Saroléa

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The architect Léon van Dievoet on his Saroléa, Blankenberge, 16 July 1934

Saroléa was the first Belgian producer of motorcycles, and one of the first producers of motorcycles in the world. This Belgian factory was established in 1850 as a weapons factory by Joseph Saroléa. In 1892 bicycles began to be built as well.

Joseph died in 1894 and under the management of his sons the company grew bigger and bigger. In the 20s the firm got successfully involved with long distance runs, reliability trials and hill climbs. From 1927 on the company made its own gearboxes and early in 1929 the factory was extended to some 6000m2. Nearly all components of the bikes were made in-house now and the production capacity grew to 50 machines per day. Later in 1929 a brand new state-of the-art production facility was commissioned which brought the production capacity to 75 machines per day.

In the early years of the century Saroléas were sold in Britain under the Kerry brand. Both singles and V twins were made and the firm supplied engines to a number of firms in several countries. In turn, Saroléa used a number of British components such as Sturmey-Archer gearboxes and AMAL carburettors.

Saroléa was ready for the new decade, but the new decade also brought an economic crisis. This forced the company to expand the range of machines with cheaper models. The first of the light two strokes was brought out in 1932. It had a 147 cc unit construction engine of Saroléa's own design. The front forks are of pressed steel construction and the ignition is taken care of by battery and coil. Bosch electrics are employed.

During World War II the factory was shut down by the Nazis, and very few bikes were produced during the Nazi occupation of Belgium.

In 1952, Belgian rider, Victor Leloup, rode a Saroléa to victory in the inaugural F.I.M. European Motocross Championship.[1] In 1955 Saroléa started a joint venture together with FN (motorcycle) and Gillet Herstal. This lasted until 1960, when Saroléa was merged into Gillet. Saroléa ceased to exist in 1963.

Sources[edit]

  1. ^ "History of Individual Motocross World Championships". fim-live.com. Retrieved 11 October 2011. 
  • Hugo Wilson (1995), The encyclopedia of the Motorcycle