The Solex company was founded by Marcel Mennesson and Maurice Goudard to manufacture vehicle radiators. These were fitted to several makes of early cars including Delaunay-Belleville and buses of the Paris General Omnibus company.
After World War I the radiator business went into decline and the company bought the rights to the carburettor patents of Jouffret and Renée and named them Solex after their business.
Solex carburetors were until the mid-1980s used on many European cars including Rolls-Royce Motors, Volkswagen, Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Audi, Ford, BMW, Citroen, Opel, Simca, Saab, Renault, Peugeot, Lancia, Lada, Mercedes Benz, Volvo and Porsche. Solex carburetors have been made under licence by a number companies including the Mikuni company of Japan who supplied them to auto makers including Toyota, Mitsubishi and Suzuki as well as to various Japanese motorcycle makers. Mikuni originally entered into a licensed manufacturing agreement with Solex in 1960 and further developed many of Solex's original designs.
The Solex brand is now owned by Magneti Marelli. The original Solex company changed its name in 1994 to Magneti Marelli France and on May 31, 2001, Magneti Marelli France partially bought its assets (including the trademark SOLEX) from Magneti Marelli Motopropulsion France S.A.S.
The Vélosolex has a small 49 cc motor mounted above the front wheel. Power is delivered via a small ceramic roller that rotates directly on the front wheel by friction to the tire.
The first prototype of a VeloSolex was created in 1941 and used regular bicycle frame such as those under the "Alcyon" brand and were powered by a 45 cc engine developed by Solex. VELOSOLEX were produced commercially and sold starting 1946 with a 45 cc engine without clutch, then later with a 49 cc engine. The solex, although not varying much from one version to the next was sold in these models:
- 1946–1953: 45 cc
- 1953–1955: 330 (first 49 cc engine - no clutch)
- 1955–1957: 660
- 1957–1958: 1010
- 1958–1959: 1400
- 1959–1961: 1700 (first version equipped with a clutch)
- 1961–1964: 2200
- 1964–1966: 3300 (first frame with a square section)
- 1966–1988: 3800
- 1971–1988: 5000
Export versions were also created (sold outside of France)
Current version (made in France)
- 2007–2011: Velosolex 4800
More than 8 million were eventually sold, mostly in Europe. It was also constructed under license in many countries. Today the Velosolex is again manufactured in France. The trademark "VELOSOLEX" is the property of Velosolex America, LLC which markets the Velosolex motorized bicycle worldwide.
History of the brand
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- 1905: The company was created by Maurice Goudard and Marcel Mennesson, both graduates of the École Centrale Paris.
- 1973: the carburetor division is taken over by Matra, and later by Magneti Marelli, then by Renault and Motobécane in 1974.
- 1983: Motobécane is bought by Yamaha and becomes MBK.
- 1988: production in France, at Saint-Quentin, ends.
- Circa 2001 production ceased in China and restarted in France.
- In June 2004, the mark "Solex" was bought by the French group CIBLE
- In October 2005 CIBLE launches the e-Solex, designed by Pininfarina and produced in China (400 W brushless motor, 35 km/h, autonomy of 30 km)
- In 2009, CIBLE launches the e-Solex 2.0, a new version with a lithium-polymer battery
- Solex, Velosolex and Solexline are trademarks, property of SINBAR SARL
- The trademark "VELOSOLEX" is the property of Velosolex America LLC, who markets the Velosolex worldwide.
- "Pininfarina and Cible Present e-Solex; Design News". Dexigner. 2005-10-27. Retrieved 2010-08-23.
- The Man with the Golden Gun (film), a film in which the 'Solex Agitator' is the center of attention.
- Velosolex America official web site
- Magneti Marelli
- Velosolex collection - technical descriptions
- Steve McQueen rode a Velosolex
- SoleXin - a list of SoleX resources