Velocette, one of Birmingham’s many motorcycle manufacturers, was a small, family-run company that sold almost as many hand-built motorcycles during the course of its operation as the enormous BSA and Norton businesses produced in great numbers. The company, which was well-known for the calibre of its goods, was “always in the picture” in international motorcycle racing from the middle of the 1920s to the 1950s, culminating in two World Championship titles (1949–1950 350 cc) and its illustrious and still-standing (for single-cylinder, 500 cc machines) 24-hour record at over 100 mph (161 km/h).
John Goodman (born Johannes Gütgemann; later known as John Taylor before formally changing his name to Goodman) and William Gue established the business in 1905 under the name “Taylor, Gue Ltd.” Veloce was its first motorcycle. John Taylor founded Veloce Limited later that year to manufacture cycles and other Velocette vintage motorcycle parts. When Veloce Ltd first started making four-stroke motorcycles, they used Belgian “Kelecom” engines.
Velocette ‘M’ Series
To reduce production costs and create a more inexpensive motorcycle, the business chose to launch a new line of overhead valve (OHV) machines in 1933. It was decided that a more straightforward OHV design would be quicker to make and need less trained labour to assemble because the K series was expensive to produce and required selective hand installation of the shaft-and-bevel camshaft drive. The first of these new machines was the MOV, which utilised a 250 cc engine with dimensions that were “square” (68 mm bore and 68 mm stroke). It had a brisk performance for the period (78 mph or 126 km/h), was an instant sales success, and proved to be a dependable vehicle with outstanding road manners.
Velocette ‘K’ Series
Veloce realised in the early 1920s that it needed a new machine with advanced specifications in order to expand as a business. As a result, it created an overhead camshaft (OHC) 350 cc engine, later known as the “K” series and released in 1925. After a year of teething problems with this new design, Veloce entered slightly modified “K” models into races at Brooklands and the Isle of Man TT. The new engine’s dependability and smooth running qualities led to a long string of victories in these races and the introduction of a production racing model, the KTT, which was manufactured between 1928 and 1949. The first motorbike in production to use a positive-stop, foot-actuated gearchange was the 1929 KTT, added by a vintage Norton motorcycle parts manufacturer.
The Velocette KSS (super sports), KTS (touring sports), KTP (twin exhaust ports), KN (normal), and a few variants were the roadster types that were created from this first model K. In 1935, the “KSS Mk2” engine, which had an entirely enclosed aluminium cylinder head, was introduced. Up until 1948, when the final KSS Mk.2 variants with rigid frames and Dowty air-sprung telescopic forks were made, the OHC engine series was still used in roadsters. The innovative use of stroboscopic lighting allowed very precise valve timing. The manufacturer quickly created racing models to compete in the Isle of Man TT after the “K” series showed an excellent turn of speed and dependability.
The buying public ignored the “K” series when Veloce took over since they were accustomed to the Velocette label and associated it with high-quality goods. All ensuing versions were given the Velocette moniker once more. Percy and Eugene Goodman, his sons, joined John in 1916. Veloce made pricey, superior two-stroke bikes of (nominally) 250 cc between 1913 and 1925. These motorcycles earned a great reputation and were entered in contests like the Isle of Man TT, where they had considerable success. The single-cylinder mach¸ines stood out from the offerings of other manufacturers thanks to their many cutting-edge innovations, like an oil pump that was throttle-controlled.