1962 Velocette Venom Clubman

Veloce Ltd. was never a major player in the British market, but bikes like the Velocette Venom Clubman earned it respect.

| November/December 2009

  • Velocette Venom - parked, profile of right side
    It was a fast bike in its day, and even now a 1962 Velocette Venom Clubman can outperform modern machines on curvy roads.
    Photo by Clement Salvadori
  • Velocette Venom - front view, right side
    Parked but ready to roll.
    Photo by Clement Salvadori
  • Velocette Venom - timing cover of engine
    The oddly-shaped timing cover on the 500cc OHV engine on the Velocette Venom Clubman.
    Photo by Clement Salvadori
  • Velocette Venom - parked, rear view from left side
    1962 Velocette Venom Clubman.
    Photo by Clement Salvadori
  • velocette venom - triangular end of exhaust pipe
    The fishtail exhaust is a signature piece of the Velocette Venom Clubman.
    Photo by Clement Salvadori
  • velocette venom - gauges on headlamp
    An ammeter and speedometer ā€” which winds clockwise ā€” are located on the housing of the headlamp.
    Photo by Clement Salvadori
  • Velocette Venom - Velocette stamped on handgrip
    Velocettes are rich in detail, down to the stamps on the handgrips.
    Photo by Clement Salvadori
  • velocette venom - John Laughney riding his Velocette
    A rider through and through, Velocette owner John Laughney restores his bikes to ride, not just to show.
    Photo by Clement Salvadori

  • Velocette Venom - parked, profile of right side
  • Velocette Venom - front view, right side
  • Velocette Venom - timing cover of engine
  • Velocette Venom - parked, rear view from left side
  • velocette venom - triangular end of exhaust pipe
  • velocette venom - gauges on headlamp
  • Velocette Venom - Velocette stamped on handgrip
  • velocette venom - John Laughney riding his Velocette

1962 Velocette Venom Clubman
Years produced:
 1959 – 1970
Number produced: 5,750 (All Venom models, 1955 to 1970)
Top speed: 100mph
Engine type: 499cc OHV air-cooled single
Price then: $950 (1962)
Price now: $8,000-$14,000
MPG: 40-50

John Laughney knows all too well the keep-your-nose-to-the-grindstone task of running a 24/7 company. Challenging? Always. Enjoyable? Sometimes not so much. Which probably goes a long way toward explaining why he thinks taking a 1962 Velocette Venom Clubman down to the bare frame, fastidiously repairing and rebuilding it, is actually good fun.

Most of us, I’d wager, would end up cursing and swearing and throwing things into dark corners when presented with such a challenge. Not John Laughney, who relished the chance to restore this Velocette Venom Clubman. Maybe the hours spent as a student of philosophy back in his college days has something to do with this quasi-meditative labor he so enjoys. 

John rides his classic motorcycles, and loves the pure joy of running this big thumper over local roads, startling strangers on modern go-fast machines by thundering past them in the corners he knows so well. A resident of California’s vineland area around Paso Robles, home to some 200 vineyards, John has immediate access to smooth and lightly trafficked roads, where the straight stretches are rarely more than a mile in length. This is perfect Velocette Venom Clubman country. Real pleasure is not in pure speed, but in the balance of man, machine and macadam. He has pushed the needle close to the 100 number on the Smiths speedo, but only to make sure that his work had been properly done.



For John, the lure of the big single has never vanished, the staccato sound of the exhaust, the thrust of the engine, the keyboard that is the transmission. Riding a classic British motorcycle like this Velocette Venom Clubman competently is a skill that most riders today have never mastered because nobody builds motorcycles like this anymore.  

Some Velo Background

Veloce Ltd. was never a major player in the British motorcycle world, but made good motorcycles, won races and built an excellent reputation. The company built its first motorcycle in 1905, and in 1913 came out with a 250cc 2-stroke called the Velocette, or Little Velo. The moniker stuck, and the company finally got around to trademarking the name in 1926.



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