November is usually a pretty grim month. The clocks have gone back, it gets dark at 4.30pm, outdoors it is cold, wet and grey, a sombre time. In November 1988 – thirty years ago this month – the production lines at the VeloSoleX factory in Courbevoie just outside Paris finally stopped running and the last iconic black French “bicyclette qui roule toute seule” motorised bicycle was made.
Demand had fallen steeply since the Solex’s heyday from the early 1950s to mid-1960s, it was simply too old-fashioned and too slow to survive the onslaught of modern mopeds. Fewer and fewer were sold, mainly to older riders in la France profonde, who puttered around small rural towns and villages, berets on heads and Gauloises stuck to lower lips, happy still to go everywhere slowly.
A new generation wanted colour, style, speed and a modern image. There were plenty of manufacturers offering such things – even VeloSoleX tried with the ill-starred Solex Flash and 6000 – which, despite monocoque frames, a disc brake and shaft-drive, proved unreliable and a warranty & financial black-hole. A later attempt at selling a conventional moped, the Tenor, with Italian Franco Morini or Dutch Anker engines, also failed to attract customers, who went out and bought Mobylettes and Peugeots instead. The formerly highly successful VeloSolex business fell on hard times and was sold to Renault, then Dassault and finally MBK, the combine owning Motobecane and Yamaha in France. Production struggled on for a few more years – a lot of S3800 MBK Solexes survive to this day – but it all ended in November 1988, after over 7 million VeloSoleXes had been sold worldwide. Some were produced by local assembly operations in Europe and Asia, but the vast majority came from Courbevoie.
Another icon, Brigitte Bardot on a rather battered Solex 2200; typical damage resulting from it falling off its stand onto the metal fuel tank, which is why so many Solexes had tubular engine-protectors fitted! And possibly why later Solexes had plastic tanks…..
A group of seven NACC members made the journey across to Stramproy, tucked away in the SE corner of Holland close to the Belgian and German borders, to ride with members of the RHC cyclemotor club on their annual rally. We meet many of them every year at Rando Cyclos in France and as this year’s rally theme was British cyclemotors, we just had to go.
It was a fabulous weekend- Saturday included a visit to Naud Anderkerk’s vast collection of bikes housed on two floors of a big farm outbuilding; a 40km signposted ride through the byways and cycle-lanes (50cc machines permitted) of Holland and Belgium with 87 riders, a tombola for an unrestored cyclemotor and a great BBQ at Naud’s house in the evening. The Sunday run was 60kms and led by organiser Joost Heesakkers on a Cymota-powered tandem, which attracted 65 riders, most on cyclemotors.
We had a lunch stop at the Mullerhof friterie in Belgium, just over the non-existent border, where the popular local delicacy of a chip-filled baguette with a spicy sausage and mayonnaise garnish was enjoyed by many ravenous riders!
A fuller report will appear in a future issue of Buzzing. Our thanks go to Naud, Joost and all their helpers at Stramproy for organising such a fantastic weekend, we’ll just have to do it again next year!
The 2018 NACC National Rally was a superb weekend, with a record-breaking number of campers and riders on both days, blessed with hot sunny weather. A full report will follow shortly but here’s a couple of photos, and grateful thanks to Liz, Bob, Neil and the team from South Staffs for having organised such a great event. Looking forward to next year already!
David set off on his long journey on 13th April, to cyclemotor from Land’s End to John O’Groats on his 1949 Rudge Pathfinder bicycle, which was originally owned by his uncle and then his father. Both sadly suffered from and died from Alzheimer’s, so David is raising money for Alzheimer’s Research UK. His journey is scheduled to finish on 9th May.
It is with regret that we have to announce the passing of Keith Walker….. Keith was in every sense an NACC stalwart, having joined the club in its infancy, and being an enthusiast in machine restoration in all its aspects. He was also a great believer in encouraging the social side of things, and the picture shows him being presented with a commemorative tankard at our Bangers and Mash night, four years ago. His innovation of using yellow dots to mark out our “Route 66” directions was inspirational at the time, and caused great amusement on occasions where riders went astray, or read old horse droppings as directions! He also instigated our regular midweek local runs…known as “Walkers Wednesday Weekly Wrinkly Wruns” which we did for a long while, until his health deteriorated to the point where he felt he could no longer ride safely. He will be very much missed, and our deepest sympathy goes to his family and Ann, his partner for many years. Keith’s funeral will be held at Bushbury Crematorium, Underhill Lane, Wolverhampton WV10 8NS, at 13.45 on Monday 9th April.
We have received notification that two unique bikes built by NACC member John Hook have been stolen from his garage.
They will be easy to identify as they are both specials. One has a 1961 Raleigh Runabout frame with an NSU Quickly engine, an NSU Quickly peanut fuel-tank fitted under the saddle and mountain-bike front forks, reg CAU 624B. The bike is painted a metallic green/ blue. The second bike is a 1961 AV32 Mobylette frame with Sachs fan-cooled 3-speed engine, painted red, with mountain bike front forks and an NSU Quickly peanut tank under the saddle, reg. YSK 288.
See photos below. If anybody has seen these bikes for sale, or parts offered for sale on eBay or elsewhere, please email :
A message will be forwarded to John Hook and the police informed.