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Wheelspin from a VéloSoleX

Simon Farrier

An encounter with a tuned VéloSoleX

EACC member John Blackburn has over the last year made several modifications to his VéloSoleX engine and come up with quite a little screamer.  I was offered this machine to ride to Leicester and back, from where another member, Dave Tipping, was to give me a lift to the club's AGM.  The only catch was that I had to deliver about 30lbs of Cyclemaster spares to Dave.  The offer was accepted with some trepidation and the 'SoleX was loaded up.

All the engine modifications are internal, even to retaining the original carburetter and filter, making for somewhat of a wolf in sheep's clothing.  Unfortunatly the frame was very wooly, so that the loaded machine weaved and wobbled along the road.  The front end seemed only vaguely connected to the rear and pot holes would send it into a series of weaves.  Opening the throttle too quickly when leaving a corner on a wet road caused the front wheel to spin wildly, the bike sliding wide on the corner.

It is said that the VéloSoleX was designed to run at 15mph and I certainly found that at anything above this I was fighting to control it.

From this you might get the impression that I didn't enjoy my trip - not so.  The motor would really pull through the revs until it started to run out of breath.

Careful use of the choke was needed to get the maximum power, so you were always kept busy.  Compared to the average cyclemotor or single speed '60s moped it had lots of torque and despite the heavy load and a strong headwind was averaging 20mph.

On the return journey, without the weight and headwind, the acceleration was much stronger and it would pull along at 25mph on the flat.  I eased off a bit to let the motor cruise along and was averaging 20mph.

Going downhill the engine would pull and pull until it was really screaming.  Mechanical sympathy made me back off.  According to John, if you keep it at full throttle all the way down a long hill, 35mph is possible.

However at that speed the engine is going at about twice its original maximum revs.  Without the extra weight on the back the handling was much improved, the worst of the shimmy having gone.

Leaning hard into a right hand turn I had the bike sliding nicely.  The front had a definate tendancy to slide first giving severe understeer when really pushed, still the cornering power was very surprising.  It certainly brings out the boy racer in you.  So much so that John is planning to do some more engine mods.  Stage two will see a larger inlet manifold and carb to cure the lack of breathing and a larger roller to increase the gearing.  Hopefully, this should really open up the engine's potential.  John's aim is to be able to outrun modern multi-geared mopeds on the flat.

Watch this space!

John Blackburn's tuned Solex

This article was first published in Buzzing, Volume 4, Number 2 in Summer 1985

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