VeloSolex - Return Of An Iconic French Design
By James Grahame
The VeloSolex powered bicycle was introduced in 1946. By the time the iconic French design ceased production in 1988, over 8 million had been sold. It lived on for almost two decades as a licensed design produced in China and Hungary. Production returned to France in 2005, and the S4800 has been marketed by VeloSolex America in North Bergen, NJ. for several years.
The bike is the essence of simplicity - a 49cc two stroke engine sits over the front wheel, putting out a whopping 0.80 bhp at 2200 rpm. As you might guess, it's economical - the 1.4 L tank gives you a range of 60 miles, although you'll have to pedal to get the machine up steeper hills. The maximum speed is pre-set to 20 mph, so don't expect to break any land speed records.
Accessories include a $100 catalytic converter to reduce the cloud of oil-infused 2-stroke exhaust, a $25 horn, saddle bags ($45 each) and a $55 digital speedometer. Best of all, custom colors are available for only $100 extra, so owning a blinding safety orange S4800 is a distinct possibility... if you dare.
If the thought of a 2-stroke motor running on dinosaur grease sends you into a fit of envirorage, check out the futuristic e-Solex. This clever electric update is available from Solex in France with a dramatic redesign by Pininfarina. A rear-mounted 400W hub motor is capable of propelling the bike at up to 20 mph with a range of approximately 25 miles, and they thoughtfully retained the pedals in case you feel like working up an environmentally friendly sweat.