The VéloSoleX

The VéloSoleX was a motorised bicycle developed in France to mobilise the French people after the Second World War.

Construction was  simple and utilitarian. The small capacity motor unit was low on speed and high on economy to minimise running costs and expenses. The motor was mounted at the front of the bike driving the front tyre with a friction roller.

My 1965 VéloSoleX 3300

8 million Solex’s were sold between 1946 and 1988 when production ended in France, making it one of the most numerous motorised vehicles in history. Production then continued in Hungary from 1993 until 2005.

Some of the notable production changes are given below.
For a definitive history time line, please visit

1946 The VéloSoleX 650 was launched with a 45cc, 0.3hp motor driving a 650mm front wheel.

1951 The VéloSoleX 600 arrived which has smaller 600mm wheels.

1953 The VéloSoleX 330 had a new engine with 49cc and 0.5hp. Still fitted with 600mm wheels but with semi balloon (45mm) tyres. The engine could be identified by an angled spark plug.

1959 The VéloSoleX 1700 was launched and this introduced a centrifugal clutch to allow the engine to idle with the bike stationary. Accordingly, cooling fins were added to the flywheel to provide cooling airflow to the cylinder when the bike was idling.

1961 A new motor was introduced on the 2200 V1. Still 49cc it had the spark plug vertical on the cylinder head and covered by a new air filter housing.

1962. The 2200 V2 bike had a throttle control linked to the front brake to reduce engine speed under braking.

1964 The 3300 model was introduced and this bike had pressed steel frame sections rather than tubular.

1966 the 3800 model started. This model remained in production until 1988. It had the same frame as the 3300 but a new crankcase assembly and a plastic fuel tank.

1971 the VéloSoleX 5000 was launched. It had the same engine as the 3800 but smaller wheels and a different frame. A folding version followed in 1973.

650 Solex with "Swan Neck" frame

1700 Solex from 1959

A 3300

A VeloSoleX 5000
In the world of mopeds, the VelosoleX ranks amongst the lowest performing. With top speed of 18mph, dim lights, poor brakes and a friction drive liable to slip in the wet; it might be scoffed at by the uneducated of being a feeble, useless machine. Sports mopeds in the 1970's would have made the Solex seem even more backwards, just a bicycle with a motor, rather than a serious moped.
However with a hint of nostalgia the Velosolex is really a symbol of freedom and the ultimate in simplicity. In the same way the world judged Eastern German cars when the Berlin wall came down; they looked basic, noisy and uncomfortable, but missing the point that these vehicles were durable to the extreme and simple enough to be maintained by all. The VeloSoleX is actually an iconic vehicle, the epitome of transport for everyone and underlining the fact that complexity is not always better.