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The VéloSoleX: I have a lot of affection for these strange small bikes; I have owned many of them in the distant past. When I was fifteen and living in East Africa I was given a 45cc VéloSoleX engine. My brother owned a bicycle, so we set about fitting it to the front wheel with brackets made from flattened food cans. This done, we tried in vain to get it running. We had made sure that the timing was right, a good spark was present and fuel was getting into the cylinder. Baffled, we removed it from the bike and gave it to my father to get it running. He took it to work and got someone to sort it out. It turned out to be a badly leaking oil seal. The bean can brackets went back on the bicycle and we had endless fun riding it near our home.
When I became 16 I bought an NSU Quickly, a small petrol-tanked 1957 model. The bike gave me lots of starting problems because of a very weak magneto.
I bought most of my bikes at auctions. These included: Victoria Vicky, Zündapp, Göricke, Typhoon, Giuilietta, etc. Among the numerous VéloSoleXes I purchased was one with only 60% of its carborundum drive roller. This is not quite as bad as it sounds. To get it started I had to look and make sure that the good part of the roller was facing down towards the tyre. That done, it started and went along quite normally. Only when you slowed down to under 10mph did the engine start to jump about.
An Indian chap used to pass our home regularly on his modern semi-auto clutch model. He would have a child standing on the foot platform and another sitting astride the carrier. It would cruise along a flat road quite happily.
A Welsh pal of mine owned the only Sachs-powered Bown moped there. He rode it constantly. To modify it he removed the de-compressor valve from the cylinder head and fitted an additional spark plug and maintained that this made it much faster. The mileage clocked up on it must have been phenomenal because he once showed me the Bing carburettor slide; it had worn so thin at one side that to have squeezed it would have damaged it.
Before I close, I would like to mention an unusual German bike I once saw there. The engine size was 98cc and the make was Mammut. A transfer showing a mammoth with its two forelegs standing on a bicycle denoted the make on its petrol tank. I have never heard of or read any info on this obscure make of bike. It would be of great interest to me and, I feel sure, to other club members if anyone could shed any light on this marque's history. I will update next time with a few adventures I had on my Quickly.
First published - May 1993
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