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Founded1946 (1946)
Area served
ProductsMopeds, motorized bicycles

VéloSoleX is a moped, or motorised bicycle, usually just referred to as 'Solex', which was originally produced by the French manufacturer Solex, based in Courbevoie near Paris, France. The company manufactured centrifugal radiators, carburetors, and micrometers, before branching into assist motors and bicycles. The moped originally created during World War II and mass-produced between 1946 and 1988 came in various iterations, whilst keeping the same concept of a motor with roller resting on the front wheel of a bicycle.

Referred to the company's advertisement as the 'bicycle which drives itself' (« la bicyclette qui roule toute seule »), it became extremely popular with school children, students or plant workers because it was light and extremely economical.


Owned successively by Dassault, Renault, Motobécane/MBK, VéloSoleX sold more than 7 million units worldwide before ceasing production in France in 1988. Production of the VéloSoleX restarted in both China and Hungary after 1988, but production ceased in Hungary in 2002. VéloSoleX is now manufactured in France.

Blue 1986 VeloSolex Motobecane 3800.
Black tricyclized 1967 VéloSolex.


The Solex motorized bicycle was conceived during World War II and marketed in 1946, with 8 million being sold between 1946 and 1988 in France and internationally, having been marketed in some 70 countries. The French design ceased production in 1988.[1] It lived on for almost two decades as a licensed design produced in China and Hungary. Production returned to France in 2005, and as of 2011 the S4800 model was being marketed by VeloSolex America in North Bergen, New Jersey.[2]

Models and modifications[edit]

  • 1941: Prototype created of which only a few remain, based on a bicycle
  • 1946: A 45 cc model, of which many evolutions were made, with a 45 cc engine developing 0.4 hp (0.30 kW) and no clutch, the engine has to be restarted every time the rider comes to a stop
  • 1953: Model 330 with a 49 cc engine and 0.5 hp (0.37 kW) using the same frame as the 45 but boosting power
  • 1955: Model 660 with a new dedicated bicycle frame, but an unchanged engine
  • 1957: Model 1010 updates the engine
  • 1958: Model 1400
  • 1959: Model 1700 uses the same frame as the previous version but introduce an automatic clutch and air cooling of the engine
  • 1961: Model S2200 with an engine which power is boosted to 0.7 hp (0.52 kW) over the next three years to version will be produced V1 and V2
  • 1964: Model S3300 with a new square tube frame which will remain the same until end of production, adds a drum brake on the rear wheel
  • 1966: Model S3800, which is the most common and most sold version of the brand over the years, later a Luxure or 'Luxe' version "S3800 luxe" and "S3800 super luxe" introduce color to the frame which was always black (including the motor) until then, as well as having large wheels with blackwall tires. In 1968, the twist grip appear allowing to reduce throttle at stops
  • A smaller (children's) version is produced, the F4 with a replica plastic motor emitting clicking sounds to replicate the adult version
  • 1968: the Micron, which has very small wheels and no pedals. A three wheel version would be produced in small numbers for children
  • 1971: Model 5000, which has an upgraded kickstand, a white motor instead of a black one, smaller wheels than the 3800 with whitewall tires instead of blackwall tires, and is available in only four colors (yellow, blue, orange and white)
  • 1973: The Plisolex arrives, it is a folding version of the Model 5000 and was only produced at about 2,000 units
  • 1974: Model 4600 destined only to be produced and exported outside France and produced until 1978 it uses the frame of the 3800 and was produced in 4 colors (yellow, blue, orange and white); many made their ways to the USA
Moped not using a roller transmission
  • 1969: The 'Flash' (later renamed the 6000) is a moped with disc brakes, an axle transmission instead of the roller and with a fan cooled engine
  • 1972: The 'Tenor', with a chain transmission. It will be the only moped produced with an engine made by another maker. L and S series are equipped with Franco Morini gyromat engines, then GL and GS series with an Anker Laura engine. There are a few S4 version with a Franco Morini engine and a 4 speed gearbox
  • 2005: Model Black'n Roll S4800, a modernized version of the S3800. It is not produced under the Solex brand but rather Mopex
  • 2011: Model 'e-Solex', an electric motor powered bicycle which can be folded; Model 'Solexity', an electric motor powered bicycle with an axle transmission


As of 2012, the French company offered three products:

  • Velosolex — an electric folding bike which can reach speeds of up to 25 km/h (16 mph) and has a range of up to 50 km (31 mi).[3]
  • Solexity — an electric assisted bicycle which can reach speeds of up to 25 km/h (16 mph) [Pedelec norm] and has a range of up to 60 km (37 mi).[4]
  • e-Solex — an electric bike which can reach speeds of 25–35 km/h (16–22 mph) and has a range of up to 40 km (25 mi).[5]

In popular culture[edit]

In the 1958 French comedy Mon Oncle, the main character Monsieur Hulot (Jacques Tati) is a day-dreaming and impractical uncle who, while perplexed by the cutting-edge lifestyle of his sister and brother-in-law, still maintains a VéloSoleX motorized bicycle as his main transportation.

Primo Levi, in one of the autobiographic short stories in his collection The Periodic Table, mentions that he would be able switch from a bicycle to a VéloSoleX if he managed to conclude a business deal with a cosmetics manufacturer.[6]

In the 1978 film The Boys from Brazil a German postman (played by Richard Marner) is seen riding a Velosolex.

In the 1983 film So Long, Stooge main character Bensoussan (played by Richard Anconina) rides a Velosolex around Paris.

In the 2007 film Mr. Bean's Holiday, the titular character attempts to hitchhike on an elderly man's VéloSoleX to get to Cannes, only to weigh the back of it down, and when the latter gets off to fix the problem, Mr Bean uses this as an opportunity to hijack the bike, but fails.

In the 1975 Sydney Pollack thriller Three Days of the Condor, Robert Redford rides a Solex to work in New York which sets his character as an unassuming intellectual. He thwarts two youths who try to steal it.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "SOLEX BIKES - OPEN UP NEW ROUTES". solexworld.fr. Archived from the original on 2012-09-20.
  2. ^ Grahame, James. "VeloSolex - Return Of An Iconic French Design". retrothing.com.
  3. ^ "Velosolex characteristics". solexworld.fr. Solex.[dead link]
  4. ^ "Solexity characteristics". solexworld.fr. Solex. Archived from the original on 2011-12-20.
  5. ^ "e-Solex characteristics". solexworld.fr. Solex. Archived from the original on 2012-07-06.
  6. ^ Levi, Primo (1996). "Nitrogen". The Periodic Table. Random House. ISBN 978-0-679-44722-1.

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