Oldie but goodie
In this day and age when speed is everything, faster connections, faster processing power, faster services… we rarely connect the word OLD & GOOD anymore.
However, in the motorcycle world, there is a curious bunch of riders that swear old is gold. There were many iconic motorcycle makers but many disappeared (due to age, scarcity, economics or tragedies), such as Vincent, BSA, or Brough Superior. They all have their importance in motorcycle history, but British brand Velocette, founded in 1905, is my personal favorite.
Perhaps you haven't heard of Velocette; that's because it ceased operations in 1971, some 50 odd years ago. So, if it was so great, why did it go out of business?
Let’s take a look at its history and the ins and outs.
Velocette was founded by John Goodman, a German immigrant. Goodman moved to the UK to avoid military service and started his work and career in England and his motorcycles are considered a genuine British brand. Later, together with his sons Percy and Eugene, they designed a 276cc integrated engine and two-speed gearbox. In 1913, he launched a 206cc two-stroke motorcycle under the Velocette trademark.
The family business lasted for nearly 70 years, Velocette produced many models that were very popular. In 1925, it produced K series 349cc OHC (over head cam) In 1934 the MAC 350cc M series was launched, and in 1955, the Venom and Viper (the 500 and 350cc respectively).
Velocette's racing history was also very illustrious. It won the insane and legendary Isle of Mann TT Championship no less than 8 times between 1926-1949! In 1961, Velocette's 500cc Venom set a historic 24-hour average speed of 161km (100mph) in Montreal, France. This record is still standing to this day.
By the end of the 1960s, there were numerous motorcycle manufacturers, particularly as Japanese motorcycle companies began to produce high-quality, inexpensive products, which created major pressure in the market. Velocette fell into a debt as they used too many resources to develop its Viceroy moped model, leading to its closure in February 1971.
However, in recent years the market has experienced a retro wave, with the resurgence of Cafe Racer styles, reviving the attention to Velocette.
The Velocette community is currently alive and kicking, it is hard to estimate how many Velocettes are still running but there are many owners all over the world, more so in the UK and the US, with about 8,000 members in these two countries alone. There is also a group of Velocette owners in Australia, and a handfull in Asia.
The brand has been out of business for 50 years, many parts and technical information have been lost; but with the support of the Velocette Owners Club and its members effort, many spare parts are made available again. The club even provides technical support to help members repair and maintain their rides, making Velocette ownership uniquely fun and enjoyable, an Oldie but a Goodie!