spec of the factory's 1922 Isle of Man entry, with a new duplex tube frame and longer-stroke engine with twin exhaust ports. With a 3-speed close-ratio gearbox, adjustable footpegs, semi-TT handlebars, and 'performance efficient silencer' (vide Dave Masters), it was a sporting mount, capable of 55mph. The Brampton 'Biflex' forks may not have helped handling with their three-dimensional range of movement, but they certainly provided more comfort than the hard racing Druid forks used on the TT bikes (below, Rex Judd on the 1921 TT Velo).

Titch Allen in his book 'The Velocette Saga' (Amulree,1994) has this to say about the Model G:
"The production Model Gs...were pretty accurate replicas of the TT mounts, apart from the detachable head, and soon established an enviable reputation. It would be no exaggeration to say that they were the 'Rolls Royce' of small two-strokes, and their excellence and discreet black and gold finish gained them a following of connoisseurs. An exclusive kind of customer unimpressed by glitter and flamboyance who was to remain loyal to the marque for 60 years."


Jorge Pullin said...

May I unashamedly plug this post from my blog about lady riders of 1915? It seemed apropos. Apologies.


Anonymous said...

I do love that photograph. I've never looked that good but I know the sentiment expressed.
Cortes in Richmond, Va.

David Blasco said...

Outstanding photo. Obviously done just for fun. She's not really going to turn a wrench I don't think.

Anonymous said...

Dear Paul
Great blog. Following on from your latest post. I posted a piece recently about Beatrice Shilling on my own blog. I have since found a few other similar posts so you may already know of her, but otherwise it may be of interest.


Anonymous said...

Dear Paul,

I was fascinated by your website. In fact, I have you to thank for finding the Crocker Motorcycle Company. I interviewed Michael and this will come out in Australian Road Rider and/or Road Rider Cruiser&Trike magazine shortly.

I am now doing an article on Benny Hardy and Captain America and the Billy Bike.

I wonder if you can furnish the pictures on your website in high resolution, 300 dpi, print quality?

Actually, your website is fantastic and I would like to explore it further and perhaps run a feature on what you are doing. Motorcycle enthusiasts around the world are certainly getting a kick from it.

Please let me know if you can assist me.


Tex Dodd

Associate Editor

Australian Road Rider

Road Rider Cruiser&Trike

Anonymous said...

Hi Paul,
Your weblog is brilliant, and I believe you are one of hte luckiest men on the planet, to have built a life where you can be around vintage machines...

Charles Statman

Don O'Reilly said...

Another great post, Mr. d'O!

Though I agree with David that it's obviously a posed shot, Wouldn't you love to be the guy who's riding by, and stops to give her some help?

She really does not appear to be the type, but I have known a few gals in my day who were not afraid to tighten a chain or replace a plug... this lady's now my desktop of the month, lets call her Miss February.


Anonymous said...

...about the Lady and the Velocette. It seems that the picture is from Spain, my country, as the license plate says M, from Madrid.

My name is Adolfo Calles and like everybody who knows it, love your blog. I have a custom shop in Madrid since 1995 but my real passion is restoring old Harleys....

Just to let you know.
Keep writting !!

Martin Velocette said...

Hi Paul, I was just searching some Velocette information and found this article. As you wrote, there is not many photographs of the women with this old motorcycles. The more amazing is one book published in Prague (Czech republic) couple of years ago, called "Lida Horska - denik motocyklistky 1926" (Lida Horska - motorcyclist diary 1926). It's simply diary of the girl who bought Douglas EW 350 and making the trips with group of friends, many of them were journalist for the motorcycle magazines and there is many very good quality pictures in the book. If you visit the link of the publisher:
and click to "Ukázka" on top of the picture, you can see few pages of the book with the pictures. It's amazing reading as well, unfortunately Czech language is not that common and easy to learn. At least, happy watching :)