Celebrating 100 Years of Velocette Motorcycles

The Velocette Owners Club of North America celebrated the British motorcycle manufacturer's 100 year anniversary in mid-2005

The Velocette Owners Club of North America flew its colors — black and gold, of course — at the Centenary Rally.

The Velocette Owners Club of North America flew its colors — black and gold, of course — at the Centenary Rally.

Photo courtesy of David Gibbison

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The Velocette Owners Club of North America turned a Yosemite National Park resort into a museum last July in celebration of the British motorcycle manufacturer’s 100th anniversary.

The club’s Centenary Rally, headquartered at Evergreen Lodge in Groveland, Calif., drew collectors from four countries and bikes spanning most of the now-defunct company’s storied history.

"We had a lot of rarer bikes," says club secretary Tom Ross. "We had two KTT Mark 8s, some specials, a GTP two-stroke from about 1936 … There were some early 1930s overhead cam road racers, including a Mark 4 and a Mark 5. It was interesting to have them parked next to each other and see the changes as they were developed."

For those who don’t count themselves among the world’s Melo Velo Fellows, the manufacturer’s history stretches to 1905, when Veloce Limited was founded to produce cycles and related products. A 2bhp Veloce was produced the following year.

In 1913 came the first model to carry the Velocette name — a two-stroke, 206cc model. The trade name Velocette was registered in 1926.

Fueled by success in competition — including several TT victories and the 350cc world championship in 1949 — Velocette made its name with classic singles such as the KSS 350 and the Venom Thruxton 500cc production café racer of 1965.

With the growing influence of Japanese manufacturers and an emphasis on bigger bikes with multiple cylinders, Velocette faded in the late 1960s and finally ceased operations in 1971. Gone, but clearly not forgotten. MC 

Velocette Owners Club of North America, c/o Tom Ross, 11830 Ridgecrest drive, CA 92505; www.velocette.org; venomveeline2charter.net; (951) 354-6444